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30.01.2018    17:00

Statement from the Director

In all of its educational and cultural programs, the Galicia Jewish Museum places great importance on promoting the positive aspects of Polish–Jewish history and combating mutual stereotypes. The issue of the incorrect usage of “Polish concentration camps” and “Polish death camps” has been the subject of extensive activities both by state intuitions, diplomatic missions, museums, NGOs, scholars, and journalists. These activities, particularly in the context of the positive changes that have taken place in recent years, including the development of scholarly research, interest in the culture and history of Polish Jews, and the rebirth of Jewish life, have brought about results and allowed for the gradual liberation from the shadow of the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, the amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance in its wording as of 26 January 2018 may be a disservice to this process. Top-down and imprecise limitations on discussions about the often-difficult past will not solve the problem, and can strengthen the increasingly visible trend of relativism and historical deception.

I hope that during the course of the legislative process the act will be clarified so that there is no doubt that the legislation’s main aim is to prevent false statements about the history of the Nazi concentration and death camps, and not attempts to control educational and journalistic activities, as well as current scholarly research on the history of the twentieth century, particularly about the Holocaust.

Instead of penalizing statements — let us support and broaden education on the history of Poland and the Polish people, a part of whom were and are citizens of different faiths. We must teach about the Second World War, the Holocaust, and all the threats connected with nationalism and totalitarianism. Only then will it be easier to prevent the distortion of history from which hatred and xenophobia are born.

Jakub Nowakowski
Galicia Jewish Museum