Poland demotes prosecutor who tried to halt probe of Holocaust scholar
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Poland demotes prosecutor who tried to halt probe of Holocaust scholar

Action against Michal Binkiewicz comes after he twice declined to pursue case against Jewish professor who wrote Poles killed more Jews than Germans in WWII

In this photo taken March 13, 2018, Jan Gross, a Holocaust scholar who has been a catalyst for historical debates about Polish behavior during the Holocaust, speaks to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
In this photo taken March 13, 2018, Jan Gross, a Holocaust scholar who has been a catalyst for historical debates about Polish behavior during the Holocaust, speaks to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland — A Polish prosecutor who twice wanted to end the investigation into an article written by a Princeton University professor saying that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during World War II has been demoted.

Katowice prosecutor Michal Binkiewicz dismissed the investigation into the possible insult of the Polish nation by Jan Gross in October 2016 and June 2017.

Binkiewicz said that no crime was committed and Gross, who most famously wrote about the killing of Jewish Poles by their neighbors in Jedwabne, had exercised the right to freedom of expression.

But his superiors overruled the decisions and appointed experts to evaluate Gross’ words. In October, the case, first launched in 2015, was taken over by another prosecutor, Iwona Skrzypek.

Binkiewicz learned that he will not be promoted in the regional prosecutor’s office in Katowice and will return to the lower prosecutor’s office in Sosnowiec, the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported this week.

The prosecutors’ office had opened a libel investigation against Gross operating under a section of the criminal code that says that “any person who publicly insults the Polish nation is punishable by up to three years in prison.”

Illustrative: Jews from Poland and abroad gather for commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of a massacre of Jews in Jedwabne, Poland, on July 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Michal Kosc)

In 2015, Gross wrote about the Poles killing more Jews than they did Germans in an article for Project Syndicate on the refugee situation in Eastern Europe and the reaction to them. Gross, a Polish-American sociologist and historian who is on the history faculty at Princeton, also wrote that Poles fought “bravely” against the Germans during this period “and can be proud of the excellent anti-Nazi underground.”

“I have blackened many pages with ink and it seems to me that I have not used the term ‘Polish nation’ anywhere,” Gross said in April 2016 in an interview for the Jewish.pl website. “You can’t insult anyone by telling the truth. What I wrote in these few sentences is true. This excludes the possibility of criminal liability, but I understand that this is a political situation and someone may decide that I should be prosecuted.”

His book “Neighbors,” about the pogrom in Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, on Jewish residents of the village by Poles, initiated the Polish debate on the responsibility of Poles for the crimes committed during the war and the murder of Jews.

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