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Polish professor fired after writing Holocaust-denial book

ROME, April 11 (JTA) — A scandal has erupted in Poland surrounding a new book whose publication represents what some see as the first serious case of Holocaust-denial in the country. A popular professor at the University of Opole in southern Poland, Dariusz Ratajczak, was suspended from his teaching post following protests over his book, “Dangerous Topics,” in which he writes sympathetically about published material that denies the Holocaust. Legislation that came into effect in January makes Holocaust denial punishable in Poland, and the state prosecutor’s office has begun an investigation into the case, according to Stanislaw Krajewski, a leader of the Polish Jewish community and the American Jewish Committee’s consultant on Poland. In his book, Ratajczak appears to agree with Holocaust deniers who claim that for technical reasons it was not possible to kill millions of people in the Nazi gas chambers, that Zyklon B gas was used only for disinfecting, that there was no Nazi plan for the systematic murder of Jews and that most Holocaust scholars “are adherents of a religion of the Holocaust.” Krajewski described the book as “shocking.” “Until recently there was no attempt at Holocaust denial in Poland,” he said. “The proximity of that tragedy and the abundance of witnesses suggested it would never occur, even among extreme anti-Semites. But finally the distance in time has produced similar consequences as the distance in space did for Westerners.” He said that several months ago a group of young neo-Nazis published a book that included translations of articles by Holocaust revisionists in the West. Ratajczak’s book drew swift and vociferous protests from numerous sources, including the director of the museum at the former Auschwitz death camp and respected Sen. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor himself. For his part, Ratajczak sent a statement to Poland’s leading newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, in which he denied being an anti-Semite. He said the Holocaust revisionist material he included in his book did not represent his views, adding that “as an honest person, I render an homage to the Jewish victims of World War II.”

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