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Polish historian says he was forced to switch jobs because of his Holocaust research

Adam Pulawski may have fallen foul of Poland's new Holocaust law

    Adam Pulawski
    Adam Pulawski

    A historian employed by the Polish government has said he is to be transferred away from his post at a state-affiliated institute because of his work on Poland’s wartime relations with Jews.

    Adam Pulawski said he was informed he would be moved to another office by the Institute of National Remembrance, a research body founded 20 years ago, in what he called an effort to impede his work.

    It has also decided not to publish his latest book on the subject, he said.

    A controversial law passed by Poland’s parliament earlier this year made it an imprisonable offence to suggest the Polish nation or state was complicit in the Holocaust.

    “They want to remove me to [another] branch. They want that I will not speak about Polish-Jewish relations,” Dr Pulawski told the JC.

    “They have a view about [the Polish-Jewish relationship] completely different than mine and completely different than most researchers.”

    He said that the trauma of seeing his life’s work disrupted had left him ill.

    The Institute of National Remembrance refused to comment to the JC.

    Dr Pulawski’s case comes at a time of confusion and tension over how Poland’s new law should be interpreted.

    Polish activist Rafal Pankowski said there was “political pressure on historians to conform to the right-wing nationalist view of Polish history,” citing what he termed the “government’s interference in the exposition of the Museum of World War II in Gdansk.”

    He said he was himself targeted after he addressed the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem last month.

    Mr Pankowski said he had spoken about the Polish government’s promotion of an alternative Holocaust narrative and the resultant rise in public antisemitic sentiments, while prime ministerial adviser Andrzej Pawluszek sat in the audience scowling. The adviser later tweeted that Mr Pankowski had “attacked his own country”.

    “I was really disappointed by Mr Pawluszek’s series of hostile and vicious tweets, which provoked threats and abuse,” Mr Pankowski said.

    “It is not the role of a public official to dictate what can or cannot be said by a Polish citizen during a conference abroad and it is not the role of a public official to engage in online attacks on critics of antisemitism.”

    Laurence Weinbaum, co-author of a book in Polish on the revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto, said the “shameful treatment to which Adam Pulawski has been subjected is, unfortunately, symptomatic of the all-out assault on Polish scholars who refuse to tow the party line.

    “Historians are being targeted for producing and publishing research that pokes holes in the [government’s] sacrosanct official narrative,” Dr Weinbaum added.

    Late last month, Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski publicly attacked the head of Polin, a Warsaw museum of Polish-Jewish history, for what he termed “very deep political involvement”.

    The museum was “supposed to create positive values, and not arouse conflicts,” Mr Glinski said, adding he had begun a “conversation with the entities that co-host this museum”.

    Auschwitz Museum director Piotr Cywinski has also been publicly harassed, while Polish-Canadian Holocaust researcher Jan Grabowski said he received death threats after being accused by the Polish League Against Defamation, a nationalist group, of falsifying the history of Poland.

    An earlier version of this article stated Adam Pulawski would be moved to another city. This was corrected to another office.

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