New Polish President denounces outgoing President for apologizing for Poland’s role in the murder of Jews in the Holocaust
Andrzej Duda wins after criticizing outgoing president for recognizing Polish complicity in murder of Jews.
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski responded to exit polls by conceding defeat on Sunday, after having lost to his right-wing opponent Andrzej Duda of the Law and Justice party by a margin of 53% to 47%.
Notably, Duda recently criticized Komorowski for apologizing over Poland’s complicit role in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, saying the apology was an “attempt to destroy Poland’s good name.”
Official results are expected for Monday, although Komorowski has already congratulated Duda on his victory. Responding to the win, Duda said, “we can change Poland.”
While Polish Jews have generally enjoyed good conditions of late, with the outgoing government being seen as largely favorable towards Israel, the Jewish issue played a role in the presidential elections and it remains to be seen how Israeli-Polish relations may possibly be impacted.
During a debate last week between Komorowski and Duda, the former defended his past apologies over Polish complicity in the Holocaust. He particularly noted the massacre in Jedwabne in 1941, where Polish farmers murdered their Jewish neighbors, burning dozens alive inside a barn.
The issue has proven sensitive to Poles, who claim that by revealing such incidents, including those in Jedwabne, Wasosz and various other locations, historians have sought to cast Poland as a nation of perpetrators instead of a nation of victims to the Nazis.
During the debate, Komorwski said, “the nation of victims was also the nation of perpetrators.”
But as noted, Duda, Poland’s new president, slammed the apology, saying the attempt to come to grips with Poland’s role in the Holocaust harmed the state’s reputation.
Ironically, despite his anti-Jewish tone in the comments, the political far-right in Poland reportedly spread rumors claiming that Duda has Jewish roots, in an attempt to portray him negatively and employ anti-Semitic tropes.
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