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The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Condemns New Yorker Holocaust Article

Masha Gessen accused Poland of rewriting history.

From David Harris Twitter Post

The Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum has come out with a formal denunciation of an article published in the New Yorker last Friday. The piece titled, “The Historians Under Attack for Exploring Poland’s Role in the Holocaust,” slammed Polish authorities for prosecuting people just for stating that their country shares any of the blame for the murder of 3 million Polish Jews during the Holocaust.

The museum accused The New Yorker of publishing lies and distortions of Poland’s role during World War II. The Polish government is also really angry. Its deputy foreign minister, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, tweeted a statement describing the story as manipulation. He said that the article would be, “the subject of a strong reaction from Polish diplomacy.”

So what did the New Yorker say to cause all of this? The article bye famed writer by Masha Gessen dealt with the case of two Polish historians of the Holocaust who were convicted of defamation against a long since dead local World War II era Polish official.

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“To exonerate the nation of the murders of three million Jews, the Polish government will go as far as to prosecute scholars for defamation,” reads the article’s subtitle.

Gessen wrote that “The two historians’ legal troubles stem from the Polish government’s ongoing effort to exonerate Poland—both ethnic Poles and the Polish state—of the deaths of three million Jews in Poland during the Nazi occupation. When facts get in the way of this revisionist effort, historians pay the price.”

The Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum: Photo Jarosław Praszkiewicz

Calling Poland’s current leadership autocratic and accusing it of trying to rewrite history, Gessen wrote, “half of the European Jews murdered in the Holocaust were killed in what had been Poland before the war; a Jew in Poland had a 1.5-per-cent chance of survival. Not all the killing was carried out, or even compelled, by the German occupiers.”

AP quoted Piotr Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz museum, saying that the New Yorker article “contains so many lies and distortions that I find it a bit hard to believe that it is a coincidence. Furthermore, when it concerns the Holocaust, any distortion of historical truth is very dangerous. This applies to all forms of denial, revisionism and deformation of historical truth.”

Even David Harris the director of the American Jewish Committee came to the Polish government’s defense. He tweeted, “Were there some Poles who acted shamefully? Yes. Were there others who acted heroically? Absolutely. Is Polish law on “defamation” right? No. But the infamous words at Auschwitz—“Arbeit macht frei”—were written in German, not Polish. And that must never, ever, be forgotten.”



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