Polish MEP threatens legal action against Parliament Vice-President over Nazi slur

Polish MEP Róża Thun has threatened legal action against fellow deputy Ryszard Czarnecki over remarks he is alleged to have made in an interview. 

Róza Thun | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

16 Jan 2018

Fellow Polish politician Czarnecki is also facing calls for him to be stripped of his vice presidency role in Parliament.

It comes after he apparently likened Thun to a “szmalcownik,” a derogatory term denoting people who blackmailed Jews hiding from the Nazis or informed on them to the occupying forces under German occupation in Poland during World War II.

In a radio interview, he is alleged to have said, “During World War II we had ‘szmalcownicy’, nowadays we have Róża von Thun und Hohenstein.”


According to Czarnecki, Thun “has taken on the role of an informer against her own country.”

This came after Thun appeared in a documentary by German state NDR Television talking about the current situation in Poland. She said that under the ruling party PiS - of which Czarnecki is a member - Poland was turning away from the European Union and was veering toward a dictatorship.

When questioned, Czarnecki refused to apologise.

The leaders of the four main political groups in Parliament have now called for the dismissal of Czarnecki from the post of Parliament Vice-President over his offensive remarks against a fellow MEP.

EPP group leader Manfred Weber; the head of the S&D group, Gianni Pittella; ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt and the co-Chair of the Greens-EFA group, Philippe Lamberts, forwarded a letter to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani last week.

The MEPs said that Czarnecki’s remarks “exceed the boundaries of responsible political discourse, both on a personal and institutional level.

“It is unimaginable that with these statements and attitudes to colleagues, Czarnecki continues to represent as Vice-President the Parliament and you (Tajani) personally,” the authors of the letter said.

Thun said the choice of insult had shown “incredible ignorance of history” and was particularly concerning because it had been made by someone holding such a senior position in Parliament.

She said, “The issue is not about me personally. I have a thick skin and, unfortunately, I have heard many insults and attacks in my life targeted against me or my family. The real problem here is the level of public debate and the hate speech that is being used by a person that formally represents the European Parliament as a Vice-President of our chamber. This has to stop.”

The row comes amid rising tensions between the Polish government and the EU. 


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