A Polish court has ordered two Holocaust historians to apologise to the descendant of a village mayor for implicating him in a massacre of Jews, AFP
reported. Despite these claims, Polish judge Ewa Konczyk said that historians
Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski from the University of Ottawa will not have
to pay any fine. The historians co-edited a book titled ‘Night Without End’ that documented several cases where Catholic Poles were involved in the genocide of Jews during the Nazi German occupation.
“I respect the judge’s
decision but I have trouble accepting it. I hope that our reasons will be taken
into account in our appeal,” Grabowski was quoted by Poland’s Gazeta
Wyborcza daily as saying.
The defamation trial has raised questions about the freedom to research
Poland’s World War II history and has prompted international outrage, including
from the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
In a statement ahead of the verdict, Yad Vashem said the charges against
the historians “amount to an attack on the effort to achieve a full and
balanced picture of the history of the Holocaust”.
Engelking said that the case was “very dangerous for freedom of
The book mentioned that the mayor may
have been implicated in the local massacre of 22 Jews by German soldiers.
The case was brought by the niece of Edward Malinowski, who was mayor of
the village of Malinowo in northeast Poland during the war. The judge said the
historians’ claim was “inaccurate” but rejected the demand for 22,000
euros ($27,000) in compensation for the niece, Filomena Leszczynska.
The story highlights the complexity of relations between Polish
Catholics and Jews during the war and the confusion of a period in which the
same person could both protect Jews and turn them over to authorities.
In 2018, the Polish government adopted a law banning the mention of any
responsibility of the Polish nation or state in crimes committed by Nazi
Germany on Polish soil.
Six million Poles, including three million Jews, perished between 1939
and 1945 during Nazi occupation.