Former Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski on Sunday attacked his country’s new and highly controversial Holocaust Law as a “legislative failure” and a “political mistake.”
The law, which criminalizes blaming the Polish nation or people for Nazi atrocities committed during World War II, was declared partly unconstitutional last month by the Polish attorney general’s office.
It has caused a rift with Israel and drawn criticism from the United States and Ukraine.
Komorowski told Israel’s Channel 10 News on Sunday night that the law was “not only a legislative failure but a political mistake. It’s contrary to our aims and defending Poland’s good name has become impossible. On the contrary, the law has prompted a lot of criticism of Poland.”
Komorowski — who lost to nationalist Andrzej Duda in Poland’s 2015 presidential elections — was interviewed for a Channel 10 News feature about the 1941 massacre of Jews at the hands of Poles in the Polish village of Jedwabne, during which at least 340 Polish Jews were locked in a barn that was set on fire.
The massacre is still an open sore for the Poles, particularly given attempts by today’s nationalist leadership to portray the population as victims of the Nazis, not perpetrators.
On July 11, 2011, Komorowski, then still president, asked for forgiveness at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Jedwabne atrocity.
Many believe this condemned his election hopes.
During a televised campaign head-to-head debate between Komorowski and Duda in 2015, the latter started by asking how Poland’s good name could be protected after Komorowski had apologized for Jedwabne and “distorted the historical truth through lying about a subject that is so sensitive for us.”
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Komorowski told Channel 10 News, adding that this also applied to the new Holocaust Law.