WWII Mini Series Faces Civil Action in Poland
A veteran of the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) has filed a civil case in the Krakow District Court against controversial German TV drama, Our Mothers, Our Fathers, which is set during World War II.
The former soldier, whose name has not been made public, joined forces with the World Association of Home Army Soldiers (Światowy Związek Żołnierzy Armii Krajowej) to file a case against the series’ producer, Nico Hofmann, on the grounds that it tarnishes the reputations of Poles who fought against Nazi occupation. Attorney Monika Brzozowska, with PDB, the law firm representing the complainants, confirmed the court’s civil department had received the summons.
The drama has caused considerable offence among many Poles for its depiction of Polish Home Army soldiers displaying anti-Semitic sentiments. It has also been accused of implicating Poles in the atrocities of the Holocaust and playing down German responsibility. In one scene, a Home Army soldier boasts: “We drown Jews like rats,” while his compatriots are shown refusing to help Jews bound for Auschwitz.
The series was commissioned by German public broadcaster, ZDF, and broadcast in German and Austria (as Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter) in March, 2013, finding a large audience and critical acclaim. The three, 90-minute episodes were shown by Polish broadcaster TVP in June (as Nasze matki, nasi ojcowie). It achieved record ratings, but also provoked anger among Poles who regarded its depiction of Home Army combatants as grossly unfair.
The series’ producer is accused of numerous violations, including the infringement of personal rights, the right to national pride, the right to cultivate national identity and has also been described as offensive to the memory of the Home Army soldiers who fell during the war.
The complainants in the Krakow case want a notice stating that Germans alone were responsible for the Holocaust to be shown before any episodes are broadcast. The also demand a public apology from all television stations that have aired the series, compensation of 50 thousand zloty and the removal of Home Army emblems and badges from the film.
The right to the series have been sold in Ireland (where it was broadcast in November), and the United States and the United Kingdom, and is due to be shown in both countries in 2014, titled Generation War.
The court action in Krakow follows high-profile criticism of the drama earlier this year from the Polish ambassador in Berlin, Jerzy Margański, who sent an open letter of complaint to ZDF in which he called the series: “Grotesquely one-sided.” The Polish ambassador to the United States, Ryszard Schnepf, also wrote a letter of complaint to distribution company Music Box, who bought the US rights to the series.
This is not the first legal challenge to the drama. The Warsaw District Court is processing a similar civil case brought by a Polish citizen against the use of the term ‘Polish death camp,’ in one episode of the series.
In June, series producer, Nico Hofmann, apologised for causing offence to Poles during an interview with Polska The Times. He said: “It was a mistake not to consult with Polish historians… this is a lesson for me. I am sorry we offended the Polish people.”
The case highlights just how sensitive Poland is to international perceptions of the conduct of Poles during World War II. There is a fear that, because the Nazis constructed much of the machinery of the Holocaust on Polish territory, Poland may be perceived as complicit. There is, for example, a long-running campaign to object to the phrase ‘Polish death camps,’ because it suggests Poles were involved in their construction. It was only in May of last year that President Obama was forced to apologise for using the phrase.
It is also not the first time that Polish sensitivity on the subject has been irritated by cinematic representations of World War II and the Holocaust. Claude Lanzmann’s epic 1985 documentary, Shoah, caused similar stirred emotions. Lanzmann controversially featured an interview with Jan Karski, but chose to omit details of Karski’s daring escape to the West to inform British and American leaders about the Holocaust, and seek their help. Lanzmann was accused of deliberately omitting these scenes to cover up the seeming indifference of Britain and America to the plight of the Jews, while also overplaying Poland’s anti-Semitism.
Another example of a controversial, high profile work on the subject is Jan Gross’s 2001 book Neighbours. The book focuses on the 1941 pogrom in the Polish village of Jedwabne , an event in which a large number of Jews were brutally murdered by their neighbours. Gross caused great offence by claiming Poles were solely responsible for the atrocity.
Neighbours inspired the play, Our Class (Nasza klasa), by Tadeusz Słobodzianek, which was awarded the Nike Prize in 2010, the most prestigious literary prize in Poland, reflecting the readiness of Poles to engage in discussion on this difficult issue.
In his letter of complaint about Our Mothers, Our Fathers, Jerzy Margański criticised the one-sided perspective of the drama, saying that, watching the programme, no one would know that there were “so many trees planted for Poles honoured as Righteous Among the Nations in Yad Vashem.” There are more Poles honoured at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Yad Vashem than any other nationality. These 6,394 Polish civilians, who risked their lives to save Jews, are a source of great pride in Poland.
The trail is due to commence in the next few months.
Front page image: ZDF
105 thoughts on “WWII Mini Series Faces Civil Action in Poland”
I’m afraid that the “genie has been let out of the bottle” It seems that there are those who want to continue to show that Poland, and only Poland, created and perpetuated anit-Semitism during WWII. This, of course, ignores the fact that Poland was attacked and occupied by two lethal and totalitaristic regimes, that when one of these regimes joined the US and the UK in the fight Poland was sacrificed on the altar of expediency, and it was only in Poland – of all the occupied countries – that those caught helping Jews would be sentenced to death.
And please forgive me for not accepting the producer’s apology in June; that didn’t prevent him from selling the broadcast rights to the US, UK, and Ireland even though he could have re-edited the series prior to sale. What is the adage………..never ask for permission; ask for forgiveness instead.
That there was institutional anti-semitism in Pilsudski-era pre WWII Poland can not be reasonably contested – Jews were legally barred from holding certain professions, and there was emigration as a consequence of this. But anti-semitism is merely appalling when placed in context with the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust; a uniquely German construct and one that has been unambiguously acknowledged by the post-war German establishment.
The director has, at the very least, been insensitive to a nation that by many metrics suffered more than any other in WWII, but I do not for one moment believe that he is asserting that ‘Poland, and only Poland created and perpetuated anti-semitism during WWII’.
Josh, were you are that during the same period there were large street signs in Washington D.C. that read, “No Jews, No Blacks”.
Good article on an important subject. I could write volumes about the injustice of this depiction of the AK, but I will confine myself to saying that it will be interesting to see how far this legal action goes.
There has, unfortunately, been an increasing tendency over the last few years – decades, even – to cast the Poles as the villains of WWII. If this series is shown in the US and the UK, it would be good if the respective broadcasters were to show documentaries about the real Polish resistance (and mentioned the fact that Jewish fighters were also members of the AK, for instance).
And since the series starts in 1941, the documentary might remind people just what exactly took place in the first two years of the war.
In the United States truth is an absolute defense to a charge of defamation..
Ahhh… the law must have changed since Henry Ford’s days in court.
Talos -are you aware of the Warsaw ghetto uprising that occurred a year before the Warsaw uprising during which the aka refused to get involved or even supply any aid? Nobody disputes that the Holocaust was instituted by the Germans but there was a reason most of it took place in Poland – anti-semitism was so inbred that it was a fertile ground.
I am extremely grateful to those 6,000 + heroes who risked their lives but if I recall correctly the Polish population was about 60 million at the time and while I certainly understand why someone would not want to risk his life or the lives of his family, I can’t understand why someone would voluntarily turn in a jewish neighbor for a keg of beer.
Deborah, you have been misinformed. About the accusation that the AK refused to supply the Jewish fighters in the 1943 Ghetto Uprising, please see, for instance, the appropriate chapter in Timothy Snyder’s ‘Bloodlands’. The AK did not have a great deal of weaponry themselves but they did provide help.
Also you ‘fertile ground’ argument is one that has been used quite frequently recently. No-one is pretending that there were no anti-Semitic people in pre-war Poland (and unfortunately can still be found today), but there is a world of difference between being anti-Jewish for whatever misguided reason, and planning and executing the mass destruction of an entire people. Please remember where the Wannsee Conference was held.
I am by no stretch of the imagination defending those who betrayed their Jewish neighbours to the Nazis, but we don’t hear enough about those who sheltered their Jewish friends and neighbours and in many cases paid for it with their lives.
Are you aware that the penalty for helping Jews in occupied Poland was death?
PS – not sure about your population statistics – not that it matters too much to the point I think you’re making – but it was more like 30 million.
Phineas – why do you assume that I’m the one who has been misinformed? I had the privilege to know one of the righteous Gentiles from Lviv; she saved my father’s closest friend from the Janowska ghetto. Reading “blood lands” is a good place to start but you may want read some of the translations of the newspapers of that time, it may give you a different perspective.
I believe that the best sources are primary sources. Read “the black book of Polish Jewry”. Granted that the Germans were horrendous but even they called a halt to the pogrom of the Poles and Ukranians in Lviv because of its brutality. And let’s not forget about Petlura who between 1918 and 1921 massacred 200,000 Jews and Kielce in 1946,
Deborah, may I ask are you of Jewish descent? Because such ignorance or intellectual mediocrity (e.g. mixing Poles with Ukrainians, whereby the latter were often collaborating with Nazi Germans; ignoring the fact that Lwow and Eastern Poland were annexed by Soviet Union in 1939-41) can very often be witnessed amongst Jews posting comments in the articles related to Polish anti-semitism.
Voytek – whether I’m Jewish or not is irrelevant but in answer to your question, yes, I am Jewish. You know nothing of my background, my education, or my degrees in this subject yet for some reason you think that I am wrong and that you are right. It’s exactly that kind of thinking that promoted the Holocaust and other forms of racism.I am very well aware of the antipathy between Ukrainians and Poles and the Russian annexation. I am also aware that in 1941, when the Nazis marched into Lviv which was part of Poland at the time), the population was approximately 1/3 Polish, 1/3 Ukrainian and 1/3 Jewish. Let me assure you that the Poles were not at home praying for the safety of the Jews while the Ukrainians were slaughtering them. plenty of Poles joined in.
Re the Soviet deportation of Poles to the Soviet Union labor camp – the Soviets were deporting everyone. As I’m sure you know, several Ukrainian battalions had surrendered to the Nazis and joined up with them – as a result, the Russians didn’t trust any Poles which is how my father wound up in a Russian gulag (and as a result became the sole survivor of his family). The Russians didn’t care that he was Jewish, they considered him Polish and therefore a threat (as they did thousands of other Jews).
Yes, there were certainly Jews who supported the Communist cause. Have you given any thought to why that was so? Could it have been the quotas against Jews in the universities? The University students who had gangs formed for the sole purpose of assaulting Jewish students? The signs in the parks saying “Dogs and Jews not welcome? The ostracism of Jews from most social and civil organizations despite the Polish constitution (1919 – 1921) which granted them equal rights?
Take note that Hannah Arendt was Jewish yet she discusses the role of Jewish collaboration in her books. Also take note that when the members of the original Judenrats resisted the Nazis they and their families were murdered. Despite that, many committed suicide sooner than collaborate (see the history of the Warsaw Ghetto judenrat).
Until the Poles (and the Ukrainians who were considered Poles at the time), can own what they did or didn’t do to other Polish citizens (the Jews), and the reasons therefor, there can be no change.
Are you familiar with the term “res ipsa loquitor”? It’s a legal term for “the thing speaks for itself”. You may give them some thought if you ever ponder why the Jews have a special antipathy toward Poland (and Ukraine).
Hi Deborah – sorry I’m so late in replying, but I’m on European time (i.e. I’ve been asleep).
I was saying you were misinformed specifically on the point of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising not receiving any help from the Polish resistance. It can be argued that the AK could have done more, perhaps, and in hindsight, there should have been more co-ordination between the two resistance groups who were fighting the same enemy after all, but the AK did supply arms out what little they had themselves and they did make several attempts to breach the wall.
I agree with you about primary sources. I’ve read a number of memoirs, some in Polish, and the picture is not uniformly negative. Of course there were anti-Semitic Poles who took advantage of the misfortune of their Jewish neighbours, but there were also those who risked everything to help. One memoir that comes to mind is that of someone very well known in the London Polonia – Maria Drue, who was from a Krakow Jewish family. (Trouble is, I’m not sure if you can get it in English).
Going back to your ‘fertile ground’ comment. The reason the Germans put most of their death camps in Poland was that the pre-war Jewish population, at 3.3 million, was higher than in any other European country. It was a question of having them there already. (Collaboration was minimal, there was never a collaborationist government and there were no Polish guards at the camps, for instance).
I don’t quite understand why you should bring in Petlura (do you mean Symon Petliura?) since he was a Ukrainian nationalist and quite irrelevant to this discussion, it seems to me.
I’m not saying, by the way, that the AK or indeed all Polish people were a group of angels. There were rogue elements and horrible individuals as in any other country. But the Polish government in exile in London gave orders that collaborators and those who betrayed Jews (‘szmalcownicy’) were to be executed.
As for Kielce and other anti-Jewish crimes, the people responsible were punished, I believe.
I will try to find the book you mention.
Cheers, Michal (aka Phineas)
PS – I recently watched the 2001 film ‘Uprising’ about the ’43 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Great cast, great acting, but very anti-Polish. (The typical depiction of a Pole was of a vodka-swilling, slovenly peasant).
Many people seem to forget that the Nazis brutalized the Polish Christian population as well as the Jews. They didn’t consider them ‘Aryans’ as the above film seems to imply, but rather ‘Untermeschen’. Along with Russians and other Baltic peoples, they were subhuman Slavs.
As for statistics on the number of Polish Christians killed by the Nazis, refer to any reputable history, including Wikipedia.
Mhineas – aka Michal – thank you for your response and I will try to get copies of the books that you mention if they have been translated into English.
In addition to other things, I translate what are known as “Yizkor” books from the original Yiddish into English. These are first person accounts of the history of the various towns and villages in the various countries that were Nazi occupied; many of them were in Poland and some are written in Polish. You can download the originals from the New York Public Library at no cost if you wish.
Re Kielce – the point that I’m making is that it happened after the war, when Poles were no longer under the Nazi threat; whether or not the pogromists were punished is irrelevant.
I’m assuming (which I hate to do), that you are Polish, and not of Jewish descent. Most of the conversations that I’ve had with Poles are of the tenor of Voytek’s response to me (and my response to him).
I believe that it’s possible to discuss this subject without rancor and in an intellectual manner that relies on study, not on passion. I enjoy our conversation and look forward to discussing this issue with you at greater length.
Incidents such as the one in Kielce occurred all over Soviet-occupied Europe after the war: e.g. four in Czechoslovakia, and in Hungary four in Budapest alone. There were also anti-Jewish riots in the UK in 1948. Yet only Poland is singled out as anti-Semitic. Might it have something to do with Jewish demands for $60 billion in reparations from Poland for pre-war Jewish property (confiscated and despoiled by the Germans and, later, the Soviets)? The World Jewish Congress vowed to “humiliate Poland in the international forum” if their demands are not met.
“I’m not playing, I merely looked up the two terms in a dictionary. As someone who deals in facts I’m still waiting for a response from someone who can explain to me why Jews who had lived in Poland for over a thousand years are not considered Poles.”
They’re not Poles because they believe they are of the tribe (or tribes) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as opposed to the tribe of Lech (or Czech or Rus). They are not Poles because their culture is from the Levant and not from the Indoeuropean steppe. They are not Poles because their history is the history of their people and not the history of the Polish people. Because the Polish people were not in Egypt , the Sinai, Judea, Samaria, Granada or the Bronx (well maybe parts of the Bronx) but primarily in Northeastern Europe, Hammtramck or Greenpoint, so to speak. Because the Polish people have their own Gods and do not worship a monopolistic Middle Eastern entity. AND IN ALL OF THAT please note Jews AIN’T SPECIAL. The same applies to how Poles view Germans, Japanese or Inuits – none of them are Poles – again, please, please do not feel special.
That is the BLOOD to which they feel they belong. And don’t give us the BS about Judaism being a religion. Israeli Jews are some of the most atheistic folks in the world but they’re Jews as per themselves. Israeli Arabs are not. I believe even their passports actually say that to this day. So were Jews citizens of Poland, of course. So are some Arabs citizens of Israel. But Jews were not Poles and neither are Arabs Jews. If it makes you feel better, we can concoct an equivalent term for Poland – how about Lechistan? Jews were Lechistanis and Poles were Lechistanis – happy?
“if they are not considered Poles why I are you so surprised if they’re not waving the Polish flag?” So which is it, now? In any event, he may be surprised, most people are not
Poles (and others) do not take kindly to having their ethnic identity reduced to a geographic description – particularly by an outsider. Put a somewhat different way, who are you tell us who is and who isn’t a Pole??? Do we tell you who is or isn’t Jewish? You come to this website and want to sound smart as to who should be part of our tribe – do we go to the Forward, the Chronicle, Commentary, etc and try to tell you how to redefine your people???
The actual number of Righteous Gentiles in occupied Poland will never be known, since in countless cases both the Jews and those who aided them were executed by the Germans, leaving no witnesses. Even in instances where there is evidence of help rendered, the testimonies do no always meet the rigourous standards of Yad Vashem. 6,000+ is certainly a low estimate.
1) If I were Ashkenazi, I would not use words such as “inbred” – volumes of books about genetic diseases would tend to agree with me on this, trust me
2) There were about 35 million people in 1939 of whom only about 70% were Poles. So, I am not sure where your 60 million comes from (you like some others seem to have a difficulty with numbers – we know, math is hard)
3) you seem to believe that the Holocaust happened in Poland b/c of some fertile ground for it – this is a stupendous misunderstanding of historical facts but given this antisemitism it seems to me your best bet for survival would be to stay away from Polish things altogether – starting with this website
4) do you have droves of examples of folks turning in others’ for “a keg of beer”? If not then why “keg of beer”? Is it because all Poles are notorious alcoholics? If so, would a comparable statement about a Jewish citizen have to refer to “a bar of gold”? Or would that be inpolite?
Deborah – no one disputes the heroism of the Ghetto fighters but the Ghetto uprising was an uprising of the doomed. Even in scale – were you aware that they killed less than 20 Germans? Compare that to the Warsaw Uprising where thousands of Nazi soldiers were killed. Even by the time of the 44 Uprising and despite these thousands, with the Germans defeated on the Eastern Front, the Home Army was no match for the Wehrmacht and the SS – what would have happened to the Home Army if it actually tried to help more back in 43 or worse yet join? I guarantee you that if the Germans, instead of the Jews, picked Poles starting with the letter Z as victims of the Reich, the rest of Poland would probably have done just as little to help their uprising in 43. The Home
“Army” was an underground organization but it was not an actual army – it could not fight a regular army – the time for that passed once Poland capitulated
(1) This is a film made by the Germans mainly for Germans, in order to release the young generation of the sins of their grandparents.
What is more interesting is the main historical consultant was a German-Jewish historian, so in terms of depicting the Armia Krajowa (and not only there) we can see a lovely German-Jewish alliance.
(2) There certainly had been anti-semitism in Poland before WW2 (as in other European countries), but at the time of greatest challenge of humanity many of those “Polish anti-semites” decided to aid their Jewish neighbours. Many of them have paid the greatest price (e.g. Ulm family).
(3) Polish people and all other righteous people in the world must say NO to German-Jewish attempts of stigmatising Poles by putting an equal sign between anti-semitism and participation in the Holocaust.
(4) I have an impression (justified, I suppose) that Jews often claim there was “too little” help given to them e.g. by the Poles during WW2. Instead of pointing fingers at others, they (Jews) should better look at their own elites (e.g. Jewish councils – Judenraete), some of their compatriots (e.g. Jewish collaborators with Nazi Germans and Soviets) and their American diaspora (Jewish Committee) as to how they behaved at the time.
For example, Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest Jewish philosophers in 20th century wrote in her book “Eichmann in Jerusalem” that: “To a Jew, this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story.”
(5) With regard to the point above, I often wonder when Poles and Jews will eventually have a courage to openly raise in the public narration the issue of Jewish collaboration with Soviet Union, during their occupation of then Eastern Poland (“Kresy”) in 1939-41.
How many Jews were collaborating with NKVD, assisting them with identifying local “patriotic” Poles to be executed or deported to Gulag? How many Jews in the Eastern Poland gave helping hand to the Poles, when they were subject to Soviet extermination? How much courage & human virtues did they show to the Poles on the verge of Polish Holocaust from the Soviet hands?
PS. If anyone is interested, I can easily post links to sources regarding the points raised above.
Oh, I forgot to say that amongst the members of Armia Krajowa were numerous Polish Jews, e.g. prof. Julian Aleksandrowicz, Symcha Ratajzer-Rotem, etc.
Well, the story of the series is simple and very attractive for young Germans.
Noble, beautiful, culture loving and Jew friendly Germans left their peaceful towns, went to Poland and there in the wild Polish underdeveloped jungle they simply “lost their mind”. Primitive, ugly and anti semitic Poles forced those poor Germans to use violence against innocent Jews…
And British Airways will show this German propaganda http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/entertainment/in-flight-entertainment?post_type=tv_show&p=19831
Thank you Voytek and Phineas the Seer for your most insightful, helpful and accurate truths about this dark period for both Non-Jewish and Jewish Poles (and of course other Jews from across Europe).
Having a globally recognised (Jewish) Holocaust Memorial Day certainly helps everyone to not forget the horrendous treatment of Jews during WWII – but there is no similar global remembrance day for the 3+ Million Non-Jewish Poles who died as a result of both German Nazi and Soviet Russian atrocities during and after WWII.
Not to mention the systematic destruction of Polish culture, institutions, cities, military, intelligensia in the joint attempt by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia to literally obliterate Poland from the map, as had happened during the 125 years of theThird Partition by essentially the same countries.
And Voytek, could you please provide a link, of whatever type is allowed here, for your points 4, re Hannah Arendt, “this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people”; and 5, about ” the issue of Jewish collaboration with Soviet Union, during their occupation of then Eastern Poland (“Kresy”) in 1939-41.” ? Many thanks.
“And Voytek, could you please provide a link, of whatever type is allowed here, for your points 4, re Hannah Arendt, “this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people”; and 5, about ” the issue of Jewish collaboration with Soviet Union, during their occupation of then Eastern Poland (“Kresy”) in 1939-41.” ? Many thanks.”
Of course. Here are the links from respective articles on Wikipedia, with the references to history books/publications.
– Judenraete: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judenrat#The_role_of_the_Judenr.C3.A4te_in_the_Holocaust
– Occupation of Poland 1939-45 (general): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Poland_%281939%E2%80%9345%29
– Treatment of Polish citizens under Soviet occupation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Poland_%281939%E2%80%931945%29#Treatment_of_Polish_citizens_under_Soviet_occupation
“Soviet officials openly incited mobs to perform killings and robberies against the Polish population, going as far as stating that the Red Army would help to kill and pillage. A brutal bloodbath ensued. Such events made an everlasting influence on the Polish attitude towards Soviet occupation.”
“At the same time, there were large groups of pre-war Polish citizens, notably Jewish youth and, to a lesser extent, the Ukrainian peasants, who saw the Soviet power as an opportunity to start political or social activity outside of their traditional ethnic or cultural groups.”
– Soviet repressions of Polish citizens: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_repressions_of_Polish_citizens_%281939%E2%80%931946%29#Aftermath_of_the_Soviet_invasion_of_Poland
“Also, there were large groups of pre-war Polish citizens, notably Jewish and, to a lesser extent, the Ukrainian and Belarusian nationalists, who saw the Soviet NKVD presence as an opportunity to start political and social agitation. Many of them committed treason against the Polish state by assisting in round ups and executions of Polish officials.”
Plus some info on the massacres committed on ethnic Poles by the Soviet “partisans”, some of them were Jewish.
– Skidel (18/09 – 19/09/1939): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skidel_revolt
– Brzostowica Mala (18/09/1939): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Brzostowica_Ma%C5%82a
– Koniuchy (29/01/1944): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koniuchy_massacre
There may indeed have been individual Jews collaborating with the Soviets, which would explain (but not justify) some Polish anti-Semitism. But let’s not forget the Jewish contribution to the Polish armed forces and the little-known fact that many Jewish officers were murdered by the NKVD at the killing fields of Katyn. One estimate puts the number as high as a thousand. One of the most prominent was the Chief Rabbi of the Polish army:
A general comment but also by way of reply to Deborah (at 6.11pm) since there was no ‘reply’ button.
Kielce has been discussed at great length by many academics. I do actually think it’s relevant to know that the perpetrators were punished (most were executed, I believe). Who was behind the crime, whether Nationalists or Communists is another matter. But to the outside world, it was a Polish vs Jewish crime and the criminals were held to account.
There were certainly instances of crimes committed by Jewish Poles against Christian Poles, but I have yet to hear anyone saying that all Jews were therefore anti-Polish, whereas we read very often about all Poles being anti-Semitic, and this not just on internet commentaries, but in works which can be described as academic.
Deborah, you rightly assume I’m Polish. Actually, I’d call myself a Brit of Polish descent (with no Jewish background, to my knowledge anyway) and since we’re in the assuming business, I don’t think I’d need to live at 221B Baker Street or wear a deerstalker to deduce that you might be American.
I agree with you that it’s important to discuss this quite painful subject without hurling recriminations at each other. Life is tough enough without us beating each other up online. But I think you probably understand, if you think about it, why this particular depiction of the AK has hit such a raw nerve. Yes, there were undoubtedly rogue individuals in the resistance (I read somewhere recently that bandits disguised themselves as AK fighters – all they had to do was to put on the red and white armband), but the Armia Krajowa was a disciplined army organization subordinated to the London Government-in-exile and to have a German television company portray them as a gang of crude anti-Semites is a bit rich.
Hi Michal – you’re right, I am American (and here I was going to compliment you on your excellent English:).
The information that I have concerning the Polish Home Army’s anti-semitism is both anecdotal and academic. I would therefore be very interested in reading more about the AK from credible sources.
I can certainly understand your chagrin about having the Germans call the Poles anti-Semitic but that is not the issue that concerns me. To the Jews, there was equal anti-Semitism from both the Poles, the Ukrainians and the Germans; the only difference being that the Polish and Ukrainian anti-Semitism had gone on for centuries but was not as “efficient” as the German brand.
What I find particularly interesting is that from what I can garner, even from these posts, is that the Poles never accepted the Ukrainians or the Jews as being Polish even though all three groups had lived together for centuries.
Being an American, and part of the “melting pot” as we like to refer to ourselves (however wrongly), I find that concept strange. Granted, there is still racism in USA, and yes, we have almost every other kind of “ism” available, but these “isms” are not acceptable nor encouraged. That’s why I don’t quite get it when I mention Petlura and am told that he was Ukrainian nor do I get why the Jews are singled out for being Jewish. Were these religious distinctions relevant to the perception of Polish patriotism? If you weren’t Catholic you weren’t patriotic to Poland? (I realize that sometimes communication is difficult on-line so please understand that I’m not being snide, I just really don’t understand it on an intellectual level.) What makes one person who lives in Poland, and whose families have been living there for centuries, more “Polish” than the next?
I do understand that the Ukrainians wanted autonomy from both Poland and Russia. I also understand that the Jews just wanted to be left alone. Now the Ukrainian government wants to sidle up to Russia, the Poles are trying to invent “Jewish Quarters” in places like Vilna (but without any Jews living there), and the Jews still just want to be left alone.
Does the” anti-semitic AK” include those Jews who were in the AK?
Hence the term “self-hating Jew”. That’s where it started, you know. But the real beton was in the NSZ – the Jewish members of that organization had to be bigger self-haters than Vladimir Wolfowitch.
“What I find particularly interesting is that from what I can garner, even from these posts, is that the Poles never accepted the Ukrainians or the Jews as being Polish even though all three groups had lived together for centuries.”
What a ridiculous statement and so indicative of your biases. You gotta interbreed for that to happen. Do the Jews view Arabs as Jewish? Why not? Can it perhaps be because Arabs have their own culture that is not Jewish? If your daughter married an Arab – would that be ok with you? And if that is ok (I assume it would be) would it be ok if the children of that marriage were raised in the Arab tradition? Oh sure, the kids could acknowledge that one grandmother was Jewish – no problem with that – the grandmonther would simply be another strand in the beautiful tapestry of the Arab people as their story unfolds through the centuries.
Now, admittedly, for the Poles, the Ukrainians are a tougher case since both peoples are Slavs but apparently they decided to disagree as to what day some guy in Bethlehem was born and hence the dislike.
Hi Deborah, I would like to comment “What I find particularly interesting is that from what I can garner, even from these posts, is that the Poles never accepted the Ukrainians or the Jews as being Polish even though all three groups had lived together for centuries.” Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Belarussians and many other nationalities were Polish citizens in the Polish 2nd Republic, particularly in the Eastern Borderlands or “Kresy” where the ethnic Poles were in many regions a minority. Poland was a melting pot but of course each nationality also had it’s own language, customs, history, culture, religion etc. But regarding the Jewish community in particular. Please consider that the Jews in pre-war Poland cannot be compared to the Jewish community living in modern day USA. The majority of Jews in pre-war Poland only spoke Jiddish and they themselves largely isolated themselves from their Polish neighbours. This is a well documented, academic history. The Jews traded with the ethnic Poles but they did not speak Polish, did not socialise with them, did not inter-marry with them. In effect, they were like islands within a country, a republic. Were the Jews anti-Polish? Where the Poles anti-semitic. I’m sure many were but largely they co-existed amicably BUT separately. There were some highly integrated, Polish-speaking, Jews but these were the exception. When you look at the pre-war censuses in Poland, Polish citizens had to categorize themselves. The vast majority of Jews did not “tick” Polish but “ticked” Jewish because they spoke Jiddish and in this way they counted themselves as a separate “ethnicity” in the way that the Ukrainians or Belarussians did. As Halik Kochanski in her book has pointed out many Jews that survived the Holocaust in Poland were the Polish speaking and highly integrated Jews. Partly because they could speak Polish and therefore “blend in” but most importantly, I think, because they had established relationships with their Polish “neighbours” in the true meaning of being a neighbour. It is an extremely nuanced history and I don’t think we can make sweeping comparisons of the Jewish community living in pre-war Poland to to the Jewish community in the United States today.
Even a dolt understands that – she was simply expressing a patronizing attitude towards the Poles. I’d be curious if she would let her daughter skip her bat mitzvah and have her be raised in the  tradition of her husband (assuming we get that far with having a non-jewish husband). Maybe she would – that’s basically the position of cultural nihilists.
Maybe you inadvertently put your finger on one possible cause of friction between Polish Jews and Polish Christians by saying Jews “just wanted to be left alone”.
There were those Jews who took an active part in Polish life, in the realms of culture, the arts, journalism, music, etc, and as I’ve already mentioned, served in the Polish armed forces and fought the Nazis at various European battlegrounds, in many cases dying for the Allied cause (see the Stars of David at the Polish Military Cemetery at Monte Cassino in Italy, for instance), but there were also those who deliberately kept a distance between themselves and the rest of Polish society and never really integrated and just wanted to be left alone.
However, Poland, or more accurately, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth used to be a ‘melting pot’, in which all ethnic groups were first and foremost Polish citizens. Yes, today we have a kind of ‘melting pot’ in the UK too, just as in the US, but ethnic groups still tend to keep together, so it’s hardly surprising that Ukrainians, for example, were seen as a separate nationality in pre-war Poland (they had a different alphabet, for one thing).
As for reading matter about the AK, off the top of my head I’d recommend Jozef Garlinski ‘Poland in the Second World War’, Jan Nowak ‘Courier from Warsaw’, Jan Karski ‘Story of a Secret State’. I’m pretty sure they are all available in English. Perhaps other commentators will have other ideas.
And although I appreciate your comments, I have to say ‘chagrin’ is the wrong word to describe what I and many others feel about the German accusation of Polish anti-Semitism. ‘Indignation’ comes a bit closer.
To build on what you said, it is totally irrelevant to the FACTS what someone’s religion, language, nationality, citizenship and place of residence is. But as I am sure you can imagine, all of these factors shape a person’s attitudes, narratives, and filters through which they understand history and the world.
By the way, some of my best friends are Americans, BUT many Americans get muddled by such “subtle” distinctions like those I listed above. Confusing Ukrainians with Poles, or thinking “Vilna” is in Poland or that Jewishness is simply a religious preference are sure signs of this kind of muddling. If you truly want to understand European history, I encourage you to have a look into the well-established subjects of ETHNICITY and NATIONALITY.
But then, this thread is not about you or about other Americans. It is about Germans and Poles and Jews, and about how radically distorted and even Holocaust-denying (there I said it) this revisionist history is. I assume that you genuinely care about this subject, and that you are genuinely interested in “the truth” – or at least the FACTS. So here goes…
Following are some facts that may be useful:
Poland did not have 60 million people before the war but 30 million, about 3 million Jewish, every tenth person.
Poland lost 6 million during the war, half Jewish and half Gentile.
Jozef PILSUDSKI was actually pro-pluralist and a champion of the Jews, it is only after he died that
Poland’s new government instituted quotas and such.
Petlura was not Polish but Ukrainian. Think of Spanish and Portuguese as ethnic cousins, but completely not the same to get the idea.
Pre-war Poland was a country containing many ethnic nationalities, all citizens of Poland but living as separate communities; think of the US which has Italian, Black (African?), Chinese, Jewish and Hispanic American citizens – they are not all the same, just because they live in the same country. An even better example is Canada (a country to the north of the USA) where the French Canadians are not the same as the English Canadians – they form a distinct nationality within the same country. Same with Welsh, Scottish and English people, all citizens of the United Kingdom, but all with their own languages, traditions, and distinct national identities.
The Lviv pogrom in 1918 consisted mostly of looting and burning (not killing) in the Jewish quarter by drunken Polish soldiers after winning their battle with the Ukrainians to control Lviv – the pogrom was stopped by the Polish Army regaining control over its berserk soldiers, not by any GERMANS who were not even there.
The Lviv pogroms of 1941 were conducted by the German invaders with the help of Ukrainian collaborators. There were no Poles involved. The GERMANS conducted the pogroms, they did not stop them.
More Jews were shot in the Ukraine by the Germans than were gassed by the Germans in German-occupied Poland.
Any Pole that betrayed a Jew was considered a criminal traitor by the Polish underground government, and if caught was EXECUTED by the Poles.
The Polish underground government was not only officially pro-Semitic, it actually did what no other German occupied government did and invested in a secret organization to help save the Jews (it was called ZEGOTA).
While it took only 1 bad person (Pole, German, or even a Jew – there I said it) to betray one Jew for a keg of beer, it took 100 good people risking the death penalty to keep one Jew safe, hidden, fed and away from the GERMANS. If your family was saved by righteous Poles who risked the death penalty, how can you say that the Poles were like the Germans only less efficient?
For centuries “Vilna” (Wilno) was a mixed Polish and Jewish city, but now it is the capital of Lithuania (a country to the northeast of Poland). About 100,000 Jews lived there before the war, so Jewish areas do not have to be invented by anyone.
Religious distinctions were irrelevant to Polish patriotism. Serving in Poland’s military and in the “AK” Home Army were Roman Catholics, Jews, Greek Orthodox, Protestants and atheists.
Jewish communities in eastern part Poland were not typically loyal Poles, but were a separate national community that found itself sometimes in Russia, sometimes in Austria, sometimes in Poland, and sometimes Ukraine – sometimes without ever moving an inch.
During WWI these eastern Jews were generally not Polish patriots but were “neutral” in Poland’s fight for independence. During WW2 these eastern Jews did not pray for their Polish neighbors, but generally welcomed and assisted the Red Army in its invasion that was part of the Nazi-Soviet alliance to destroy Poland (was this mentioned in the Yitzkor books?).
Deborah, no nation’s people are all good or all bad, but do you really want to defend this blatantly revisionist and Holocaust-denying distortion of historical FACTS perpetrated by the German media?
Please do not hesitate to ask, if you have any more questions.
Thank you Stefan for the historical errors you corrected. I find that many in the U.S. were and still are misinformed, by design, by forces that began with FDR.
Deborah is an obvious Germanophile, enjoying her bonding experience with Germans in their mutual disdain for Poland.
“how can you say that the Poles were like the Germans only less efficient?’
because she probably drives a BMW or a Mercedes – many Jews (like Poles) secretly abased themselves in front of Germans as something superior – that is why the German 180 was such a surprise / shock – it created a cognitive dissonance that some have not unraveled to this day. For that reason, it is easier to blame the “simpletons” of Eastern Europe – Stockholm Syndrome perhaps.
You all ought to ask yourselves also this: how do you even know Deborah is Jewish? In whose interest would it be to destroy any rapproachment between Poles and Jews? Comrade Lenin was not a nice man but neither was he a foolish one
Let’s not gang up on Deborah – she has obviously not got all her facts straight, but you have to admire her courage in posting on a Polish forum with some very unpopular opinions.
I wonder if the Krakow Post will allow me to post an essay I wrote a little while ago on this very subject?
Resisting the German Television Version of the Polish Resistance by Michal Karski
Unless there is some last-minute obstacle, English-speaking audiences will soon get the chance to see ‘Generation War’, the English title for ‘Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter’, the television mini-series created by ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) offering a German view of the Second World War. Viewed by record audiences in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, it caused a storm and divided opinion when it was shown in Poland last year. Some groups lambasted the Polish state broadcaster for airing a serial in which the Polish Resistance – the Armia Krajowa – was portrayed as a fundamentally anti-Semitic organization. Many commentators in Poland believe that conventions prohibiting defamation were breached by its German creator. Even a few German historians conceded that Poles were justifiably aggrieved. Meanwhile the rights to screen the series in the US have been bought by Music Box. In the UK audiences will be tuning in to the prestigious BBC.
Polish organizations both in the UK and the US have lodged protests. There are people who want the series withdrawn entirely, while others opposed to that view argue that this would constitute censorship. In the case of the BBC, with its unrivalled reputation for impartiality, the corporation is always careful to avoid accusations of bias. The German series, they say, ‘complies with editorial guidelines’. Will the two broadcasters , for reasons of balance, also run documentaries about the real Armia Krajowa, thereby providing a picture not quite so negative as the ZDF portrayal ?
It would be plainly dishonest to pretend that anti-Semitic attitudes could not be found in Poland, either before or during the war (and unfortunately even today). Despite the long tradition of religious tolerance which went all the way back to the Middle Ages in Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and long years of relatively harmonious Polish-Jewish co-existence, the years following the death of Józef Piłsudski in 1935 were probably the low point in Christian-Jewish relations in the country. Whatever anyone may have thought of Piłsudski’s authoritarian rule, he was personally opposed to anti-Semitism. The subsequent regime undoubtedly alienated Jews because of its failure to put a halt to instances of anti-Jewish discrimination. (An example in the academic field was segregation of students at some universities.) Even so the pre-war situation was by no means entirely negative. Jews were represented in most professions. Polish cultural life especially included many Jewish talents in various fields such as literature, journalism and broadcasting. Jewish soldiers served in the Polish army and went on to fight the Nazis on all fronts, as can be seen by the memorials at the Polish military cemetery at Monte Cassino in Italy.
This would also be a good place to point out, particularly to critics of pre-war Poland who are content to generalize and who accuse the country of endemic anti-Semitism, that of the more than twenty-two thousand Polish officers who perished at the hands of the Soviet NKVD, a considerable number were Jewish. Estimates vary and the usual figure cited is five hundred, but Salomon Slowes, in his book ‘The Road to Katyn’(London 1992), puts the number as high as a thousand. One of the prominent victims was Baruch Steinberg, Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army. Between them, the Nazis and the NKVD tried to wipe out the best and brightest of Polish society, Christians and non-Christians alike.
The danger of generalizing is nowhere more evident than in the portrayal of the Polish Resistance in the above-mentioned German television film. Polish critics of the ZDF serial have pointed out that whereas the main protagonists, the young Germans caught up in the war, are portrayed as rounded characters, the members of the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) are presented as completely two-dimensional stereotypes. This is surely the culmination of the bad press the Polish Resistance has been getting over the years.
The Armia Krajowa incorporated most resistance organizations which arose in Poland after Nazi Germany invaded the country. The AK was subordinated to the Polish Government in Exile based in London, from whom it took its orders. The government, headed by General Władysław Sikorski, was primarily made up of political opponents of the pre-war regime, whom they held responsible for the collapse of the country in the Blitzkrieg.
The main purpose of the AK was the overthrow of Nazi rule. They were also opposed to Stalin’s designs of eliminating the legitimate London government and installing his own puppet regime in its place. Soviet propaganda consequently did its utmost to discredit the AK. Despite the fact that the Polish Government in London issued orders stating that collaboration and denouncing Jews to the Nazis carried the death penalty and despite the fact that there were many Jewish fighters in the ranks of the AK, the Resistance was still labelled as anti-Semitic by the Soviets. The Soviets also accused them of colluding with the Nazis, an overwhelmingly cynical charge considering the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 in which Hitler and Stalin agreed to partition Poland between them. Not only did the AK’s desperate 1944 uprising against the Nazis in Warsaw receive virtually no help from the Soviets, but it was dismissed by Stalin as an irresponsible adventure carried out by ‘bandits’.
The AK has also been accused of doing nothing to help the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, whereas they did actually supply arms out of what little they had themselves and tried to breach the wall (see, for instance, ‘Bloodlands’ by Timothy Snyder, p. 291). However, the impression of the AK which emerges from this television series is that they were a band of fascist renegades little better than the German Nazis themselves.
Contemporary Poland has recently been revisiting its wartime history following claims from Polish and Jewish academics about a number of anti-Jewish episodes during and immediately after the war years. There were undoubtedly extremist individuals or even rogue groupings pursuing their own agendas during the war and any instances of ethnic crimes cannot be justified. However, the Israeli institute Yad Vashem notes that of the countries occupied by the Nazis, Poland provided the most people who were prepared to help its Jewish population during the Holocaust. There may exist highly publicized accounts of villagers denouncing their Jewish neighbours, but there are also lesser-known instances of entire villages which hid and sheltered Jewish families and were punished by the Nazis as a result. The courage of a person like Irena Sendler, whose story merited a film fairly recently, and of thousands of others who hid Jewish neighbours or helped them in other ways, was remarkable considering they were risking their own lives and that of their families. It has been often pointed out that Poland was the only occupied country where the penalty for helping Jews was death.
Even critics of the Church who have claimed that some individuals in the hierarchy were guilty of fomenting anti-Jewish feeling in pre-war Poland cannot deny that during the war many priests and nuns risked their lives to save those of their Jewish compatriots. A notable name is that of Matylda Getter, who worked with Żegota, the organization specifically set up by the Government in Exile to aid Jews.
As regards the Polish Resistance itself, many individuals from the movement risked their lives to report on the situation of the Jews in Poland. One such was AK officer Witold Pilecki. The recent honouring of the late Jan Karski by President Obama also served as a reminder of the fact that it was the Resistance which sent an emissary to London to alert the Allies to what was happening to the Jews at home.
The Armia Krajowa deserves better than to be crudely portrayed as a collection of anti-Semitic bandits. Having taken the decision to show the German mini-series to English-speaking audiences, the broadcasters ought to be persuaded that not only would it be useful if a documentary were to accompany the film (there is a Polish documentary to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising due later this year, incorporating wartime footage), but perhaps also a discussion programme could be aired which might include a few authoritative historians, as happened in Poland. It seems overwhelmingly clear that, as far as depicting the Polish Resistance is concerned, the scriptwriters of the film could have made much more of an effort and done a great deal more research.
Michal – Thanks for the defense but I don’t think I need it and I’ll put my facts up against anyone on this post any time.(BTW, I’ve ordered the Karski books from my library – they’re expected in a few days. Have you checked out the ones that I’ve told you about?)
I think some history may be necessary here. I’m probably older than everyone on this post – I’m 64. I’ve been a trial lawyer for close to 40 years so I’m pretty good at doing research and looking at facts as they exist, not as I would like to spin them. In college I majored in History, specifically, the Eastern theater, 1939 – 1945. More importantly, I’m the daughter of survivors. My mother’s family of about 150 people were all killed except for her brother and sister; my father was the sole survivor of over 250 family members. I have never seen a picture of any of my family except for a grandfather and two aunts.
Although fortunate to be born in the United States I spoke no English until I was six years old and I spent my childhood surrounded only by other survivors and their children. I never knew anyone old enough to be a substitute grandparent because they had all been murdered.
JZK – I’m not a fan of FDR either.
Stefan – I don’t need or accept your “facts” although I will concede that the 60 million number was an error, you are correct, it should have been 30 million. But, going with that number and your other numbers, Jews were 10% of the Polish population – of the 3 million pre-1939 Polish Jews, only about 350,000 survived, and they were mostly those Jews who had either been deported to or escaped to, the Soviet Union. That’s equal to just a tad less then 90% of the population that was killed. I’m sure that you can do the math so don’t try to find an equivalence.
The pogrom in Lvov in 1918 was not limited to burning and looting although that’s bad enough (if you don’t think so, imagine your family’s belongings being looted and burned), and, if these soldiers were celebrating their defeat of their fellow citizens, the Ukrainians, why didn’t they go loot and burn their stuff? (Just asking). The 1941 pogrom was brought to you by your friendly Poles and Ukrainians. When the Germans marched in and opened the jails and found that a number of prisoners had been killed just before the Soviets took off, the locals assumed that these people were killed because of the Jews and holy hell broke loose. The Germans basically sat around and watched while the local populace did their work for them. BTW, any statistics on how many Poles were executed by the Polish Home Army for informing on a Jew? I didn’t think so. Entire groups of Jewish partisan bands were turned over to the Nazis by the Polish Home Army (The reason that they had their own partisan groups was because the Polish anti-Semitism was so rife that the odds were equal that they would let a Jew join up or that they would kill him)
Concerning the Polish lady who saved my father’s friend, Hela Radwanska, and who has been honored by Israel as a righteous Gentile, it was she who had nothing but contempt for the way her fellow Poles had acted during the war.
Concerning the church, some of them did take in Jewish children and actually returned them to any surviving family after the war. But very many of these children were converted into the Church and were not returned because they were now “Christian”,
With all due respect to Twarda, to call me a Germanophile (sic) is just plain stupid, but …. my parents’ respective families were for the most part not killed by the Nazis, but by their neighbors. Regardless, I still can’t imagine why you would expect a non-Pole such as myself to accept the “facts” of some revisionist historians.
Voychek – please let me know about any historically documented pogroms that the Jews conducted against the Poles – I would be fascinated to read about them.
Tadeusz – I didn’t even want to get into “Neighbors”.
Let me apologize right now if I’ve left anyone out; if I did it was merely an oversight, no offense intended.
As I stated earlier, I believe that my viewpoint is substantially different than what you are accustomed to hearing.Instead of assuming a lack of knowledge or facts on my part, you should probably take advantage of the opportunity to hear a different type of truth.
Deborah – I don’t know whether you would consider Wikipedia a reliable reference source, but here’s an entry about the Lviv pogroms. I find no mention of Polish involvement.
I actually think most Poles had already been shipped out from Lwów (as it was in their day)by 1941. My father and grandfather were both sent east in 1940.(My grandfather perished in the USSR, my father escaped.)
I will try to get back to you in response to the other points you raise.
“I believe that my viewpoint is substantially different than what you are accustomed to hearing.Instead of assuming a lack of knowledge or facts on my part, you should probably take advantage of the opportunity to hear a different type of truth.”
I was going to conclude with something like that but you took the words right out of my mouth
“The book focuses on the 1941 pogrom in the Polish village of Jedwabne , an event in which a large number of Jews were brutally murdered by their neighbours. Gross caused great offence by claiming Poles were solely responsible for the atrocity.”
Once some Poles were involved it is a crime and shame to the Polish nation. It doesn’t matter who was holding their hands.
While the cases highlighted above may unfairly tarnish the memories of decent Poles, it should also not be forgotten that some Poles were involved in heinous atrocities against Jewish people. There’s no point looking at the piece of the history in isolation that puts you in the best light, you have to look at all the history.
The crimes of those involved, whether they be German, Polish or Russian should never be forgotten. If they are, we should just forget about all history.
“The crimes of those involved, whether they be German, Polish or Russian ”
Just those three nationalities? Anyone else ever commit crimes? No? Ok, got it. So who represented 70% of the top tiers in various Communist police services? Was it Germans, Poles or Russians? Or maybe those were the kinds of crimes that history SHOULD forget (perhaps not even crimes at all)
“Once some Poles were involved it is a crime and shame to the Polish nation”
Why? Collective guilt? Does that only work for Poles?
My wife and I saw this German propaganda on public television in Australia. Very offended by the depiction of AK as a bunch of louts and bogans, when they were mostly honourable men and women who gave up their lives fighting for freedom. Poland has never quite gained enough compensation from Germany when compared to American and Jewish citizens. The Germans hatred of Poles goes back towards the time of Bismarck and is once again demonstrated in this series. Shame on you Germany.
With all due respect, I can say nothing more regarding your command of the facts and your willingness to concede when you are wrong – “res ipsa loquitor.”
-Canadian historian dr Gunnar S. Paulsson wrote that in German-occupied Warsaw there were 3-4,000 blackmailers or betrayers of Jews and of Poles helping Jews. At the same time, he says that 70-90,000 Poles were risking the death penalty by helping Jews survive. You can do the “equivalency” sums yourself.
Nevertheless, the startlingly “ad hominem” revelations about your profession, age and childhood, as well as your admission that you don’t need or accept any new “facts”, convince me to regretfully withdraw from any further attempts to help you clarify your “different type of truth”.
Could it be that you see history as a kind of court case to be skillfully argued by rival attorneys, regardless of the truth? (just asking, really). If that is the case, I am totally outgunned and must leave you to the tender ministrations of “Michal Karski (ex Phalerus, Phineas & Talos)” – who seems to be made of sterner stuff than I.
It saddens me that some people, instead of acknowledging some shared experience with other victims of German and Soviet aggression, see the world in such an adversarial way. I hope that one day, people such as this might open themselves to accept that “different truths” to their own may well be more true than the beliefs that they have comfortably clung to in the past.
Cześć Stefan! Forgive the different names above – just having a bit of fun online; you can be anyone you want to be on the internet but I am actually Michal (no relation to the great Jan Karski, by the way – just happen to have the same surname)
Anyway: “tender ministrations”? Ha! You make me sound like the Dalai Lama. I’m just trying to be as fair as possible to Deborah, I guess. But she definitely needs to check her facts before posting (first rule of journalism, etc, etc).
Having said that, the accusations about the Polish resistance don’t arise out of thin air and this is primarily what we’re talking about here. The German TV depiction was very one-sided (if not downright offensive), but as I said before, not everyone behaved angelically and there were undoubtedly rogue individuals who were no better than criminals. Whether they belonged to the AK is difficult to determine. Where the German TV film goes wrong – obviously – is to present a caricature of the AK, and by extension, all Poles.
The info supplied by Gordon Black (below) is much appreciated and goes to back up what I said before about the AK and the ’43 Ghetto Uprising. I’ve just come across two papers which would probably be of interest to Deborah. I don’t know how to link to them but if you google Joshua D. Zimmerman and Shmuel Krakowski, you should be able to find papers on the subject of the “attitude of the AK towards the Ghetto Uprising” or similar. Both are critical of the AK but not totally unfair. Zimmerman, for example, singles out Rowecki and Bór-Komorowski for some particular criticism, but General Sikorski and Jan Karski emerge with credit. The accusation that help from the AK for the Ghetto Uprising was too little and too late, is offset by the acknowledgement that the AK was unwilling to help known Communist sympathisers from among the Jewish factions. It’s a very complex issue which the ZDF film chose to simplify to the point of ludicrous caricature.
At this point it might be an idea to raise one or two questions about the German film. I won’t be giving too much away to people who haven’t seen it yet since the following clips have been floating around You tube for some time, but look away now if you don’t want to know what happens.
In the sequence with the train, for instance, why are the prisoners in the cattle-cars already in concentration camp uniform? Are they being transferred from one camp to another? Would that actually have happened? And how does the (supposed) partisan know that “większość z nich to Żydzi”? (“Most of them are Jews”) Does that mean that the partisans are willing to sacrifice those on board who aren’t Jewish out of sheer hatred for Jews? Again, would that really have happened?
As I said above, the least the BBC and others can do if they are going to show this is to run a documentary in parallel where the AK would emerge with the credit they deserve.
Seeing how the AK was not invited by the British government to participate in the victory parade after WW2 and also recently how the BBC tried to ruin the EURO comp held in Poland, I would not expect the BBC to try too hard to get to the truth.
Gunnar Paulsson’s secret city. A terrific book – should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand the impact of Polish anti-semitism on the holocaust. Note also that his mother was a holocaust survivor.
an interesting article on the subject by him is here
RE: AK assistance to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Stefan Korbonski was chief of the Polish underground government, the Delegate to the London Government. This excerpt is from pp. 130-131 of Stefan Korbonski’s The Polish Underground State, 1939-1945 (Hippocrene 1978, 1981, ISBN 0-88254-517-5).
7. Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto
Beginning with January 1943, officers of the Home Army and representatives of the Jewish Fighting Organization held meetings to plan for a joint action on both sides of the ghetto walls at the outbreak of the uprising. Three Polish units led by Captain Jozef Pszenny (peudonym: Chwacki), were to break through the ghetto walls, attacking the Germans on the Aryan side, and blowing up the walls with explosives. Since it was assumed from the start that the Ghetto Uprising must inevitably end in disaster, this action was planned only to open the way for the retreat of the jewish fighters.
At this time the Home Army delivered to the Jewish Fighting Organization 1 light machine gun, 2 submachine guns, 50 handguns (all with magazines and amuunition), 10 rifles, 600 hand grenades with detonatiors, 30 kilograms of explosives (plastic, received from the air drops), 120 kilograms of explosives of own production, 400 detonators for bombs and grenades, 30 kilograms of potassium to make the incendiary “Molotov cocktails” and, finally, great quantities of saltpeter to manufacture gun powder. The Jewish Fighting Organization also received instructions on how to manufacture bombs, hand grenades and incendiary bottles, how to build strongholds, and where to get rails and cement for their construction.
“Yes, there were certainly Jews who supported the Communist cause. Have you given any thought to why that was so?
I have given some thought as to why it was so, and came up with a conclusion that Jews have always looked after themselves. If the cooperation with Poland’s occupiers was beneficial for them, there you go. If the “Communist cause” was beneficial for them, there you go. And so on…
“Could it have been the quotas against Jews in the universities? The University students who had gangs formed for the sole purpose of assaulting Jewish students? The signs in the parks saying “Dogs and Jews not welcome? The ostracism of Jews from most social and civil organizations despite the Polish constitution (1919 – 1921) which granted them equal rights?”
As I already said, there certainly had been anti-semitism in Poland before WW2. Have you given any thought as to why?
What Jews had been doing and how they had behaved during the 123-period of Poland’s Partitions? Who was taking over the manors and estates of Poles nobles, members of January Uprising 1963, whose property was confiscated by Tsarist authorities? Have you ever heard of a Jewish banker called Leopold Kronenberg, who seemingly had (part)funded purchase of weaponry for the Uprising, but subsequently (after the Uprising was knocked down) was awarded with “Order of Saint Vladimir” by the then Tsar.
How loyal to Poles and Poland were Jews during the WW1? Have you heard of a concept called “Judeopolonia” or League of East European States driven by the Jewry and Germans?
How did Jews behave during Polish-Ukrainian fights in 1918, mainly for Lwow?
Do you know Polish? Then read this:
“Z tego powodu otrzymali liczne prawa i przywileje, np. przy rozdziale żywności, których nie miała ludność polska. Część z nich masowo denuncjowała Polaków, co w poważny sposób zaostrzyło i tak napięte po pogromie lwowskim stosunki polsko-żydowskie. Jeden z oficerów ukraińskich policji oświadczył, że musiał ” mitygować Żydów w zapale donosicielskim”. Stosunek Żydów do ZURL uległ istotnej zmianie po informacjach masowych pogromach ludności żydowskiej na Ukrainie popełnionych przez oddziały Petlury oraz po mniejszych pogromach dokonanych przez żołnierzy UHA m.in. w Stanisławowie, Złoczowie i Stryju”.
Source: Rafał Galuba “Niech rozsądzi nas miecz…” s.160.
And now the final point: due to their nationalism, lack of loyalty towards Polish state, demographic and economic development, in the Interwar period Jews were emerging as a threat to the Polish nation. Not all of them of course, as there were Polish Jews who considered them as Poles of Jewish descent, some of whom were fierce critics of Jewish nationalism and racism towards “Goyim” people (e.g. poet Antoni Slonimski). That is why there was anti-semitism in Poland, as in other European states.
I shall repeat: there was ANTISEMITISM in Poland before WW2, which was a rational attitude due to the threat from Jewish population. There is no point for the Poles to deny it. We have to speak about it and say it aloud that there was clearly rational background in terms of national security & development for Polish anti-semitism to exist.
BUT we will never allow Germans or Jews to pursue their murky business of so-called “historical policies” to shift part of the guilt for Jewish Holocaust on the Poles, or stigmatising Poles by using the term “Polish death camps” for the likes of Auschwitz. And that would be it regarding the lovely drama called “Unsere Muetter, unsere Vaeter” aka Generation War.
“Are you familiar with the term “res ipsa loquitor”? It’s a legal term for “the thing speaks for itself”. You may give them some thought if you ever ponder why the Jews have a special antipathy toward Poland (and Ukraine).”
No, I am not familiar with this term. But even if I was, it certainly doesn’t give you any credibility in this discussion to use some Latin phrases. ;-)
And I don’t care if Jews have a “special antipathy” towards Poland and Ukraine whatsoever, because to be honest I don’t care about the Jews. I care about Poles & Poland and thus am reacting towards all historical lies and manipulations driven by and/or supported by (some) Jews.
But you’re right, “the thing speaks for itself”. That is why I don’t forecast a bright future for the majority of Jewish nation, as they/you desperately try to maintain the status of “eternal victims”, use sweeping generalisations to stigmatise entire nations for their alleged guilt, and do not have courage to look into your own yard at the same time. Such attitude is demoralising and internally weak, which cannot bear healthy fruits in future.
Nice talking to you too. :-)
Voytek – I wish that I had more time for these discussions – unfortunately, I can only get to them during work breaks. But, here goes,
“And now the final point: due to their nationalism, lack of loyalty towards Polish state, demographic and economic development, in the Interwar period Jews were emerging as a threat to the Polish nation. Not all of them of course, as there were Polish Jews who considered them as Poles of Jewish descent, some of whom were fierce critics of Jewish nationalism and racism towards “Goyim” people (e.g. poet Antoni Slonimski). That is why there was anti-semitism in Poland, as in other European states.”
Jews were citizens of Poland for about 1,000 years so what “nationalism” are you talking about? The only nation that they belonged to was Poland so then how could they be a threat to Poland if they themselves were Polish? (BTW, the word you want to use is “Goyish”, which is an adjective, as in “Gentile” The word “Goyim” is a noun, as in a group of Gentiles).
I shall repeat: there was ANTISEMITISM in Poland before WW2, which was a rational attitude due to the threat from Jewish population. There is no point for the Poles to deny it. We have to speak about it and say it aloud that there was clearly rational background in terms of national security & development for Polish anti-semitism to exist.
What was the Jewish threat to Polish national security and development?
BUT we will never allow Germans or Jews to pursue their murky business of so-called “historical policies” to shift part of the guilt for Jewish Holocaust on the Poles, or stigmatising Poles by using the term “Polish death camps” for the likes of Auschwitz. And that would be it regarding the lovely drama called “Unsere Muetter, unsere Vaeter” aka Generation War.
I don’t know one Jew (and I happen to know a whole bunch of them), who blames the Holocaust on the Poles or think that the death camps were created by the Poles. What they do think is that because of the anti-Semitic atmosphere (conceded by you) in Poland, the Germans felt that there would be less resistance to these camps from the Poles.
Jews were invited into Poland by the Polish king in order to help build the Polish economy. He wasn’t doing anyone any favors.
Hi Deborah, I’m also a bit time-constraint, so will do up a more comprehensive response tomorrow.
PS. Re the notion of Jewish threat for Poland in the Interwar period, as a small “hors d’oeuvre” today, I’ll post a quote that refers to even earlier times (18-19th century), which comes from one of the greatest military strategists of 19th century, Prussian marshal Helmut von Moltke:
“The Jews always and everywhere create a state within a state, and in Poland they have become a deeply rankling wound on the body of this beautiful country.”
[ original in Polish: “Żydzi zawsze i wszędzie tworzą państwo w państwie, a w Polsce stali się głęboko jątrzącą raną na ciele tego pięknego kraju.” ]
But Voytek, the original was not in Polish, was it? Moltke (the elder of the two Moltkes, which is the 19th century one I presume you are referring to here) was proficient in a few languages, but Polish was not one of them.
The original was therefore probably in German. (Just a point of strict accuracy, wouldn’t you agree?)
Here’s the original:
“Indem sie alle Versuche der Regierungen, sie zu nationalisieren, zurückweisen, bilden die Juden einen Staat im Staate und sind in Polen eine tiefe und noch heute nicht vernarbte Wunde dieses Landes geworden”
I don’t mean to be pedantic, but the Polish translation you found adds the word ‘beautiful’ and makes it seem that Moltke was far more complimentary about Poland than he actually was.
Why bring in Moltke?
Even if the Jews were trying to create a ‘state within a state’, remember that in the time of Moltke it would have been either the Austrian, Prussian or Russian state, since the Polish state had ceased to exist at the end of the eighteenth century.
Hi guys – sorry I couldn’t join sooner. Unfortunately, I don’t speak polish and the google translation was gibberish.
I’ve never heard of Moltke, either senior or junior but I do know that over 193 Nobel prize winners are Jewish, or half jewish. Of the 15 Polish Nobel prize winners, 9 were Jewish. So it would seem to me that a lot more Jews brought honor to their respective countries then did the respective Mlotkes.
I did some additional research and I stand corrected. It seems that the Poles who committed the atrocities in Lwow were primarily of Ukrainian extraction. (Being an American I find these distinctions silly. Texas and Mexico are two independent countries, Lwow was part of Poland in 1941, therefore, it’s inhabitants were Poles. And Jason, I don’t think that any group in Poland could have stopped the construction of concentration camps in Poland.
With due respect, hello???? How can a Jewish American lawyer with family from Central Europe not understand the difference between citizenship and nationaliity? Or is someone just having us on? Come on people. Really???
OK one more time just in case she is legit. A Chinese family moves to Italy. Does that make them Italian or Chinese? An Italian family moves to China. Does that make them Italian or Chinese? In 1939 Lwów was in Poland. Did that make its Ukrainians and Jews suddenly Poles? In 1941 Lwów was in Soviet Ukraine. Did that make its Poles and Jews suddenly Ukrainians? In 1942 Lwów was part of the German Reich. Did Poles, Jews and Ukrainians suddenly Germans?
Citizenship and nationality are not the same thing. Research it.
Stefan – As you requested, I did look it up. A “citizen” is defined as a “person entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation; “nationality” is defined as “the status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth or naturalization”.
So in answer to your question, the Chinese family who moved to Italy became Italian when they were naturalized. Their children were born Italian. Sort of like all the Americans who came to the US are Americans and are entitled to all the rights and obligations that being an American citizen implies. No one here really cares where your grandfather was born.
Stefan – may I also add that Judaism is a religion, not a nationality, and one can not be a citizen of “Jewish”, (although one can be a citizen of Israel, where a lot of Jews live, but you don’t have to be Jewish to be a citizen of Israel). So, getting back to my original premise, a quick glance at a dictionary will tell you that being a citizen of a country and being a national of that same country is fairly equivalent and since there were Jews living in Poland for a thousand years and they were not citizens of any other country, those Jews living in Poland were in fact Poles simply because they weren’t citizens of any other country. To wit, your example of the Chinese family moving to Italy. Jews didn’t move to Poland from anywhere else, they had lived there for centuries, so of course they were Poles, they couldn’t be anything else.
For instance, I am a first generation American (I was born here), who is a member of the Jewish religion and whose parents were from what was then known as Poland.
OK Deborah, let’s play, but this is not a game to see who wins by clever argument. Honestly I am trying to help you fill some of the blank pages in an almost stereotypically American worldview. “Everyone is or should be or wants to be American, just like us.”
The world of Central Europe was not defined according to American values. Citizenship and nationality were not synonymous. Census data recorded citizenship (“Obywatelstwo”), nationality (“narodowość) and religious faith (“wyznanie”). Your family might have been recorded as “Obywatelstwo Polskie, narodowość Zydowskie, Wyznanie Mojżeszowskie”. My family would have been classified as “Obywatelstwo Polskie, Narodowość Polska, Wyznanie Rzymsko-Katolickie”. Nothing you wish or believe or hope for can change these historical facts. Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Germans, Armenians, Scots… all were equally POLISH citizens – but not ethnic POLES.
For a more relevant definition of nationality refer to http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationality
“In English, the same word is used in the sense of an ethnic group (a group of people who share a common ethnic identity, language, culture, descent, history, and so forth). This meaning of nationality is not defined by political borders or passport ownership and includes nations that lack an independent state (such as the Scots, Welsh, English, Basques, Kurds, Tamils, Hmong, Inuit and Māori).”
See also http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_identity
“National identity is a person’s identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one’s citizenship status. Yoonmi Lee sees national identity in psychological terms as “an awareness of difference” – “a feeling and recognition of ‘we’ and ‘they'”.
National identity is not an inborn trait; various studies have shown that a person’s national identity results directly from the presence of elements from the “common points” in people’s daily lives: national symbols, language, national colours, the nation’s history, national consciousness, blood ties, culture, music, cuisine, radio, television, etc.
The expression of one’s national identity seen in a positive light is patriotism, and the negative is chauvinism.”
Stefan – I’m not playing, I merely looked up the two terms in a dictionary. As someone who deals in facts I’m still waiting for a response from someone who can explain to me why Jews who had lived in Poland for over a thousand years are not considered Poles. And. if they are not considered Poles why I are you so surprised if they’re not waving the Polish flag?
A Jewish friend relayed a joke from the changing borders of eastern Europe:
“They’ve changed the border. You’re now in Poland.”
“Thank God! I couldn’t stand another Russian winter.”
It should be part of our analysis that Russian-occupied eastern Poland, designated by Russia as the Pale of Settlement, was the land to which many thousands of Jews were driven by the official demographic policy. These Jews did not suddenly become Polish patriots when the border changed, even though Premier Pilsudski granted Polish citizenship to 600,000, but maintained their Russian orientation.
For Polish speakers (or English speakers willing to use e.g. Google Translate) I recommend to have a read of a brilliant interview (Apr 2013) with Polish historian (proficient with the history of Jews in Poland), Prof. Krzysztof Jasiewicz. That seems like a nice supplement to some of the points raised in this discussion here.
NB: the title of the article (“Were Jews guilty themselves?”) was given not by Prof. Jasiewicz, but by the editor (“Focus Historia” magazine). Nevertheless, the interview certainly caused much uproar amongst Jewish officials in Poland (and not only Poland), there was a notification on criminal offense filed to public prosecutor (rejected later on) and Prof. Jasiewicz was released from chairing some department at PAN (Polish Academy of Sciences).
So here’s an excerpt…
“Żydzi byli sami sobie winni?
[ wywiad z prof. Krzysztofem Jasiewiczem opublikowany w kwietniowym numerze „Focus Historia Ekstra” ]
„Skala niemieckiej zbrodni była możliwa nie dzięki temu, »co się działo na obrzeżach Zagłady«, lecz tylko dzięki aktywnemu udziałowi Żydów w procesie mordowania swojego narodu. Tu kłania się bierność powszechna samych Żydów i postawy Judenratów, okrutne żydowskie policje w gettach” – mówi prof. Krzysztof Jasiewicz.
FOKUS: Jak wyjaśnić fakt, że Polskie Państwo Podziemne, istniejące przecież prawie od początku okupacji, praktycznie wyłączyło się ze sprawowania swojej funkcji wobec części obywateli – polskich Żydów? Szczególnie kiedy Żydzi zostali fizycznie oddzieleni przez okupantów hitlerowskich od reszty obywateli polskich. [Piękny przykład pytania, które już samo w sobie zawiera kłamstwo – admin]
Krzysztof Jasiewicz: Nie zgadzam się z twierdzeniem, że ten problem umknął z pola widzenia władz konspiracyjnych. Wystarczy przypomnieć Żegotę, jedyną taką organizację w okupowanej Europie, która była agendą PPP i różne inne starania. Od misji Karskiego po wystąpienie prezydenta Raczkiewicza do Piusa XII (3 stycznia 1943 r.). „Ojcze Święty! – pisał wtedy prezydent o sytuacji w Polsce. – Prawa boskie sponiewierane, godność ludzka zdeptana, setki tysięcy pomordowanych”. A dalej wprost Raczkiewicz apeluje, by „w imię zasad chrześcijańskich [wystosować protest do władz niemieckich] przeciw poniewieraniu mordowaniu Żydów”.
Także Kościół w Polsce w osobie arcybiskupa Sapiehy upominał się o Żydów, zwracając się do hr. Ronikiera, prezesa legalnie działającej Rady Głównej Opiekuńczej, ze słowami: „Konieczna jest interwencja w sprawie żydów, którzy przyjęli katolicyzm i według nauki Kościoła św. należą do jednej z nami wspólnoty wiernych”. Problem represji, także wobec Żydów, poruszał Sapieha w rozmowach z władzami niemieckimi. Gdyby jednak ktoś zauważył, że chodzi tylko o Żydów nawróconych, to przypomnijmy, że społeczeństwo polskie, podobnie jak wszystkie inne europejskie, było podzielone konfesyjnie i od wieków obowiązywała zasada, iż każda konfesja dba o swoich wiernych. Według tej zasady funkcjonowała sfera dobroczynności i inne typy wsparcia (fundacje, przytułki itd.).
A już – ku przypomnieniu – nie słyszałem, by za Polakami w sowieckiej strefie okupacyjnej (1939-1941) na Kresach Wschodnich wstawił się choć jeden rabin. A działy się tam straszne rzeczy. Niestety przy licznym udziale Żydów, co miało w okresie późniejszym wpływ na akcję ratowania tego narodu, bo wieść o postawach naszych Żydów i ich niegodziwościach rozlała się szeroko po całym kraju, gdy Niemcy w 1941 r. odbili Sowietom zagrabione polskie ziemie.
W narracji żydowskiej pojawia się mnóstwo hipokryzji, bo niektórzy Żydzi usiłowali ratować się, przechodząc na katolicyzm, sądząc, że Kościół nie powinien wnikać w szczerość nawrócenia, lecz dawać im jedynie stosowny glejt na przeżycie. Tymczasem ludzie wierzący, a zwłaszcza hierarchowie nie mogą robić szopki z wiary, chociaż przecież tysiące Żydów skorzystało z fałszywych metryk chrztu wydawanych przez polskich duchownych. Chciałbym też zauważyć, że sami Żydzi, bardzo wpływowi w niektórych państwach, prawie nic dla swoich współbraci nie robili, biernie przyglądając się ich zagładzie i zapewne kalkulując, co by na tym można było ugrać.
Jest jeszcze jeden motyw w różnych wypowiedziach i publikacjach żydowskich. Zawsze wszystko, co dla nich robiono, robiono źle lub było to o wiele za mało. Przypominają mi się sceny z paru filmów lub książek, gdzie i w związku z przygotowaniami do powstania w getcie warszawskim padają w dialogu zarzuty, że Polacy – naturalnie antysemici – nie dają Żydom broni, tak bardzo potrzebnej do walki. PPP nie miało wprawdzie magazynów broni w Puszczy Kampinoskiej czy innych miejscach, ale w pojmowaniu Żydów to bez znaczenia. Im się wydawało, że mamy tysiące sztuk rozmaitej broni. No a skoro oni umyślili sobie powstanie, to my im wszystko oddajemy – jeśli tego nie robimy, to tylko dlatego, że byliśmy antysemitami. Ten chory tok rozumowania żydowskiej narracji jako takiej wywołuje zjawisko projekcji – swoje zło i zaniechania Żydzi przerzucaj ą na innych, zwłaszcza na Polaków.”
Full article: http://www.bibula.com/?p=67936
I would not quote this gentleman – he seems quite shady – if only because he appears to blame the Jews (or their alleged passivity) for the extent of the Holocaust – this is awful and bizzarre – one can just as easily turn this around and ask what did the Polish government do for the 100,000 Poles murdered in the USSR in 1937? Answer, nothing as doing something would have created difficulties with the Soviet Union – so there you go, those Poles were passive…
This documentary made by Paweł Łoziński told me much more then any academia books or forum exchanges
Rob, I’m sure this has given us all pause for thought. A very sad and grim story. My sympathies to Mr Grynberg.
But I’m afraid it doesn’t actually say anything about the AK as such, only that there were murderous individuals among the general population. Unfortunately, there may have been such individuals among the partisans, no-one is disputing that. The other villagers in the above film were mostly decent people. The act of the single criminal should not be allowed to overshadow their decency.
Also, most of the villagers were obviously afraid to incriminate anyone. How old is this film? Has anyone been prosecuted, do you know?
Sorry – just noticed: 1992
The average Polish Person is racist by nature. It’s no fault of their own. It’s because they have been kicked around like rag dolls for centuries, resulting in the isolationist xenophobic people we have today.
Hahaha, all you need to do is replace “Polish” with “Jewish” person and your statement will be perfectly correct… :-))
Jews have been kicked around since ancient times (Egypt, Assyria), then thrown out from Spain & Portugal in Middle Ages, then thrown out from England (seemingly they were engaged in counterfeiting English coin in own mints), then thrown out from France, Germany. In modern era thrown out from Tsarist Russia (XIX-century “pogroms”) and then XX-century Holocaust.
Only the Poles (Polish kings and aristocracy in the Middle Ages & Renaissance) were stupid enough to accept Jewry to settle down in the Kingdom of Poland. That was a huge fault on the Polish side, which we have been paying for until this day.
PS. And while searching for surrounding racism, don’t forget to also look into Talmud as to how the attitude of Jews towards “Goyim” people is explained.
Voytek – thank you for coming out
Deborah, you are most welcome, as I truly enjoy being the one who exposes humans’ hypocrisy. ;-)
You may enjoy exposing people ‘s compassion more. Try reading “resistance – Jews and Christians who defied the nazi terror” by nechama Tec. She’s a reputable historian and scholar who haas some very nice things to say about Poles.
Here are the rules:
1. You cannot be in anyway critical of people who by their choice of religion are Jewish. Being in anyway critical of Jewish people is “Anti-Semitism”
2. Do not ever mention the appalling mis-treatment of one Semitic Peoples (the Palestinians) by another Semitic Peoples (the Israelis). That is also Anti-Semitism.
3. The Poles who do not own major International news and media outlets are fair game however for all types of slander and accusations.
(blend of Polish, Austrian, Jewish, Tatar races)
Matthew-Polish, Austrian and Jewish are not races. The first two are nationalities, the last is a religion. Knowing nothing of Tatars I will say nothing about them. Perhaps we’d all be better off if we concentrated on our similarities instead of our differences (although I must admit that I get a charge out of Voytek).
(By way of reply to Matthew) – Matthew, you raise a valid point. I don’t mean to be unfair to Voytek by describing him as ‘anti-Semitic’ (as I said, would ‘anti-Jewish’ be any better, or even ‘Judaeo-critical’ or similar?), but he is definitely badly disposed towards Jewish people in general and I don’t think he would deny it.
(PS – before I forget, love the joke from Gordon Black)
But, yes, it’s got to the stage where it seems that a breath of criticism about anything Jewish means instant blacklisting, particularly if you’re in the academic world, in many cases.
However, I don’t think it’s at all helpful bringing in Palestine, as often seems to happen in these discussions. That’s another issue entirely and we should concentrate on this particular German film.
(Again, before I forget, kudos to Deborah, who continues to engage in constructive debate and is prepared to admit the occasional blooper, and even Voytek, who many will disagree with, continues to be civilized, if perhaps slightly abrasive).
Back to the subject of the ZDF film. I’ve been reading some reviews (it’s been shown already in some countries – as Matthew points out, Down Under for example), and the point that a few of them make is that it would have been very unlikely for the five friends to have included one who was Jewish in the year 1941. So if it’s not ‘wiarygodny’ (credible) in that respect, why should it be any more ‘wiarygodny’ about the depiction of the AK (Armia Krajowa)?
Michal the compulsive name-changer
And I’m not thinking here of K. Jasiewicz (as quoted by Voytek), whose views seem indefensible, but rather someone like Norman Davies, who was accused of ‘right-wing revisionism’ for suggesting that the crimes of Hitler and Staling might have been on an equivalent moral level.
For what it’s worth, my own opinion is that the Nazis perpetrated the most brutal crime in history by the sheer scale, callousness and industrial nature of their attempt to wipe an entire people from the face of the earth, sparing no-one, not even women and children.
Then again, if you think about the stories of prisoners being buried alive in concrete while constructing dams for Stalin’s pet projects, it’s a close-run thing. And of course there are the thousands – millions even – who froze to death or died of hunger and disease in the depths of the USSR(my mother’s parents among them).
Here’s a particularly brilliant piece from one of the great thinkers (and writers) of our times:
Just to clarify:
Jasiewicz got a hammering for some pretty provocative pronouncements and it seems the only people prepared to defend him are Voytek here and some commentators online (who would probably call themselves nationalists).
Davies, on the other hand, got a pounding from one or two Jewish-American academics for not so much being critical of anything Jewish as such, but merely for pointing out that were was some Jewish involvement in some crimes of the post 1945 Communist regime in Poland, a stance which was immediately taken to imply an anti-Jewish position.
The further away we are from the horrible events of the thirties and forties, the more we can hope for objective histories, but, let’s face it, there will be more people getting their history from TV serials than from reading academic volumes and this is why a distorted view of the Second World War, seen through a kind of wishful thinking contemporary German prism, will do us all a disservice in the long run.
So Voytek, tell me how your Talmudic studies explained the Jewish attitude toward “Goyim” (Goyim is simply the Hebrew word for “nations”, in case you were wondering). And Voytek, please tell me about YOUR studies, not what you heard or what you were told. And please, provide me with the citation.
Wow, you have such a noble Polish first name Mr Braun.
I think Adolf Hitler Braun would suit your personality better.
I am half German and half Polish. I believe my best qualities come from my father’s side. Strength, Intelligence, wit and moral decency. My mother gave me a name.
You sir are a self-hating Pole. I am, however, glad that you have strength (how much can you lift?), “Intelligence” (I note it’s capitalized, does that mean something, like, maybe being at least 2 deviations from IQ 100? – in any event, VERY impressive) and, of course “moral decency” – this goes without saying, we were able to note that simply based on your statement that a Pole “is racist by nature… [having] been kicked around like a rag doll”. Do you like your name? Or would you have preferred Tristan, Heinrich, Werner, Richard or something, you better able to express in one word you Strength, Intelligence and Moral Decency.
Your comment that the Germans put the majority of the concentration camps in Poland because they would meet less resistance from the Poles is offensive. The Nazis put the majority of the concentration camps in Poland because 1) The majority of Europe’s Jews were in Poland. It was logistical pragmatism. Why transport people further than needed? 2) Even though the German nation did not rise to help the Jews but supported Nazi policy, Hitler did not want every European Jew to die in Germany. Why? If the German nation knew that millions of Jews were being placed in Ghettos, gassed, starved and shot perhaps they might question or even oppose such genocide. Better to keep most of that unpleasant business as far away as possible just in case.
Whilst some few thousand Poles undoubtedly turned Jews into the Nazis in Poland they did not police the ghettos, they did not police the concentration camps, they did not form part of the death squads shooting Jews, they did not conduct pogroms against the Jews. Again, there is absolutely NO historical evidence that Poles participated in the Lwow pogroms. It was Ukrainians. Watch the film “In Darkness” for credible historical portrayal of the Ukrainian allegiance to the Nazis. Instead, tens of thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect Jews. No country suffered more in WW2 than Poland. As many Polish gentiles died as Jews in Poland. Poland was the only occupied European country to have the instant death penalty for helping a Jew. Poland had the biggest underground army of all Nazi occupied countries and this was under the command of the Polish Government in Exile. This Govt, and it’s AK, DID NOT SUPPORT THE NAZI OCCUPIERS in their treatment of the Jews. Remember it was Jan Karski, a Polish gentile courier, who risked his life to smuggle out information about the Holocaust to the West. What did the West do about it? Nothing. What did the Jewish community in the USA do about it? Nothing. When the Head of the Supreme Court in the USA, a Jew, listened to Jan Karski tell him about the Warsaw Ghetto he said “I refuse to believe it”.
I quote Halik Kochanski “The Germans relied on the Jewish police, most of whom had been lawyers before the war, to coerce their brethren into the cattle trucks. There were 2,000 (TWO THOUSAND) Jewish Policemen in the Warsaw Ghetto, and their conduct has been uniformly condemned by witnesses to their work. One inmane wrote ‘These policemen became merciless… and they’d go from door to door pulling people out’. Emanuel Ringelblum wrote ‘Jewish policemen distinguished themselves with their fearful corruption and immorality. But they reached the height of viciousness during the resettlement. They said not a single word of protest against this revolting assignment to lead their own brothers to slaughter’. Their conduct was so reprehensible that on 29 October 1942 the commandant of the Jewish police Jakub Lejkin was assassinated.”.
Deborah, out of those 2,000 policemen only “20 to 30 paid for their moral courage with their lives”. Kochanski goes on “It has been estimated that at the end of 1941 the gestapo controlled 15,000 (FIFTEEN THOUSAND) Jewish agents in the General Government. The Jewish Militia led by Abraham Gancwajch assisted the Germans in finding Jews who were living in hiding. There was also the Society of Free Jews which spied on the Jewish underground, the ZOB… Polish archives have an incomplete list of 1,378 (Jewish) Jewish collaborators and betrayers.”
Regarding the attitude of Poles to Jews Kochanski says “The obstacles against the rescue of the Jews were formidable. One major difficulty was the nature of the majority of Polish Jews themselves: around 80% (EIGHTY PERCENT) were unassimilated and therefore did not speak Polish, looked different and dressed differently ….Therefore, they would have had to remain for years totally concealed from sight, unable to leave their hiding places”. Michael Zylberberg an assimilated Jew in hiding in Warsaw said “the religious ones inhabited a world of their own, and few had friends among the Poles, who might have saved them”.
Deborah I could go on and on. I even found a statistic of 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 Poles estimated to have been helping Jews. This is in comparison to the few thousand known to have betrayed Jews. Of course a Pole betraying Jew was reprehensible but do the stats… the Poles were no less resistant to the Nazi death machine than the Jews were (or any other occupied nation for that matter. Remember that the largest concentration of European Jews were in Poland. If you did a comparison of Jews in all occupied countries based on index rather than pure numbers I’m sure you will find that the Poles were no better or no worse than any other nation in both helping and betraying Jews).
I suggest before you go any further in accusing Poles of somehow aiding the Nazis in their genocide of Jews by their lack of “resistance” that you take a good, hard and honest look at ALL of the facts and ALL of the truths not just the ones that you desire to hang onto.
An impartial observer reading these comments will probably notice that some individual positions seem to be inflexible.
At one extreme there’s Voytek, happily anti-Semitic and apparently unrepentantly so. At least, he’s honest, I guess. (A bit counter-productive, though, posting reams of Polish text which will leave English speakers baffled – and probably even more baffled if they try ‘google translate’).
At the other extreme is Deborah, who manages to avoid admitting that she may have made a factual error with her wild accusations about Poles and the Lviv pogrom. Confusing Poles with Ukrainians could be compared to, say, confusing Texans with Mexicans (or perhaps someone else can find a better contrast/comparison). Also Deborah still insists on the ‘fertile ground’ theory, as if the Polish population under German occupation were somehow capable of resisting the construction of the camps. Disappointing to think that neither of these extreme positions seems to be shifting much.
But I suppose we’re all still talking to each other in a fairly civilized manner so that can only be a good thing.
BTW – I don’t mean to use the description ‘anti-Semitic’ lightly, but how can else can I describe someone, who, by their own admission, doesn’t care about Jews and certainly seems to want to highlight whatever is negative about an entire people. Does ‘anti-Jewish’ sound any less harsh?
Anyway the blame game doesn’t make much sense. In 21st century we already know thanks to Alice Miller, the reasons of holocaust and how to prevent anything similar. Yes, we do!
It is interesting that almost all rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust who were interviewed reported that their parents had attempted to discipline them with arguments and support rather than punishment. They were not beaten. People given early affection and support are quick to emulate the sympathetic and autonomous natures of their parents. Common to all the rescuers were self-confidence, the ability to make immediate decisions and the capacity for empathy and compassion with others. Seventy percent of them said that it only took them a matter of minutes to decide they wanted to intervene. Eighty percent said they did not consult anyone else.
The neurobiological research makes it easier for us to understand the way Nazis like Eichmann, Himmler, Hoss and others functioned. The rigorous obedience training they underwent in earliest infancy stunted the development of such human capacities as compassion and pity for the sufferings of others. Their total emotional atrophy enabled the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes imaginable to function “normally” and to continue without the slightest remorse to impress their environment with their efficiency in the years after the war. Dr. Mengele could make the most cruel experiments with Jewish children in Auschwitz and then live for thirty years like a “normal,” well adjusted man.
The upbringing manuals of the day described physical demonstrations of affection such as stroking, cuddling and kissing as indications of a doting, mollycoddling attitude. Parents were warned of the disastrous effects of spoiling their children, a form of indulgence entirely incompatible with the prevalent ideal of rigor and severity. As a result, infants suffered from the absence of direct loving contact with the parents, which also caused certain areas of the brain to remain underdeveloped.
As a regular visitor to Krakow of 6 years now I just wanted to add what a fascinating conversation. Cannot say I understand all the points made but most are very thought provoking and give a great insight.
As a UK citizen I always find the nationalism from Poland/Russia/Ukraine side quite fascinating yet scary and I have seen it several time in Krakow. Keep up the interesting flow of facts and comments.
Hello Folks, how’s this lovely Friday going with you? :-)
Ok, I might be struggling a little bit to follow up on the ongoing discussion here, but as I “gave my word” to reply today, here it goes…
– “Jews were citizens of Poland for about 1,000 years so what “nationalism” are you talking about?”
Slight correction: it’s not 1000 years, but 918-920 years, as the first reported case of a group of Jewish immigrants (i.e. exiles from Germany & Bohemia at the time of Crusades) dates back to AD 1096, or – according to other source – 1098.
BTW, the info in this article on Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Poland ) regarding the first permanent Jewish community in the city of Przemysl in AD 1085 seems incorrect as far as Poland is concerned, as between 1031 and 1340 the Przemysl Region was part of Kievan Rus/ Principality of Galicia-Volhynia.
My theory in terms of “Jewish threat” is as follows: as long as (a) it had been beneficial for the Jewish people in Poland, and (b) Poland was a powerful country (until ca. mid 17th century, then the Commonwealth’s decline started), Jews may have been good/loyal citizens of Poland. However, when the “tide changed” for Poland’s statehood (NB: certainly not without own responsibility of the Poles themselves), I think the Jews followed the new “masters” to look after themselves and take advantage of the “opportunities” (like the failed January Uprising 1863) to further improve their welfare and extend their wealth, often at the expense of ethnic Poles.
In the Interwar period (1918-39) the Jewish population in Poland certainly wasn’t homogenous, i.e. we had plenty of Polish-speaking Jews in “mainland” Poland (some of them considered themselves Poles of Jewish descent) and Yiddish/Russian-speaking Jews in Kresy (Eastern Poland), whose relationship with and loyalty to the Polish state was very loose, so to say. That subsequently brought very negative consequences both for the Poles and Jews themselves in the Kresy during WW2 (Soviet occupation at first and then German invasion).
However, the demographic & economic development of Jewish population throughout Poland was causing a genuine threat for the ethnic Polish people. I have no time at the moment to write essays about that phenomenon, all info is easily available on the Internet. But a simple example of the state of things at the time was a casual (obnoxious, albeit close to truth) Jewish saying towards the Poles, which you might have heard of: “Our tenement houses, your streets” (Nasze kamienice, wasze ulice).
Summarising the above, the economic & demographic factor was the main reason of Polish anti-semitism before WW2.
– “What was the Jewish threat to Polish national security and development?”
See above, plus if you look at the foreign (mainly Soviet) spies charged for treason by the pre-War Polish state, those were mainly Jews (for instance, the father of Adam Michnik, Ozjasz Szechter).
Besides, as history shows, the issues between the indigenous population and national/ethnic minorities have been exploited by Poland’s occupiers, to the largest extent by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union in 20th century, but also by Habsburg Austria during the Partitions.
– “Jews were invited into Poland by the Polish king in order to help build the Polish economy. He wasn’t doing anyone any favors.”
Sure, I’m not saying that the Polish kings or aristocracy were doing a charitable work allowing for Jewish settlements, although religious freedom and human tolerance were utmost respected in then Poland (and subsequently Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). Mind you, there had been no instance of any religious war in then Poland (as opposed to e.g. France of England) and the members of various religions found their safe haven and peacefully co-existed in our country (“Respublica Serenissima” – Najjasniejsza Rzeczpospolita).
@Jason the Argonaut
– “But Voytek, the original was not in Polish, was it? Moltke (the elder of the two Moltkes, which is the 19th century one I presume you are referring to here) was proficient in a few languages, but Polish was not one of them.
The original was therefore probably in German. (Just a point of strict accuracy, wouldn’t you agree?)”
Yes, I would and do agree. I meant Polish as the original in terms of discussing stuff related to Poland here.
– “I don’t mean to be pedantic, but the Polish translation you found adds the word ‘beautiful’ and makes it seem that Moltke was far more complimentary about Poland than he actually was.”
Well, I would have to do more research to find the original German transcript (and not the re-issue or subsequent issue).
– “Why bring in Moltke?”
He seemed to have some affection to Poles/Poland (at least at early stage), as he is also quoted as saying that “before the Partitions Poland had been one of the most civilised countries in Europe”.
[Poland, a historical sketch (1885)] https://archive.org/details/cu31924097313237
“Here are the rules:
1. You cannot be in anyway critical of people who by their choice of religion are Jewish. Being in anyway critical of Jewish people is “Anti-Semitism”
2. Do not ever mention the appalling mis-treatment of one Semitic Peoples (the Palestinians) by another Semitic Peoples (the Israelis). That is also Anti-Semitism.
3. The Poles who do not own major International news and media outlets are fair game however for all types of slander and accusations.”
Good one. :-) Well, that’s one of the outcomes of bending towards the poisonous mindset of political correctness (mainly in the European Union).
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” – Voltaire
Good quote from Voltaire as far as it goes, but the beauty of living in a democracy is that we can and do criticize those who rule over us. Even shadowy international corporations come in for criticism and scrutiny.
But I wouldn’t go around quoting Voltaire too much, though. He was a great fan of Catherine of Russia – she who was happy to take part in carving Poland out of existence.
Voytek – if you think that the majority of Polish Jews were wealthy you are deluding yourself, also, your arguments against the Jews loses credibility. If everything was so rosy for the Jews why would they turn to communism, which they did (and which quite a few Poles supported also and for the same reasons.). You can’t have it both ways – either the Jews were trying to bring in communism or else they were all wealthy.. Please pick a side and be consistent; I feel that you haven’t yet thought your anti-semitism through and I expect more of you than that as I’ve already told a few friends about “Voytek, my little Polish anti-Semitic pen pal”. (The “little” is not meant to be derogatory, I just picture you as being very young).
Well, I certainly don’t think all the Jews living in then Poland were wealthy and already stated that the community wasn’t homogenous, however FROM EITHER SIDE (wealthy elites and poor “lower” class attracted by the “Communist cause”) their activity seemed against the interest of Polish nation. Certainly, apart from those integrated Jews, who considered their Polish (and not Jewish) identity as the main one.
If you read the statements given by Jewish elites in late 19th century about them wanting to become new Polish “aristocracy”, or the previously quoted bit on the concept of “Judeopolonia” state emerged during WW1, then the anti-Polish approach looks quite clear.
Also, I can ask yourself in return: have you carefully thought over your anti-polonism?
Hi Voytek – to respond in reverse order.
– I can ask yourself in return: have you carefully thought over your anti-polonism?
I am not an anti-Polonist – both my parents were born in Poland and each of their families had lived in the geographic area defined as Poland for centuries. But for Hitler, I would have been born Polish myself. What I am is anti anti-semites or anti any group that demonizes another group as a whole. I don’t even hate present day Germans.
– If you read the statements given by Jewish elites in late 19th century about them wanting to become new Polish “aristocracy”, or the previously quoted bit on the concept of “Judeopolonia” state emerged during WW1, then the anti-Polish approach looks quite clear.
– Please tell me where I can find the alleged statements given by Jewish “elites” in the 19th century abouth them wanting to become the new Polish “aristocracy”. It seems strange that they would want to become the “aristocracy” of a country that didn’t exist at the time, but even if they did, so what? Why is it a bad thing for a country’s citizen’s to want to reach the highest political rungs of that country? Re “Judeopolonia”, I was unable to find the reference to it in this thread, perhaps it was written in Polish which I unfortunately don’t understand. The only thing that I could find was on Wikipedia, which states: “Judeopolonia is an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory positing future Jewish domination of Poland”. Are you sure that you really want to rely on an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory to justify your position? Voytek, as I said in a previous post, I expect more nuanced form of anti-Semitism from you.
– Well, I certainly don’t think all the Jews living in then Poland were wealthy and already stated that the community wasn’t homogenous, however FROM EITHER SIDE (wealthy elites and poor “lower” class attracted by the “Communist cause”) their activity seemed against the interest of Polish nation. Certainly, apart from those integrated Jews, who considered their Polish (and not Jewish) identity as the main one.
Voytek, as I’m sure you know, there were many more ethnic Polish communists than Jewish Communists pre- WWII. They even had their own organization, Komunistyczna Partia Polski, the Communist Party of Poland. This organization was very active in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and also one of the major reasons that Stalin failed to help the Uprising. The Polish communists did not want to be beholden to the Soviet Union, they wanted their own style of Communism (much like the Chinese). By failing to help the Polish Communists, Stalin managed to kill two birds with one stone – the Nazis had to expend energy killing the Poles and the leadership of the independent Polish Communist party was destroyed. (The same rationale as the Katyn Forest massacre – get rid of the potential leaders so that it would be easier to co-opt Poland after the war.
And, why do you think that Jews are unable to be Jewish and love their country? I don’t know one Jew who wouldn’t come to the defense of the USA were Israel to attack her. It’s sort of like asking who do you love more, your mother or your daughter?
Suggestion – Michal recommended the Karski book which I have just started reading. It’s a great book and you may find it enlightening.
I think his point was more that love of country is irrelevant – what is a country but a place for a given group of people – what is relevant instead is love of a people – the best way to love a people is to marry them – have children with them and raise them in that people’s traditions. Or leave their house. Now some people think that they can redefine a “people” to make this change palatable to themselves. That is why we have these internationalist movements – communism or christianity. In a very real sense, the Poles also wanted to be left alone – whether by the “others” who would come to their country but not live with them (the Germans were the first of these btw) or by the others that would come only to try to change them (communists or today’s EU-mongers).
Why be so negative? Voi siete forse pessimista? What you need is a sense of balance. Yes, there were Jewish criminals. For instance, the person responsible for the arrest, torture and execution of AK hero Fieldorf was Jewish, but does that taint the entire Jewish population? True, we need to able to point to instances of individual przestępcy (criminals) without immediately being accused of being anti-Semitic.
However, you also need to be more aware of the important Jewish contribution to Polish life over the years. Deborah has already mentioned Nobel prize laureates. I would add Ludwik Zamenhof, the person who invented Esperanto, the great and brilliant pianist Artur Rubinstein, an ambassador for the Polish cause if ever there was one. The list goes on.
This year will see the 70th anniversary commemorations not only of the Powstanie Warszawskie (the ’44 Warsaw Uprising), but also of the victory at Monte Cassino. To my knowledge – and please someone correct me if I’m wrong – no Jewish delegation has ever been invited by the Polish government to the commemoration ceremonies. This year could set a precedent.
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