A primary school in Łabunie, south-eastern Poland, held an event at which children as young as seven re-enacted historical scenes from Auschwitz, including a gassing.
During the performance, which was organised under the supervision of teachers, two boys around 12 years old were dressed in Nazi uniforms, including swastika armbands. Behind them, kneeling beneath barbed wire, were a group of children around seven years old, dressed in the uniforms of prisoners at Auschwitz (where ethnic Poles were the second largest group of victims, after Jews).
“At one point, the Gestapo officers turned on a smoke machine and the gassed ‘prisoners’ fell to the floor pretending to be dead,” writes Newsweek Polska reporter Dawid Karpiuk, who attended the event.
A dance performance involving the gassed prisoners then took place, a video of which was published by local newspaper Tygodnik Zamojski, which called it a “moving staging” of history.
— Newsweek Polska (@NewsweekPolska) December 31, 2019
During the event, the local mayor, who represents Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, told the children that they must defend Latin civilisation, reports Newsweek Polska.
Another speaker, whose parents were killed at Auschwitz, told the youngsters that Poland deserves war reparations from Germany. She said that Polish women who deny this fact, like certain opposition MPs, would have “had their heads shaved [as traitors] during the occupation”.
The event was held to mark the school naming itself after the “Zamość Children” (Dzieci Zamojszczyzny), the term used to refer to the thousands of Polish children from the region who were deported by the German occupiers during World War Two to make way for resettlement by ethnic Germans.
The children were sent to concentration camps and separated from their parents. Those deemed to have “racially valuable” Aryan features were forcibly Germanised and sent to live with German families. Others ended up being forced labourers, and some were murdered at Auschwitz.
15 August 1928 | A Polish girl Czesława Kwoka was born. She was expelled by the Germans from Zamość Region during creating the "living space" in the east. Registered in #Auschwitz on 13 December 1942 (no. 26947). She was killed with a phenol heart injection on 12 March 1943. pic.twitter.com/aqXGYGOwF4
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 15, 2019
“Thousands of schools” in Poland hold such historical re-enactments, writes Karpiuk in Newsweek Polska, a liberal weekly. He suggests that this is being done because “only with such a Poland can the priest and PiS do what they want”.
“You can try to raise your children [as you want], but they will hear at school that they have to fight against ‘certain circles’, that a Pole must be Catholic, and that they must ‘defend Latin civilisation’…They will have their brains cooked in Polish porn.”
In June, a re-enactment of Auschwitz was performed by children at a Catholic primary school in Chojnice, telling the story of Maksymilian Kolbe, a Polish priest murdered at the camp. Various other similar events have been reported in recent years.
First-grade pupils at a Catholic primary school dressed in Auschwitz prisoner uniforms while others dressed as guards pointed guns at them at a ceremony in a church.
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) June 21, 2019
Main image credit: zslabunie.szkolnastrona.pl
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland and assistant professor of history at the Pedagogical University of Krakow. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, The Independent and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.