14 April 2004
WARSAW – The head of the populist Samoobrona party expressed praise for Adolf Hitler’s employment policies in remarks published Wednesday by a Polish newspaper.
“In the beginning of his activities Hitler had a really good programme,” party leader Andrzej Lepper told the daily Zycie Warszawy. Samoobrona (Self Defence) is among the most popular Polish political parties.
“If he wouldn’t have gone in the direction of fascism and genocide, he would really have gotten Germany on it’s feet. He eliminated unemployment, created a broad front of employment,” Lepper said.
“Then I don’t know what happened to him, who influenced him so that he went in the direction of genocide. He was probably the greatest criminal of history,” Lepper said.
Various personalities cited by Zycie Warszawy expressed shock at Lepper’s statements, with some suggesting legal action should be taken against the legislator.
“Statements which glorify fascism or other totalitarian systems are crimes prosecuted under the criminal code,” Antoni Kurek, a prosecutor with Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) Nazi and Communist-era crime authority told the newspaper.
Under Poland’s criminal code, public propagation of fascism or totalitarianism is punishable by up to two years in prison.
“There are politicians in parliament who have forgotten how great a criminal Adolf Hitler was and how much harm he did to Poles,” said Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Poland’s former foreign minister and a survivor of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.
“From the very beginning of his activity, Hitler conducted purges. He eliminated unemployment by massive arms manufacturing, which lead to war,” said renowned Polish sociologist Jadwiga Staniszkis.
Lepper’s Self Defence party has shot to the top of popularity ratings in Poland, with recent opinion polls showing it taking either first or second place. It’s success comes as registered unemployment has soared to record levels near 21 percent and a series of high-level corruption scandals has eroded public confidence in the governing ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD).
But while Self Defence was able to garner almost 30 percent public backing, another recent survey also showed nearly 50 percent of Poles believed Lepper was incompetent while some 40 percent thought he was a liar.
Subject: German news