Polish publisher sanctioned for comics mocking Polish nationalists
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Polish publisher sanctioned for comics mocking Polish nationalists

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The Polish publisher of a French comic book about Holocaust hero Irena Sendler was sanctioned by the Warsaw City Council for distributing comic books that mock Polish nationalists at a city book fair.

Timof Comics during the Warsaw Comic Festival  in May, which the publisher co-sponsored, presented, among others, the first volume of a comic book about Irena Sendler by French cartoonists, and the “Little Vampire” comic by Joann Sfar, which includes a Jewish boy as one of the characters.

Sendler, a Polish-Catholic nurse, worked with the Polish Underground in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II to save Jewish children from death at the hands of the Nazis.

Also distributed at the Timof Comics booth was a free comic “Poland, the champion of Poland,” by Tomasz Lesniak and Rafal Skarzycki, who cooperated with the anti-government Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. They created drawings ridiculing nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism.

Since the Festival was co-financed by the city council, nationalist organizations complained to city officials that such comics should not appear at the event because it is insulting to the groups.

On Thursday, the city office published a statement that  city officials were not aware of the contents of the comic “Poland, the champion of Poland” prior to its distribution. “After reviewing the comic we explicitly declare that we do not accept its content,” the statement said. The council also said it would suspend the city’s subsidy for the Festival for the next three years, withholding about $ 44,500.

One of the drawings that are part of the project “Poland, the champion of Poland” was on display at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews presented last year as part of the Made in Polin festival.

The City of Warsaw is one of the co-owners of the museum – together with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. There was no protest at the time.