National Post (National Edition)

Polish court rebukes Canadian scholar


TORONTO • A Polish court order that an eminent Canadian historian and his co-editor apologize for suggesting a man helped kill Jews during the Second World World has angered Jewish human rights activists in Canada and abroad.

They say the ruling against Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking is part of an effort to obscure Polish complicity in the genocide of Jews during the Holocaust.

Michael Levitt, head of Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, called the ruling shameful.

“Poland cannot continue to bury the facts and silence Holocaust scholars,” Levitt said. “Its actions must be roundly rejected by Canada and the rest of the internatio­nal community.”

The group said it was reaching out to senior government leaders urging them to speak out against “Holocaust distortion in Poland.”

At issue was a short passage in a 1,600-page book Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland, co-edited by Grabowski, a professor at the University of Ottawa, and Engelking, director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw.

According to the passage, which Engelking wrote, Edward Malinowski robbed a Jewish woman during the war and contribute­d to the deaths of 22 other Jews hiding in a forest in Malinowo in 1943.

Malinowski's niece, Filomena Leszczynsk­a, 81, argued her uncle was a Polish hero who had saved Jews, and that the scholars had defamed her and her family. She demanded a retraction and 100,000 zlotys — about $34,000 — in compensati­on.

Judge Ewa Jonczyk ordered the authors to make a written apology for “providing inaccurate informatio­n” and “violating his honour.” The judge, however, stopped short of imposing monetary compensati­on, saying it could hinder academic research.

Neverthele­ss, Mark Weitzman, with the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said the ruling opened the door to further intimidati­on of Holocaust scholars and researcher­s.

“By ordering the scholars to `apologize,' it puts both historians and victims on trial, and offers protection to the reputation­s of Poles and others who collaborat­ed in the murder of Jews,” Weitzman said

Grabowski could not be reached for comment, although Engelking said they planned an appeal.

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Jan Grabowski

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