Polish President Andrzej Duda apologized on Thursday to Jews expelled from their country during the 1968 anti-Semitic campaign.
“Excuse me, please forgive the Republic, the Poles, the Poland of that time,” Duda declared, addressing the Jews forced into exile and their families, stressing that “today’s free and independent Poland is not responsible”.
After the statement he added a wreath at the Warsaw railway station where the first Jews started coming out of the communist government, takes place in a context of tension between Warsaw and Israel over a controversial law about the Holocaust.
In February, the Polish government passed a law of historical revision of the Holocaust.
The new norm, proposed by the ultraconservative and nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) -the government party-, provides for punishing with up to three years in prison for the use of the expression “Polish concentration camps” to refer to the centers of extermination of Jews, located in the territory of the central European country under Nazi occupation.
The new legislation, criticized harshly by the United States and Israel, also has accusations against Poland of complicity with the crimes of the Third Reich . “Every Pole has a duty to defend the good name of Poland, and like the Jews, we were also victims,” former Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said last February.
The president’s address on Thursday is part of the fiftieth anniversary of the so-called ‘March of 1968’ or ‘Events of March’. At that time, the Communist Government of the People’s Republic of Poland, weakened by the events of the Prague Spring in neighbouring Czechoslovakia, began an intense campaign of persecution of dissidents that had a markedly anti-Semitic character and forced about 20,000 Jews to exile from the country .
Among them, the nation survivors of the Holocaust and intellectuals like the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski and the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman.
Duda also had words of recognition for the students who staged the protests against communism in the sixties, which he described as “heroes for the freedom of Poland.”