Statement of Polish Media Issues on the offensive remarks of Senator Bob Menendez


*   Editors of American media in Washington D.C. and foreign correspondents in Warsaw, Poland*   Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

*   Members of the US Congress Task Force on Combating anti-Semitism

*   Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee

*   Office of Senator Menendez

*   Polish Embassy in Washington D.C.

Polish Media Issues (PMI), a leading, politically independent, international organization fighting against inaccurate media reports about Poland, is obliged to make the following statement on the offensive remarks of Senator Bob Menendez (New Jersey) at the 2018 AIPAC conference on March 6, 2018. The speech, which was applauded by thousands of participants, including numerous members of the U.S. Congress, included these sentences:

“Last month we watched with horror as Poland passed a law criminalizing the act of acknowledging that Poles had a role collaborating with the German Third Reich. This is a gross attempt to rewrite history, one that risks denying the past, the suffering of millions, and stoking anti-Semitic hatred.”

Polish Media Issues condemns in the strongest terms the historically false and offensive remarks made by Senator Menendez. It has been 9 days since Sen Menendez’ deeply insensitive and hurtful statement – and still No Retraction and No Apology. Would all recipients of this email please remind Sen Menendez of his rightful obligations to tell the full truth clearly, not misrepresent it.

It is quite obvious that the author/s of Senator’s speech did not read the Polish bill at all    (,10368,nowelizacja-ustawy-o-ipn–wersja-w-jezyku.html). Otherwise, he or she would have known that the law does not penalize “the act of acknowledging that Poles had a role collaborating with the German Third Reich”. The bill targets people who “attribute to the Polish Nation or to the Polish State responsibility or co-responsibility for the Nazi crimes committed by the German Third Reich” (scholars and artists are excluded from this prohibition).This law does not rewrite history. Instead, it defends historical accuracy, which was blatantly ignored by the Senator’s staff involved in the preparation of his speech. The main objective of the Polish legislation is to combat offensive and historically false terms such as “Polish death camps” or “Poland is co-responsible for the Holocaust”. Poland lost 6 million citizens during the war and the country’s infrastructure was totally destroyed. During only one week of the Warsaw Uprising (1944) Germans killed 200,000 Polish civilians, a massive war crime and genocide for which no one in Germany has ever been held accountable or punished..

Poland, as a country, never collaborated with the occupying forces (in contrast to many other European countries). The isolated cases of collaboration by individual people (no more than 0.1% of the whole society) can in no way be interpreted as a complicity in the Holocaust. Claiming otherwise is a purposeful manipulation of the factual history and a slanderous/libelous insinuation. Senator Menendez has no right to accuse Poland of “denying the suffering of millions”, because those millions included Polish citizens, either Polish Christians or Polish Jews. Unlike the US, Poland fought Nazi Germany from the first day of the war until the last. It is actually the Senator who is trying to rewrite history.

Senator Menendez is the “Ranking Member” on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He or someone in his office of 40 staff should have known better than to create or authorize such an historically incorrect speech. We do not understand why such mistakes with facts and history were made especially for such an important event like the annual AIPAC meeting. The speech was insulting to the millions of Polish victims and combatants of WW2, and we request an immediate apology, and a retraction, from the Senator’s office, with copies sent to the press office of AIPAC, and to the Speaker of the U.S. Senate.

Image: Polish farmers killed by German forces in German-occupied Poland 1943. Source: Polish National Digital Archive.