July 06, 2018
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acknowledges the recent amendment to Poland’s problematic Act on the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) as a first step towards addressing part of the problem with the legislation. However, this revision does not secure a future for Holocaust education, scholarship, and remembrance.
Although the Government of Poland has removed the possibility of criminal prosecution under the terms of the IPN law, it is still possible for the state to engage in civil proceedings against persons who accuse “the Polish nation or the Polish state of being complicit in Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich.” The arbitration of historical facts does not belong with courts or legislative bodies. It belongs with rigorous scholars and educators committed to documenting historical truth and advancing accurate, thoughtful, open discourse.
For the past several months the Museum has engaged in public and private discussions with the Polish government to voice our concerns and seek solutions. We appreciate the dialogue and hope that it will continue. But the recent amendment does not address our primary concern which is the potential for intimidation, self-censorship, and politicization, rather than a shared belief in the need for an ongoing, honest engagement with the past.
The Museum supports the recent statements of the renowned Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer and the historians of Yad Vashem concerning the law. We remain encouraged by and stand in solidarity with those Polish scholars whose research informs a fuller understanding of the Holocaust and with those Polish educators who are teaching future generations the vitally important history of the horrific events that took place on Polish soil during the Nazi German occupation.
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