Polish scholars will not have to apologise for research into Shoah pogrom, court rules

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Polish scholars will not have to apologise for research into Shoah pogrom, court rules

Court ruling overturned a verdict that had ordered two historians to publicly apologise for their 2018 book which claimed a Polish mayor was complicit in a round-up of Jews

Scholar Barbara Engelking in 2018. (Wikimedia Commons)
Scholar Barbara Engelking in 2018. (Wikimedia Commons)

In a momentous ruling in the ongoing debate over Polish complicity in the horrors of the Holocaust, a Polish appeals court overturned a verdict that had ordered two historians to publicly apologise for part of their research into a Holocaust pogrom.

In their 2018 book “Night Without an End,” historians Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking wrote that that Edward Malinowski, the late mayor of the village of Malinowo, told Nazi officers where a group of Jews were hiding in a forest. The group of “dozens” were all killed, the researchers wrote.

But a relative of Malinowski, who was acquitted in a postwar trial of collaborating with Nazis, sued the historians for “violating the honour” of her uncle, citing some factual errors in the research and conflicting testimonies. A Warsaw court ordered the academics to publicly apologise in February.

The Warsaw Appeals Court overturned that verdict on Monday, as a judge argued that the apology could have a chilling effect on academic research in Poland.

“This is of particular importance in matters that constitute an important element of public debate, raising important social issues regarding the history of a given state and nation,” the judge said, according to Reuters.

Malinowski’s relative, Filomena Leszczyńska, has said that she will appeal and take the case to the Supreme Court.

Grabowski told Reuters the new ruling is “a huge thing not only for myself and my colleagues, but for the entire profession of humanities” in Poland.

Debates about Holocaust history and Nazi collaboration have become commonplace in Poland, which passed a law in 2018 that makes it illegal to blame the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. Critics of the law said it risks stifling historic research into Second World War.

On Saturday, Polish President Andrzej Duda ratified legislation that critics say strips Holocaust victims and their descendants of recourse to claim property stolen from them in Poland during and after the Holocaust. The new law has sparked a diplomatic crisis with Israel and the United States.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: