Figurines of Jewish caricatures being sold by non-Jews in Krakow, Poland (Photo/Matthew Leber)
Figurines of Jewish caricatures being sold by non-Jews in Krakow, Poland (Photo/Matthew Leber)

State Assembly resolution urges changes in Polish Holocaust law

The California State Assembly approved a resolution urging Polish lawmakers to reverse or revise their new Holocaust speech law, which has been condemned by Israeli leaders and by global organizations such as the World Jewish Congress.

The Polish law, which went into effect March 1 but hasn’t been implemented pending a court review, makes it a crime — punishable by up to three years in prison — to accuse Poland of complicity in the Holocaust.

The resolution approved Tuesday calls on Congress to join the effort pressuring Poland to change its law, and also supports “a renewed commitment to Holocaust education in California.” It now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

“Poland’s law limiting speech about the Holocaust is a gross misjudgment that dooms us to repeat the horrors of the past,” said the resolution’s lead author, Assembly member Marc Levine, a Democrat who represents parts of Marin and Sonoma counties and is chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

Poland had one of the world’s largest Jewish populations before 90 percent of it was wiped out in the Holocaust. Historians say the new law would cover up the role of some Poles in deadly pogroms during and after World War II, but Polish legislators argue that their nation was a victim of the Nazis.

Assembly Joint Resolution 35 recognizes both sides of that argument, acknowledging that “the Polish people suffered immensely at the hands of the Nazis.”

“It was Nazi Germany that engineered and perpetrated the murder of six million Jews, nearly half of them Polish Jews, largely through Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland,” the resolution says.

But it continues, “There were Polish individuals and groups in Nazi-occupied Poland who committed crimes against Jews … there were thousands of Jews who died not at the hands of Nazi Germans, but of their fellow Poles.”

Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster z"l was J.'s senior writer from 2016-2019.