Poland’s largest bookstore chain halts sale of book by nationalist author after boycott threats

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The largest bookstore chain in Poland has stopped selling a book written a nationalist former priest accused of anti-Semitism, after customers threatened it with a boycott over the weekend.

Empik, a bookstore network in Poland, on Saturday began selling “My Fight for the Truth” by Jacek Miedlar. The title is a reference to “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler. On Sunday, the book network halted sales of the book.

Miedlar is a former priest associated with Polish nationalists. Last year he was indicted in the western Poland city of Wroclaw for “public incitement to hatred based on religious and national differences” for a 2016 speech in which he called for hatred against Jews and Ukrainians.

This year, after the outbreak of the crisis between Israel and Poland caused by the amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance which would have made it illegal to blame the Polish nation for crimes that were committed by the Nazis, Miedlar began producing T-shirts with the inscription “I am not sorry for Jedwabne.:

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Polish historian Jan Gross’ book “Neighbors,” about the pogrom in Jedwabne on July 10, 1941 on Jewish residents of the village by Poles, initiated the Polish debate on the responsibility of Poles for the crimes committed during the war and the murder of Jews.

“It is outrageous that someone publishes book with a title alluding to Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ and the largest bookstore chain does not realize they got into promotion of radicalism,” Monika Krawczyk, CEO of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, told JTA.

“We are proponents of freedom of speech, but within the limits of the law,” Monika Marianowicz, Empik’s press spokeswoman, told JTA. Following many messages and e-mails sent to the bookstore and comments on social media, Miedlar’s book was temporarily withdrawn from sale. “In the face of numerous reports from our clients about the fact that this book spreads hate speech and thus violates Polish law, we decided to block its availability until the situation is clarified,” Marianowicz says.

Empik does not rule out that, after a detailed reading of the book, if it turns out that it does not break the Polish law, that it will appear again for sale.

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