Polish Prime Minister's words in Munich by no means intended to deny the Holocaust

The comments of the Polish prime minister during a discussion in Munich were by no means intended to deny the Holocaust, the Polish government spokesperson said in a statement sent to PAP on Saturday night.

"The comments of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki during a discussion in Munich were by no means intended to deny the Holocaust, or charge the Jewish victims of the Holocaust with responsibility for what was a Nazi German perpetrated genocide," Joanna Kopcinska wrote in the statement.

"On the contrary, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has repeatedly and categorically opposed denial of the Holocaust - the murder of European Jewry - as well as anti-Semitism in all its forms," the statement said.

Kopcinska added that PM Morawiecki "has made his position clear: Poland wants to continue dialogue with Israel in the spirit of truth and mutual trust."

According to the spokesperson, "the words spoken by the prime minister of the Republic of Poland should be interpreted as a sincere call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust, regardless of the nationality of those involved in each crime."

"Each crime must be judged individually, and no single act of wickedness should burden with responsibility entire nations, which were conquered and enslaved by Nazi Germany."

"It must be emphasised that the destruction, conquest and occupation of the Polish state by the German Third Reich were conditions that allowed the Nazi German murder of Jews to take place in the way that it did. Before the Second World War, Jews lived, created, and worked in Poland for 800 years," Kopcinska wrote.

"Attempts to equate the crimes of Nazi German perpetrators with the actions of their victims - Jewish, Polish, Romani, among others - who struggled for survival should be met with resolute, outright condemnation," she stressed.

On Saturday in Munich, responding to a question about the new Polish anti-defamation law asked by Ronen Bergman of New York Times, who tried to find out if he would now be considered a criminal in Poland for relating the story that his parents were reported to the Nazis by Polish neighbours, PM Morawiecki said: "of course it's not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators."

"(...) as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian, not only German perpetrators," Morawiecki added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel "will never allow the rewriting of the historical truth" about the Holocaust. He also announced that he planned to speak with Morawiecki soon about his remarks.

Netanyahu remembered the 6 million Jews "killed by the Nazis and their collaborators," and stressed that "we will never forget and we will never allow the rewriting of the historical truth."

In a statement Sunday, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, condemned Morawiecki's words as an "absurd and unconscionable" allegation that is "nothing short of an attempt to falsify history." Lauder also demanded an "immediate retraction and apology" from the Polish government.

Krzysztof Lapinski, the Polish president's spokesperson, declared on Sunday that the Polish authorities "will be always defending Poland's good name." According to Lapinski, reactions of Israeli politicians to words of the Polish PM resulted from "an internal situation in Israel."

Lapinski stressed that Bergman's questions stemmed for "a complete lack of understanding of the new Polish anti-defamation law."

Under the so-called anti-defamation law or the amended law on the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) - The Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, all those who publicly attribute, contrary to the facts, responsibility or co-responsibility for the Third Reich's crimes - or other crimes against humanity and peace, as well as war crimes - to the Polish nation or the Polish state can be punished with a fine or a prison term of up to three years.  

Having signed the bill, President Duda referred the law to the Constitutional Tribunal to examine whether freedom of speech is limited in an unauthorised manner by its provisions.

The legislation proved controversial for Israel, the United States and Ukraine. Israel claims that the penalties for defamation that the act envisages may restrict research on the Holocaust.