Open letter of protest to the IHRA – Symposium “New Polish School of the Holocaust”

Open letter of protest to the IHRA – Symposium “New Polish School of the Holocaust”

Attn.:

Ambassador Georges Santer
IHRA Chair

Dr. Wichert ten Have
Advisor to the IHRA

Dr. Dominique Trimbur
Dr. Deborah Dwork
Dr. Daniel Gerson

Dear Chairman,

I congratulate Luxembourg on taking over the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance from Italy.

Unfortunately, as chairman your first public statement regarding the symposium at EHESS on February 21-22, 2019 “New Polish School of the Holocaust” represents a grave distortion of the events that took place in Paris. As a member of the international organization “Polish Media Issues” fighting against falsification of Polish history and as a participant of the aforementioned symposium, I gained a very opposite impression from that “conference”.

First of all, please let me state that there was no organized, appointed group of “Polish nationalists”. There were Polish individuals from France and other European countries, including representatives of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) who were harassed by both the symposium organizers and speakers throughout the conference. There was no organized group – that is just a fact. However, a few Polish individuals organized themselves ad hoc during the conference in the face of the slanderous insinuations and Holocaust distortions spread by some of the speakers. The group was in no way appointed. How did you come to such a conclusion? Appointed by whom? Do you have any proof or evidence? The Polish people did NOT disrupt the symposium, did NOT harass the speakers and did NOT publicly voice any anti-Semitic remarks. EHESS recorded the whole conference and despite numerous requests from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance and from my organization, the French school did NOT publish the video recordings or make them available.

If EHESS had published the recordings, you would be able to gain a quite opposite and more truthful picture of the events, for instance:

– Organizers interrupting the conference because of a Polish woman taking a picture with her mobile phone of a slide depicting the number of Jews who perished in the German death camps in occupied Poland 

– A French speaker, Tal Bruttmann, interrupting his presentation because of a woman in the public (I don’t know if she was French or Polish) asking him not to use the stateless word “Nazi” but to use the word “German” instead. Only because of this request the speaker shouted that all the Polish people sitting in the lecture hall were a rear-guard of the Polish authorities (in French: arrière-garde)

– A French woman making gestures of throat-cutting in the direction of the Poles sitting in the lecture hall – Symposium organizers (EHESS) totally ignoring Polish participants raising their hands to ask questions during the question and answer sessions

I don’t understand, how can you make such grave allegations without any fact checking and without providing any proof! The speakers presented a distorted picture of World War Two devoid of any context of the brutal German occupation of Poland . They portrayed Poles as wild beasts chasing Jews and the speakers whitewashed Germany and Germans of their culpability.

For instance, a scholar from the Polish Academy of Sciences Professor Jacek Leociak, among other contentious items, stated in his psychedelic lecture (as can be verified in this YouTube video: “Previously, however, one has to destroy [in Poland] historical relations, certificates and documents deposited in archives and replace them with counterfeits. One has to tell the surviving victims and witnesses that they did not see what they saw. One has to dig up the remains of Jewish victims from anonymous graves scattered around Poland and put stones there.” These words are total nonsense and have nothing to do with the reality in Poland or a scientific approach. Leociak spread fake stories in order to undermine the credibility of the Polish state. 

Other scholars presented the following distorted views of World War Two:

– Sidi N’Diaye compared the relations of Poles to Jews to the Tutsi genocide by the Hutu in Rwanda and stated, inter alia, that “Jews were afraid every time Polish peasants went to church and came out of it with hateful words”. He seemed unaware who had actually perpetrated the Holocaust.

– Tal Bruttmann suggested that the name of the Auschwitz Museum be changed to the Museum of Oświęcim (suggesting that Poles were complicit in the Holocaust) 

– Valentin Behr criticized a Polish Professor of History and Senator Jan Żaryn, who is in charge of the IPN website http://truthaboutcamps.eu, for his appeals not to use the phrase “Polish camps” but “German camps” instead. This kind of criticism is, according to an IHRA definition, a Holocaust distortion! 

– Ewa Tartakowsky made baseless accusations against Polish educational authorities and institutions preserving the memory of World War II. She falsely claimed that Polish institutions deliberately de-emphasize Jewish victims of concentration camps, that they intentionally emphasize the suffering of Poles during the war or purposefully underline the places of Polish martyrdom, all this in order to cover the responsibility of Poles for killing Jews and to deny Polish anti-Semitism. Apart from the obvious absurdity, Tartakowsky was apparently unaware that the director of Auschwitz Memorial has been (wrongly) criticised that the museum focuses only on Jewish victims!

– Jean-Yves Potel said that the Poles killed Jews because they were Jews. He was apparently oblivious to the THOUSAND year history of Jews in Poland.

– Annette Wieviorka stated that the Holocaust was possible thanks to centuries-old Polish anti-Semitism, actively supported by the Catholic Church. At the end of the conference she called the Poles participating in the Holocaust as a “hateful horde”. She seemed oblivious to the factual history and facts such as which nation has the most Righteous.

I must stress again that the organization, proceedings and content of the presentations at the above-mentioned conference did NOT follow the proper scientific standards on transparency, criticism and methodology. The Polish participants, including the representatives of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance were NOT allowed to express their opinions in the Q&A sessions. There was, instead, a great deal of falsification of history and anti-Polish racial hatred among the scholars of the so-called “New Polish School of the Holocaust” and it is exactly the organizers and the speakers who deserve a condemnation – not the Polish attendees.

Therefore, I request you to remove your factually inaccurate statement from the website of the IHRA and desist from any further comments on the conference unless you gain full access to the video recordings and establish the actual FACTS. I reserve the right to take legal action against the IHRA if no correction is made.

Please also refer to the press release of Polish Media Issues and from the Institute of National Remembrance:

– https://polishmediaissues.online/press-release-on-the-negation-of-the-german-nazi-holocaust-in-occupied-poland-by-the-so-called-new-polish-school-of-the-holocaust-at-ehess-in-paris/

– https://ipn.gov.pl/pl/dla-mediow/komunikaty/67429,Prezes-IPN-skierowal-list-do-minister-szkolnictwa-wyzszego-badan-naukowych-i-inn.html (please scroll down the page to download the French and English versions of the Institute’s statements)

… and last but not least, I would like to express my deep disappointment that IHRA never reacts to incidents of Holocaust distortion such as “Polish death & concentration camps” or to baseless accusations of Poland’s complicity in the Holocaust. However, your organization decided to condemn the non-existent anti-Semitism of the Poles in the lecture hall of EHESS. 

I look forward to your prompt response.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Marek Błażejak 
Hamburg, Germany

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The picture portrays the main organizer of the symposium “New Polish School of the Holocaust” Professor Christophe Prochasson, President of the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) and the main sponsor of the event Mr. Philippe Allouche, General Director of the Shoah Memorial Foundation during the opening of the symposium.

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