The Algemeiner, a US-based Jewish newspaper, asked Jonny Daniels, executive director of From the Depths - an international organisation dedicated to preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to the protection of Jewish heritage - about his reaction to Duda’s speech at the anniversary of a 1946 massacre of Jews in Kielce, southern Poland.
“Such behavior must be condemned,” Duda said, speaking at Monday’s commemorations of the killing of some 40 Jewish residents by their neighbours 70 years ago.
Duda said that the Polish state strives to guarantee security to all its citizens “regardless of their background, their religious convictions or lack thereof, and the language that is closest to their heart.”
Daniels said that Duda “reiterated what the government has been saying for a long time - that there is no place for anti-Semitism and racism in Poland. His words are remarkably important.”
Referring to Poland, Daniels told The Algemeiner: “It is entirely different to the feeling you have as a Jew today in Paris, Brussels or Berlin, where walking around with a kippah [yarmulka] isn’t an option.”
Daniels added: “At the ceremony for the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising organized by TSKZ — the largest Jewish organization in Poland — for the first time ever, the president and prime minister of Poland were in attendance.
“Duda then visited the monument in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery, the first president to do so."
The Algemeiner pointed out that Duda’s call echoed recent remarks by Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party, at a ceremony commemorating the burning of a synagogue in Białystok, north-eastern Poland, during the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, in March President Duda condemned anti-Semitism while opening a museum dedicated to Poles who rescued Jews during WW II. The museum, in the village of Markowa, south-eastern Poland, is named in honour of the Polish Ulma family, who were shot there by the country’s Nazi-German occupiers for sheltering Jews.
The Kielce Pogrom was carried out on 4 July 1946, ten months after the official end of World War II.
As many as 42 people died in the massacre, and the crime prompted thousands of Jews who had survived the war to emigrate from Poland. (pk)
Click here to listen to a recent Radio Poland interview with Jonny Daniels.