Officials at Auschwitz Memorial have hit back against “historically false” criticism of Poland after a remark by London mayor Sadiq Khan earlier this week.
The memorial waded into the row over accusations of revisionism levelled against Poland, after Khan suggested City Hall’s £300,000 donation to Auschwitz-Birkenau partly sought to address the “rewriting of history.”
Khan flew to Krakow on Monday to mark 75 years since the liberation of the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He expressed concerns to Jewish News on Monday about the Polish government’s depiction of the country’s role in relation to the Nazi genocide.
The remark drew praise from Michael Newman, chief executive of the Association of Jewish Refugees. “While it is absolutely appropriate to remember that Polish citizens suffered brutally under Nazi occupation, the Mayor of London is correct to highlight the concerns raised by many of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars that the current government of Poland is attempting to stifle discussion of well-documented collaboration by some Poles,” he said.
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But it also sparked criticism from the Polish ambassador to the UK
Arkady Rzegocki, who thanked Khan for the grant. “It is Poland’s duty to remind the world of the real historical events when they are being challenged. It is not historical revisionism – it is historical acknowledgement,” he wrote.
Echoing the diplomat, the memorial’s official Twitter account wrote: “We thank
@SadiqKhan for London’s support of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. However, speaking about any collaboration of any institution of the Polish state (both Government-in-exile & underground structures in occupied territory) with Nazi Germany is historically false.”
The issue of historical revisionism came into sharp focus this month amid an ongoing diplomatic row between Polish and Russian authorities over responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War.
Polish President Andrzej Duda pulled out of ceremonies at Israel’s Yad Vashem after being told he would not be allowed to speak, unlike his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Sadiq Khan was reached for comment.