A woman claimed her deceased uncle had been slandered in the two scholars’ work that suggested he helped kill Jews during WWII.
The libel case has been closely watched because it is expected to set an important precedent for future independent Holocaust research.
A Court in Poland has ruled Tuesday that two prominent Holocaust researchers must apologize to a woman who claimed her deceased uncle had been slandered in a historical work that suggested he helped kill Jews during WWII, Associated Press reported.
The libel case has been closely watched because it is expected to set an important precedent for future independent Holocaust research. The ruling can be appealed.
Lawyers for 81-year-old Filomena Leszczynska argued that her uncle was a Polish hero who had saved Jews, and that the two scholars had harmed her good name and that of her family.
Judge Ewa Jonczyk ruled that the scholars, Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, must make a written apology to Leszczynska for “providing inaccurate information” that her late uncle, Edward Malinowski, robbed a Jewish woman during the war and contributed to the death of Jews hiding in a forest in Malinowo in 1943, when Poland was under German occupation. They were also ordered to apologize for “violating his honor.”
The judge drew attention to the discrepancies in the testimony, given at different times, by the Jewish woman whose testimony was the basis of the description of Malinowski’s bahaviour..
Malinowski was acquitted in a communist court in 1950 of being an accomplice to the killing by Germans of 18 Jews in a forest near the village of Malinowo in 1943.
Grabowski, a Polish-Canadian history professor at the University of Ottawa, and Engelking, founder and director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw, are among Poland’s most prominent Holocaust researchers.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder expressed his dismay following the court ruling. “As someone who has been deeply engaged with Poland for more than three decades, I am dismayed that a Warsaw court ruled against historians Prof. Barbara Engelking and Prof. Jan Grabowski in the misguided libel case that was brought against them. It is simply unacceptable that historians should be afraid of citing credible testimony of Holocaust survivors.’’
He added, “This outcome does not bode well for the future of historical research in Poland and sends precisely the wrong message to those who seek to stifle the work of scholars. I hope that today’s verdict will be overturned on appeal, and that the day will come when decisions regarding the integrity of history will once again be left to historians and not politicians or judges.”