On March 2, 2018 Polish League Agains Defamation filed with the District Court in Warsaw a suit against the Argentinian internet daily Pagina12. The Editors, in the article about the Jedwabne massacre, used a photograph of the murdered Polish underground anti-communist partisans.
On the pages of the 18 December 2017 issue of Pagina 12, which is a widely read centre-left daily in Argentina, in the article “Familiar faces” („Rostros familiares”), authored by Federico Pavlovsky, the paper reproduced a photograph of the murdered partisans of Polish anticommunist underground.
The photograph, originally taken by the Communist security forces, depicts bodies of the partisans from the “Tiger” detachment of the “Roj” group, killed in battle February 25, 1950. The dead partisans on the photo are those of Ildefons Żbikowski „Tiger”, Józef Niski „Brzoza”, Henryk Niedziałkowski „Huragan” and Władysław Bukowski „Zapora”.
The Editors purposely and without reflection connected the two different periods: Jedwabne – 1941, and the communist era (the photograph was taken in 1950).
Many Argentinian Poles as well as the Polish Embassy in Buenos Aires sent protests to Pagina12, to no avail – the photo was not removed.
Juxtaposition of these two themes: the massacre of Jews in Jedwabne under the German occupation and the dead warriors of the Polish anticommunist underground is a trickery.
Numerous Poles and representatives of Polish Embassy in Argentina have expressed their dissatisfaction about the matter with the Pagina12 editor’s office. However, the photograph has not been changed and is still available on the website next to the article.
The claim was brought in by the Polish League Against Defamation (PLAD) pursuant to Article 53o of the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance. The provision stipulates that “claims concerning the good name of the Republic of Poland or the Polish Nation may be brought in by non-government organisations if it is part of their statutory activities.” In previous cases, claims concerning the damage of the good name, e.g. on account of using the phrase “Polish concentration camps”, were brought in by a person who had been a prisoner of a German camp (e.g. Mr Karol Tendera, prisoner of the Auschwitz German concentration camp). In accordance with the amended Act, the right to file a claim is not restricted only to camp survivors and can be exercised also by non-government organisations such as PLAD.
This is a civil-law case, not a criminal one, which means that a public prosecutor is not participating in the proceedings. PLAD has not moved the Court to apply any penal measures.
PLAD is demanding apology for using a photograph of soldiers from a unit led by “Rój”, who were murdered on 25 February 1950 by Communist soldiers, in an article on “Polish anti-Semitism” and genocide in Jedwabne in 1941. RDI is further demanding to include in the correction an explanation on who the persons in the photograph are.
The wording of the correction for which PLAD has petitioned:
“An apology by the editors of Pagina12 portal:
The editors the Pagina12 portal hereby apologise for damaging the good name of the Polish Nation, in particular the families of all those who had been murdered by Communist occupiers while fighting for the country’s independence.
The editors declare that they regret having illustrated their article on the Jewish genocide in Jedwabne, which had taken place during German occupation, with a photograph showing murdered Polish soldiers who had been fighting with Communist occupiers after World War II.
The editors further declare that the photograph accompanying the article entitled “Familiar Faces” (Spanish: “Rostros familiares”) dated 18 December 2017 shows Polish soldiers who took a heroic and solitary attempt to oppose Soviet presence in Poland after World War II, and died as a result of this unequal fight.”
- Statement of the RDI the claim brought in against Pagina12, 05.03.2018
- The letter to Asociación de Entidades Periodísticas Argentinas (ADEPA)
El Sindicato de Prensa Rosario, 7.03.2018
- The letter from the families of the fallen soldiers of the National Military Union, who served in the “Tygrys” patrol of the unit commanded by MSgt. Mieczysław Dziemieszkiewicz, a.k.a. “Rój”, 11.04.2018