Holocaust bill row is 'misunderstanding': Polish minister

Far-Right Groups Demand Polish President Sign Holocaust Bill

Polish President Andrzej Duda announced on Tuesday he will sign controversial legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust.

"I decided that I would sign the law on the Institute of National Remembrance, and I will give it to the Constitutional Court", Duda said in his statement on the law on the Institute of National Remembrance, the Office of the Polish president said on its official Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon.

The law will impose prison terms of up to three years for statements attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany during World War II to the Polish nation.

More than three million of the 3.2 million Jews who lived in pre-war Poland were murdered by the Nazis, accounting for about half of all Jews killed in the Holocaust.

"We are also concerned about the repercussions this draft legislation, if enacted, could have on Poland's strategic interests and relationships", she said.

According to Jewish community leader Klaudia Klimek, Duda has requested that the tribunal probe whether it contravenes freedom of speech, and also whether the language of the bill is understandable to laypeople. "The United States reaffirms that terms like "Polish death camps" are painful and misleading". Some of the worst Nazi atrocities were committed on Polish soil. The idea seemed to have been dropped, but made a sudden reappearance when the lower house of parliament approved a bill on January 26, the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Poland's right-wing government says the law is necessary to protect the reputation of Poles as victims of Nazi aggression.

But he said the Polish state bore no responsibility because it ceased to exist following the invasion by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Israel slammed the new proposed legislation, emphasizing that Poland was instrumental in the extermination of Jews during World War II.

Israeli officials have voiced strong objections to the law, saying it is rewriting history.

On February 5, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill.

"Although he said, "We do not deny that there were cases of huge wickedness", especially regarding the denunciation of Jews by Polish citizens", he was emphatic in stating: "No, there was no systematic way in which Poles took part" in the Holocaust.

Defending the law, Duda said it would not prohibit Holocaust survivors and witnesses from talking about crimes committed by individual Poles.

Israel has repeatedly expressed outrage, claiming that it will stifle Holocaust discussion and allow for the whitewashing of crimes such as the denunciation and killing of Jews by Poles.

Polish officials say they only want to fight historical lies and distortions, primarily ones they see as downplaying the responsibility of Germany's Nazi perpetrators. "No legislation will change the past", added Bennett.



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