Polish judge demands apologies Polish historians Feb 13, 2021 5:49:25 GMT -7
Post by pieter on Feb 13, 2021 5:49:25 GMT -7
Polish judge demands apologies historians for "inaccurate information" under investigation
Two prominent Polish historians must apologize to a surviving relative of Edward Malinowski, a Polish mayor during World War II. His role in the persecution of the Jews has been critically examined in a book from 2018. In doing so, the authors have gone beyond their limits, a judge now ruled in a civil case. Jewish organizations are reacting critically and expressing concerns about the ever-diminishing freedom in Poland to investigate the war history.
The lawsuit revolves around excerpts from the book Dalej jest noc, published in 2018, translated into English: “Night without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland”. The 1,600-page book was edited by Jan Grabowski, professor at the University of Ottawa, and Professor Barbara Engelking, director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research.
Jan Grabowski, professor at the University of Ottawa, and Professor Barbara Engelking, director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research
A lawsuit has been filed against them by Filomena Leszczynska, an 81-year-old woman who is a niece of Malinowski. Her lawyers believe that the book damaged her family's reputation by providing "inaccurate information" about her uncle's role in the persecution of the Jews. He is said to have only protected Jews in his village of Malinowo from their persecution during the Nazi occupation, and played no role in the execution of some Jews in nearby forests, as the book states.
A tradition of the Jewish Estera Siemiatycka is also wrongly reproduced in the book in which she claimed to have been robbed by Malinowski. Siemiatycka, who is no longer alive, has been more positive about Malinowski on previous occasions. For the judge this is a sign that the authors should not have made the harder judgment of Malinowski.
A libel case has its roots in a long-ago atrocity that occurred in Malinowo, Poland.Credit...Maciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times
The judge ordered the investigators to publicly apologize to Leszczynska, but did not agree to the claim for damages of more than € 22,000. Her lawyer is satisfied with the verdict: according to her especially the apologies are important.
Leszczynska is supported in her case by the Polish League Against Defamation, an NGO that stands up against linking Poland to Nazism and the Holocaust. Many critics argue that the organization has strong links with the right-wing nationalist ruling party PiS.
Although the judge also stated that the verdict should not have a discouraging effect on academic research, Engelking thinks otherwise. “There is no doubt that there has been some attempt at intimidation to show academics that some topics are not worth discussing,” The Guardian quoted her.
Grabowski and Engelking said they “respect the verdict”, but disagree, and will appeal.
Worry about future research
Jewish organizations and institutions dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust are concerned. Yad Vashem said in a press release:
"Legal action against Holocaust researchers is inconsistent with accepted principles of academic research and is an attack on the effort to obtain a complete and balanced picture of the history of the Holocaust, including the authenticity and reliability of the sources on which it is based.”
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also expresses concern:
“A genuine confrontation with the history of the Holocaust is essential to the health of society. Unobstructed research and open public debate are necessary to fully understand the consequences of the Holocaust and understand its lasting impact. ”
The current mayor of Malinowo, Grzegorz Zaremba, said he first learned of the killings last month. “Suddenly, everyone was talking about our little village,” Mr. Zaremba said. “But nobody really knows the truth about what happened here. Those who do are all dead.”Credit...Maciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times
Concerns about the freedom of researchers in Poland have not come out of the blue: in 2018, the government met fierce criticism of the 'Holocaust Law' - a criminal law that was to forbid assigning any guilt to Poland, as a country or as a people before the Holocaust. That law would only allow Poland to be seen as a victim or hero during the war, and would prohibit research into the murky reality of collaboration by Poland. After pressure from foreign governments, including the US, the law was introduced into civil law. Shortly after the introduction of the law, CIDI published an extensive article by Holocaust researcher Yehuda Bauer on the theme in our newsletter.
The attitude of Gentile Poles towards Jews during the Holocaust was, in reality, of course, extremely varied. While some risked their lives to save Jews, others fanatically participated in seeking out and killing Jewish countrymen. Repression against all forms of resistance was generally more severe than in the countries in Western Europe occupied by the Nazis.