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Historians Blast Polish Law on Nazi-Era Scholarship

February 12, 2018
 
 

The American Historical Association has condemned a new law in Poland that makes it a crime to write or speak "publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich." Many prominent scholars have written over the years that while some Polish citizens and leaders fought the Nazis, others helped them. The AHA has already has expressed concern to the Polish government about Jan T. Gross, a professor of history at Princeton University, who was facing a libel investigation from Polish authorities for publishing historical accounts of Poles killing Jews during World War II. The new statement from the AHA quotes from a letter sent about the Gross case, which noted the movement to enact the legislation that has now become law.

"We feel strongly that this law will allow police and judicial authorities to overrule the judgments of trained historians, and that it will threaten the ability of historians to conduct impartial research that might reveal facts that these authorities find uncomfortable," the letter said. "No nation’s past is free of blemishes, and Poland will do itself no favors in the eye of world opinion by passing such a restrictive and prejudicial piece of legislation."

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