"Jewish perpetrators" remark reignites Poland Holocaust dispute

Poland on Sunday sought to defend remarks by its prime minister which Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu called "unacceptable" and tantamount to denying the Holocaust. "According to Radio Poland, citing the Polish prime minister's office, Morawiecki acknowledged a complicated history, saying ". Others cooperated for money and improved living conditions, from opportunism, fear and, finally, to protect themselves and their families.

Polish embassies, Morawiecki said, were requested on 260 instances to respond to statements about Polish death camps, a term that he says should be taken with a grain of salt.

Hours after Morawiecki drew accusations of Holocaust denial, when he said on Saturday that there were Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust "as there were Jewish perpetrators", he made waves again after paying his respects at the gravesite of fighters from the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, a Polish underground military unit accused of collaborating with Nazis and killing Jews during World War II.

Mr Morawiecki's spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said that his words "should be interpreted as a honest call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust, regardless of the nationality of those involved in each crime".

The statement came as Israel continued to rage against Warsaw for Marowiecki's comments a day earlier at the Munich Security Conference, weeks after Poland pushed through a law criminalizing blaming the Polish nation for Holocaust crimes that also angered Jerusalem.

Profanities were scrawled across a noticeboard outside the embassy and a swastika had been drawn on the entrance gate. The spokesman, Krzysztof Lapinski, said Morawiecki's reply was in Poland's interest and meant to explain the new law.

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"The Polish prime minister's remarks here in Munich are outrageous".

Netanyahu said he agreed that the Nazi regime initiated the Holocaust and built concentration camps such as Auschwitz, instrumental for the German regime's extermination of millions, but erected on invaded soil, outside Germany. There were also Poles who risked their lives to save Jewish neighbors.

Relations between Poland and Israel have deteriorated over legislation that makes suggestion of Polish complicity in the Shoah a crime punishable by up to three years in jail - a move seen by critics as an attempt to whitewash history.

"Many, many thousands of Poles killed or betrayed their Jewish neighbours to the Germans, causing them to be murdered", historian Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said as reported in The Times of Israel.

"I deeply believe in the friendship between the Polish and Jewish nations", he said, adding that the Poles must "tell the truth and apologize" when necessary.

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