The members of the European Alliance of Academies are in solidarity with Prof. Jan Grabowski, Professor of History at the University of Ottawa, and Prof. Barbara Engelking, founder and director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw and professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The two internationally renowned Holocaust researchers were ordered by a Polish court in Warsaw to apologise to the plaintiff Filomena Leszczynska, who sued them for defaming her uncle Edward Malinowski and for “damaging national identity and national pride”. In the research work Night Without End: The Fate Of Jews In Selected Counties Of Occupied Poland (2018), the two researchers presented Edward Malinowski both as the rescuer of a Jewish village inhabitant and as a collaborator with German National Socialists. The plaintiff accused the researchers of inaccuracy in the supporting documents.
At a time when the right to “the cult of remembering decedents” is considered more important than independent Holocaust research, the European Alliance of Academies points to the freedom of arts and science and the independence of research institutions established in Article 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
In the name of academic freedom, we are also protesting against the politics of history of the Polish ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), which has repeatedly tried to reduce Poland’s complex historical role during the National Socialist era by way of national legend building to a “nation of rescuers of Jews”. This form of historical revisionism must not be accepted with a shrug in Europe either.
There can be no peace or security anywhere while perpetrators of crimes against humanity are allowed to evade responsibility. No secure state can base national pride on national falsehood, or the evasion of international human rights law. It is vastly dangerous to diminish the complexity and culpability involved in fascist occupation, especially at a time of rising fascism. To do so endangers citizens of individual states and emboldens forces which endanger us all.