Poland to prosecute anyone who mentions that Poles committed war crimes in WWII. Subscribers' info requests.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the April 2018 issue.
In the Old Town of Gdańsk, Poland, St. Mary’s Cathedral (constructed 1343 to 1502) is touted as the world’s largest brick church. Photo: ©Lukasz Janyst/123rf

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 506th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine.

In each issue, we present trip reports sent in by our subscribers, who are eager to share their adventures and discoveries with other people who love to travel. 

This publication covers destinations outside of the United States, and when a traveler’s write-up comes in, ITN editors read through it and, if necessary, write back asking for certain extra details, such as when the trip took place and the approximate costs of things. Plus the contact info of any travel firms mentioned.

By the time we’re done, most letters and articles have enough information that a reader, if he or she is inspired or intrigued about a destination or tour, could duplicate the trip… or get a good head start on it, anyway.

We give you the nuts and bolts to craft your travels.

Continuing the “information” theme, we also pass along news that might be of interest to travelers.

For instance, if you’re considering visiting Poland, you should be aware of a law that was just approved by Poland’s parliament and signed by the president on Feb. 7.

It states, “…whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich… or other crimes against peace and humanity, or war crimes, or otherwise grossly diminishes the actual perpetrators thereof, shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years.”

In other words, you cannot mention the fact that some Poles committed war crimes during WWII.

Though Poland would not be able to prosecute anyone outside of its borders, the law’s current wording would make it apply internationally. Even those who make such statements unintentionally would be subject to prosecution. However, those who do so as part of “artistic or scientific activities” would be exempt.

The law would pertain to anyone who makes such negative comments anywhere in public, including on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Though it is difficult to say whether or how the law would be enforced, theoretically, anyone who travels to Poland who is found to have made forbidden statements, even while in another country, could be detained.

At least one member of Poland’s senate has encouraged that possibility, writing an open letter to Poles living abroad, asking them to report, to the nearest Polish consulate, any person, Polish or not, whom they catch breaking the law.

One of the deadliest concentration camps of WWII was Auschwitz-Birkenau, located in southern Poland, where more than one million people were killed, the majority of whom were Jewish. It was built and run by Nazi Germany but, due to its location, has often been referred to as a “Polish death camp,” an offending phrase.

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, agrees with some of the spirit of the law, including that “Polish death camp” is unquestionably a misnomer and that the country of Poland was also a victim of German Nazis. However, it is critical of the law’s preventing anyone from discussing the actual violence against Jews committed by Poles and the assistance that some Poles gave Nazi Germany.

For the record, no country has more people included in the Righteous Among the Nations, an honor given to non-Jews who assisted Jews during the Holocaust, than Poland.

UPDATE — At the end of his letter “Options for Travelers with Mobility Issues” (Feb. ’18, pg. 27), Ron Carlson invited readers to send him questions by email. However, after publication, he was forced to discontinue that email address. You can now reach him at carlsons@q.com.

Bill Hutchinson of Signal Hill, California, wrote, “A traveler’s info request that was printed in the ‘Person to Person’ section of the March 2018 issue should probably be moved to ITN’s Calling All Readers! section. The traveler wrote, ‘From anyone who has done a world cruise, we would like to hear how you arranged things at home for the four months you were away.’

“I have had the same question, not necessarily involving a world cruise but about being away from home for more than 30 days and on international travel. One key component — many people handle bills through the use of online banking/billing, but since the USPS will hold one’s mail for only 30 days, how do they handle their mail in an extended vacation period?

“I’m sure other travelers would be interested in the solutions as well.”

Extended-trip travelers, tell us what arrangements you make to collect mail, pay bills, watch the house, etc. If you’re a subscriber, email editor@intltravelnews.com or write to Managing Things at Home During an Extended Trip, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. (Include your mailing address, where you receive ITN.)

Revisiting the request of Pat Ove of Aurora, Colorado, here’s what she wrote: “There must be many budget travelers reading ITN who are having exciting adventures discovering the world on $100 a day. I would love to read about their journeys. (For purposes of this information request, and considering inflation, perhaps the total of $100 per day should not include overseas airfare.)”

If you have information about visiting anyplace outside of the US for $100 per day or less (not including international air), tell us how you did it — your modes of travel, the sorts of accommodations you used and how you found them and what you did for meals. Add when your trip took place plus any other budget-travel tricks of the trade you can share.

Subscribers, write to The World on $100 a Day, c/o ITN. (Photos are welcome.) Include your mailing address. Select responses will be printed in ITN.

While I’m requesting items from subscribers, I know many of you have tons of pictures from your travels, and some of them would be perfect for our “Where in the World?” section, where we ask readers to guess locations pictured.

A notable landscape, an interesting building or a recognizable close-up — any shot can work. And it doesn’t have to be an obscure stumper; with familiar sights, more people can participate. 

Send us pictures, and, for each, tell us what we’re looking at, approximately where it was located, when you were there and who shot the photo. Email or write c/o ITN.

Nostalgic comparison —

Last year, the fee for a gorilla-viewing permit at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda doubled from $750 to $1,500 (July ’17, pg. 4). 

Citing that news item, Tony Leisner of Tarpon Springs, Florida, wrote, “Back in 1986, when my son and I viewed the gorillas in Rwanda, the fee was $5 for six hours, and we camped in our own tents. Today, in addition to being charged the new fee of $1,500 for one hour, there are luxury hotels nearby at around $900 per night.”

We received this note from Emanuela Allgood of Fremont, California: “Always looking forward to the next issue of ITN. Hanging on to them tooth-and-nail while canceling the glossy varieties of other travel magazines. Keep up the fantastic work.”

Amy Romano of Glen Cove, New York, wrote, “ITN is the best find in my mailbox each month!”

Alan R. Lichtenstein of Commack, New York, wrote, “My wife and I are enthusiastic readers of ITN, and, in fact, whenever we travel, we inform others about the substantial benefits of the magazine and carry pages for people to add their names and addresses to in order to be sent a complimentary copy of ITN.”

Thanks, Alan. And you can assure the people you meet that ITN does not sell or trade anyone’s name and address to any other firm. 

Travelers have nothing to lose — and a world of info to gain — by requesting a free sample copy of the next-printed issue. Or if they want a free 2-month trial of the Online Edition, they can just visit www.intltravelnews.com and click on “Sample Copy.”

Spread the word!