AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, Poland — Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg, 93, on Thursday strongly criticized Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz, for his controversial comment about Polish anti-Semitism.
Speaking with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at Auschwitz, ahead of the annual March of the Living, Mosberg called Katz “a stupid idiot” for saying in February that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk,” a quote from the late prime minister Yitzhak Shamir.
“Unfortunately there is no medicine for stupidity,” he said. “I’m talking about Israel Katz, that stupid idiot, if he could say that it shows his stupidity.
“I told Polish President Andrzej Duda not to come down to Israel unless [Katz] apologizes or is fired from the government,” added Mosberg, who on Wednesday became the recipient of Poland’s highest non-military honor.
Speaking before US Ambassador to Germany Richard Allen Grenell, the Auschwitz survivor added later that Israel “doesn’t have a better friend than Poland” and that he places the blame for the Holocaust solely on the German nation.
Poland pulled out of a February 19 conference in Jerusalem after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Poles had cooperated with the Nazis during the Holocaust and Katz referenced the Shamir quote.
Netanyahu later clarified to Warsaw his own comments, which were initially understood to have implicated all Poles in collaborating with the Nazis in killing Jews during World War II. The prime minister conveyed messages to Warsaw and issued a statement saying he had been misquoted: he had said “Poles,” not “the Poles,” and never implicated all Poles or the Polish nation.
On February 25, Katz refused to apologize, but said he never implied “all” Poles were anti-Semitic.
For Mosberg, who was recently diagnosed with blood cancer, attending the march is “not any sign of victory. It’s just duty to name the perpetrators – the German nation. They and they alone bear responsibility, and certainly not the Poles,” he said earlier this week.
At a time when the Polish government is fighting a controversial battle against what it perceives as attempts to place blame on Poland for the genocide, Mosberg’s message is music to the ears of officials in Warsaw.
On Tuesday, the Polish government unexpectedly announced it would the following day award the nation’s order of merit to Mosberg, the honorary president of the From the Depths commemoration group. Mosberg, who speaks fluent Polish, often stars in March of the Living coverage as he walks in front wearing his original prisoner uniform.
Mosberg received the honor on Wednesday from Duda, the Polish president.
On Thursday, he presented to US Ambassador Friedman a Torah scroll donated by his daughter, featuring names of concentration camps and signed, “I will never forget and I will never forgive.”