The Polish Government’s laws forbidding people from blaming Poles for the Holocaust are reactionary and wrong: an attack on free speech and even an anti-Semitic dog-whistle.
But as historical fact the point is right. It was not Poles who set up the death camps, it was the German occupation forces. Far from being perpetrators of Nazi violence, Poles were victims of it. An astonishing five million, eight hundred thousand Poles were slaughtered in the Second World War, by German forces – and also by the Soviet Union. That is 17 per cent of the total Polish population – among nations, only the Soviet Union lost a greater share.
Poland’s Government exiled in London was the first to highlight the murder of the Jews, notifying the UN in 1942 when other allied governments preferred to hide the Holocaust. The rival, Soviet-backed ‘Lublin Committee’ also aimed to help Jews, organising the first aid collections as the survivors were liberated by the Red Army
Jan Karski (24 June 1914 – 13 July 2000) was a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later professor at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943 Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the secretive German-Nazi extermination camps.