Holocaust researcher sues Polish ultra-nationalist group that accused him of ‘slandering Poland’s good name’
A prominent Holocaust researcher said Friday that he is suing a Polish organization for libel after it waged a public harassment campaign last year accusing him of ‘slandering Poland’s good name’ with his work exploring Polish violence against Jews during World War II.
Polish historian Jan Grabowski, who specializes in Polish-Jewish relations during the Holocaust, filed a lawsuit for libel against the Polish League Against Defamation on Thursday at the District Court in Warsaw.
The ‘Polish anti-defamation league’ is an ultra-nationalist group that aims to ban discussion of the participation of Poles in the murder of Jews, in the frame of local antisemitism.
The League’s statement pointed to the professor’s “slanderous and unfavorable attitude towards Poland and Poles,” expressed through his publishing of results of his research into the Holocaust and the crimes committed by Poles against Jews during World War II.
Since then Grabowski, who is based at the University of Ottawa in Canada, has received several death threats, leading to security patrols in his apartment.
The son of a Holocaust survivor, Grabowski describes the campaign against him as a “very brutal, vicious, and personal attack.”
“What is important, from my point of view, is that the militant nationalists who nowadays hold sway in Poland be warned that they will be held to account, that they are wrong if they think that their outrageous statements and slanders will go unnoticed,” Grabowski, told the AP.
The historian’s lawsuit proposes that each person who in June 2017 signed a defamatory statement published by the organization, purchase and donate to one Polish high school a copy of the book “Night Without an End. Fate of Jews in selected counties of occupied Poland.”
Earlier this year, Polish lawmakers voted to water down a Holocaust denial law that angered the United States and Israel, and removed parts that imposed jail terms on people who mention Poland’s active role in Nazi atrocities and make the use of phrases such as “Polish Death Camps” to refer to the Polish death camps, punishable.
The current ultra-nationalist government in Poland and their ultra-right-wing supporters are attempting to rewrite history and curbing some of today’s basic democratic freedoms like the rule of law and freedom of expression.