On the Law of the Institute of National Remembrance
By Karol Bachura
Albanian Daily News
Published February 10, 2018
The President of the Republic of Poland, in accordance with Article 122, paragraph 2 of the Constitution, signed the law on amendments to the existing law of the Institute of National Remembrance and requested its publication in the Official Gazette. Most of the law provisions will enter into force 14 days from the day of declaration. The President also used the right recognized in Article 191, paragraph 1, item 1 of the Constitution, to pass the law in question to the Constitutional Court with the object of reviewing the compatibility of some of its articles with the Constitution of the Republic. The law will therefore normally operate in this wording until the Constitutional Court is pronounced, which may possibly lead to changes in the provisions contained in the President’s request.
In the material addressed to the Constitutional Court, the President seeks to analyze whether the provisions of Article 55a of the aforementioned law that provide, inter alia, punishment for attributing to the Polish State the responsibility for the crimes of the German Reich III, restrict freedom of expression, which is protected by the Constitution of Poland. In addition, the President asks the Constitutional Court to assess whether Article 55a of the law in question, which foresees criminal liability, is formulated with sufficient precision.
The decision of Mr. President Andrzej Duda to sign the law and to send it to the Constitutional Court proves the full opening of Poland for dialogue with the Israeli side. It shows at the same time that Poland is particularly interested in guaranteeing freedom in the field of scientific research on Holocaust, in the service of advancing in historiography and in deeper knowledge of facts related to crimes and genocide.
We recognize the fact of the existence of different experiences and memory on World War II and the Holocaust, given that Poland had to deal patiently for years by public relations instruments with incorrect formulations displayed in the foreign press. The battles with such findings unfortunately didn’t bring about a reduction in the use of such formulations in the media and virtual spaces. There were even more articles accusing the Poles of participating in the extermination of Jews in the period when Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany in the years 1939-1945.
In recent decades, in the perception of public opinion outside Poland, the Poles were first displaced from the position of the victims of Reich III to the position of observers and later to the people responsible for the Holocaust. The purpose of the amendment to the law on the Institute of National Remembrance is the elimination of public behaviors contrary to the facts attributing to the Polish people and the Polish state the responsibility or co-responsibility for Nazi crimes committed by the German Reich III. We believe that the responsibility of European peoples must be measured with the same criteria.
Poland has opposed and will firmly oppose any kind of lie about the Holocaust. The denial of the Extermination of Jews in Poland is a punishable act. We also stick to the view that the Auschwitzian lie also extends to the spread of formulations that undermine Poland and the Poles by attributing to the country the responsibility for the Holocaust.
We hope that some misunderstandings about the provisions and the purpose of the new law on the Institute of National Remembrance will be clarified very quickly through the dialogue of historians, experts, lawyers and all interested parties.
One of the particularly extreme cases is the use of the term “Polish death camps”. The diplomatic interventions of the Polish diplomatic missions in these cases are indispensable, but the practice so far demonstrates that they have been insufficient to solve the problem.
The punishment foreseen in the provisions of the new law will accurately determine situations and will serve to avoid the conscious denigration of Poland. The final assessment of the concrete case will be conducted by the court.
The new law is against those who, publicly and contrary to facts, offend the Polish people/state, or unduly reduce the obvious responsibility of the guilty. In particular, the law is not against any other state, including Israel, and will not restrict the freedom of scientific research or artistic expression - the exclusion of such activities is punishable by law (Article 55a paragraph 3).
There will also be no condemnation of the exposure of disgraceful cases of crimes committed by persons regardless of their nationality. The law protects the historical truth and the good name of the Polish state and people. It does not absolutely protect criminals of any nationality. Furthermore, the provisions of the Law on the Institute of National Remembrance are based on the framework guidelines of the Council of the European Union 2008/913.
The purpose of the new law on the Institute of National Remembrance is the war on the truth of World War II and the crimes committed over the Jewish population. The truth we owe to victims of World War II, as well as those who heroically sacrificed their lives to save others. Poland will always fight for remembrance and truth about the Holocaust.
Many people worry that the new provisions will allow persecution of persons who will lay the responsibility of Nazi crimes to the Polish people. It should be borne in mind that the same provision will enable the punishment of persons who unjustly reduce the responsibility of the real perpetrators of these crimes. This law is against the Auschwitzian lie, which is punishable in many other countries of the world, such as in Germany, Austria, France or Belgium.
In World War II, after the attack on Reich III, when Poland fell under German occupation, no one did ever collaborate with the Nazis on behalf of Poland and the Polish people. Although we must speak and condemn the cases of Poles who have collaborated with the Germans, we cannot agree with the attribution to the Polish state of co-responsibility for the Holocaust. This is an open falsification of history.
In December 1942, the authorities of the Polish government illegally created an institution that dealt particularly with aid to the Jews – the Council to Aid Jews, which operated by its code-name “?egota”. It was the only organization of its kind in the entire occupied Europe. The Polish government in the underground sentenced to death the delivery of Jews to Germans.
More than a quarter of the Righteous Among the Nations are the Poles. They represent the largest group, which grows dynamically.