March in February? The study of Poles’ attitudes toward Jews and the Holocaust history in the context of the Holocaust law debate in Poland

Michał Bilewicz, Dominika Bulska, Maria Babińska, Agnieszka Halska, Mikołaj Winiewski

Abstract


2018 amendment of the act on the Polish Institute of National Remembrance that was passed by the Polish Sejm in January 2018 raised a vibrant public debate about Polish-Jewish relations. In this article, we try to trace the dynamics of this debate and assess its consequences for contemporary Polish-Jewish relations and present-day representations of the relations between Poles and Jews during the German occupation in 1939–1945. To this end, we present the analysis of social media content, data from search engines, as well as the results of two nationwide polls conducted at the beginning of 2018. These studies indicate that the debate on amendment of the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance has increased the expression of antisemitic prejudice in the media and on the internet, increased the presence of defective codes of memory, and at the same time polarized the Polish debate about the behavior of Poles during the Holocaust. The results of these analyzes are discussed in the context of earlier debates on the Polish-Jewish relations during Nazi occupation, referring to the category of “secondary antisemitism” that receives growing support in current social sciences.


Keywords


secondary antisemitism; Act on the Institute of National Rememberance; Holocaust law; Polish-Jewish relations; collective narcissism

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