Kornel Morawiecki, a former senator whose son, Mateusz, became prime minister last year, said in an interview that Jews during the Holocaust moved to ghettos of their own accord to get away from non-Jewish Poles.
“Do you know who chased the Jews away to the Warsaw Ghetto? The Germans, you think? No. The Jews themselves went because they were told that there would be an enclave, that they would not have to deal with those nasty Poles,” Kornel Morawiecki told the online magazine Kulturą Liberalną in an interview published Tuesday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki on Thursday distanced the government from the remarks, The Associated Press reported.
The comments come amid a diplomatic crisis between Poland and Israel, which protested the passing last month of legislation in Poland that criminalizes blaming Poles for Nazi crimes. Jewish groups said the law limits debate and research on the actions of thousands of Poles who betrayed Jews to the Nazis or killed Jews.
Cichocki recently led a delegation of Polish officials to Israel for talks aimed at easing the crisis and explaining Poland’s position on the law.
The Polish prime minister last month raised hackles when he said that the Holocaust had not only German, Ukrainian and Polish perpetrators, but Jewish ones as well.