Poland says Holocaust restitution would equate to 'Hitler's victory'
Prime Minister Magierowski insists compensating Holocaust survivors goes against international law and the post-Soviet backed state is being unjustly treated; 'We are the victims and we are the ones who should be compensated,' he says
"We are told that Poland has to pay restitution, but we will not agree to it as long as we are in power," Marek Magierowski said at a rally held by his party in the city of Łódź. "We are being unjustly treated. We are the victims and we are the ones who should be compensated.”
The incident comes amid a bitter standoff between Poland and Israel over how to remember the Holocaust and over demands that Poland pay reparations for former Jewish properties that were seized by Nazi Germany and later nationalized by Poland's communist regime. The United States has also recently began applying pressure on the Polish authorities, after President Donald Trump signed Act S.447 a year ago, which demands justice for uncompensated Holocaust survivors.
Magierowski said if Washington was to demand restitution payments from Warsaw as part of Act S. 447, the Polish government would “redirect that demand to Berlin.”
Poland was the home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe before World War II. The community was essentially wiped out after the Nazis invaded Poland and established death camps on its territory.
Last week, tension between Israel and Poland reached new heights after Polish ambassador to Israel was assaulted by an Israeli man outside the embassy building. Magierowski labeled the attack “xenophobic” and “racist” and demanded an apology from the Israeli officials.
The 65-year-old man from Herzliya, Eric Lederman, was arrested in connection with the incident shortly after. Lederman said he was walking down the street when the ambassador's vehicle honked at him to get out of the street, which he did not take kindly to. The suspect then approached the car and hit its roof. When the ambassador began filming with his phone, the suspect opened the car door and spat in his face amid shouts.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, said the assault was being investigated and that "we will update our Polish friends" on what is found.
"Israel expresses its full sympathy with the Polish ambassador and shock at the attack," Nahshon said. "This is a top priority to us, as we are fully committed to diplomats' safety and security."
Associated Press contributed to this report