Minister of Foreign Affaires on punishment for the use of the phrase "Polish death camps"

The punishment for using the phrase "Polish (concentration) camps" will apply in precisely defined situations and its aim is to prevent the defamation of Poland's good name; final evaluations will be made by courts, the Polish Foreign Ministry wrote on Saturday in a statement sent to PAP.

During the observances marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz German death camp on Saturday, the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, appealed for a change in the amended law passed by the Sejm (Parliament's lower house), which will introduce punishment for the use of the phrase "Polish death camps" or any similar ones. The diplomat stressed that Israel considers that the amendment might mean that the survivors of the Holocaust who give testimony might be liable to punishment.

"In connection with the passing on Jan. 26, 2018 by the Sejm of the amended law on the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN) and some other laws, the Foreign Ministry informs that the aim of the law - passed after two years of  legislation work - is to eliminate any statements - made publicly and contradictory to facts - making the Polish nation or State, responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the German Third Reich," the Polish Foreign Ministry wrote.

The Foreign Ministry added that the use of the phrase "Polish (concentration) camps" was one such example.

"The punishment envisaged in the amendment will apply in precisely defined situations and its aim is to prevent the defamation of Poland's good name. Each incident will be evaluated by the courts," the Foreign Ministry wrote.

On Saturday, during the observances marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz German death camp, the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, said that the amendment aroused many emotions in Israel and that the Israeli government rejected it. The diplomat expressed her hope that it would be possible to find a joint route to change the amendment. She stressed that Israel also understood who built Auschwitz and other camps, and everybody knows it was not the Poles. But she added that the amendment was seen in Israel as making it impossible to speak the truth about the Holocaust, and that everybody is outraged. 

Under the amended law, any incidents of the defamation of Poland's good name, including the use of phrases such as "Polish (concentration) camps" or similar, can be punished with a fine or warrant a prison term of up to three years.