Destruction of Polish state enabled Holocaust - deputy minister
There would have been no Holocaust if there had been a Polish state at the time, Deputy Foreign Minister Jarosław Sellin told a meeting of the European Jewish Association in Kraków, southern Poland.
Sellin's words came in reference to recent accusations by Russian leader Vladimir Putin of Polish complicity in the outbreak of World War Two and the Holocaust.
Sellin pointed out that one half of Europe's Jews inhabited pre-war Poland, where they were treated like citizens and were cared for by the state. He also stressed that around 100,000 Jews served in the ranks of the Polish army at the outbreak of the war in 1939.
"The precondition for the Holocaust was the destruction of the Polish state, and this was done by the Germans and the Soviets. So if today someone in the East claims we are responsible for the Holocaust, then it's worth recalling that it was the destruction of Polish statehood - also by the Soviets - that enabled the Holocaust," Sellin said.
Speaking about the Polish fight to preserve the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, he paid special attention to the first institutions and symbols dealing with this subject: the museum created in 1944 at the site of the former Majdanek concentration camp in southern Poland, the monument to honour the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto unveiled in the city in 1946 and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw founded in 1947.
The international conference in Kraków marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp Auschwitz that Nazi Germany built and operated in occupied Poland during World War II. Attending the meeting are around 200 delegates, including diplomats and relatives of Holocaust survivors.