(JTA) – Holocaust commemoration activists in Warsaw filed a complaint against a Polish fashion celebrity who posed for pictures while wearing Nazi SS symbols.
Jonny Daniels, founder of the From the Depths commemoration group, filed the complaint with Warsaw prosecutors on Tuesday against Michal Witkowski, who on Sunday posed with two friends for pictures at Poland’s annual fashion week in the central city of Lodz.
Witkowski, who runs a popular fashion blog and appears frequently on television shows, was wearing a hat resembling a military beret emblazoned with the infamous SS symbol worn by soldiers of that elite Nazi unit during World War II. Displaying Nazi symbols is illegal in Poland, where the Nazis killed approximately 3 million Jews and another 2 million non-Jews.
On Monday, Witkowski apologized for the wearing the hat.
“I am not, nor did I want to be, a proponent of content related to any ideology, and in particular with the Nazi ideology,” he wrote on Facebook. Witkowski added that he did not inspect the hat too closely before wearing it and that he did so “without knowing that it could offend.”
But Daniels dismissed the apology as “an attempt to get off the hook in a country where authorities are often too forgiving of expressions of disrespect to the fallen.” He urged Witkowski to tour the former Auschwitz concentration camp with From the Depth staff “to understand why the hat is so offensive.”
The incident comes on the heels of Polish diplomats’ fury at FBI director James Comey for his reference in a speech last week at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Tribute dinner to “the murderers and accomplices of Germany and Poland.”
The U.S. ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull, apologized for Comey’s remarks, calling them “wrong, harmful and offensive.”
But Daniels said that “in order to be taken seriously when distancing themselves from the Holocaust, Poland and its society should first tackle phenomenon like Witkowski’s, to acknowledge and combat widespread ignorance, indifference and also complicity during the genocide.”