France says Poland's controversial Holocaust law 'ill advised'

Stutthof concentration camp on Poland's Baltic coast

Stutthof concentration camp on Poland's Baltic coast

Poland's president said on Tuesday he will sign into law a bill imposing jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust, defying criticism from Israel, the United States and activists.

The Washington, DC-based museum said some Polish agencies, including the police force and railway personnel, played a role in the deportation and sending of Jews to the death camps. We understand this law will be referred to Poland's Constitutional Tribunal.

But in an unusual move, President Andrzej Duda also said he will ask the country's constitutional court to evaluate the bill and suggest possible amendments.

The law has been criticised by the USA as an attack on free speech, although it provides exemptions for academic researchers and artists. "We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech", he added.

"I have chose to sign the law but also to send it to the Constitutional Tribunal", Duda told reporters in Warsaw.

Israel and the USA have both condemned Poland's new law. "Israel and Poland have a common responsibility to investigate and preserve the history of the Holocaust".

The website, launched on 30 January, highlights some of the atrocities of the Holocaust and stresses that the campaign to exterminate Jews was run by Nazi Germany and also saw millions of Poles and members of other ethnic groups killed.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, also said last week: "We don't have any intention to prosecute someone who says that somewhere a single Jew or a family were murdered".

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said this weekend that "there is not the slightest doubt about who is responsible for the extermination camps, who made them work to kill millions of European Jews: namely the Germans".

The Polish foreign ministry and other officials have been combatting its use, calling it a historic falsehood and saying it places blame on Poland.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an "attempt to rewrite history."

While "Polish" is nearly always used as a geographic description in that context, Poles feel the phrase cruelly portrays their country as having been in charge of the Nazi-run camps, while in fact Poles made up the largest group of victims after Jews. But many Poles all over their country informed, handed over or participated themselves in the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust and even afterward", the statement also said, adding: "Only a few thousand "Righteous Among the Nations" risked their lives to save them. It has to do with World War II, with martyrology, primarily of the Polish nation.

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