Poland and the Holocaust – facts and myths

1. Poland was the first and one of the major victims of World War II.

2. The extermination camps, in which several million people were murdered, were not Polish. These were German camps in Poland occupied by Nazi Germany. The term “Polish death camps” is contradictory to historical facts and grossly unfair to Poland as a victim of Nazi Germany.

3. The Poles were the first to alert European and American leaders about the Holocaust.

4. Poland never collaborated with Nazi Germany. The largest resistance movement in occupied Europe was created in Poland. Moreover, in occupied Europe, Poland was one of the few countries where the Germans introduced and exercised the death penalty for helping Jews.

5. Hundreds of thousands of Poles – at the risk of their own lives – helped Jews survive the war and the Holocaust. Poles make up the largest group among the Righteous Among the Nations, i.e. citizens of various countries who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

6. As was the case in other countries during the war, there were cases of disgraceful behaviour towards Jews in occupied Poland, but this was a small minority compared to the Polish society as a whole. At the same time, there were also instances of disgraceful behaviour by Jews in relation to other Jews and to Poles.

7. During the war, pogroms of the Jewish people were observed in various European cities and were often inspired by Nazi Germans. Along with the Jews, Polish people, notably the intelligentsia and the political, socio-economic and cultural elites, were murdered on a massive scale by the Nazis and by the Soviets.

8. In the post-war period, some attempts were made to falsify the history of the Holocaust, including the attitude of the Poles towards the Jews during the war. In order to prevent this falsification and to protect Poland’s reputation worldwide, in January 2018, the Polish Parliament passed an Act to penalize attributing responsibility for Nazi Germany’s crimes to the Polish state or Polish nation.

9. There are opinions that accusing Poland and Poles of anti-Semitism and complicity in the Holocaust (even if this is false) is a deliberate attempt to facilitate the achievement of specific political and financial goals in relation to Poland.

10. In February 2018, prominent German politicians, including Chancellor Merkel, publicly admitted on several occasions that the full responsibility for the Holocaust lies with Germany.

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