Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's father claimed this week that Jews willingly entered ghettos during the German occupation of Poland to get away from their non-Jewish neighbors, a comment Poland's government distanced itself from Thursday.
The comment by Kornel Morawiecki, a senior lawmaker and father of the Polish prime minister, is the latest episode in weeks of bitterness that have erupted over a controversial new Holocaust speech law.
Kornel Morawiecki claimed in a recent interview that Jews were not forced into ghettos by Germans but went willingly because "they were told there would be an enclave where they could get away from nasty Poles."
The comment is historically inaccurate. It is also seems to minimize the tragedy of the Jews while at the same time suggesting they partly brought the tragedy upon themselves out of anti-Polish hatred.
The deputy foreign minister, Bartosz Cichocki, said the comment does not reflect the position of the Polish government.
Cichocki has led recent talks in Israel aimed at damage control after an angry dispute triggered by the Polish law, which makes it a crime punishable by up to three years of prison to publicly and falsely blame Poland for German Holocaust atrocities.
The Polish government says it is a necessary tool to fight cases in which Poland is inaccurately blamed for German crimes that were carried out in occupied Poland during World War Two.
Israel and other critics, however, fear that the law—which is in any case unenforceable outside of Poland—is really aimed at trying to stifle research and discussion within Poland into anti-Jewish wartime violence, something that casts a shadow over Polish wartime behavior that was otherwise mostly honorable and marked by profound suffering.
Amid the heated debates, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also sparked criticism with comments seen as insensitive and historically wrong.