(JTA) – The Polish Institute of National Remembrance has distanced itself from one of its historians who wrote in an op-ed that the situation of the Jews “did not look very bad” after the Nazis entered Poland. The piece by Tomasz Panfil, the historian responsible for education at the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, or IPN, appeared Oct. 2 in the Gazeta Polska, a weekly newspaper.
“After the aggression of Germany into Poland, the situation of the Jews did not look very bad,” Panfil wrote. “Although the [Nazi] occupation authorities took over, they ordered the wearing of armbands with the star of David, charged them heavy taxes, began to designate Jews-only zones only for the Jews, but at the same time permitted the creation of Judenrat, that is, organs of self-government.”
Institute leaders in a statement said “In connection with the thesis in the article by Tomasz Panfil in the Gazeta Polska, the Institute of National Remembrance declares that position presented there is in no way compatible with the historical knowledge about the situation of the Jewish population in Poland after September 1, 1939.” The statement added that the IPN management “expects that Tomasz Panfil will, in his scientific and journalistic activities, show diligence and respect to the principles of historical and research reliability.”
Other Polish historians criticized the op-ed. “This is a complete absurdity. This ignorance is frightening,” Dariusz Libionka, head of research at the State Museum at Majdanek, told the Polishj-language Kurier Lubelski newspaper.
CAP: Tomasz Panfil