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Old 02 February 2018, 01:21 AM
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Default Warsaw lawmakers pass Holocaust bill to restrict term 'Polish death camps'

Polish lawmakers approved a bill on Thursday that would impose jail terms for suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust, drawing concern from the United States and outrage from Israel, which denounced "any attempt to challenge historical truth."

Poland's ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) says the bill is needed to protect Poland's reputation and ensure historians recognize that Poles as well as Jews perished under the Nazis. Israeli officials said it criminalizes basic historical facts.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/poland-...-law-1.4513814
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  #2  
Old 02 February 2018, 03:41 AM
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"We will never limit the freedom to debate the Holocaust," Morawiecki said on the Polish state television TVP.
What’s to debate? Anyone who says some Poles were complicit goes to jail.

There are books about Poles who organized to kill their Jewish neighbors during the war, like Hunt for the Jews and Neighbors. There were also Poles who risked their lives to save Jews. It’s a complicated history that won’t go away by making terms illegal.

Last edited by Little Pink Pill; 02 February 2018 at 03:53 AM.
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  #3  
Old 02 February 2018, 03:58 AM
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Poland's ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) says the bill is needed to protect Poland's reputation and ensure historians recognize that Poles as well as Jews perished under the Nazis.
So the 3.2 million Jews from Poland who were murdered don't count as Poles?

I can understand chafing at the term Polish death camps. But this statement tells me a lot about the people behind the law.

Members of SO's family who were in the camps were from Poland. Her grandfather fought in the Polish resistance, was captured sent to a camp, and managed to get free through a scheme in which he pretended to be Catholic. How far might he have gotten if he had acknowledged being Jewish but pretended to not be Polish....

The American Holocaust Museum does an excellent job of expressing the horrific toll the Nazis took on Poland's people:
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It is estimated that the Germans killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II. In addition, the Germans murdered at least 3 million Jewish citizens of Poland.
There's a whole article where they manage to recognize Jews from Poland and non-Jews from Poland as both being Polish. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/mobile/en/...uleId=10005473

Last edited by erwins; 02 February 2018 at 04:27 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02 February 2018, 02:00 PM
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This was discussed in some detail on the radio. It is not as it seems people are interpreting it.

There is a move afoot for people to put out revisionist history. In this particular case, the trend is towards saying that the Polish government authorised the construction and operation of the death camps.

This is an attempt to make sure that it is clear that it was not the Polish government that was responsible, but the Nazi occupiers that were.

As for their description of Poles vs Jews, that is semantical. It happens all the time. This is to demonstrate that non-Jewish Poles suffered as well as Jewish Poles. I thought it was obvious.

I know the Israeli desire to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. But I also know the desire to prevent the current crop of ultra-right wing groups to engage in activities similar to those that led to the Holocaust. There is no one "right" solution.
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Old 02 February 2018, 02:06 PM
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I know the Israeli desire to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.
The Israeli desire? That desire is hardly limited to one country.

ETA: I understand that the Israeli government's reaction was specifically mentioned in the OP article, but that doesn't really change my point.
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  #6  
Old 02 February 2018, 02:06 PM
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When I visited Poland, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. The guides are all Polish, and do a great job of tracking who, in addition to Jewish people of many nations, suffered in those camps. The ones I talked to are very proud to be guides there, and to do their part in making sure the Holocaust is not forgotten, or rewritten.

Seaboe
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  #7  
Old 02 February 2018, 02:30 PM
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UEL, I understand what they were trying to do, but it is wrong, not just a semantic difference. That's why I provided a link to a page where a whole article was written that makes the same distinction without once saying that the Jewish victims were not Polish.

If I said gays and lesbians as well as Americans have been targets of assaults, that clearly separates gays and lesbians from Americans. It just takes one word to fix it, ("other Americans") but it is reflective of a view.

Othering Jews is a huge part of how the Holocaust happened. And that sentence does that. It's important.

And no matter how much the Polish nation or government may be maligned by people accidentally or intentionally portraying the concentration camps as Polish rather than Nazi, they have made saying it a crime punishable by 3 years imprisonment. That looks like nationalist fervor to me, not just people trying to set the record straight.

Last edited by erwins; 02 February 2018 at 02:37 PM.
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  #8  
Old 02 February 2018, 02:52 PM
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My father and his parents fled Poland in the early 1920's.

The Polish government didn't build the Nazi death camps. But there was sure as hell a lot of antisemitism in Poland, including in the Polish government, that can't be blamed on the Germans.

And if somebody asks me where my father's family was from, I feel I need to specify their Jewishness; because being a Jew in Poland was indeed different from being a non-Jewish Polish citizen. If they're still, in official statements, talking about the number of non-Jewish Poles who were killed by the Nazis as if those were all the Poles and the Jews were something else: yeah, that's a problem. It strongly implies that even in death, and even in the 21st century, full citizenship isn't being granted.

I'm sure there are many Poles who understand why that language matters; just as there were indeed many non-Jewish Poles who risked their lives to try to save Jews during the Nazi occupation. But I also strongly suspect that anti-Semitism hasn't gone away there; and that this law will only encourage it. And if the current government really doesn't understand what the fuss is about: that's a level of cluelessness that they ought to get over.

If they want to produce a lot of publicity and education about the fact that it was the Germans and not the Poles who built and ran the death camps: that's fine. That's a good idea. History should be remembered as accurately as possible. But making it illegal to say in shorthand 'the Polish camps' for those camps that were in Poland is another matter entirely. And to imply that there was no Polish complicity in the murder of Jews is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense.
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  #9  
Old 02 February 2018, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by erwins View Post
So the 3.2 million Jews from Poland who were murdered don't count as Poles?

I can understand chafing at the term Polish death camps. But this statement tells me a lot about the people behind the law.
I can't say I disagree with your assessment of who's behind the law, but as to the distinction between "Poles" and "Jews", we Americans sometimes forget these terms can used to describe ethnicity, rather than nationality. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with saying "3.2 million ethnic Jews and 1.9 million ethnic Poles were killed", and that may have been all that statement meant.

Of course, it can be a slippery slope when you harp on ethnicities that have the same names as nationalities, so your instincts in this regard are not unjustified.

The sore spots and raw nerves associated with this chapter of Polish history do indeed make this tough. Many people do think the Polish people and nation as a whole were complicit in the Holocaust, and many are unaware of the suffering and death of many non-Jews (Poles and others) at the camps. Unfortunately, the reaction of some Polish Americans I'm aware of (and I'm sure some Poles in Poland) is to claim there is a vast Jewish cover-up of Polish casualties and that the Holocaust was not primarily focused on the extermination of Jews.

By the way, while I'm not comfortable enough with the Polish language to know how "Polish death camps" sounds to them, I don't find the term in English to be one bit improper. They were death camps. They were in Poland. (In 1979-81, Americans being held in Iran were called "the Iranian hostages". I always thought there was room for misinterpretation there, but it rolled off the tongue easier than "the American hostages being held in Iran.")

erwins makes a good point about the law itself. I've lost the reference, but yesterday I read that someone who was active in fighting the image of Poland as aiding the Nazis said this law winds up doing exactly the opposite of its stated intent. By criminalizing speech, you're just that much closer to Nazi thinking.
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  #10  
Old 02 February 2018, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
I can't say I disagree with your assessment of who's behind the law, but as to the distinction between "Poles" and "Jews", we Americans sometimes forget these terms can used to describe ethnicity, rather than nationality. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with saying "3.2 million ethnic Jews and 1.9 million ethnic Poles were killed", and that may have been all that statement meant.
My father's family had been living in Poland for hundreds of years. The fact that they still couldn't be fairly described as ethnically Polish is telling in itself.
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  #11  
Old 02 February 2018, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
My father's family had been living in Poland for hundreds of years. The fact that they still couldn't be fairly described as ethnically Polish is telling in itself.
Yeah. I certainly couldn't argue with you there. There IS a lot of "othering" of Jews in Poland - not necessarily based in hate, but still troubling.

Some years ago, my ailing mother and I went to Poland - she wanted to see it before she died. She was having serious mobility issues, so she usually stayed at a relative's home while I went out and saw more sights.

Although I'm not Jewish, a listing in a guidebook made me curious to see the only synagogue that had survived WWII in the middle of Warsaw. It took a long time to find it, as you have to go down one of several narrow lanes that look like simple walkways through local apartment and office buildings. I felt the city planners had built around it without even a thought to putting it back on an actual city street.

When I got back to my cousin's apartment, he asked what I had done that day. I said I went to see the synagogue. He responded with a look of confusion and ever-so-subtle discomfort.
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  #12  
Old 02 February 2018, 05:31 PM
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As for their description of Poles vs Jews, that is semantical.
Does that make you anti-semantical?

Sorry. I'll get it myself.
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  #13  
Old 02 February 2018, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
There IS a lot of "othering" of Jews in Poland - not necessarily based in hate, but still troubling.
If it isn’t based in hate, what is it based in? Antisemitism is still a constant undercurrent in central Europe, where there are still massive neonazi marches, Jewish grave vandalism, and calls for Jews to register by members of the government.

I lived and taught in Central Europe for over a decade, and I heard and saw things that made me feel like I was stuck in a time warp: large scale political campaigns based on a platform of ending Jewish ownership of the media, the casual and socially accepted use of the term “dirty Jew,” and alliances with Middle Eastern States who share the goal of the dissolution of the state of Israel, to name a few. And some of those came from people who would emphatically say, “I don’t hate Jews!”

So I totally agree with Erwin’s sharp eyed call on the semantics of ethnic identification. There is a very clear, “we” died too, not just “them” going on here. I understand that they want people to know their government was not officially complicit in the death camps. But if Poland wishes to rehabilitate its reputation as the second most antisemitic country in Europe, criminalizing speech concerning its role in the holocaust isn’t the way to do it.

ETA The books I mentioned earlier caused a huge debate in Poland. No one wanted to admit that there were Nazi sympathizers amongst the Polish people, much less amongst the government. This is a troubling trend.

Last edited by Little Pink Pill; 02 February 2018 at 05:43 PM.
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  #14  
Old 02 February 2018, 05:41 PM
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.... and calls for alliances with countries Middle Eastern countries who share the goal of the dissolution of the state of Israel, to name a few.
A couple of thoughts:

First, the United States has alliances with Middle Eastern countries who share the goal of the dissolution of Israel. I often wonder why we keep Saudi Arabia as such a strong ally, but they certainly aren't unique. Heck, if you have an alliance with pretty much anyone in the Middle East (excepting Israel, of course), then you are allying with a country that wants to dissolve Israel.

Second, you can be against the State of Israel (the government) and not be anti-Semitic. There are lots of things that the government of Israel does that I am vehemently opposed to, but I have nothing against Jews or the Jewish People. "Jew" is a unique term because it refers both to the "nation" (the ethnic peoples) and the religion (the followers). Both of them are different from the State (the country). Anti-Antisemitism refers to against the people, not against the country.
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Old 02 February 2018, 05:43 PM
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I don't see how that kind of "othering" could be disentangled from hate, especially given the historical and cultural context.
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Old 02 February 2018, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Winston O'Boogie View Post
First, the United States has alliances with Middle Eastern countries who share the goal of the dissolution of Israel.
I was adding a link when you posted this. Here is another. The political party in question is the antisemetic, third most powerful party in Hungary called Jobbik (which means “better”). They have called for the registration of jews because they pose a “national security risk.” The country they have ties to (they have “twinned” certain Hungarian towns to them) is Iran.

Quote:
Second, you can be against the State of Israel (the government) and not be anti-Semitic.
I understand the distinction. The conversation I was referring to was with a group of students who were not talking specifically about the government of Israel. They wanted to know why “those Jews” needed to have a country at all.

Last edited by Little Pink Pill; 02 February 2018 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 02 February 2018, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Winston O'Boogie View Post
A couple of thoughts:

First, the United States has alliances with Middle Eastern countries who share the goal of the dissolution of Israel. I often wonder why we keep Saudi Arabia as such a strong ally
Money and oil.

Also, many Evangelicals who vote for supporting Israel aren't actually pro-Israeli, they do so because they think it's necessary for Israel to exist in order to fulfill the prophecies in the Book of Revelation.
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Old 02 February 2018, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Pink Pill View Post
I was adding a link when you posted this. The political party in question is the antisemetic, third most powerful party in Hungary called Jobbik (which means “better”). They have called for the registration of jews because they pose a “national security risk.” The country they have ties to (they have “twinned” certain Hungarian towns to them) is Iran.
Allying with Iran is not necessarily bad; a political party allying with another political party that calls for the dissolution of Israel is bad, as are calls for registration.
Quote:
I understand the distinction. The conversation I was referring to was with a group of students who were not talking specifically about the government of Israel. They wanted to know why “those Jews” needed to have a country at all.
I am not a history buff; on the surface, this is not an unreasonable question. As I recall, Israel was created by Great Briton after World War II as a homeland for the ethnic Jews. Israel as a country did not exist before that (at least in recent history), so "why do they deserve their own country" is a valid question. Most countries are created by vanquishing an opponent - this one was just "given" to them.

I'm sure there are more nuances to the the conversation; maybe it's just ignorance of history; I wouldn't immediately assign anti-antisemitism.
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Old 02 February 2018, 06:06 PM
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(ETA: A lot was posted while I was composing and I didn't refresh the page. This is a response to Chasfink's response to my earlier post.)

I am well aware that they likely meant ethnic Poles. And I considered thorny locust's point in making my post. I'm sure there were many Jews who had long lived in the area. Even granting it that meaning, in 2018 people should not be distinguishing in those terms.

From what I understand, apparently the Nazis viewed what they would have identified as ethnic Poles, or the Polish race, as inferior, which is part of why so many non-Jewish Poles were killed. But that does not mean we should use those terms now.

Ethnicity can mean the same thing as nationality, but it usually also carries a sort of tribal/shared gene pool connotation as well. When you have a mixed heritage national group, it doesn't work very well to use ethnic to describe them. Ethnic American, for example, just sounds like you mean someone who is a member of a minority. (I dislike when the word is used that way). And usually, it seems like the point is either "white people" or "us" vs "immigrants/them/darker-skinned people." When the "other" group includes people who have been there for hundreds of years, it's hard to make the case that you mean "immigrants."

For reference, in case anyone else shared my curiosity, Poland was about 10% Jewish before WWII. (And pretty close to 0% after.). There were many cities and towns where Jews made up a large percentage of the population.

Last edited by erwins; 02 February 2018 at 06:24 PM.
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  #20  
Old 02 February 2018, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Winston O'Boogie View Post

I'm sure there are more nuances to the the conversation; maybe it's just ignorance of history; I wouldn't immediately assign anti-antisemitism.
Saying "those Jews" is more than a red flag to me that assigning antisemitism would be an appropriate response. Quite aside from LPP actually living and teaching there and having a pretty good idea of what she is talking about.
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