Holocaust museum in Poland faces nationalist abuse after ‘Polish death camps’ law
Holocaust museum in Poland faces nationalist abuse after ‘Polish death camps’ law (VIDEO)
In the past several months Polish nationalists have increased pressure on the museum in Auschwitz, which they accuse of having an anti-Polish bias.
The law passed in February criminalizes some speech about war-time crimes in Poland, including calling the Nazi death camps, like the Auschwitz-Birkenau one, “Polish”. The legislation, which authorities claim to be protecting Polish history from slander, allegedly panders to nationalist sentiment that the Holocaust narrative in the country was focused by Jewish victims of the Nazis and downplayed the suffering of non-Jewish Poles under the occupation.
“The Polish government has come up with this legislation forbidding people from having an opinion about the guild or lack of thereof of the Polish nation,” political commentator Amir Oren told RT. “One can understand why they would like to have some control over the narrative. But it is all in all a bad practice.”
While the law itself drew harsh criticism from Israel, Holocaust museums in Poland saw a surge of abuse from nationalists in the last few months. There were also online articles denouncing Auschwitz museum as anti-Polish.
“The collateral damage of the dispute is that Auschwitz became a target. We’ve had people saying they were not allowed to have a Polish flag here, or saying that the memory of Poles is not represented here, that the museum is anti-Polish – all of this is untrue, and we had to respond,” Pawel Sawicki, Auschwitz museum’s social media chief, told the Guardian.
In addition to outright bullying by nationalists, Auschwitz and other museums face political pressure. In February, a local official suggested that Auschwitz guides should be licensed by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, a state body responsible for promoting Polish-centric historic narratives. The museum itself answers to the culture ministry.