Poles cannot be blamed for Auschwitz: World Jewish Congress head

Ronald S. Lauder, the head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) wrote in his op-ed in Polish “Rzeczpospolita” daily that he will always be against distorting the history, “regardless if it was caused by misunderstanding or ill will”.

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He stressed that for Jews, Poland is one of the most historical places in the world. “For generations, Poland had been a beating heart of Jewish spirituality and home for the majority of Jews of Diaspora,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately, because of the large concentration of people of this nationality and location of Poland in the centre of Europe, Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germans chose Poland as the ‘epicentre’ of the ‘Final Solution [to the Jewish Question]’,” Mr Lauder wrote.

He stressed that Poles cannot and should not be blamed for choosing Poland as the location of the death camps by Nazi Germans. “Auschwitz was the German camp, established by Germans and run by them,” Mr Lauder emphasised.

The head of WJC wrote that although he “is a sincere friend of Poland, who visits this country often,” he was disturbed by some recent events.

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He pointed out to words of bishop Andrzej Jeż, “who used a language straight from ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’” during the mass on Maundy Thursday in Tarnów, southern Poland, and the incident in Pruchnik, south-eastern Poland, where an effigy of Judas resembling an Orthodox Jew was beheaded, beaten and burnt.

Mr Lauder was also worried about the sight of “people demonstrating in Warsaw and chanting anti-Semitic and anti-American slogans.”

He expressed his hope that political and religious leaders in Poland would “make a strong statement against manifesting anti-Semitism.”

“We cannot allow the ghosts of the past rise again and lead to destroying what our both nations have built over years,” Mr Lauder wrote.