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Deputy Minister of Science: The Polish Academy of Sciences is “promoting false information” about the Holocaust, which is why it needs reform

Copyright: Image. Maciek Jazwiecki / Agencja Wyborcza.plPhoto. Maciej Jazwiecki…

December 30, 2022

a. Włodzimierz Bernacki, Deputy Minister of Science and Education, spoke in an interview about the need to “reform” the Polish Academy of Sciences. fierce debate? “For example, the conferences organized in Paris on the participation of Poles and their crimes in the Holocaust.” Let us remind you: it was about a famous international conference that was interrupted by anti-Semitic shouts

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Mentionsed On this topic was included in the interview of the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, prof. Włodzimierz Bernacki, a private historian of political thought, supported the industry magazine “Forum Akademickie”.

The case is interesting, so it’s worth paying attention to it. It is indicative of what is a thorn in the side of the ruling right wing Holocaust Research Centre in the Polish Academy of Sciences – so large that years later the Deputy Minister took it as an argument for changes in the entire Polish Academy of Sciences.

They are also interesting because they show the selective memory of a minister who remembers a scientific conference devoted to the Holocaust, but forgets that the main scandal at it was not the scientists’ papers, but the anti-Semitic speeches and shouts raised by the Poles who were in the audience. They provoked a protest from the French Ministry of Science.

But let’s tell this story in detail.

In an interview with “Forum Akademickie” (you can read the whole thing hereDeputy Minister Bernacki spoke about the authorities’ still undetermined plans for the reform of the Polish Academy of Sciences. “The Minister of Science appointed a team to reform the Polish Academy of Sciences, which does not include members of the Polish Academy of Sciences. There are only young lawyers,” the investigator asked him.

a. Bernacki spoke of the need for “effective supervision of the assets of the Polish Academy of Sciences” and added: “We must take into account the international activity of the Polish Academy of Sciences in order to avoid a situation in which it affects the good reputation of the Polish state and nation. (…) For example, Conferences organized in Paris on the participation of Poles and their crimes in the Holocaust Our academy cannot be disseminated false information on this subject in the world.

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It is also about highlighting the status of the institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences.”

The deputy minister could only think of one conference, which took place in Paris in February 2019 and angered Poland’s ruling right. It also caused an international scandal and correspondence between the then Science Minister Jaroslav Gouin and the French Science Minister Frédéric Vidal.

The Minister is probably referring to the international scientific conference “The New Polish School of Historical Research on the Holocaust”, which took place from February 20-22, 2019 at the EHESS (Ecole Graduate School of Social Sciences) in Paris.

It was intended as a summary of fifteen years of collaboration between Polish and French historians of the Holocaust. It was prepared largely by French researchers – Judith Leon Caine (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Audrey Kichelewski (Université de Strasbourg), Annette Wieviorka and Jean-Charles Szurka of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Claire Zalk From the Center for Historical Research (EHESS/CNRS).

The conference was attended by researchers dealing with the Holocaust from the Polish Academy of Sciences, for example. the professor. Jacek Leociak and prof. Andrew Leader. They also talked about cases of cooperation between the Poles and the Germans in the Holocaust. Thanks to the work of researchers associated with the Holocaust Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences, knowledge on this topic has increased dramatically in recent years. The conference was also attended by two historians who were hated by the oath – prof. Jan Tomasz Gross of Princeton and Prof. Jan Grabowski of the University of Ottawa.

“The management of the PAN research station in France must be changed immediately; I do not know and do not want to know who he is; whether he is an outstanding historian or a great and distinguished activist. It does not matter. Such a man who spreads lies about Poland and the Poles.”

A well-organized group of demonstrators also intervened in the scientific discussion.

“There were other guests at the Paris conference this year, well organized, with recording equipment. They came to defend the honor of Poland. They did it with dedication, passion and perseverance. In the great hall of the Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, one of the most prestigious French universities, we were accompanied by a large group of Poles under the spiritual care of an appointed Catholic priest for the duration of the two-day session”- Books at OKO.press the professor. Jacek Leociak.

He stated that “when the organizers handed the microphone to one of the ladies, there were ridiculous accusations and slanders, as well as anti-Semitic statements, including an interpretation of the Talmud in the spirit of pre-war ‘Jewish’ pamphlets.”

In the lobby of Professor Dr. Gross was called “scab”.

“There were at least 4 incidents over the course of 2 days, with Prof. Dr. Jacek Luciak with Prof. André Lederer with Prof. Jan-Tomasz Gross with Dr. Sidi Ndiaye [autor książki porównującej ludobójstwo na Tutsi w Rwandzie w 1994 roku i na Żydach w czasie wojny – red.]. These then also became specialists in approaching speakers, asking them questions, harassing and directly challenging them. A lady from “Gazeta Polska” asked if it was true that the Talmud says Christians should be destroyed,” Olga Perska (EHSS), co-organizer of the conference, told OKO.press at the time.

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Deputy Prime Minister replied. He did not respond to the allegations. He threatened the French woman with “political correctness”. He apologized, but made the reservation that nothing, in his opinion, was wrong. So it was an apology, not an apology.

“It is wrong to interfere in scientific debate in any way, so if there were emotional outbursts from some of the audience during the conference that disrupted the conference, it should not have happened. (…) It is difficult for me to state unequivocally what If anti-Semitic statements were made during the conference. Collected reports show that they did not happen. On the other hand, if offensive words with anti-Semitic overtones were uttered in the corridors, then such behavior is clearly unacceptable,” Guinn wrote.

Nor did he mention the many offensive attacks on the scientists who spoke at the conference, including those by PiS politicians, such as Professor K. Jan Garen, historian and senator for this party.

We describe Gwen’s speech here.

“It cannot be that our academy is promoting false information on this subject in the world [udziału Polaków w Zagładzie]- This is what Deputy Minister Bernacki must say today, in connection with the Paris Conference – because it can only be about it – as an important argument for radical changes in the Polish Academy of Sciences.

You see, the minister is relying on the poor memory of his readers, who may not know what he is about or only remember the propaganda message of the pro-government media.

Fortunately, OKO.press remembers what it was like.

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Adam Lesczynski

OKO.press is a journalist, historian, sociologist and professor at SWPS University in Warsaw.

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