The president of Poland’s national tourist office has been fired after removing trips to Auschwitz and a Jewish museum from the itinerary of a group of foreign journalists while claiming that it was only the Poles who suffered in the war, “not the Jewish elites”.
Marek Olszewski was sacked after he told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper that Auschwitz did not promote Poland as an “attractive tourist destination”. He also removed a trip to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
In an article published on Wednesday he is quoted as saying: “As the head of the Polish Tourist Organization, who loves his country, I want to show its best side, through our monuments, culture, hospitality, wonderful music.
“Auschwitz is not a tourist product but a place of martyrology, reverie and reflection, and we are promoting Poland as an attractive tourist destination.
“I do not need to expose places and events connected with the history of other nations.”
However, it was his next words that were the most shocking, when he said, “It was Poles, not the Jewish elites, that were completely plowed and liquidated during the war. Let us remember that the whole Jewish culture in practice has survived.”
This is outrageous because the Jewish population in Poland were themselves Poles. The Jewish population in Poland was 3.3 million before the war. After the war only 300,000 survived. That means that 90% of the Jewish Polish population was wiped out by the Nazis. Furthermore, six million Polish people perished in the war in total, half of which were Jewish.
Polish minister of tourism Witold Bańka said Mr Olszewski’s remarks were “scandalous” and he would be fired straight away.
Mr Banka said he was unaware that the trip to Auschwitz had been removed until the story was published.