Monday, 6 June 2016

Legal Measures Sought to Fight Ignorant "Polish Death Camp" Snipes

 The ranting Rabbi and his tagalong flock might do well to be careful what they say in future: International law firm to help against "Polish concentration camps" PAP 6th June 2016
The Dentons international law firm will help Poland in its battle against the use of the phrases "Polish concentration camps" and "Polish death camps" by international media. A letter of intent in the matter was signed by Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski and Dentons chief Elliott Portnoy in Warsaw on Monday. Commenting the move, Glinski reminded that Dentos was the world's biggest law firm, and stressed that it offered to aid Poland in the matter free of charge. Glinski said Poland had undertaken various measures against the use of the phrase "Polish concentration camps", but admitted that support from Dentons may prove "very useful in fighting this shameful practice". In this context he reminded that World War Two death camps in Poland were set up and run by the Germans and stressed that Poland will not agree to suggestions of its co-responsibility for Nazi Germany's wartime crimes. "We are stating this clearly: we will not allow Poland's good name to be trodden upon, and for us to be attributed with (...) co-responsibility for the genocide that was caused by (...) the German state. Those were Nazi-German death camps", Glinski stressed. He added that Poland had undertaken various measures in the matter but admitted that help from Dentons could prove "useful". "We in Poland are trying to combat this lie in various ways (...). But of course legal aid from an office with over 100 branches worldwide (...) will be very useful in fighting this shameful practice", the minister said, adding that Dentons will now "strive together with us to protect Poland's good name". Glinski also informed that the law firm promised to compile a report on the use of the questioned phrases.
It will be interesting to see what in fact Denton can do if, for example, a journalist in Kazakhstan uses the phrase. Of course they can send a sternly worded cease and desist letter and threaten legal action is no retraction is published, but actually putting that threat into action might be a chastening experience. Who, precisely, is slandered by the phrase? The accused entity is the authority ruling Poland in 1942 (or would that be 1939?) to 1945 (or since some camps were used later to inter other prisoners, would that too be extended later?). In what way is the present Polish government a side in the conflict around what the Polish authorities did or did not do in that period? Under which national or international legislation will such legal judgement be sought?

In any case, such a case would have to first prove intentionality. If one says African shipwrecks, it is clear that we are talking about wrecks of ships now in or near African territorial waters, not that all ships under the water were African in origin, some are Dutch, some English, some are Byzantine....

The banner
Back home there has just been a ruling which puts this attempt into some perspective. During a Legue match with Piast Gliwice fans of the Warsaw football club Legia hung a banner on the stadion: threatening the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, the Nowoczesna political party, the staff of the liberal newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, liberal journalists Tomasz Lis, Monika Olejnik and "other whores"  ("KOD, Nowoczesna, GW, Lis, Olejnik - inne ladacznice, dla was nie będzie gwizdów, będą szubienice!") for you the gallows are waiting! Some of the people thus threatened referred the matter to the Polish state Prosecutor who ruled that no crime had been committed as this was just "polemics" (see here in Gazeta Wyborcza).

It seems to me that with the sharp rise in recent months of hate speech and intolerance of other groups coming primarily from the right wing (often supported by members of the Polish Church), Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski would do far better to spend more time on the culture of Poles in today's Poland rather than what far-off journalists write about events in the 1940s.

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