Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

MEPs hit by second Polish email campaign

  • Morawiecki: 'Holocaust denial is not only denial of German crimes, but also other ways of falsifying history' (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

MEPs have been hit by a second Polish email campaign, this time defending a controversial new law from Warsaw on Holocaust speech.

The messages began coming in on Sunday (4 February) and Monday from private gmail and other addresses, containing appeals and links to Polish government statements.

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"For us of Poles it is very important so that world [sic] finds the truth," one message, signed Tomasz Lozinski, said.

Another one, signed Barbara Wieckowska, copy-pasted a statement by Poland's ambassador to the US, Piotr Wilczek, that was also published in The New York Times newspaper.

"Let me be clear: There was no systematic complicity in the Holocaust, not by the Polish nation or by the Polish state," Wilczek said.

Several of the emails linked to a statement on YouTube by Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who also justified the new Polish law to gag people from accusing Poles of collusion with Nazi Germany in the Holocaust.

"Holocaust denial is not only denial of German crimes, but also other ways of falsifying history ... when one diminishes the responsibility of the real perpetrator and attributes that responsibility to the victims," Morawiecki said

The emails popped up alongside Polish ads on EU media, such as the Politico website, which linked to Morawiecki's video clip under the slogan "The truth needs protection".

The email bomb was the second of its type after one in support of Ryszard Czarnecki, an MEP from Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, last month.

The Czarnecki one saw MEPs' inboxes flooded with hundreds of emails saying he should keep his job as European Parliament vice-president even though he had insulted a Polish opposition MEP by likening her to a Nazi collaborator.

"This time around, there weren't quite as many emails as for Czarnecki", a parliament source told EUobserver.

Meanwhile, Polish state prosecutor Robert Janicki told German media over the weekend that Warsaw had applied to the international police agency, Interpol, in France for help to go after some 1,600 alleged Nazi criminals who were still on the run in Austria, Germany, and further afield.

"We finally have to deal comprehensively with the mass murder that was committed in German concentration camps," Janicki said.

Duda adamant

For his part, Polish president Andrzej Duda, who still has the power to amend or quash the controversial bill, gave no sign that he intended to do so in an open letter published by his chancellery over the weekend.

"Each year we continue to register hundreds of cases where defamatory language, including the phrase 'Polish death camps,' reappears. These false assertions must not be accepted," it said.

Poland's deputy PM and former prime minister, Beata Szydlo, added on Twitter on Sunday that Poles should rally round PiS on the issue.

"It doesn't matter whether you're from the government or opposition camp. It's important whether you defend Poland," she said.

The gag law has prompted fierce criticism by Israel, which says Holocaust survivors who speak out on instances of Polish collusion with the Nazis could face jail terms or fines.

The dispute comes amid Poland's previous confrontation with the EU on judicial reform and migrant quotas, but neither controversy seems to have hurt the right-wing PiS party.

PiS support jumped six points to hit 49 percent in a new survey published by state broadcaster TVP Info over the weekend, with opposition parties trailing far behind as Poland prepares for elections next year.

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