Europe

Polish jail terms for Nazi camp slurs

Barbed wire fence around prisoner barracks at former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp - file pic
Image caption Poles were among the victims murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz in southern Poland

Poland's conservative government says anyone who uses language that implies Polish responsibility for Nazi German atrocities will face jail or a fine.

The government has agreed on a new law to criminalise "insulting and slandering the good name of Poland".

The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has a clear majority in parliament.

Phrases like "Polish concentration camps" will be punishable by up to three years in jail. Millions died in Nazi German camps on Polish soil.

Under the new law it will be illegal to suggest "publicly and contrary to the facts" that Poles participated in, or bore any responsibility for, the crimes of the Third Reich, a Polish Justice Ministry statement said (in Polish).

Millions of people, mostly Jews, from across Europe were killed in six German-run extermination camps in occupied Poland.

Further Holocaust atrocities were committed in Nazi concentration camps and ghettos in Poland.

The country was occupied by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945. The murders wiped out 90% of Poland's pre-war Jewish population.

'Good name of Poland'

The ministry statement said the new law "will effectively combat the lies detrimental to the good image and good name of Poland, reproduced mainly by foreign media".

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There were, however, some Polish atrocities against Jews and other civilians during and after the war.

In 1941, Polish villagers in Jedwabne, perhaps at the instigation of the Nazis, rounded up more than 300 of their Jewish neighbours and burned them alive in a barn.

And 42 people, most of them survivors of the Holocaust, were murdered in 1946 in Kielce, 150km (93 miles) south of Warsaw.

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