France Calls on Warsaw to Condemn Disruption of Holocaust Conference

France Calls on Warsaw to Condemn Disruption of Holocaust Conference

French authorities have called on Warsaw to publicly condemn actions by Polish nationalists to disrupt a conference on the history of the Holocaust in Poland, Radio France Internationale reported.

French and Polish scholars met at the L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris for a Holocaust conference on February 21 and 22. In the run-up to the conference, organizers received a spate of threatening telephone calls and emails demanding it be canceled.

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance (the state historical and archival institution that studies the activities of the state security organs of Poland, the Third Reich and the USSR) criticized the conference on social networks on the eve of its opening, and the Polish embassy to France conveyed these criticism via Twitter.

French minister of education, research and innovation Frédérique Vidal said this amounted effectively to a planned and well-organized disruption of the conference by about 30 people affiliated with the conservative weekly Gazeta Polska. She said these disturbances were also supported by representatives of the Polish state. The Polish activists apparently accused the scholars of defaming Poland and making anti-Polish statements about anti-Semitic activities by Poles during World War II.

Following the failure of the forum, an open letter and petition was posted on the internet signed by members of the French Society of Polish Studies (Sfep) and the Italian Society of Polish Studies (AIP). Renowned historians and scholars said they were worried by the “direspectful behavior of some Poles” who booed speakers, issued threats and made “clearly anti-Semitic and racist statements.”

The EHESS published a letter on February 22 condemning the disruption of the conference, according to RFI. The French Government has asked Poland for official clarification of its position vis-à-vis these actions.

Text in French here.