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Polish president met Israeli counterpart to 'bear witness' to Holocaust

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 12.04.2018 13:33
The Polish president has met his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin to “bear witness to the Holocaust” as Holocaust Memorial Day is marked on Thursday at the site of a former Nazi death camp.
Reuven Rivlin and Andrzej Duda. Photo: PAP/Andrzej Grygiel.Reuven Rivlin and Andrzej Duda. Photo: PAP/Andrzej Grygiel.

Polish President Andrzej Duda added, amid strained ties between Poland and Israel over a new Polish anti-defamation law, that nobody wanted to censor the atrocities of the Second World War.

He admitted that some Poles acted heinously during the war and that "we must talk about this, and it is absolutely no one’s intention to block witness testimonies".

Duda said he was honoured to meet Rivlin at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, set up by German Nazis on occupied Polish territory during World War Two, "which saw the terrible tragedy of the Jewish nation".

"We meet to bear witness … to the memory of the Holocaust of the Jewish Nation … to say, or even to call out ‘never again’… to antisemitism, never again to genocide, never again to the Holocaust,” Duda said.

Duda and Rivlin were also set to join in the 30th annual March of the Living, held each year on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The three-kilometre march starts at the infamous main gate of the former German Nazi death camp in Auschwitz and ends at the crematorium at a second camp, Birkenau.

It sees thousands of youths flock each year to the site to pay tribute to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Polish-Israeli ties became strained when the Polish parliament earlier this year passed a bill which could impose a jail term on anyone who accused Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes during World War II.

Polish President Andrzej Duda later signed the bill into law while also referring it to the Constitutional Tribunal for review.

In Poland, the new rules were seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase "Polish death camps", which many said implies the country's involvement in the Holocaust.

But commentators have said that Israel was concerned that the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticised individual Poles' role in the Holocaust.

Israeli ambassador to Poland Anna Azari has said that in Israel the law "is seen as creating a possibility of punishment for Holocaust survivors' testimony."

Polish Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro, who also serves as the country's justice minister, asked the Constitutional Tribunal to deem part of the new law unconstitutional because it allows people outside of Poland to be investigated and tried for accusing the country of being jointly responsible for war crimes. (vb)

Source: IAR

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