Controversial Polish Holocaust Denial Law Takes On Its First Media Target

Child_survivors_of_AuschwitzI recently criticized the new Polish law criminalizing any statements attributing the genocide of Jews to Polish forces or actions. The legislature approved a bill making it a crime to use statements suggesting Poland bears responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany.  You could receive up to three years in prison for calling Auschwitz-Birkenau a “Polish death camp.”  USNews is reporting that the first target of this abusive law has now been announced: the Argentine Pagina 12 daily.  The newspaper was accused of breaching a new law by suggesting that Poland was complicit in the Holocaust.

This horrific, anti-free speech, anti-free press measure is being praised by the Polish League Against Defamation.  It cites how in December 2017, Pagina 12 published an article on the Jedwabne pogrom of 1941 in which Nazi occupiers and local poles colluded in the massacre of at least 340 Jews.

What is most chilling is that the Polish effort shows a willingness to prosecute individuals and media internationally, not just for publications inside Poland.  This is a dangerous trend that we have already seen in countries like France where Twitter was sued over anti-Semitic comments.  A single nation could potentially curtail free speech for the entire Internet if courts allow such actions.

The Polish law is part of a trend in the West to curtail free speech and to criminalize even historical disagreements.  Some countries have specifically sought to criminalize certain opinions about history, particularly over genocide. Poland passed its law. Russia moved in 2015 to criminalize denial of genocide under the same misguided approach. I previously wrote about a similar law passed in France as not just a denial of free speech but academic freedom. The law was later struck down. The Russians moved just weeks after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Switzerland also violation freedom of speech for its criminalization of the denial of the killings of Armenians as genocide. The European Court of Human Rights found that Switzerland violated a Turkish politician’s right to freedom of speech by convicting Dogu Perincek for denying that the 1915 Armenian killings in the Ottoman empire constituted a genocide: “It was undisputed that Perincek’s conviction and punishment, together with the order to pay compensation to the Switzerland-Armenia Association, had constituted an interference with the exercise of his right to freedom of expression.”

The Poles have joined an ignoble but growing clubs of speech criminalization and censorships in the West.  The implications for Poland are obvious, but their assertion of international enforcement also raises troubling questions for free speech and academic freedom around the world.

52 thoughts on “Controversial Polish Holocaust Denial Law Takes On Its First Media Target”

  1. “You could receive up to three years in prison for calling Auschwitz-Birkenau a ‘Polish death camp.’”

    Suppose you meant only that it was in Poland? That shouldn’t be controversial. Nor should the fact that Germany, not Poland, ran it. In fact, can one even call Poland a nation during the war, when it was occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union? Can you refer to Auschwitz as having been in an area formerly and subsequently known as Poland?

  2. If there were no Nazis, there would not have been any of these camps. Different groups have disagreements with each other. Only the Nazis pushed what happened to that level of extermination.

    1. bob, you think the nazis were the only ones?

      hell Ghenghis Khan did worse, many centuries before, armed with sword fire and arrow

      here are some other exterminations you may never have heard of, just from the 20th century

      Bosnia-Herzegovina: 1992-1995 – 200,000 Deaths
      Rwanda: 1994 – 800,000 Deaths
      Pol Pot in Cambodia: 1975-1979 – 2,000,000 Deaths
      Rape of Nanking: 1937-1938 – 300,000 Deaths
      Stalin’s Forced Famine: 1932-1933 – 7,000,000 Deaths
      Armenians in Turkey: 1915-1918 – 1,500,000 Deaths

    2. Hey Bob, how many Japanese and German civilians the did the US intentionally or negligently kill in indiscriminate carpet bombing of cities such as Tokyo and Dresden? Write me a little history report on that please, four paragraph format, due by next week.

      Consider please, if the number is near or over one million, then, what does that imply?

  3. if you raise your hand in a roman salute in Germany, you can go to jail. plenty of people in jail for that there right now.

    in russia, how many civilians died during the war? between 7 and 20 million most reports say. that’s quite a broad number! legitimate scholarship may be held on the question.

    but if you question how many jewish civilians died, deviate from the fixed sum of 6 million too far, then, that is a crime throughout western europe.

    in this situation, the polish democracy has made a free speech law in favor of poland. can you blame them?

  4. in america many people are being fired from government jobs for being racists.
    i saw a teacher in the news, she got fired because she said something on twitter under a fake name.
    fired! nobody seems to worried about racist free speech these days.
    but that’s the government punishing speech, for sure.

    sometimes, it is just a question of what the big money wants, the big money gets.

    in poland, “democracy” has taken a turn that western big money does not like. that’s all.

  5. Freedom has been decaying since its inception.

    The American Founders established a restricted-vote republic with the absolute understanding that citizens would be “…free white person(s)…” and that women and the poor shall not vote. They failed to codify.

    “…but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”

    – Genesis 3:3

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the canidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy–to be followed by a dictatorship.”

    ― Alexander Fraser Tytler

  6. Whenever I see photographs like these, of innocent children in terrible jeopardy, I wish so badly that I could go back in time and save them, and their families. How many sweet faces in this photo didn’t survive? What is wrong with people that they can hate each other so much they’d go after kids?

    It was the erosion of individual rights that facilitated little children going behind barbed wire in death camps. Weak individual rights in the face of an all powerful government has been the catalyst for one tragedy after another.

    Therefore, I vehemently oppose efforts to weaken liberty, including oppression of speech. It doesn’t matter if anyone thinks such speech is good or bad. One of the most basic human rights is to be able to speak your mind. Then everyone else can speak their mind and have a debate about it.

    Poland is utterly and completely in the wrong to criminalize speech in this manner. You would think, having had Nazi atrocities commit evil on their very soil, that they would understand the critical need for liberty. Apparently not.

  7. This is the aim of all anti-free speech laws. 1. protect the powerful and 2. make people stupid so they can be made to commit atrocities. Mission accomplished.

    Genocide has occurred many times in many nations. Poland is one of those nations. Instead of learning about how genocides work and thus maybe being able to stop them in the future, it has been decided that genocide did not happen. Yet it did.

    As to the international “jurisdiction” issue. The US is the main culprit behind that theory. We are pursing journalists such as Assange around the world. Obama is the one who said he could kill anyone, anywhere on his say so. And BTW, did Syria give us a request for building bases in their nation? Did Yemen say, come kill us? It takes a lo of hypocrisy for the US to complain about jurisdiction issues and we will rue the day that we set this lawlessness in motion.

  8. A smart person knows his/her limitations. Kushner and Trump backers knew that Jared didn’t have the experience nor knowledge to steer international policy. The U.S. could be playing a role in averting anti-Semitism. But instead, reportedly, Jared focused on taking money from creditors, while the sentiments of neo-Nazi’s (backed by the rich) were welcomed at the White House.
    Currently, gentiles in the American oligarchy want to have it both ways- stir resentments against Jews and get campaign funds from them to elect Republicans. The devil as a bed partner means the next generation’s future looks bleak (particularly for the kids like the Kushner’s).
    Possessions of the minority Jewish population will once again be up for grabs among the wealthy pseudo-religious majority. And, Jews will suffer all that goes along with that fate. If they are lucky, they won’t be targeted for more abuse than that shown by Republicans for minority people of color.

  9. Well that didn’t take long for this thread to demonstrate the point andcompletely miss it at the same time. The debate over crimes against humanity will likely never be resolved. The point is the debate should take place.

  10. what the Poles decide to do is their affair – however they cannot expect to control the rest of the world. Good luck with extraditing the Argentine reporter!

  11. As a visitor there I’m convinced that the German camp was another example of “man’s gross inhumanity to their fellow human being.” And the place should of been demolished/destroyed.
    I’m in favor of this new attempt to keep peoples from hollering fire on a recurring basis.
    There were lots of Poles photographed by the G’s and then done away with either by the gas chamber or that infamous wall where the G’s just shot the Polish trouble makers almost immediately.
    In essence peoples should get over it -it’s the past.
    If finger pointing is to continue ad infinitum, let’s take a look at the evils perpetrated by that mass murderer Stalin or Pol Pot or Genghis Khan or that George Bush,Jr.character by his murdering of so many innocent victims in Iraq.

    1. You sound either brain dead or morally depraved, maybe both. All things are in the past & except for the worst thing ever there’s always something worse. People should get over things–it’s all in the past. Nothing counts for anything.

  12. Anti-semitism has been going on since the inception of the Catholic Church, or since power and Christianity united to rule Europe and the world. A force of power to be successful must have an enemy. Reagan had the ‘evil empire’ which was, at that time, not that evil and on the skids with its demise clearly on the horizon. Without the people’s beliefs that they had no choice, Reagan would not have been Reagan. The same thing happened before with Vietnam and after with Bush and is happening now with Trump. Trump got in on the reaction of simple minded voters to perceived threats. Some Americans actually believe that they should be armed to eventually fight their own federal government and/or NATO troops. Fanatics are to be found in every society. This is human nature and has been around since the first society ventured out of their cave to steal from others.

    Six million Jews living in Poland before the war were the historical enemy of the Catholic majority, as was the case with most of the Jewish people who lived among the followers of the man the Jews were accused of crucifying. The pogroms and retribution had been going on since the Crusades. Three million of them along with three million Catholic Poles were slaughtered by the Germans and the Russians. The historical weaving of religious hatred, ongoing newly created countries with their bias and bigotries, and political interpretation for the sake of power is as old as Europe from the Middle Ages.

    The holocaust remains the defining event of racism and how low mankind can sink; not for the numbers of dead, Stalin and Mao killed many times the 6 million Jews in the name of survival, recent colonial powers slaughtered millions in the name of freedom and profit; but because it was done in the name of racism.

    From the Polish perspective, they have been seen as collaborators in the slaughter of their 3 million Jews based on traditional bigotry and the acts of that ever present faction of every society that sees opportunity and grabs it whatever the moral cost. The same farmers that turned in their Jewish neighbors and/or took part in organizing their slaughter exist in the form of the mobs in Mississippi that lynched mother and son and then picnicked. Every society has this face and given the opportunity they come out.

    So, Poland is trying to make a statement, that as a nation, as a people, they did not collaborate. Some did but that is human nature. Poland is trying to make a statement that Poland, which included Jews, was, as a country decimated by the Germans with more non Jewish dead than Jewish dead. This is not the right way to make this statement, at the expense of the freedom of speech. However, at the same time the freedom of speech is defended, it would be no less unjust if the true history of Poland in WW2 is not revisited.

    1. “More non Jewish dead” is basically meaningless. Non Jews so massively outnumber Jews the absolute number of Non Jews will almost always outnumber Jews no matter what you’re talking about.

      1. Read your history. The Germans who lived in Poland ran Poland during the occupation. Poles, Romanians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, etc all died by the tens of millions to make way for German immigrants. The only thing that stopped the killing was the end of the war. Germany would have slaughtered or enslaved every Pole eventually. The targeting of Jews was doubly monstrous but was not initiated by Poland and was not sanctioned by Poles; they weren’t running the country. There was no Vichy Poland. The argument remains regardless of the ‘wrong’ way the Poles are going about it. Quibbling over numbers doesn’t change history.

    2. “Anti-semitism has been going on since the inception of the Catholic Church”. You don’t think the ancient Egyptians who enslaved the Jewish people were anti-Semitic? What about killing the fist born Jewish sons in an attempt to exterminate Moses?

      True Christians are not anti-Semitic. As Dr Maturin said in the Patrick O’Brian novels, one of his favorite ladies, the Virgin Mary, was Jewish. I sincerely doubt that Jesus’ goal in becoming man and dying on the cross was so that the people He came to save would be persecuted.

      Anti-Semitism and other prejudices were global for thousands of years. Unfortunately, it is rearing its ugly head again in the popularity of the BDS movement.

      1. Karen

        Firstly, the Egyptian, Moses, etc thing is largely taken as myth by most scholars. Most religions are built after the events might have happened and embellished with the ingredients that worked before in the previous religions. The Christian religion was an amalgamation of dozens of accepted elements from previous successful civilizations: virgin birth, son of god, sacrifice, messiah, etc. Christianity was crafted and became successful because it was monotheistic and therefore unified nations for the sake of war and power, and it was embraced by the most powerful nation at the time. The polytheistic religions did not rally all people around a flag as they were personal gods for specific and particular reasons. When you have Rome behind you or the one true god then you have an advantage over others who don’t.

        Throughout the history of mankind, societies have always rallied around the need to defend against an enemy. Before the first crusade left Europe it had slaughtered over thirty thousand Jews to warm up. The Jews have been the historical enemy of Christians because they caused the death of Christ and they place themselves above the Christian religion. ‘The Chosen People’ gets under the skin of those that believe they are the closest to god. Forced to band together, being without a country, Jews have traditionally prospered. This can be seen with Asians who immigrated to the West as well as other peoples who have been the target of home grown bigots and racists.

        Of course ‘good Christians’ are not anti Semitic. But, among the Christians throughout history there have been precious few ‘good Christians’ and more of those that would rather be the ‘Chosen’, the closest to god, etc. The nasty, irritating ingredient of any religion is that to believe, one is forced to accept that their beliefs are the closest to the truth as can be. This places all other beliefs somewhat out of the running.


        1. issac – you know very little about how Christianity evolved. There was a historical Jesus. Josephus mentions him in his History of the Jews (good read btw). Originally it was one of many sects of Judaism. It will really not strike out on its own until the fall of Jerusalem, then the center moves to Rome under Peter.

    3. “Anti-semitism has been going on since the inception of the Catholic Church, or since power and Christianity united to rule Europe and the world.”

      I disagree with the use of the phrase “anti-Semitism.” In his excellent book “Jews, God, and History,” Max Dimont posits that anti-Semitism was born in 1800 and the word was not first used until 1879 in German as an irrational, race-based hatred for which there was no way for a Jew to atone for the “crime” of Jewishness. Prior to that, he argues, it was “anti-Jewish” violence. Dimont claims anti-Semitism is an irrational hatred that is a political weapon, not a political movement. In his book, he gives four elements of anti-Semitism that distinguish it from anti-Jewish violence.

      Furthermore, he makes a great statement that would be useful for some to note today:

      “People who do not like Jews must not be confused with anti-Semites. There is no more reason for Jews to be universally liked than for Americans, Englishmen, or Frenchmen to be universally liked. Voltaire did not like Jews, but that did not make him anti-Semitic. He thought of all Jews as ignorant and superstitious, but held that this was no reason why they should be burned. Herein lies the difference. If one does not like someone, one simply does not associate with that person. One does not advocate the he should be debased or annihilated. To the true anti-Semite, the crux of anti-Semitism is the “crime” of being Jewish. This “crime” of Jewishness cannot be obliterated or atoned for, even if the Jew gives up his religion, where in the Middle Ages, the moment the Jew was baptized he became an honored citizen. Anti-Semitism is a psychological problem, residing in the mind of the anti-Semite.”

      Excellent book. Highly recommend.

  13. OK, Turley has expressed his outrage over this new Polish law. Fine.

    Why has Turley never (AFAIK) expressed one peep over Canada and more than ten EU nations criminalizing so-called “holocaust” denial? Persons suffer in prison today for the thought crime of disagreeing with the Western definition of the Judaic holocaust, what some call the religion of holocaustianity. Till we hear differently, we can only presume Turley agrees with such thought crimes.

    If the WW2 holocaust happened, then what about the several alleged “holocausts” of “6 million Jews” that the NYT and other MSM sources reported between 1915 and 1938? Did all those holocausts also occur? Notice the introduction. Apparently the reading of 75 to 100 year old newspapers offends readers. I wonder why?

    When you add up all those millions, that’s a lot of millions of murdered Jews. Were there that many Jews on earth to murder? I don’t know, just curious, I wasn’t there.

    Why do Judaics get a corner on the word “holocaust” when Soviet Russia killed more than the alleged number of Jews in the holocaust?

    Why are there at least six groups working in the USA on behalf of Israel, yet none need to register as foreign agents (AIAPAC is only one)? Why do US tax dollars fund Judaic holocaust museums but no such museum for Russian holocaust victims?

    Who and/or what gives any nation including the US or Israel, the alleged “right to exist?”

    1. Joseph Jones: “Till we hear differently, we can only presume Turley agrees with such thought crimes.”

      Till we hear differently, we can only presume that you have sex with donkeys. Seems equally fair.

  14. The biggest lairs in the world, the Polish Government, all is true that people , correspondents and Holocaust survivals are saying about the role, they played before, during and today ,in Killing Jews and being BIG ANTISEMIT’S , building parking places, in places that where Jewish cemetery’s, and supermarkets, placing placates at the entrance of hotels, No entrance for Jews and Thief’s, all this today, before the war pogroms not one or two a lot, and helping the Nazis during the war to kill the Jews. SHAME ON YOU WITH YOUR FAKE LEGISLATIONS !!!!!!!!!!

  15. “What is most chilling…a single nation could potentially curtail free speech for the entire Internet if courts allow such actions.”
    Equally chilling…the prospect of UN intervention to settle what could become an international dispute if the Poles keep this up or…say…the Turkish government finds something to like in criminalizing dissent over genocide.

  16. I see Poland’s side on this. It is like being constantly libeled. They have had enough and I agree. Germany built and ran the concentration/extermination camps in Poland, not the Poles.

      1. David Benson – and some non-Jewish Poles were murdered by the Nazis.

        1. And the Russians, too. Let us not forget that in Poland World War II was a three cornered affair. The Nazis attacked from the west, the Russians from the east. The Poles fought both for their freedom. While many Polish Jews fought for Polish independence, some collaborated with the Communists and were treated accordingly. This had less to do with anti-Semitism than maintaining Polish independence.

    1. PCS

      Germany had forced-labor camps, but growing numbers of researchers do not agree that they also ran extermination camps. Most people just believe what they’ve heard about German history. Sounds like you do too.

      1. billmcwilliams – Auschwitz had an extermination camp, Berkinau attached to it. There is a significant distance between the two camps. Auschwitz was actually a series of camps, each attached to some manufacturer. I have a little expertise in this, I did a paper on German concentration camps during WWII, which included extermination camps. It was just a paper, not a dissertation. However, I did do a fair amount of reading on the subject before writing the paper.

        1. The comments by several of you demonstrates a total lack of empathy and knowledge of man’s humanity to man. It also sadly demonstrates a denial of historical facts.

          1. Alex Slabo – point out the facts we have missed. Don’t make unfounded charges.

        2. PCS

          What evidence can you produce that convinces you that there were any extermination camps in Germany?

          1. billmcwilliams – they were German concentration camps and extermination camps, just not in Germany. However, they did exterminate many handicapped people before people started catching on. Those weren’t really camps though.

            1. PCS

              Sayin’ it’s so doesn’t make it so. People died in labor camps, yes, but six million weren’t exterminated.

              1. billmcwilliams – I am not sure what your point is. You need to be more expansive.

                1. PCS

                  The point is you merely made an allegation. You provided no credible evidence to substantiate what you said.

                    1. PCS

                      Didn’t anyone explain to you that when you make a claim, the burden of proof is on YOU. You didn’t prove your claim. Therefore, there’s no reason to think anything but that you CAN’T substantiate your claim.
                      Even a junior high school debater would find your claim and your argument laughable and absurd.

                    2. billmcwilliams – I would be happy to face off against you at any jr high near me. 😉

                    3. PCS

                      If you want to “face off” you’d better get some help in how to make a logical argument, because you certainly don’t seem to have a clue about how to debate anything. You just repeat things you’ve heard without the least bit of necessity to back them up with credible evidence. Not impressive.

                    4. bill mcwilliams – I never took debate, however I can argue and I can marshal evidence for an argument. Trying to insult me is not going to work. I have been insulted by much better people and it didn’t work.

                      Lay out your case.

    2. There were French citizens and public officials and workers who participated in the Holocaust in France. Do not forget about Vichy France, that portion which stayed free of Nazi occupation but was with them on the Jewish and Gypsy roundups.

      1. Liberty2nd – I agree the French have much to answer for regarding the Holocaust.

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