AR-Online logo 



Posted Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Quick navigation  

Associated Press banner

Polish Author of Book Questioning Holocaust Escapes Punishment

By Monika Scislowska
Associated Press Writer

WARSAW, Poland (AP) - A regional court decided Tuesday [Dec 7, 1999] not to punish a history professor for publishing a book that questioned aspects of the Holocaust.

The book published by Dariusz Ratajczak, 37, includes an assertion that gas chambers at Nazi death camps were intended to kill lice on prisoners. It also says 3 million Jews died in the Holocaust, not 6 million as almost all historians say, and that the Nazis had no uniform plan to exterminate Jews.

On Tuesday, the court in Opole, 190 miles southwest of Warsaw, confirmed that Ratajczak supported revisionist views about the Holocaust in the book, "Dangerous Themes."

But it said the book had limited distribution and was not damaging enough to warrant punishment under a Polish statute outlawing the public denial of Nazi and communist-era crimes. The court also said Ratajczak had distanced himself from revisionist views in a preface to the second edition of the book.

Ratajczak faced up to three years in prison if convicted.

"I feel great relief after months of a witch hunt against me in the media, but physically I am exhausted," he said by telephone from his home in Opole.

The author of the law outlawing denial of Nazi crimes said the court's decision sent the wrong signal.

"I am afraid that the world will get the message that denying Nazi crimes in Poland is not socially harmful," Witold Kulesza said.

Polish officials and Jewish leaders were indignant over the ruling.

Jerzy Marek Nowakowski, a foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, called the verdict an "unlucky case" and lamented that it took place while Buzek was on a visit to Israel to improve historically troubled relations.

Szymon Szurmiej, head of the Federation of Jewish Associations in Poland, called the verdict "outrageous" and said Jewish groups plan to protest.

"Theories voiced by this man are an approval of genocide," Szurmiej told the Polish news agency PAP.

"We don't want just to protest, but we want people to understand how this verdict will be received in democratic countries, how we look in their eyes," he said.

Ratajczak first published 320 copies of the book last March at his own expense. Five were sold at the university bookstore, and the rest were sold directly to Ratajczak's students or given away to friends.

According to excerpts reprinted in newspapers, the book calls testimony from Holocaust eyewitnesses "useless" and describes researchers of Nazi crimes as "followers of the religion of Holocaust" who impose on others "a false image of the past."

Ratajczak was suspended from the University of Opole after a commission investigating Nazi crimes in Poland complained to prosecutors. It was not immediately known whether he would get his position back.

Ratajczak argued that he had merely summarized opinions of historians who deny the Holocaust. He said his own views are not in line with all the opinions in the book.

"Historical revisionism is a historical and social fact," Ratajczak said at the opening of his trial last month. "My only intention was to present the problem ... without the author's commentary."

© Copyright 1999 Associated Press.

Related story: Nov 16, 1999: Author of Holocaust Book Tried
 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

[ Go back to AR Online Index | Index to AR.#14 | Go to Main Action Report Index ]

© Focal Point 1999 e-mail:  write to David Irving