03/03/2018 Society

Polish 'Holocaust Law' Tries to Silence Argentine Author

A controversial Polish law that bans the mention of Poles being "co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich" during World War II is being used to sue Pagina 12, a well known Argentine newspaper.

KRAKOW (POLAND) .- In the archive photo taken on February 27, 2018 the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, meets with the Jewish community at the headquarters of the Jewish Community Center in Krakow (Poland).
Jacek Bednarczyk / PAP / ARCHIVE LANA (02/27/2018)

On Friday, the Polish League Against Defamation (RDI) filed a suit against the online newspaper for a story it published in December. The story reads that on July 10, 1941, armed Poles entered the town of Jedwabne, Poland and within two hours indiscriminately killed 1,600 men, women, children and elderly, mainly of Jewish descent, "in one of the cruelest and incredible acts committed during the Second World War."

The RDI - aligned to the Polish conservative ruling party that proposed and passed the law on Thursday - claims that Pagina 12 and the article’s author, Federico Pavlovsky "intended to harm the Polish nation and the good reputation of Polish soldiers."

The new Polish law enables the RDI and other Poles to take judicial action based on such a broad claim.

The "Holocaust Law" as its being referred to, allows the European country to ligate against, "Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich… or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes."

If found guilty those sentenced could face up to three years in prison, according to the legislation.

The RDI, formed in 2012, says it was created "to initiate and support actions aimed at correcting false information on Poland's history, in particular, World War 2, the role of Poles in the war, Polish people's attitude to Jews, and German concentration camps."

The Israeli government, Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors condemn the new law saying it inhibits free speech regarding the Holocaust and will be used to repress information on Poles who killed Jews during WWII.

Right-wing Polish President Andrzej Duda approved the law last month and also sent it to the country’s Supreme Court for review. The administration says that charges can’t be formally logged until the court has ruled, which it is expected to do in several weeks.

Federico Pavlovsky - whose Russian great grandfather escaped czarist rule for Argentina when he was 15 years old - said in a Pagina 12 article today, "We know what the intention is of these types of judicial politics is to: intimidate, silence and paralyze (people) with fear."