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Polish court rules against Holocaust scholars in case that may muzzle research

In this 1943 photo, a group of Polish Jews are led away for deportation by German SS soldiers during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter (AP Photo)
In this 1943 photo, a group of Polish Jews are led away for deportation by German SS soldiers during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter (AP Photo)

A court in Warsaw rules that two prominent Holocaust researchers must apologize to a woman who claimed her deceased uncle had been slandered in a historical work that suggested he helped kill Jews during World War II.

Lawyers for 81-year-old Filomena Leszczynska argued that her uncle was a Polish hero who had saved Jews, and that the scholars had harmed her good name and that of her family.

The District Court in Warsaw does not, however, rule that they should be forced to pay her 100,000 zlotys ($27,000), as her lawyers had demanded.

The case has been closely watched because it is expected to set an important precedent for independent Holocaust research. The ruling can be appealed, however.

At stake in the case was Polish national pride, according to the plaintiffs, and according to the defendants, the future independence of Holocaust research.

Judge Ewa Jonczyk rules that the scholars, Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, must make a written apology to Leszczynska for “providing inaccurate information” that her late uncle, Edward Malinowski, robbed a Jewish woman during the war and contributed to the death of Jews hiding in a forest in Malinowo in 1943, when Poland was under German occupation. They are also ordered to apologize for “violating his honor.”

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