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Right-wing Polish minister wants jail for anyone who calls Nazi death camps 'Polish'

Poland was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II.

A general view on the former Nazi-German concentration and death camp KL Auschwitz II-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland.
A general view on the former Nazi-German concentration and death camp KL Auschwitz II-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland.
Image: Czarek Sokolowski

A POLISH DEPUTY justice minister said the new right-wing government wants jail terms of up to five years for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish.

“Stop attributing to Poland the role of Holocaust author,” Patryk Jaki told reporters, saying the ministry wanted to include in the constitution a “legal safeguard for protecting” the EU member’s good name.

Poland was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II and was among the hardest hit by the conflict, losing six million of its citizens between 1939 and 1945, including three million Jews in the Holocaust.

Polish officials routinely request corrections when global media or politicians describe as “Polish” former death camps like Auschwitz set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.

Even if used as a geographical indicator, Warsaw says the term can give the impression that Poland bore responsibility for the Holocaust.

Five-year jail term

US President Barack Obama used the term in 2012 and later expressed “regret”.

Under the justice ministry initiative, a “public attribution to Poland, regardless of the facts, of bearing joint responsibility” for Nazi Germany’s crimes could result in a five-year jail term.

Asked whether Poland would go after Obama under the new initiative, Jaki told reporters: “Of course not.”

We don’t want diplomatic scandals. What we want is to stop these kinds of terms from being used.

A Polish citizen sued the German newspaper Die Welt for referring in 2008 to the Majdanek concentration camp as “Polish”, but a Warsaw court dismissed the case last year.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Former Nazi guard (94) goes on trial over 170,000 Auschwitz deaths>

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