Walesa Agrees to Set Up Task Force to Combat Anti-semitism in Poland

Polish President Lech Walesa has agreed to name a permanent task force to combat anti-Semitism in his country, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council announced here.

Walesa agreed to the task force during an hour-long meeting last Friday at his official residence with Miles Lerman, a Holocaust survivor and chairman of the Memorial Council’s international relations committee.

Lerman, a native of Poland, had proposed the task force during a meeting Jan. 9 with Kazimierz Dziewanski, the Polish ambassador here.

“As someone who has lived through the Holocaust, I came to President Walesa to speak candidly about issues that had been weighing heavily on my heart,” said Lerman, who led a resistance group in southeastern Poland during World War II.

“The reappearance of various forms of anti-Semitism, in a Poland that has hardly any Jews left, that resurfaced in Poland’s recent election campaign must be eradicated.”

Walesa was himself accused during the election campaign of allowing anti-Semitic innuendoes to be used in his successful bid for the presidency.

The task force will be made up of members of the Polish government, professors, journalists and at least one top Polish Catholic clergyman.

The establishment of the panel will be “a giant step toward healing the dangerous misunderstandings between our two people,” Lerman said.

Walesa also told Lerman that on his first state visit to the United States he would meet with officials of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which the council is establishing, and with Polish Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. No date has been set for the visit, which is expected to occur in the spring.

Lerman negotiated an agreement with the Polish government in 1988 to provide the museum, scheduled to open in 1993, with access to the Polish archives on the Holocaust.

The Polish government, the state museums at Auschwitz and Majdanek, and the Polish Jewish Historical Institute have provided several important artifacts to the museum.

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