The Simon Wiesenthal Center today publically responded to the numerous criticisms voiced during the past week by Polish officials and public figures of the opening in Warsaw of its special phone line for “Operation: Last Chance” in Poland. In an op-ed published in the leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza this morning, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who coordinates the project, delineated the project’s goals and methods of implementation and countered the various arguments marshaled by Polish personages against its launch in Poland. Zuroff stressed the necessity of the project, given the limited time during which Holocaust perpetrators could still be brought to justice, and the need for such an operation in Poland, where numerous members of the local population assisted the Nazis in the mass murder of the Jews.
According to Zuroff:
“… while Poles can be extremely proud of the activities of “Zegota” a Polish organization especially founded to rescue Jews, and of the heroism of the other Polish Righteous Among the Nations, the sad truth is that many Poles participated in the murder of their Jewish neighbors and others assisted the Nazis in doing so, and that truth must be confronted honestly. Of course Polish leaders would prefer that their country be regarded exclusively as a victim of the Nazis, but that is not the entire truth and it is extremely important that the whole historical picture emerge clearly and be visible to all.
“I sincerely believe that one of the ways to help do so, is to bring the guilty to justice in Poland, and in that regard we hope that “Operation: Last Chance” will not only succeed, but that even its current detractors will ultimately recognize its importance and value for their country.”
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