Lecture on Holocaust in Poland canceled after far-right lawmaker storms podium

Published date02 June 2023
But before Grabowski could get started, a far-right Polish lawmaker with a record of antisemitic statements stormed the speaker's podium, smashing the microphone, knocking over loudspeakers, and yanking cables, according to Notes from Poland, an independent local outlet. Grzegorz Braun, of the Confederation party, later said he disrupted the event to defend Poland's good name against Grabowski's "historical propaganda."

Warsaw-born Grabowski, a professor at the University of Ottawa whose father was a Jewish Holocaust survivor, has been a vocal critic of Poland's efforts to constrain discussion of the Holocaust there. It became illegal in 2018 in Poland to accuse the country of complicity with Nazi crimes.

Grabowski recently published an academic study exposing the alleged distortion of Wikipedia articles on the Holocaust in Poland, leading to an unusual intervention by Wikipedia's top authorities. He has drawn forceful criticism from right-wing nationalists and has even been prosecuted over his research.

"Nothing like this has ever happened to me, I felt like [I was] in Poland in the 1930s," Grabowski was quoted as saying following the incident at his lecture.

When the police arrived at the scene, Braun invoked his parliamentary privilege and refused to leave Warsaw's German Historical Institute even as the event was called off and the crowd vacated the premises.

Braun reportedly said he "refuses to leave the building [because] I am protecting the Polish nation against a provocative attack on our historical sensitivity. The Germans will not teach us history in Poland."

When the Institute's director, Milos Reznik, asked Braun to stop damaging the Institute's property, Braun said he won't take orders from a German and told Reznik, "Get out of Poland." Reznik is Czech, not German.

Outside the institute, participants encountered a protest of the lecture led by Robert Bąkiewicz, a prominent nationalist figure. Ahead of the event, public media outlets dominated by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice criticized Grabowski and the government-run Institute of National Remembrance...

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