‘Righteous’ Poles ask Israel and Poland to return to ‘path of dialogue and reconciliation’

Holocaust survivors protesting Poland’s new bill on Holocaust rhetoric in front of the Polish embassy in Tel Aviv, Feb. 8, 2018. Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images)

JTA

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — A letter signed by a group of 50 Poles honored by Yad Vashem with the title of Righteous Among the Nations appeals to the governments of both Israel and Poland to return “to the path of dialogue and reconciliation.”

“Please do not write the history anew,” reads the letter sent Monday to the prime ministers of Israel and Poland.

“The greatest tragedy in the history of both our nations was once and for all recorded during the dark night of the Nazi occupation, the victims of which we are still all of today,” wrote the group of Righteous Among the Nations. They admit that “as in everyone, also in our nation, there were wicked people, [who] acted on their own behalf, not on behalf of the Polish state.” Signatories of the letter stressed that those people were members of Polish nation. “We were also afraid of them,” they said.

The letter was signed by the members of the Polish Society of the Righteous Among the Nations – a non-governmental organization founded in 1985 on the initiative of people honored by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews during World War II. The goal of the society is to preserve memory and spread knowledge about the Nazi occupation in Poland, about the Holocaust and about people who risked their lives saving Jews.

The letter follows the passing by the Polish Parliament and the signing into law by the country’s president an amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, according to which “anyone who, in public and contrary to the facts, imputes that the Polish Nation or the Polish State was responsible or co-responsible for the Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich or for other crimes against peace, humanity or war crimes, or otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the actual perpetrators of these crimes, shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years.”

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The new law triggered protests from researchers, historians and journalists, as well as Holocaust survivors, Israeli leaders and Jews around the world.

Now, the Righteous are urging “our two nations, united by a nearly 1000-year-old common history, to build a covenant and a future in Poland, Europe, Israel and America, based on friendship, solidarity and truth.”

The letter also asks the international community “for empathy and prudence, for sensitivity in creating law and responsible media narrative, for honest and independent historical research.”

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