WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has strongly denounced a New Yorker article examining the Holocaust scholarship in Poland, accusing the magazine of publishing lies and distortions of the role of Poland in World War II.
The government also reacted, with a deputy foreign minister, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, affirming on Twitter that “this manipulation will be the subject of a strong reaction from Polish diplomacy”.
The Auschwitz Museum is located in southern Poland, which was under German occupation during the war. Today it is a Polish state institution that acts as the guardian of the remains of Nazi Germany’s most famous death camp. He is known to denounce cases of Holocaust denial and revisionism.
He spoke out loudly on Saturday after The New Yorker published an article on Friday by Masha Gessen, which examines the cases of two recently convicted Polish Holocaust historians. by a Polish court for defaming a village official who died in wartime.
The main points of contention surround a caption which reads: “To exonerate the nation from the murders of three million Jews, the Polish government will go so far as to sue academics for libel.” This idea is repeated in the text of the article.
Some 3 million Polish Jews were killed during the Holocaust, but the vast majority were directly murdered by the Nazi occupation forces of Adolf Hitler in Poland. A Polish underground army resisted the Germans, and the Polish state, unlike other occupied nations, never collaborated with the Nazis.
The debated question, however, concerns the extent to which the Poles either aided the Jews, acted as bystanders, or encouraged the German killings in the case of the tens of thousands of Jews who managed to escape the ghettos. This is an extremely sensitive issue in Poland, with Polish nationalist authorities keen to highlight Polish heroism and to discourage explorations of Polish wrongdoing.
The New Yorker article’s claim that the Polish government sued academics is not correct. The government has clearly expressed its disgust for scholars. Yet the case was a civil lawsuit brought by a right-wing group friendly to the government.
Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz museum, said the New Yorker article “contains so many lies and distortions that I find it hard to believe it’s a coincidence. “
“Moreover, when it comes to the Holocaust, any distortion of historical truth is very dangerous. This applies to all forms of denial, revisionism and distortion of historical truth, ”Cywinski said.
David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said on Sunday that the article’s caption was “libelous.”
“Germany – and Germany alone – was responsible for the Nazi death camps, from Auschwitz to Treblinka,” Harris wrote on Twitter, adding that “Auschwitz’s infamous words – ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (Le work makes you free) – were written in German, not Polish. And that should never, ever be forgotten.
This version corrects the organization’s name to the American Jewish Committee, not the American Jewish Congress.