Poland's President Andrzej Duda JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Poland’s Child-Like State

The Polish government's wholesale refusal to admit any guilt or own up to mistakes speaks to a deep-seated immaturity. Recently, when the US secretary of state called President Andrzej Duda to oppose the government's controversial historical memory law, Duda wouldn't answer the phone, essentially sticking his fingers in his ears.

WARSAW – According to recent reports, the US Department of State warned Poland’s foreign ministry that it would suspend high-level meetings if the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party enacted a new law making it illegal to insinuate Polish culpability in crimes committed by the Nazis. The PiS government enacted the law anyway.

Shortly before signing the legislation, Polish President Andrzej Duda refused even to take a call from then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Seventy-two years after Winston Churchill declared that an “iron curtain” was descending across Eastern Europe, a new sort of border is being erected – a curtain of shame.

Whereas Western European countries are mature enough to handle and even learn from past sins – including those committed by the Nazis – Eastern Europe apparently is not. As the Russian intellectual historian Nikolay Koposov recently observed, the “memory laws” being enacted there “differ fundamentally from memory laws in Western Europe, because they actively protect the memory of the perpetrators, rather than the victims, of state-sponsored crimes.”

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