WARSAW – A Polish judge on Tuesday ordered two Holocaust scholars to issue a public apology for including “inaccurate information” in a two-volume academic study that examined the role Poles played in the killing of Jews during World War II.
The order came at the end of a closely watched defamation trial brought by the niece of a wartime village mayor who, according to a Jewish survivor, cited in a 2018 study in which scholars participated, was complicit in Killed 18 Jews Who took refuge from the Nazis in the forest of eastern Poland.
But Judge Iowa Junczyk rejected a $ 27,000 compensation claim from his niece Filomena Leszczyزينska, who received her legal support from a partially state-funded organization dedicated to protecting “the good name of Poland and the Polish nation.”
Judge Junczyk said she ruled not to award damages because court decisions “should not have a cooling effect on scientific research.” It also refused a request that the apology be described by the mayor of the wartime village of Malinovo, Edward Malinovsky, as a “heroic savior of the Jews.” The book portrayed him as a Nazi thief and collaborator.
The defamation issue has sparked panic among Jewish groups and scholars around the world, who are concerned that the Polish national government, led by the conservative Law and Justice Party since 2015, wants to curb independent research into the Holocaust. The government denied any involvement in the case.
“I find it difficult to accept this particular judgment,” Jan Grabowski, a professor of Polish-Canadian history at the University of Ottawa and the accused in the case, told Wyborcza Gazeta, Poland’s leading liberal newspaper. He said he would resume.
The second defendant is Barbara Engelking, a historian at the Polish Center for Holocaust Research. “I don’t feel guilty,” she said after the verdict was pronounced in a video statement.
Professor Engelking said that the cases “for which we are supposed to apologize have no basis in reality”. She said her account of the mayor’s wartime actions, which included aiding and betraying Jews, was based on the post-war testimony of a Jewish woman who helped her and stole her as well.
Professor Engelking said, “This case shows that in the history of the Holocaust, there are no positions between blacks and whites.”
The researchers edited Night Without End, a 1,700-page study of Polish behavior under Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945. During that time, about three million Jews were killed in occupied Polish lands, most of them in Nazi death camps but also in some Sometimes their Polish neighbors.
The book angered nationalists by describing the complicity of Polish individuals in the murder of Jews. This is something that the patriotic accounts of Poland’s history that emphasize Poland’s suffering during WWII have sought to avoid.
The scholars wrote in the introduction: “The conclusion drawn from the numbers is grim: Two out of every three Jews searching for salvation died – most often because of their Christian neighbors.”
While he refused to award damages, the judge’s order that scholars publish an apology on the website of Ms. Engeleking Research Center and send a written apology to Ms. Leszczyska, the mayor’s niece in wartime, represents a victory for the Polish League Against Defamation, the driving force behind the case, and other groups Nationalism.
Maciej Swersky, President of the Association, welcomed the court’s decision, Post a message on Twitter Ms. Leszczyska “is fighting for all of us so that we do not have to bear the stigma that historians attribute to us as the perpetrators of the Holocaust.”
Jewish groups condemned the ruling.
“The history of the Holocaust requires independent scholarly research that must not be subject to inappropriate efforts under pressure from politicians and the courts,” said a statement issued by the conference on allegations of Jewish material against Germany, the main sponsor of historical research on the Holocaust. And the World Jewish Compensation Organization.