Warsaw, Poland – Poland is likely to bar Holocaust denier David Irving from entering Poland. Israel had urged Warsaw to deny Irving entry after it became apparent that he was planning to lead a tour of Nazi concentration camps in the country later this year.
“Negation of the Holocaust is not allowed by Polish law, therefore he will not be welcome here in Poland if he wants to come and present his opinions,” foreign minister Jacek Czaputowicz told reporters at a press conference on Friday. The statement comes days after Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett wrote to Poland’s Ambassador to Israel appealing to the Polish government to deny Irving entry.
The tour of some of the most infamous death camps located in modern day Poland, which include Treblinka, Sobibór, Belzec and Majdanek, is set to take place in September. The tour brochure available on Irving’s website calls the death camps “controversial” and describes Irving as a “Hitler expert”. It also bizarrely states that no refunds will be given “where participants are denied entry to Europe under anti-terrorism laws or other political restrictions, especially anti-Muslim or anti-Israeli”, points out Jewish News.
The nine-day tour, which apparently costs 3,650 pounds, also includes a visit to Wolfsschanze, Hitler’s wartime bunker, as well as that of SS chief and Holocaust architect Heinrich Himmler. It was supposed to be his first tour of Holocaust sites since 2011.
During his last visit to Majdanek, Irving described the crematorium building as “a fake, put up in post-war years”, and said he had told visiting schoolgirls that “scepticism” was needed while they were being taught about the gas chambers by their teacher. Irving nevertheless continually denies that he is a Holocaust denier.
In 1996, Irving, whose works include The Destruction of Dresden, Hitler’s War, Churchill’s War and Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich, sued American historian Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books for libel for characterizing some of his writings and public statements as Holocaust denial. He famously lost the case. The 2016 movie Denial, starring Rachel Weisz as Lipstadt and Timothy Spall as Irving, is a dramatisation of the trial based on Lipstadt’s own account History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.
The Polish government has been accused of anti-Semitism by Israel in the past. Last year, it caused an outcry after it passed a controversial law which made it a criminal offense to use the phrase “Polish death camps” to refer to the Nazi-run concentration camps on Polish soil. The row was revived recently when Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki cancelled a trip to Jerusalem after Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahou said many Poles had “cooperated” with Nazis in the Holocaust. Last week, a right-wing newspaper was spotted at a news kiosk inside Poland’s parliament instructing readers on “how to recognize a Jew.”
A recent study looking at how European countries come to terms with the mass killing of their Jewish population during World War II found that Holocaust revisionism is indeed particularly strong and even on the rise in some of the EU’s eastern member states, especially in Poland and Hungary.