Yair Lapid’s rhetoric on Poland feels like Holocaust denial, Auschwitz museum says


(JTA) – The Auschwitz museum in Poland criticized Israeli politician Yair Lapid for rhetoric it said was reminiscent of Holocaust denial.

Lapid, the son of a Holocaust survivor, has been outspoken in attributing blame to the Poles for the genocide. He told the Polish news site Onet earlier this week that “the Poles cooperated in creating and running extermination camps.”

On Friday, a spokesperson of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, a state-run institution entrusted with preserving the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, wrote on Twitter: “Such a statement of a known Israeli politician hurts like a clash with Holocaust denial. Both are a conscious lie. Using Holocaust as political game mocks the victims.”

Auschwitz was built on orders from the Germans in 1940 and used for the incarceration and brutal murder of thousands of Poles before it became also an extermination camp for Jews and Roma in 1942.

The Nazis used Polish non-Jewish prisoners, as well as Jewish ones, to act as kapos, or enforcers, inside concentration camps on occupied Polish soil.

Poland’s government last year passed a law which makes it illegal to blame the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. Government spokespeople cited the use of the term “Polish death camps,” including by former president Barack Obama, as proof the law is necessary.

Israel’s government protested the legislation, which it said risks hampering historical research and distorting the historical record, which paints a complicated picture of complicity, victimhood and rescue of Jews by Poles.

Lapid in response wrote: “There were Polish death camps and no law can ever change that,”  and adding: “Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered without ever meeting a German.”

Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center dismissed Lapid’s claims as inaccurate.

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