(JTA) — Amid a polarizing debate in Poland and beyond about the country’s complicity in the Holocaust, a lawmaker for the ruling Law and Justice party said post-communist Jews, not Poles, should apologize for anti-Semitism.
Krystyna Pawłowicz in an op-ed published Monday on the news website Wpolityce was commenting on criticism by Jewish groups and the State of Israel on a law passed last week by the parliament that criminalizes accusing Poland of crimes committed by the Nazis during their occupation of the country during World War II. The Nazis killed 4 million Jews in Poland, including 3 million with Polish nationality. They also killed 3 million non-Jewish Poles, who the Nazis considered inferior. In parallel, individual Poles killed thousands of Jews. Thousands of Poles also helped rescue Jews and Jewish families.
“The post-communists and the opposition again today want us, Poles in free Poland, to apologize once more, this time for their anti-Semitism carried out as part of internal struggles between the Soviet governors,” she wrote.
Across the former Soviet Union and its satellite countries, there is persistent anti-Semitic sentiment centered on the outsize role of Jews in the communist revolution and regimes that followed. Some of those regimes in Russia, Poland and other areas adopted anti-Semitic policies.
“For March ’68 let the perpetrators, their ideologues and descendants apologize,” Pawłowicz wrote. That year, hundreds of thousands of Jews left Poland, abandoning their possessions and forced to relinquish their Polish nationality amid a state-led anti-Semitic propaganda campaign.
In 2016, Zsolt Bayer, a co-founder of the ruling Fidesz party, suggested collaboration in the Holocaust was payback for oppression brought on by communist Jews. In Lithuania, where collaborators and German troops wiped out the local Jewish community, authorities launched a probe in 2008 for alleged war crimes against three Jewish partisans with support from the Red Army. The probe was dropped amid an international outcry.