Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

In this 1943 photo, a group of Polish Jews are led away for deportation by German SS soldiers, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter.

The Associated Press

An eminent Canadian historian of the Holocaust says Poland’s nationalist government is using a proxy to sue him for libel as part a campaign to stop further studies into the role Polish collaborators played in murdering Jews for the Nazis.

University of Ottawa professor Jan Grabowski is awaiting a ruling in a Polish court on Tuesday that could have broad implications for historians seeking to study the Holocaust.

“If this lawsuit is successful then basically it will mean the end to the independent writing of the history of the Holocaust in Poland,” he said in an interview.

Story continues below advertisement

Prof. Grabowski and Polish sociologist Barbara Engelking are being sued for the 1,600-page, two-volume study they co-edited, Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland. It examined nine areas of occupied Poland during the Second World War where it discovered thousands of Jews, who went into hiding, were betrayed or murdered by their Polish neighbours.

Filomena Leszczynska is suing over part of the book that mentions her uncle Edward Malinowski, the now deceased former mayor of the village of Malinowo. The book quotes witnesses who accused Mr. Malinowski of being an accomplice in the deaths of several dozen Jews in the village.

The lawsuit is backed by the ultranationalist and government-funded Polish League Against Defamation.

The organization has been part of a broader effort by Poland’s populist Law and Justice government to challenge research on Polish participation in the killing of Jews by Nazi Germany. Poland was under German occupation for much of Second World War.

“The proceedings against these two scholars of international repute are nothing more than an attempt to to use the legal system to muzzle and intimidate scholarship on the Holocaust in Poland,” said Mark Weitzman, director of government affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish global human-rights organization.

Poland’s parliament voted in 2018 to make it illegal to blame the country for Holocaust crimes. Under international pressure, the law was amended to remove prison as a possible punishment for violators, though individuals can still be tried and fined, including for slander.

“If the court finds anything is wrong with our scholarship then of course we have pay huge fines [$35,000] and even more so in terms of buying newspaper space and in television [to apologize],” Prof. Grabowski said.

Story continues below advertisement

The effect of a judgment would result in a libel chill for other scholars and students of the Holocaust and could eventually lead to the closing of historical archives, he said.

“Half of the victims of the Holocaust were three million Polish Jews. And the second thing is Poland, in terms of the geography, is the place where 80 per cent of the victims of the Holocaust were annihilated. If these authorities continue to follow this path that means in the long run the lack of access to archival resources,” Prof. Grabowski said.

Open and free scholarship is essential especially on the subject of the Holocaust, said Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Ottawa-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, an advocacy organization.

“Attempts to bully, silence and intimidate researchers, including through means of legal persecution, is wrong and we condemn it,” he said. “This lawsuit will have a chilling effect. The only winners will be those whose aim is to deny and distort history to advance their own cynical, revisionist agenda.”

The Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem said the legal effort “constitutes a serious attack on free and open research.”

Prof. Grabowski was given the Yad Vashem International Book Prize in 2014 for his work Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland.

Story continues below advertisement

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies