Polish President boycotts Holocaust remembrance in Israel

WARSAW, POLAND (AP) — Poland’s President said recently that he will not attend a commemoration in Israel to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp because he was not asked to speak at the forum along with world leaders.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda was not among the foreign dignitaries named as speakers for the January 23 World Holocaust Forum in media releases sent out on Tuesday for the event.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose countries invaded Poland at the start of World War II, were listed along with French President Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Prince Charles.

Poland’s Prime Minister and foreign diplomats have voiced concerns about recent remarks by Putin and some Russian commentators that imply that Poland was partly responsible for the war’s outbreak in 1939.

Duda called those comments a “sort of post-Stalinist revisionism” that tries to shift blame to Poland, which was the first country victimised by Nazi Germany and lost some six million citizens during World War II. Auschwitz was located in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Following consultations with the government, Duda said he would skip the forum where he would not be allowed to present a factual picture. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Soviet army’s liberation of Auschwitz on Janueary 27, 1945, Poland planned to hold its annual observance at the former camp’s site on Janueary 27, which is observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Over one million people perished at Auschwitz, mostly European Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Russian prisoners of war and others.

Polish President Andrzej Duda (L) and Archbishop of Warsaw attend the 12th annual Epiphany procession in Warsaw on Monday. PHOTO: AP