Polish far-right lodges complaint against Israeli president under Holocaust law

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Polish nationalist movement Ruch Narodowy (RN) said Tuesday it had filed a complaint with prosecutors against Israel’s president under Poland’s controversial new Holocaust law for having attributed responsibility to Poland for Nazi German crimes.

It follows a press statement released by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s office last week after his meeting with Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Poland’s southern city of Krakow on the occasion of the annual March of the Living at the site of the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

According to the statement, Rivlin had said during the talks, “There is no doubt that there were many Poles who fought the Nazi regime, but we cannot deny that Poland and Poles had a hand in the extermination.”

The RN movement said Rivlin “had attributed responsibility for Nazi crimes to the Polish state,” which is forbidden under the new Holocaust law. The legislation, which came into effect last month penalizes such statements with fines or a jail term of up to three years.

Judicial proceedings

The Israeli statement “requires quick and effective judicial proceedings and a serious penalty, both in terms of general prevention measures and public expectations,” the RN wrote on its website. “The author acted with the goal of consciously and intentionally committing a forbidden act.”

The RN said it lodged the complaint with the IPN Institute of National Remembrance, with is charged with prosecuting Nazi and communist-era crimes. Poland’s Holocaust law was meant to protect the country from false accusations of complicity in the Holocaust.

But it has drawn strong criticism from Israel and Jewish organizations, which accused Warsaw of denying the participation of certain Poles in the genocide of Jews. Israel also expressed deep concern that the law could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony.

During World War II, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and ceased to exist as a state. Six million Poles, half of them Jews, were killed during this period.

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