WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Polish historians defended an academic in Ottawa against charges that his Holocaust research falsifies the history of Poland.
Historians from the Polish Center for Holocaust Research have criticized the Polish League Against Defamation for publishing a letter signed by 134 scientists and others condemning Jan Grabowski’s works describing the participation of Poles in the crimes committed by the Germans during the Second World War.
Grabowski, the son of a Holocaust survivor, is a professor of history of the Holocaust at the University of Ottawa and the co-founder of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research.
Polish nationalists have been increasingly assertive in recent years in condemning suggestions that Poland was a perpetrator nation instead of a victim of Nazi occupation.
In a statement, the Polish League Against Defamation called it “disturbing” that Grabowski’s book Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland was honoured in 2014 with an award from Yad Vashem, “with which the author remains in close contact.”
The book, published by the Indiana University Press, documents the involvement of Poles in finding and killing Jews during the Holocaust. It draws on materials from Polish, Jewish and German sources, and focuses on accounts of the fates of individual Jews.
The Polish League’s letter was sent to the University of Ottawa, all the colleges with which Grabowski has been affiliated, all the publishers that issued his books, and to media outlets including the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.
The Polish Center’s letter was signed by seven historians who said they are ready “to engage in a scholarly debate with competent historians.”
“None of the 134 signatories is a Holocaust historian,” the centre said in a statement defending Grabowski. “All these economists, linguists, oncologists, chemists, nuclear physicists, engineers, constructors of electromechanical appliances, environmental geologists, ethnomusicologists, theatrologists and priest professors present themselves as Holocaust experts, but cannot even quote the sources they refer to.”