Is it the case that the Jewish people have lost a good friend in the out-going Polish President, Bronislaw Komorowski? More importantly, how should they consider the election of the right-wing candidate Andrzej Duda?
Notably, Duda recently criticized Komorowski for apologizing over Poland’s complicit role in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, saying the apology was an “attempt to destroy Poland’s good name.”
While Polish Jews have generally enjoyed good conditions of late and the outgoing government being seen as largely favorable towards Israel, the Jewish issue did play a role in the presidential elections.
During a debate last week between Komorowski and Duda, the former defended his past apologies over Polish complicity in the Holocaust. He particularly noted the massacre in Jedwabne in 1941, where Polish farmers murdered their Jewish neighbors, burning dozens alive inside a barn.
The issue has proven sensitive to Poles, who claim that by revealing such incidents, including those in Jedwabne, Wasosz and various other locations, historians have sought to cast Poland as a nation of perpetrators instead of a nation of victims to the Nazis.
During the debate, Komorwski said, “the nation of victims was also the nation of perpetrators.”
But as noted, Duda, Poland’s new president, slammed the apology, saying the attempt to come to grips with Poland’s role in the Holocaust harmed the state’s reputation.
However, Duda’s victory was not just the outcome of issues revolving around the Jews and historical ramifications from the Holocaust.
Komorwski’s Civic Platform party has brought Poland great economic growth over the course of eight years in power, greater integrating the state in the European Union.
It has also seen numerous corruption scandals, however, with much of the economic growth not reaching the lower economic classes who still suffer from low wages and meager job opportunities.
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