In order to create atmosphere against a protest march by the opposition, the PiS shows pictures from Auschwitz. At the same time, a Polish politician attacks a Holocaust researcher. Criticism does not only come from Israel.
Poland’s national-conservative ruling party PiS has used footage from the former German concentration camp at Auschwitz to discredit a planned opposition demonstration.
The Auschwitz Memorial condemned the video released on Wednesday, criticism also came from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the International Auschwitz Committee and Poland’s head of state Andrzej Duda. At the same time, the violent attack by a right-wing Polish politician during a lecture by a renowned Holocaust researcher in Warsaw caused outrage in Israel.
The video published by the PiS on Twitter shows the gatehouse in Auschwitz and the entrance to the main camp with the cynical caption “Work sets you free” to the sound of marching boots. A tweet from the PiS-critical journalist Tomasz Lis, who wrote on Monday that a “chamber” would be found for President Andrzej Duda and PiS boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is displayed. In Polish, the word for “chamber” is mostly associated with “gas chamber”. Lis later apologized for the tweet. The question then follows in the video: “Do you really want to go with this motto?” and the logo of the protest demonstration planned for June 4th.
The Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk called for the demonstration next Sunday in the center of Warsaw. During his time as head of government, Tusk and then-Chancellor Angela Merkel maintained close contacts. The PiS therefore accuses him of being in bondage to Germany.
The name Auschwitz has become etched into consciousness around the world as a synonym for the Holocaust and the epitome of evil. There alone, the National Socialists killed more than a million people, mostly Jews. During the Shoah they murdered around six million Jews across Europe.
The Auschwitz Memorial condemns instrumentalisation
The Auschwitz Memorial condemned the instrumentalization of the tragedy of people who had suffered and died in the death camp in occupied Poland, calling it an “insult to the memory of the victims”. “This is a sad, painful and unacceptable expression of the moral and intellectual corruption of public debate,” the museum said in a tweet.
Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice-President of the International Auschwitz Committee, told the German Press Agency: “This tweet is a low point of political campaigning and tastelessness. For Auschwitz survivors, this is an undignified and shameful abuse of this place and their memories that hurts them. “
Yad Vashem condemns “abuse of Holocaust commemoration”
The Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem also condemned the use of the Auschwitz pictures and “the misuse of the Holocaust commemoration in current political discussions”.
A statement from the AJC said that the use of the Holocaust in political struggle was totally unacceptable. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who comes from the ranks of the PiS, spoke of an “unworthy act for which there is no justification”.
Meanwhile, another incident in Poland caused outrage in Israel. During a lecture by the renowned Polish-Canadian Holocaust researcher Jan Grabowski on the subject of “Poland’s (growing problem) with the history of the Holocaust” at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw on Tuesday, MP Grzegorz Braun from the right-wing opposition party Konfederacja suddenly jumped forward, snatched Grabowski took the microphone and smashed it on the lectern. The historian broke off the lecture. “I’m still shaken. It’s not every day that you look fascism straight in the eye,” Grabowski wrote on Facebook.
“This incident marks a new low in attempts to quash discussion of Poles’ complicity in the persecution and murder of their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan. A statement from the Wiesenthal Center said the incident was an outrageous attack not only on freedom of speech but also on the veracity of the narrative about the Shoah in Poland.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.