WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – The former Roman Catholic primate of Poland believes that because of the country’s recently passed Holocaust law and discussions around it, anti-Semitism in Poland has become a contemporary and current problem again.
“Old demons began to wake up: the trust of many thousands of people has been strained and the work of many decades has been tarnished,” Archbishop Henryk Muszynski, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Gniezno, told the Polish-language Catholic Guide magazine.
The so-called Holocaust law, an amendment to the country’s Institute of National Remembrance, passed in February, made it illegal to blame the Polish nation of crimes that were committed by the Nazis. In June, it was changed by parliament to make it a civil offence, rather than a criminal one.
Muszynski said that Poles are attached to history, but they have “their own, one-sided vision.” In his opinion, there were “glorious moments” in the history of Poland, but also “mean and unchristian” behavior.
The archbishop believes that Poles are closing themselves off to others and do not have a sufficiently deep identity. Hence the fear of everyone who is “different and foreign,” he said.
“It seems to us that they can threaten us, that they can change and destroy us. That is why we still want to defend ourselves against anyone – so much so that we are ready to create a fictional enemy, who is everyone who thinks differently, who believes differently, who is different from us,” the archbishop said.
“Those who reject today Jews and Muslims, who judge these people, probably never met any Jew or Muslim. The blame for their aggression and fear is usually borne by their environment, in which radical opinions and propaganda dominate, served by some media,” said Muszynski.