German historians have expressed concern about a trial against two Holocaust researchers in Poland. “There is enormous potential for intimidation when it comes to such court hearings,” said chairwoman Eva Schlotheuber from the Association of Historians in Germany (VHD). Younger researchers in particular could be deterred. There is also great damage to society if “scientifically founded research results are not negotiated in scientific or public discourse, but in court.”
The history professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski deal in their 2018 book “Dalej jest noc” (“And it’s still night”) with the extermination of Jews in the Polish provinces under German occupation. The authors were sued for defamation by the niece of a former mayor from eastern Poland.
The woman sees the memory of her uncle defamed because the historians write in their book that the mayor was complicit in the deaths of more than 20 Jews hidden in the forest who were handed over to the Germans.
The plaintiff demands the equivalent of around 22,500 euros in compensation and a public apology from the authors. The verdict is expected on Tuesday.