Former priest called for a “harvest” on Jews. Polish Public Prosecutor’s Office refuses to open an investigation

The District Prosecutor’s Office for Warsaw’s district Śródmieście refused to open an investigation into the case of “public insult to a group of people on account of their nationality” by former priest Jacek Międlar. In his column the former clergyman described Jews as “tares” and called his readers “to start the harvest”. Prosecutor Hanna Stachowicz stated that in this case “there are no signs of a prohibited act”.

In July, the former priest published a column on his website in which he called on Jews to “apologize for anti-Polishness” and to leave Poland.

Międlar criticized an article published on Jewish.pl, concerning the anniversary of the Jedwabne massacre, of which I was the author. I wrote there: “The perpetrators of the crime in Jedwabne were Poles, residents of this town, neighbors. Ordinary people who exploited extraordinary times. The Jews were looking for shelter with Poles, and they found death”.

“Katarzyna Markusz (forgive me, but I don’t know your actual surname), is it possible that you have access to some mysterious evidence confirming the Jewish Jedwabne narrative about which we, the Goyim, don’t know? – Międlar commented in his column.

Then he wrote that “our ancestors risked death in order to save your kosher asses” and that “it was on Polish, heroic blood that the tares like you grew”. He accused the Jews of “ingratitude, anti-Polishness, hatred, insult and contempt for all that is Polish, national and Catholic”. He concluded his text with a call: “Enough of it! Time for a harvest. It is time to separate the tares from the wheat. Apologize for anti-Polishness and get out of Poland!”

In August, the Prosecutor’s Office received two notifications of a possible crime. One of them was submitted by the Otwarta Rzeczpospolita Association, the other by me. By a decision of 19 September, prosecutor Hanna Stachowicz refused to open an investigation. The following are extracts from the explanatory memorandum to that decision.

“The published entry was used to express his personal opposition to the statements and perception of history [!!!] by journalist Katarzyna Markusz. Circumstances of posting the article in question indicate that the author of the statement posted it (…) in order to express his disapproval of the statement in the article titled “Who remembers Jedwabne”, in which journalist Katarzyna Markusz allegedly wrote that supposed to write that “The Jews were looking for shelter with Poles, and they found death”.

In this case, it should be remembered that when commenting on the website, the user Jacek Międlar exercised his right to express his views and freedom of speech. (…) The principle of freedom of expression is one of the fundamental pillars of a democratic society.

(…) Freedom of expression cannot be limited solely to information and views that are favourably received, considered inoffensive or neutral, but also applies to those that offend, outrage or cause anxiety in the state or part of society, as these are the requirements of pluralism, tolerance, openness to other views, without which there is no democratic society.

(…) It should be noted that statements on Internet forums are generally characterized by a particular ‘poetics’, which is not devoid of excessive bluntness, or often vulgarity absent in other types of public statements. This form of expression does not, however, entitle the author of an Internet comment to state that the conduct of the author of an Internet comment was correlated with a direct intention being a condition “sine qua non” for the offence under Article 257 of the Penal Code”.

I believe that freedom of speech is very important but does not it have its limits? Is insulting, calling for the “harvest” of the Jews and demanding that Jews leave Poland still a freedom of speech, or is it a crime? It turns out that in Poland the law can be interpreted in a most peculiar way.



About the Author

Katarzyna Markusz
Journalist, dealing with the history and culture of Polish Jews, conducting research on the Jewish community in Sokołów Podlaski. Editor-in-Chief of Jewish.pl.