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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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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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