Poland’s far-right leaders seek to criminalize World War II restitution

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tags: World War II, military history, politics, Poland

Bright, red flares illuminated Andrzej Majczak’s face as a Roman Catholic choir sang in the background and protesters chanted “Blood, honor, motherland!”

Majczak, a 40-year-old sailor from the Polish city of Gdansk, and his family had traveled more than 200 miles to the country’s capital, Warsaw, in November to participate in the annual Independence Day march, which he said was a way of “manifesting our Polishness.” 

Analysts monitoring extremist groups have called the event one of Europe’s biggest gatherings of ultra-fascists, extreme right-wingers and nationalists. Participants throw firecrackers, pose with flares and don jackets and sweaters reading, “Death to the enemies of the fatherland.” Many of them say the greatest threat to Poland is Jewish property restitution claims.

“It is an audacious robbery attempt,” Majczak said in Warsaw’s historic city center.

Poland, one of 47 nations that approved the Terezin Declaration in 2009 to ensure “assistance, redress and remembrance for victims of Nazi persecution,” is the only major former Eastern Bloc country to do nothing to return private property confiscated by Nazis or nationalized by the communist government, according to the World Jewish Restitution Organization.

Activists concerned about anti-Semitism point to the country’s lack of redress along with the emergence in recent years of the nationalist Law and Justice party and European Union data indicating that a large number of Jewish people in many of the bloc’s 28 countries, including Poland, feel negative treatment has increased in recent years.

Read entire article at Los Angeles Times

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