Follow the big issues that shape Polish politics and society by signing up to our weekly newsletter "News from Poland: Democracy at Stake". It allows you to stay up to speed on developments concerning the ongoing assault on democratic institutions, rule of law, and human rights in Poland.
-Considering the circumstances surrounding the appointment of Dr. Tomasz Greniuch as acting Director of the IPN branch in Wrocław, he should no longer be allowed to exercise his function. On February 22, I received and accepted Mr. Greniuch’s resignation- reads a note posted on the website of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN). The statement, signed by the Institute’s president Dr. Jarosław Szarek, effectively ended speculations that have been circulating in the media since yesterday.
During what was supposed to be a press conference at 2:00 pm, Mr. Szarek limited himself to repeating the statement which had already appeared on the Institute’s website earlier that day. He left after less than a minute, without taking questions from journalists.
A Nazi-salute apologist, and former member of the National Radical Camp
Tomasz Greniuch started his work at the IPN in 2018. After two years and four months of heading the Institute’s sub-branch in Opole, he was appointed the director of its branch in Wrocław. His nomination provoked considerable criticism. The new director was quickly reminded of his past as a former member of the National Radical Camp- a right-wing organization with fascist roots. Photos showing Mr. Greniuch make a Nazi-like gesture during the organization’s demonstrations surfaced on the internet. In his defense, he explained that the gestures were “Roman salutes”, and dismissed his behavior as "mistakes of his youth.
Tomasz Greniuch has been associated with the National Radical Camp since 1999. He founded the organization’s chapter in his home province of Opole. After taking the position of the head of the Institute’s local branch, Onet.pl warned that he was the same person who in 2005 organized the so-called “raid on Myślenice” to commemorate a 1936 anti-Jewish pogrom.
Mr. Greniuch has also expressed his views in numerous publications.
In 2013, he published “The Way of a Nationalist”, where he described how his life was forever changed and shaped by the words of Léon Degrelle, a Belgian nationalist, declared National-Socialist, and Waffen-SS colonel, as well as the post-war leader of a global neo-Nazi movement, who’s been sentenced to death in absentia for collaborating with the Third Reich.
President Duda awards Mr. Greniuch a Bronze Cross of Merit
After Gazeta Wyborcza broke the news about Mr. Greniuch’s nomination, the issue caused a huge controversy. Following subsequent publications in Gazeta Wyborcza and other outlets, the Israeli Embassy, Wrocław academics, opposition politicians, and even former concentration camp prisoners have taken a stance against the Institute’s new director. They expressed their disapproval with the decision to put a man with very unambiguous views at the head of the Institute of National Remembrance, one of whose tasks is to preserve the memory of the Nazi victims.
-Mr. Greniuch explicitly denounced this act. He apologized for it, and said many times, already years ago, that it was a mistake- Jarosław Szarek, the president of the Institute of National Remembrance, said during last week’s press conference. He referred to the question of whether he sees anything controversial in the fact that the director of the IPN branch in Wrocław is had used Nazi symbols and was a leader of the National Radical Camp.
Later, Mr. Szarek added: - I encourage all those who are trying to influence our decision to meet with the local government leaders, veterans, and academics in Opole, where Tomasz Greniuch has been an employee at the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) for the past few years and headed the Institute’s sub-branch for the last year and a half. The same applies to the Israeli Embassy. I think that if the Embassy of Israel had known about this, its position regarding Mr. Greniuch’s appointment would have been different.
The president’s spokesperson has also joined the discussion. A statement written on the president’s behalf read that "the position of a director at the Institute of National Remembrance requires an impeccable reputation." In 2018, President Duda awarded Mr. Greniuch the Bronze Cross of Merit.
Commenting on the situation, multiple pundits demanded that the award be taken away from Mr. Greniuch. There are also critical voices calling for the resignation of Jarosław Szarek himself, who has now become the face of the controversial nomination.
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronavirus pandemic for you.
They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.
We have decided to open online access to our news stories and special guides focused on the issue of public health, for free.
The access to information should be equal for all.
Wybierz prenumeratę, by czytać to, co Cię ciekawi
Wyborcza.pl to zawsze sprawdzone informacje, szczere wywiady, zaskakujące reportaże i porady ekspertów w sprawach, którymi żyjemy na co dzień. Do tego magazyny o książkach, historii i teksty z mediów europejskich. Zrezygnować możesz w każdej chwili.