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Poland passes controversial holocaust law

Jewish inmates of the Lodz ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland at labor making baskets. Photo: The Times of Israel

A controversial law passed by Poland’s government that fines or jails those who blame the Polish people or state for Nazi atrocities committed during World War II took effect on Thursday.

The penal provision, allows for up to three years in prison for saying Poland or its people were “responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich.’’

The law has already unleashed a diplomatic crisis with Israel and strained relations with Ukraine.

Poland has sent a government delegation to Israel in an attempt to defuse the controversy.

Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1939 to 1945.

Critics say the law is loosely formulated and could therefore be abused to deny or negate Polish responsibility for crimes against the Jewish people.

The Polish government has contested this, arguing that the country wants to defend its name and reputation in the international community and prevent the use of the historically inaccurate label “Polish death camps.’’

The law is due to be reviewed by the country’s constitutional court, with a ruling expected in two months.

According to the Polish government, changes to the law are dependent on the court’s assessment.

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