Author of Book Questioning Holocaust Escapes
By Monika Scislowska
Associated Press Writer
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
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
"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
Szymon Szurmiej, head of the Federation
of Jewish Associations in Poland, called the
verdict "outrageous" and said Jewish groups plan to
"Theories voiced by this man are an approval of
genocide," Szurmiej told the Polish news agency
"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
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
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
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
© Copyright 1999
16, 1999: Author of Holocaust Book