Statement on Attacks against Professor Jan Grabowski

The Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) affirms its full support for Dr. Jan Grabowski, a full professor in the Department of History at the University of Ottawa, who has come under personal attack for his research on Polish involvement in the Holocaust.

The attack is led by the Polish League Against Defamation.  The League has attempted to silence Professor Grabowski by criticizing both his academic credibility and his personal integrity.  Most recently, the League circulated a letter to universities in Europe and North America – including the University of Ottawa – that questions Professor Grabowski’s widely-acclaimed scholarship and accuses him of defaming the Polish nation.

Professor Grabowski has carefully studied the violence perpetrated by Poles against their Jewish neighbours during the Shoah.  In response, the League has sought to highlight the efforts of Poles who courageously protected Jews – a small group of people who unquestionably deserves recognition, especially given the hostility and danger they encountered during and after World War II.  Nevertheless, the basic facts of the Holocaust in Poland are stark and inexcusable and merit ongoing awareness to help prevent their recurrence or similar events.  At a time of rising nationalism and xenophobia, as well as weakened intergovernmental institutions and pushback against international norms and standards of human rights and good governance, public awareness of past atrocities is all the more important.

The HRREC affirms our confidence in the highly respected scholarship of Professor Grabowski and we underline his academic freedom to pursue and publish his research without fear of attacks on his person or reputation.  We are committed to defending academic freedom and deplore any attempt to influence scholarly work with threats or violence.  The HRREC also places great importance on scholarship that pursues the complexities of issues regarding human rights, whether or not the findings suit the tastes of certain groups or clash with political or other positions.  As such, the HRREC strongly denounces the attacks on Professor Grabowski as well as any endeavour to interfere with independent research.

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