WARSAW —The World Jewish Congress has welcomed the Polish government’s swift condemnation of fascist activities over the weekend, following an undercover television report revealed a neo-Nazi group celebrating Hitler and burning swastikas.
Television station TVN aired its investigative report into radical nationalist groups in Poland, which showed the Pride and Modernity (Duma i Nowoczesność) organisation celebrating Hilter’s birth anniversary in southwestern Poland in May last year.
Poland’s ruling party officials and the opposition slammed the neo-Nazis activities of the group.
The report showed an altar set up in honour of Hitler, a burning wooden swastika, people using the Hitler salute “Sieg Heil” and sharing in a Nazi German flag cake.
Krzysztof Lapinski, the Polish president’s spokesman, said: “Being a Polish patriot is incompatible with glorifying Adolf Hitler, who wanted to destroy Poland and Poles”.
He said that public displays of pro-Nazi sentiment were both morally and legally unacceptable.
He added that Hitler started the Second World War in which millions of Poles died.
Polish special services coordinator Mariusz Kamiński promised that Polish authorities would react “quickly and strongly”, adding that “the glorification of Nazis and Hitler in independent, free and democratic Poland is unacceptable”.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the neo-Nazis “trampled the memory” of Polish ancestors.
Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said he had the prosecution launch an inquiry into Pride and Modernity’s fascist propaganda and paraphernalia.
Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński called the TVN footage “shocking” and said he would talk to Police chief Jarosław Szymczyk and Assistant Prosecutor-General Bogdan Święczkowski.
In a statement, World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer noted that “anti-Semitism and xenophobia are rising at an alarming rate in Poland, rearing their ugly heads beyond the fringes of society and into the mainstream.’’
“It is incumbent on both the authorities and average citizens to remain vigilant and make clear such demonstrations of hatred and glorification of violence can have no place in Polish society,” he said.
“The World Jewish Congress welcomes the Polish government’s swift condemnation of this despicable celebration of Nazism and its rightful decision to open a criminal investigation against the parties involved,” Singer added. “But sadly, this was hardly an isolated incident, and must not be treated as such. Just two months ago, an ultra-nationalist rally on Poland’s Independence Day drew an all-time high of 60,000 people, with some demonstrators espousing white supremacist slogans and calling for Jews to be pushed out of Poland.”
“This and all other manifestations of hatred must be treated with the utmost seriousness and punitive action where applicable. We know all too well the horrors that can arise if we let these actions go unfettered,” Singer said. “We hope that the Polish authorities will stand firm in their resolve to crack down on anti-Semitism and ensure that the evil hand of fascism be curbed before it is too late.”