Poland calls on Putin to tell truth at WWII event

WARSAW, POLAND (AP) — Poland appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to refrain from using World War II and Holocaust victims for current political goals and pointed to wartime documents in which the Polish government called on the Allies to save Jews.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek made the appeal before a conference in Israel this week to mark 75 years since Soviet troops liberated the German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Putin, who will be one of the key speakers, recently alleged that Poland bears some blame for the war and accused Poland’s government of the time of anti-Semitism. Polish President Andrzej Duda decided to boycott the conference, saying he wasn’t offered a chance to speak.

In a recent interview with Israeli state TV, Duda said that Putin is “consciously disseminating lies about history”.

“This way he is trying to erase the responsibility of (Josef) Stalin’s Russia for starting World War II jointly with Hitler’s Germany,” Duda said.

Szynkowski vel Sek said if distortions and untrue allegations are repeated at the conference, Poland will point to historic documents and facts to counter them.

He named efforts by Poland’s resistance and the government-in-exile in London to gather and share with world leaders the facts about the mass extermination. One such document is Poland’s report that various government leaders received in 1942, when Auschwitz-Birkenau was operating.

He mentioned Jan Karski, who gave his first-hand account from the Warsaw Ghetto to United States President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1943, and Captain Witold Pilecki, who volunteered to be taken by the Nazis to Auschwitz-Birkenau to later bear witness to its atrocities.

A man walks beside photos of the exhibition ‘Survivors – Faces of Life after the Holocaust’ at the former coal mine Zollverein in Essen, Germany. PHOTO: AP