(JTA) — Poland’s human rights commissioner is being urged to resign after saying the “Polish nation” took part in carrying out the Holocaust — a controversial statement in a country whose government increasingly emphasizes that Poland never collaborated with the Nazis.
Speaking Wednesday on the state-run TVP Info, Adam Bodnar said, “There is no doubt that the Germans were responsible for the Holocaust, but many nations took part in its implementation. Among them — and I say this with regret — the Polish nation.”
Members of Poland’s conservative government say he should resign, The Associated Press reported. Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Dziedziczak called Bodnar’s comment “scandalous,” untrue and added it “disqualifies him from public life,” according to the AP.
Bodnar, who frequently criticizes the government on human rights issues, quickly apologized for the remarks, saying he meant only to note that some Poles had committed crimes against Jews.
The German occupation of Poland was exceptionally brutal, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. A Polish government-in-exile was established in London. In addition to at least 3 million Jewish Poles murdered by the Nazis, the Germans killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II. Hundreds of thousands more were imprisoned or expelled.
Still, the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party has been seen as especially assertive in trying to suppress scholars and journalists who have discussed the culpability of individual Poles in the persecution of Jews.