The World Jewish Congress this week called for two Polish officials to apologize for publicly questioning their country’s role in two anti-Jewish pogroms during World War II.
“It is disturbing to think that senior government officials in Poland, a country that led the struggle against Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and that has done so much to advance the cause of Holocaust education and scholarship, now seem to be lurching backward to the days of obfuscation and misinformation,” Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress said in a statement.
In a television interview, Poland’s Education Minister Anna Zalewska cast doubt that Poles were involved in burning alive more than 300 Jews inside a barn, known as the Jedwabne massacre of 1941 as well as the Kielce massacre in 1946 where 46 people were shot by Polish police because of a false blood libel accusation.
Michael Chajewski, the mayor of Jedwabne, said he supported the exhumation of the mass graves of Jews killed in his city during the war in order to determine whether German soldiers killed the victims.
“Minister Zalewska and Mayor Chajewski would do well to heed the words of President Andrzej Duda who said earlier this month at the 70th anniversary of the Kielce pogrom that ‘In a free, sovereign and independent Poland there is no room for any form of prejudice. There is no room for racism, for xenophobia, for anti-Semitism’,” Lauder said.