Feb. 19, 2019
- Poland cannot deny that some Poles collaborated with the Nazis, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told the Jerusalem Post on Monday.
- “We don’t have to collectively blame all the Poles or forget those who acted differently, but we have the right to remember the facts of history and remind everyone what really happened. I definitely regret” that the Visegrad summit was canceled, Edelstein said, “but having said that, we are not trading in history, definitely not that of the Holocaust.”
- Edelstein said the latest incident reminded him of his personal experience visiting Poland as Knesset Speaker. He recounted, “I was trying to be very diplomatic and say something in the vein of ‘we will never forget courageous Poles saving Jewish lives, and we will never forgive Poles collaborating with the Nazis,’ and everyone was taken aback. As far as my hosts were concerned, we only had to talk about Righteous Among the Nations,” meaning those who saved Jews. “It doesn’t work that way. Reality was harsh,” Edelstein added.
- Edelstein recalled that in the Knesset’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, when MKs read names of their relatives who perished in the Holocaust, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir would say at the end of his list, which included his parents, that they were “all murdered by their Polish neighbors.”
- More than 75 years since the Holocaust, Poland has still not provided justice to survivors and their families whose property was taken during the Shoah and its aftermath. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Warsaw: “I urge my Polish colleagues to move forward with comprehensive private property restitution legislation for those who lost property during the Holocaust era.”
- Poland is the only country in the EU that has not passed comprehensive national legislation to return, or provide compensation for, private property confiscated by the Nazis.
- For many years, the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) has urged the Polish government to address the issue of Holocaust-era restitution.
Gideon Taylor is WJRO chairman of operations and Ambassador Colette Avital is WJRO secretary-general.