Polish prosecutor who wanted to end investigation of Jewish Holocaust scholar is demoted


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — A Polish prosecutor who twice wanted to end the investigation into an article written by a Princeton University professor saying that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during World War II has been demoted.

Katowice prosecutor Michal Binkiewicz was conducting the investigation into the possible insult of the Polish nation by Jan Gross launched in October 2015. Binkiewicz dismissed the case in October 2016 and June 2017, saying that no crime was committed and Gross had exercised the right to freedom of expression.

But his superiors overruled the decisions and appointed experts to evaluate Gross’ words. In October, the case was taken over by another prosecutor, Iwona Skrzypek.

Binkiewicz learned that he will not be promoted in the regional prosecutor’s office in Katowice and will return to the lower prosecutor’s office in Sosnowiec, the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported this week.

The prosecutors’ office had opened a libel investigation against Gross operating under a section of the criminal code that says that “any person who publicly insults the Polish nation is punishable by up to three years in prison.”

In 2015, Gross wrote about the Poles killing more Jews than they did Germans in an article for Project Syndicate on the refugee situation in Eastern Europe and the reaction to them. Gross, a Polish-American sociologist and historian who is on the history faculty at Princeton, also wrote that Poles fought “bravely” against the Germans during this period “and can be proud of the excellent anti-Nazi underground.”

“I have blackened many pages with ink and it seems to me that I have not used the term ‘Polish nation’ anywhere,” Gross said in April 2016 in an interview for the Jewish.pl website. “You can’t insult anyone by telling the truth. What I wrote in these few sentences is true. This excludes the possibility of criminal liability, but I understand that this is a political situation and someone may decide that I should be prosecuted.”

His book “Neighbors,” about the pogrom in Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, on Jewish residents of the village by Poles, initiated the Polish debate on the responsibility of Poles for the crimes committed during the war and the murder of Jews.

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