An appeals court ruled on Monday that two historians accused of tarnishing the memory of a Polish villager in a book about the Holocaust need not apologise, overturning a lower court ruling that raised fears about freedom of academic research.
In February, a Warsaw court ruled that Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, editors of Night without end: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland must apologise for saying villager Edward Malinowski gave up Jews to the Nazi Germans.
Some academics said at the time that the ruling could deter impartial research into Poles’ actions during the Second World War.
The case had been brought by Malinowski’s niece, Filomena Leszczynska, and funded by the Polish League Against Defamation, which opposes allegations of Polish involvement in the murder of Jews.
The appeals court judge dismissed her claims against the historians, underlining the importance of freedom of academic research and the need to avoid a chilling effect that could stop further studies.
“This is of particular importance in matters that constitute an important element of public debate, raising important social issues regarding the history of a given state and nation,” the judge said.
Poland’s ruling nationalists say studies showing complicity by some Poles in the killing of Jews by Nazi Germany are an attempt to dishonour a country that suffered immensely during the war.
Poland’s 3.2 million Jewish population was the largest in Europe at the start of the Second World War.
Almost all were killed during the war, many of them in death camps, and a further 3 million non-Jewish citizens also died under Poland’s Nazi occupation.
A significant body of research suggests that, while thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews, thousands also participated in the Holocaust. Many Poles do not accept such findings.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.