By VANESSA GERA
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Jewish rights group is urging a Polish state historical institute to fire an official who has published several books by notorious British Holocaust denier David Irving.
But the Polish historical body, the Institute of National Remembrance, says the official, Arkadiusz Wingert, is not a Holocaust denier himself so there is no reason to dismiss him.
Wingert was appointed earlier this year as deputy director of the publishing office of the institute, whose mission is to investigate crimes carried out against Polish citizens during World War II, when Poland was under German occupation, and during the subsequent communist era.
Wingert previously ran a publishing house that printed Polish translations of several of Irving’s works.
Irving is a revisionist historian who has declared that the Auschwitz gas chambers were a hoax. He has been declared guilty of Holocaust denial by courts in Britain and Austria, where he served a 13-month prison sentence.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, headquartered in the United States, said it was a “shameful farce” to give Wingert responsibility for publishing works devoted to the victims of World War II given that he had published the works of Irving and also of a Belgian Nazi collaborator, Leon Degrelle.
“If the (institute) is to maintain any shred of credibility it must end its relationship with Wingert immediately and stop all efforts aimed at undermining the history of the Holocaust in Poland,” Mark Weitzman, director of government affairs for the Wiesenthal center, said Monday.
Institute spokesman Jaroslaw Tesiorowski told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Wingert is not a Holocaust denier and that the works he published added critical context on Irving’s claims.
The institute has also previously argued that nothing that Wingert published violated Polish law, which makes Holocaust denial a crime. It also made the point that all of the Irving works that Wingert put out had been previously published in other languages.
Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed.