Poland says prime minister's Holocaust remarks meant as 'call for open discussion'

'Jewish perpetrators' of Holocaust remark by Polish PM sparks outrage in Israel

Unknown perpetrators sprayed swastikas and anti-Polish slurs at the entrance to the Polish embassy in Israel on Sunday, Polish foreign ministry spokesperson Artur Lompart has told the PAP news agency. Israeli Police foreign press spokesman said an investigation into the incident has been open and police are searching for the suspects involved.

Poland "was the only place on Earth" where thousands of Polish families were exterminated by the Nazis and the entire villages were annihilated "for helping our Jewish brothers and sisters", Morawiecki said. He suggested to Morawiecki that he would be branded a criminal in Poland for telling the story. "What is the objective, what is the message that you want to convey to the world?" he asked, garnering a round of applause.

"There were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian, not only German perpetrators", Morawiecki remarked. Millions of its citizens were killed, including three million Polish Jews in the Holocaust. Netanyahu condemned his remarks as "outrageous", saying they showed "an inability to understand history".

Israel has publicly opposed the bill from its inception, however Netanyahu has reiterated that diplomatic channels are now open as a means of convincing the Polish government to recede the controversial law.

The prime minister's office tweeted a photo of him with his hands clasped before the grave and said he lit a candle and laid a wreath there.

It went on to state that the prime minister's comments "should be interpreted as a honest call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust".

Dozens of Jews are known to have collaborated with the Nazis in Germany alone, helping the Nazis track down other Jews in hiding, often in the hope of escaping the Nazi death machine.

Critics have questioned whether this amounts to a cover-up of the role some Poles played in the killing of Jews - although the Polish prime minister's comments on Saturday reject that suggestion.

Asked for her thoughts on whether the new law violates the right to free speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stopped short at taking responsibility for her own country's actions, remarking that "Germans are responsible for what happened during the Holocaust, the Shoah, under National Socialism".

What does the new Polish law state?

What happened in World War Two?

According to figures from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Nazis, who invaded Poland in 1939, also killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians.

Jews from across the continent were sent to be killed at death camps built and operated by Germans in occupied Poland - home to Europe's biggest Jewish community at the time - including Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

More Poles have been honoured by Israel for saving the lives of Jews during the war than any other nation.

The call was prompted by a comment the Polish politician made that equated Polish collaborators in the Holocaust to alleged "Jewish perpetrators".

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