(January 11, 2022 / JNS) A Polish diplomat has reportedly been fired after calling his own government’s laws regarding speech centered around the Holocaust “stupid.”
Jaroslaw Nowak, the plenipotentiary for contacts with the Jewish Diaspora, made the comments in an interview last week with the British publication Jewish News.
Nowak was discussing the 2018 amendment to the country’s Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, which makes it a crime to publicly state that Poland bore any responsibility for the Holocaust. He called it “one of the stupidest amendments that was ever done by any law.”
The law infuriated many in Israel, who claimed that it was an attempt by Poland to whitewash Holocaust history, coupled with the fact that Poles killed Jews during the German occupation and collaborated with the Nazis, reported The Associated Press. The legislation originally included prison terms of up to three years for those who falsely blamed Poland for German crimes, though the punishment was later removed from the law.
Nowak, who was appointed to his position in July, also told Jewish News he believes that “at some point,” Poland will “have to do something” about restitution for Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
He said, “There are a number of ideas being discussed in Poland right now. Maybe it will be a very symbolic compensation like it was in the Czech Republic or Hungary, maybe it will be something else. Definitely this is something that is critical, let’s say, in the perception of Poland abroad. I cannot stress enough how important it is.”
In August, Poland passed another controversial law, also censured by Israel, stating that people who had properties seized by the country’s communist regime during World War II—among them Holocaust survivors and their heirs—can no longer bring forward claims for restitution or compensation.
Nowak was fired on Jan. 8 by Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, the ministry’s spokesperson Lukasz Jasina announced on Monday via Twitter, giving no reason for the move.
The Polish official has been involved in establishing dialogue between Poles and Jews since the 1980s, according to The Associated Press.
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