Polish president says new Holocaust law will not silence survivors' stories

Charlene Craig
April 13, 2018

The walk in Auschwitz is the culmination of the educational trip, and its name is meant to contrast with the death marches that the Nazis forced their captives to undergo as the Allied powers began to press in from both fronts.

With so few Holocaust survivors left who can make the journey to Poland, Rosenman said, every minute with them is precious.

"We wanted to defend the historical truth and I, as the president, want to defend it", he said. "Most of us are up in years, and if we're not going to tell what happened, who will?"

But as Maggie Astor reports for the New York Times, a new survey has found that Americans have fundamental gaps in their knowledge of Holocaust history-even though many Americans believe that something like the Holocaust could happen again, and consequently believe that Holocaust education is important.

The survey, which polled 1,350 American adults in February, was commissioned by The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a group that works to secure restitution for Holocaust survivors and their heirs.

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Three million Polish Jews perished in the Holocaust, almost half of the Jewish people killed in the genocide.

If people are harassed and sense that their careers are threatened, or say or write things of which the government does not approve, "then they may ultimately avoid the topic", Silberklang said.

A plurality of Americans aged 18 to 34 have no idea how many people were killed, what Auschwitz was, or how Hitler came to power.


With the youngest survivors now in their mid-seventies, the chance of hearing first-hand stories is rapidly dwindling.

Reuven Rivlin's remarks were aimed at a controversial new Polish law that was meant to protect Poland from false accusations of complicity in the Holocaust, but has drawn strong criticism from Israel, Ukraine and the United States.

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She said that "part of the government's job is to punish those who do evil, and the death penalty is to curb heinous crimes". He was put to death for the 2002 strangling death of his 12-year-old stepdaughter in Livingston Parish.

Claims Conference President Julius Berman said it is "vital to open a dialogue on the state of Holocaust awareness so that the lessons learned inform the next generation".

A third of the world's Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

There are around 400,000 Holocaust survivors alive today, according to Astor, and many of them are in their 80s and 90s.

The show of unity on Yom HaShoah may help soothe diplomatic tensions caused by the law which the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party says is needed to defend Polish honor, but which Israel said could criminalize research into the role some Poles played in the war crimes.

At the same time, Duda stressed that the law, which aroused much controversy, is not meant to block the testimonies of the survivors, even if they depict Poland in a negative light.

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The Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, which lies in southern Poland, was the biggest death camp set up by Nazi Germans during World War II to eliminate European Jews.

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