AN AWARD winning Polish author has received death threats and been called a traitor after she questioned Poland’s record on tolerance and said that in the past Poles had done “terrible things” including murdering Jews.
Olga Tokarczuk was subjected to the threats over the internet, warning her “would never feel safe again” in her home, while others took to the web to call her a “traitor,” “Jewish rag” and a “whore” in a dispute that has touched upon the sensitive subject of Poland’s treatment of the Jews.
Describing the attacks on her, Ms Tokarczuk called them “strong and full of hate” while adding “at one point I was seriously scared”.
“Many comments seem to suggest I’m Ukrainian or Jewish,” she continued. “For the first time in my life I have been accused of not being Polish. I’ve been excluded from the community.”
Her lawyers said they will push for a criminal investigation into the threats and insults directed at their client.
The writer attracted the vitriol for comments she made during a TV interview after she scooped a prestigious literary award for her latest book, a historical novel that examines Poland’s history and Polish interaction with the various ethnic groups of Central and Eastern Europe.
She said Poles thought they had history of tolerance while the reality of history presented a more complicated picture.
“As colonisers we did terrible things; the biggest national group supressing the minority, we were slaveholders and the murders of Jews,” she commented.
Many Poles are quick, and proud, to stress, that in the past Poland was a relative haven of tolerance for Jews.