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Poland's president decides to boycott Holocaust memorial in Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  delivers a speech at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, in May 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, in May 2019   -   Copyright  ABIR SULTAN   -   ABIR SULTAN
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Poland has confirmed that its president, Andrzej Duda, will boycott a ceremony to mark the liberation of the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz after his request to give a speech was denied.

In a statement, Duda said he saw no reason why he would not be permitted to speak after the leaders of France, the U.S., the UK and Russia were asked to address the World Holocaust Forum, which will be held at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on January 23.

Duda said the lack of a Polish voice during the conference was "falsification of history."

The Polish president had wanted to address recent comments by Putin, in which the Russian president apportioned some blame for World War Two to Poland.

It is not the first time Putin has made such accusations, claiming on a number of occasions that Poland is responsible for the war, which began in 1939 when the country was invaded first by Nazi Germany and then by the Soviet Union a fortnight later.

Poland later became the staging ground for some of the Nazi regime’s worst atrocities. Six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, three million of them Poles, and a further 2.5 million non-Jewish ethnic Poles were killed by the Nazis.

Holocaust memorial

In an emailed statement, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, confirmed that Duda would not be asked to speak at the World Holocaust Forum ceremony on 22 and 23 of January.

"The leaders addressing this event represent the four main powers of the Allied forces, which liberated Europe and the world from the murderous tyranny of Nazi Germany," a spokesperson told Euronews.

"It is important to note that of the 1.5 million victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, some 1.1 million were Jews who were murdered simply because they were Jewish."

"The citizenships of the victims of Auschwitz have no bearing on the choice of leaders who will address the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, organized by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre.”

Putin has lashed out against a resolution adopted by the European Parliament that says the Soviet Union bears responsibility for World War II alongside Germany. The Russian leader has called that "sheer nonsense".

Putin argues that collusion with Hitler by Western powers paved the way for World War II. He has heaped scorn on Poland, citing archival documents which he asserted show the Polish ambassador to Berlin praising Hitler's plans to rid Europe of Jews.

In one outburst, Putin denounced the ambassador as “scum” and "anti-Semitic swine".