Poland moves to make use of phrase "Polish death camps" criminal offense

WARSAW, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Polish lawmakers approved a bill on Friday that makes it a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison, to use statements suggesting Poland bears responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany.

The bill will also make it illegal to deny the murder of about 100,000 Poles by units in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during World War Two, a move likely to increase tensions with neighboring Ukraine. Artistic and scientific activity will be exempt.

Poles have fought for years against the use of phrases like "Polish death camps," which suggest Poland was at least partly responsible for the camps where millions people, mostly Jews, were killed by Nazi Germany. The camps were built and operated by the Nazis after they invaded Poland in 1939.

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Survivors pay homage to Auschwitz victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day
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Survivors pay homage to Auschwitz victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free) is pictured at the gates of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivor stands in front of the "death wall" in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivor places flowers at the "death wall" in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors stand before laying a wreath in front of the "death wall" in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
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"This amendment equips Poland with the most important tools that have long been at the disposal of other countries," Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki told state news agency PAP.

Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has invoked Poles' suffering under Nazi occupation - including a death penalty for those who helped Jews - to respond to historical accounts that some Poles also committed crimes against the Jews during the war.

PiS is currently battling accusations from the opposition that the party's nationalist-minded, eurosceptic focus was helping to reinvigorate the far right.

The head of the Ukrainian national remembrance institute said on social media on Thursday that passing of the bill was likely to halt cooperation between Ukrainian and Polish historians, the PAP agency reported.

In November, Ukraine summoned the Polish ambassador in an escalation of a diplomatic spat over the two neighbors' troubled past.

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Exhibit sheds light on the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust
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Exhibit sheds light on the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust
Man visits the Ringelblum archives exhibited at the "What We Could Not Shout Out to the World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A document is displayed as a part of the Ringelblum archives exhibited at the "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Professor Pawel Spiewak, head of Jewish Historical Institute, poses at the Ringelblum archives exhibited at the "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A document is displayed as a part of the Ringelblum archives exhibited on the "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A document is displayed as a part of the Ringelblum archives exhibited on The "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A document is displayed as a part of the Ringelblum archives exhibited on The "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Professor Pawel Spiewak, head of Jewish Historical Institute, talks on a phone at the Ringelblum archives exhibited on The "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A woman visits the Ringelblum archives exhibited on The "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A milk bottle is displayed as a part of the Ringelblum archives exhibited on The "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A document is displayed as a part of the Ringelblum archives exhibited on The "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A milk bottle is displayed as a part of the Ringelblum archives exhibited on The "What We Could Not Shout Out To The World" exhibition at Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
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(Reporting by Marcin Goettig, editing by Larry King)

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