US magazine updates article on Poland's role in Holocaust

The New Yorker magazine on Monday updated an article it published on the prosecution of Holocaust historians in Poland that has caused outrage in the Central European country.

Written by Masha Gessen, and entitled 'The Historians Under Attack for Exploring Poland’s Role in the Holocaust,' the article implied that the Polish state was responsible for the Holocaust, and that by prosecuting historians the Polish state was trying to exonerate Poland of its alleged crimes.

It examined the case of Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, two Polish historians of the Holocaust, who were recently found guilty by a Polish court of defaming a deceased wartime village official.

The update follows a strong protest by the Polish Embassy in Washington, which had demanded the withdrawal of the whole text.

At the end of the article, the magazine wrote that "this article has been updated to clarify the investigation of Jan Tomasz Gross. The subheading has been updated to include reference to the Nazi occupation of Poland, and to more accurately describe the potential legal threats to scholars."

A new subheading states that: "scholars face defamation suits, and potential criminal charges, in the Polish government’s effort to exonerate the nation of any role in the murders of three million Jews during the Nazi occupation."

Following the publication of the update, Nikodem Rachon, a spokesman for the Polish embassy in Washington, said that he welcomed the fact that the efforts of various organisations had resulted in the magazine being open to discussion on the subject. However, he added that the text is still "full of other mistakes."

On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said that the article was a scandalous story that tries to place on Poland responsibility for the extermination of Jews during World War Two.

Sek told PAP that the publication "is scandalous."

"This is an attempt to create a picture that Poles were responsible for the extermination of three million Jews during World War II," said the deputy minister.

Meanwhile, the Committee of American Jews for Central Europe (AJC Central Europe) in a related statement wrote: “To say that Poland, understood as a community of ethnic Poles and the Polish state, are guilty of the deaths of three million Jews is a distortion of the Holocaust."