Nazi hunter wants Polish historian suspended

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre on Monday called for the suspension of a Polish historian who wrote that Jews were also to blame for the Holocaust, weeks ahead of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising's 70th anniversary.

The centre that tracks down Nazi war criminals demanded the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) "suspend antisemitic member" Professor Krzysztof Jasiewicz who insisted that during the Holocaust, "Jews themselves participated in the murder of their own people..." in a recent article.

"The Academy's august reputation had, last week, been stained with the dark scourge of antisemitism," Simon Wiesenthal Centre official Dr. Shimon Samuels wrote in a letter addressed to PAN head Michal Kleiber and quoted in a Monday press release.

Referring to the wartime 1941 Jedwabne massacre, in which hundreds of Jews were burned alive inside a barn by their Christian Polish neighbours, Jasiewicz speculated the perpetrators were "motivated by great fear of the Jews."

"These desperate murderers may have told themselves that they were doing terrible things, but that their grandchildren would be grateful to them...," Jasiewicz wrote.

The Wiesenthal centre insisted Jasiewicz be condemned to "intellectual exile" over the article, which has also drawn sharp criticism among Polish academics.

The director of the Polish Academy's Institute of Politics, Professor Eugeniusz C. Krol, voiced "shock and consternation" in its wake.

"His statements conjure up the worst associations with the Nazi-era Sturmer," a virulently racist publication in Adolf Hitler's Germany, he said.

In 1939, Poland was home to some 3.3 million Jews, of whom 400,000 lived in Warsaw. The Jewish community then made up 10 percent of Poland's population and one-third of the capital but it now numbers only a few thousand.

From the Middle Ages on, Poland received Jewish refugees from Spain, the German region of Rhineland, and France.

Of the six million Polish citizens who perished during World War II, half were Jewish.