WARSAW — A Polish decide on Tuesday ordered two Holocaust students to situation a public apology for together with “inaccurate data” in a two-volume tutorial research that delved into the function performed by particular person Poles within the homicide of Jews throughout World Struggle II.
The order got here on the finish of a intently watched libel trial introduced by the niece of a wartime village mayor who, in response to a Jewish survivor cited in a 2018 research coedited by the students, was complicit within the homicide of 18 Jews who took shelter from the Nazis in a forest in jap Poland.
However the decide, Ewa Jonczyk, rejected a requirement for damages of $27,000 by the niece, Filomena Leszczynska, who was supported in her authorized motion by a partly state-funded group devoted to defending the “good title of Poland and that of the Polish nation.”
Choose Jonczyk stated she had dominated in opposition to awarding damages as a result of court docket choices “mustn’t have a cooling impact on scientific analysis.” She additionally rejected a requirement that the apology describe the wartime mayor of Malinowo village, Edward Malinowski, as a “Jew-saving hero.” The e book had portrayed him as a thief and Nazi collaborator.
The libel case has brought on alarm amongst Jewish teams and students around the globe, who fear that Poland’s nationalist authorities, led since 2015 by the conservative Legislation and Justice celebration, needs to curb impartial analysis into the Holocaust. The federal government has denied any involvement within the case.
Jan Grabowski, a Polish-Canadian historical past professor on the College of Ottawa and a defendant within the case, instructed Wyborcza Gazeta, Poland’s main liberal newspaper, that “I discover it exhausting to just accept this specific ruling.” He stated he would enchantment.
The second defendant is Barbara Engelking, a historian with the Polish Middle for Holocaust Analysis. “I don’t really feel responsible,” she stated after the decision in a video assertion.
Professor Engelking stated the problems “we’re imagined to apologize for don’t have any foundation in actual fact.” She stated her account of the wartime mayor’s actions, which included each serving to and betraying Jews, was primarily based on the postwar testimony of a Jewish girl whom he had aided and in addition robbed.
“This case exhibits that within the historical past of the Holocaust, there aren’t any black-and-white conditions,” Professor Engelking stated.
The 2 students edited “Night time With out Finish,” a 1,700-page research of Polish habits underneath Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945. Throughout that point, round three million Jews have been killed on conquered Polish territory, principally in Nazi loss of life camps but additionally typically by their Polish neighbors.
The e book infuriated nationalists by describing the complicity of particular person Poles within the homicide of Jews. That’s one thing that patriotic variations of Poland’s historical past, which stress Polish struggling throughout World Struggle II, have sought to keep away from.
“The conclusion drawn from the numbers is grim: two out of each three Jews searching for rescue died — most frequently due to their Christian neighbors,” the students wrote within the introduction.
Whereas declining to award damages, the decide’s order that the students publish an apology on the web site of Ms. Engelking’s analysis middle and ship a written apology to Ms. Leszczynska, the wartime mayor’s niece, marked a victory for the Polish League Towards Defamation, the driving pressure behind the case, and different nationalist outfits.
Maciej Swirski, the pinnacle of the League, welcomed the court docket’s choice, posting a message on Twitter that Ms. Leszczynska is “combating for all of us in order that we don’t should bear the stigma ascribed to us by historians as perpetrators of the Holocaust.”
Jewish teams condemned the decision.
“The historical past of the Holocaust requires impartial scholarly analysis that should not be topic to inappropriate efforts at stress by politicians and the courts,” stated a press release by the Convention on Jewish Materials Claims Towards Germany, a significant sponsor of historic analysis on the Holocaust, and the World Jewish Restitution Group.