The Claims Conference and WJRO Condemn Legal Proceedings Against Polish Historians

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In Poland in a defamation trial, Professor Barbara Engelking, director of the Research Centre for the Extermination of Jews (Polish Academy of Sciences) and Jan Grabowski, professor of history at the University of Ottawa – both of whom are internationally known scholarly experts – were accused of having edited a book in which Professor Engelking allegedly tarnished the memory of a village elder during the German occupation, by mentioning that he was jointly responsible for the death of Jews. Independent researchers who have been seeking to deal openly and accurately with the historical record of the Holocaust have been targeted in these proceedings, which will inhibit not only their work but will discourage younger researchers in Holocaust studies.

The verdict was announced Tuesday, requiring a retraction and apology from Professors Barbara Engelking, and Jan Grabowski. Learn more about the verdict (In Polish).

Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski  Photo: Jacek Dominski

Claims Conference Statement

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), a major sponsor of historical research on the Holocaust, and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) protest in the strongest terms the verdict by a Polish court in a defamation trial brought against international-regarded scholarly experts Professor Barbara Engelking, Director of the Research Centre for the Extermination of Jews (Polish Academy of Sciences), and Professor Jan Grabowski of the University of Ottawa. The history of the Holocaust requires independent scholarly research that must not be subject to inappropriate efforts at pressure by politicians and the courts. This verdict is a concerning example of Holocaust distortion against which the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, of which Poland is a member, has taken a stand. “The telling of history must not be blocked or restricted – this decision damages an open and honest coming to terms with the past,” said Claims Conference President and WJRO Chair of Operations, Gideon Taylor. “Poland must encourage open inquiry into its history, both the positive and the negative aspects, in order to build a society for the future, based on solid ground and a genuine understanding of the past.”