A tangled web
“The first thing I saw were people running everywhere, rushing into and out of houses, carrying stun guns, rifles, pistols, and long ornate knives … They seemed half mad. I saw a beautiful young girl, with criminal eyes, carrying a dagger still covered in blood. She displayed it like a trophy. This was the ‘cleaning up’ team, which was obviously performing its task very conscientiously. … Here the ‘cleaning up’ had been done with machine guns, then hand grenades. It had been finished off with knives, anyone could see that. The same thing in the next room, but as I was about to leave, I heard something like a sigh. I looked everywhere, turned over all the bodies, and eventually found a little foot, still warm. It was of a little girl of ten, mutilated by a hand grenade, but still alive … everywhere it was the same horrible sight … [The population of the village] had been deliberately massacred in cold blood for, as I observed for myself, this gang was admirably disciplined and only acted under their leaders’ orders.”
The village of Deir Yassin was subsequently resettled by Jews, who took over the homes of the Palestinians who had fled for their lives. It was renamed Givat Shaul Bet and is today part of Jerusalem. The opening ceremony was attended by cabinet ministers and chief rabbis. Streets were named after the Irgun and Sternists who took part in the attack. The cemetery was bulldozed and, like hundreds of other Palestinian villages, Deir Yassin was wiped off the map. There are no markers, no plaques, and no memorials at Deir Yassin. Ironically, the slaughter took place within sight of the national memorial for Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem. According to Menachem Begin, the leader of the Irgun at the time, this horrific deed served the future state of Israel well. In his book The Revolt, Begin boasted, “Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of ‘Irgun butchery,’ were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated.” The dream of an Israel without Palestinians had been sowed and reaped in abundance. To paraphrase Holocaust historian Lucy S. Dawidowicz, who played a considerable role in shaping attitudes about the Poles in the West, “the [Jews] celebrated their independence with pogroms against the [Palestinians].” The Palestinians were driven out of their ancestral homes and continue to be dispossessed today. Their rightful claims to restitution of their seized property and return to their homeland are ignored. Special tours of Deir Yassin led by surviving underground fighters are organized on the anniversary of the “battle.” See Daniel A. McGowan and March H. Ellis, eds., Remembering Deir Yassin: The Future of Israel and Palestine (New York: Olive Branch Press/Interlink Publishing Group, 1998); Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem! (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), 310–14; Benny Morris, “The Historiography of Deir Yassin,” Journal of Israeli History,vol. 24, mo. 1 (2005): 79–107. There were many more massacres and outrages perpetrated against the Palestinians at that time but they are generally forgotten. Elias Chacour, for example, described how the Israeli Defence Forces descended on his Melkite Catholic village of Biram in 1948 and drove the villagers away at gunpoint. Their homes were looted and they were told: “the land belongs to us now and you have no business here.” They took refuge in the nearby Palestinian village of Gish which was deserted except for one or two old people. Its residents had also been herded away by Jewish soldiers and later two dozen bodies of villagers were found in a mass grave. Although the residents of Biram obtained a court order in 1953 allowing them to return to their village, they were prevented from doing so at gunpoint by the Israeli army. On September 16, 1953 the Israeli air force and army in a joint operation bombed the village until it was completely destroyed. At the same time it was announced that the land belonging to the villagers had been expropriated by the state for establishing Jewish settlements. The Israeli government has consistently blocked any attempt to restore the land to its rightful owners, thus perpetuating the ethnic cleansing campaign. See Elias Chacour, Blood Brothers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Chosen Books, 1984).
Only recently have a few Israeli historians began to challenge the accepted Zionist narrative of the Jews having fought a “heroic” war of independence in 1948 against vicious enemies from within and without. In fact, the evidence points overwhelmingly to ethnic cleansing that was well-planned (rather than isolated incidents of retaliation) with the intent of creating a homogenous Jewish state. The 1948 war provided opportunity to carry out the logic and intent of political Zionism, namely the establishment of a state for Jews without Palestinians or as few as possible. According to Benny Morris, a leading Israeli historian of Israel’s War of Independence, recently declassified documents in the archives of the IDF reveal that in 1947, Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders concluded that the Jewish state could not come into being in the territory assigned to Jews by the United Nations without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. “In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves. This resulted in “far more Israeli acts of massacre that [Morris] had previously thought,” including “many cases of rape [that] ended in murder” and executions of Palestinians who were lined up against a wall and shot (in Operation Hiram). The dismantling of Palestinian society, the destruction of Palestinian towns and villages, and the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians were not unavoidable consequences of the war declared on the emerging Jewish state by Arab countries. Rather, as Benny Morris repeatedly confirms, it was a deliberate and planned operation intended to “cleanse” (the term used in the declassified documents) those parts of Palestine assigned to the Jews as a necessary pre-condition for the emergence of the Jewish state. Remarkably, Morris justifies the war crimes: “There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. … The need to establish this [Jewish] state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them.” See Henry Siegman, “Israel: The Threat from Within,” The New York Review of Books, February 26, 2004. Attacks by the Haganah in late April 1948 led to a mass exodus from Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias, and Safad. Massacres and expulsions also occurred at Dawaymeh, Tantura, Khisas, Sa’sa, Nasr al-Din, Ein Zeitun, Tirat Haifa, al-Bi’na, Dayr al-Assas, Nahf, Safsaf, Jish, Saliha, Hula, Eilabun, Arab al Muwassi, and Majd al Krum. Many of these massacres occurred toward the end of 1948 after the international war was over. There were at least twenty brutal massacres (more than fifty civilians killed in each) and one hundred smaller massacres. According to a former director of the Israeli army archives, “in almost every Arab village occupied by us during the War of Independence, acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes.” Benny Morris notes that “almost all the massacres followed a similar course: a unit (of the IDF) entered a village, rounded up the menfolk in the village square, selected four or ten or fifty of the army-age males … lined them up against a wall and shot them.” By June 1, two weeks after the Jews declared statehood, some 370,000 Palestinian refugees had fled from Jewish-held territory. The principal cause was “Jewish military attack, or fears of further attack.” Another effect of the 1967 war was further ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian and Syrian populations, followed by Jewish colonization of Jerusalem, Gaza, West Bank, Golan Heights, and Egyptian Sinai. After the fighting had ended, Israel bulldozed thousands of homes in the West Bank and prodded the Palestinians to flee to Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. According to United Nations’ estimates, the war created 325,000 new refugees. The United States, unfortunately, played a rather sordid role in the unfolding of this tragedy by, among other measures, turning Israel into a proxy for its weapons sales. See Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2006); Baylis Thomas, The Dark Side of Zionism: Israel’s Quest for Security through Dominance (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2009), especially 28–30, 68–69, 85. In order to continue Israel’s colonization of the West Bank, moral cover is needed, hence the portrayal of the Palestinians as aggressors and terrorists. It is not at all surprising that those who are the most vociferous in their condemnation of Poles for anti-Jewish incidents of the Stalinist era have the least to say about the fate of the Palestinians during this same period. The motivation behind their rather selective condemnation of extremist nationalist acts is thus suspect.
As was the case in the United States for Blacks at that time, Arabs in Israel also had to sit at the back of the bus. Flare-ups between Jews and Arabs, most of them non-lethal, were plentiful over the years but are generally hushed up by the Israeli authorities. For example, a Jerusalem Post Foreign Service report filed by Bill Hutman, reported the following occurrence of May 24, 1996:
Hundreds of Jewish worshippers went on a rampage in the Old City Friday morning [just before Sabbath], attacking Arab bystanders and damaging Arab property, following all-night prayers for the Shavuot holiday at the Western Wall.
“The rioting was unprovoked, and we still haven’t figured out what motivated it,” Jerusalem Police spokesperson Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.
The rioters broke windows and damaged merchandise at stores just outside Damascus Gate. They also turned over vendors’ stalls and pushed and shoved Arab bystanders. Many merchants quickly closed the shutters on their stores to avoid damage. Ben-Ruby said no injuries were reported.
The Jewish rioters also threw stones at Arab vehicles on Sultan Suleiman Street, outside Damascus Gate. About 25 complaints were filed with police for damage caused by rioting, representing only a small number of the actual instances, Ben-Ruby said.
The unrest caught police by surprise, coming after a quiet all-night study-and-prayer service at the Western Wall, attended by thousands.
The vandalism broke out about 8 a.m., as a crowd of worshippers leaving the Western Wall made its way through the Old City.
Dozens of police were called to the scene and clashed with the rioters. There were no arrests [sic].
Police sources said the rioting was apparently provoked by a group of right-wing Jewish extremists in the crowd of worshippers, who began attacking Arab targets.
An Arab driving through a Jewish neighbourhood in Acre during Yom Kippur was enough to “provoke” an attack by Jewish residents, and an outburst of gangs of Jews and Arabs swarming through the streets for days, smashing shop windows, destroying cars, and throwing rocks at each other, with dozens of rioters being injured in the clashes, as well as the torching of about one dozen Arab houses. Not surprisingly, Jewish politicians accused the Arab minority of staging a “pogrom.” See Oakland Ross, “Israelis hope ethnic tensions isolated”, Toronto Star, October 14, 2008. Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories, who are bank-rolled by Israel and Jewish organizations around the world, are a constant source of antagonism. When, in an unusual move, Israeli police and soldiers forcibly evicted some 250 Jews from an illegally acquired residence in the West Bank City of Hebron in December 2008, enraged Israeli settlers stormed through the city seeking revenge for the evacuation by attacking and shooting Palestinian civilians. Rampaging settlers also set fire to at least three Palestinian homes and nine cars. Others threw rocks at passing cars. See Oakland Ross, “Settler evictions stir riots,” Toronto Star, December 5, 2008. Such incidents can be multiplied.
Lest American readers become too smug reading these accounts, it is important to recall in this context the racial turmoil that beset the United States during most of the Twentieth Century. Although downtrodden Blacks wielded no political or economic power, and although the country was not in a state of civil strife and police protection was readily available, Blacks frequently fell victim to large-scale racist violence perpetrated by White Americans. During the “The Red Summer of 1919” alone there were 26 race riots in which the White population turned on Black Americans and destroyed their communities, murdering and injuring thousands of Blacks. The most infamous of these was the Chicago Race Riots, in which white mobs made foray after foray into black neighborhoods, killings and wounding 365 black residents and leaving another 1,000 homeless, but most of these incidents are long forgotten. The authorities made little effort to stem this tide. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the end of May 1921, incited by the press and by politicians, the city’s Whites massacred several hundred innocent Blacks and burned down most of the Black section of the town leaving thousands homeless. In January 1923, mobs of White Americans descended on a Black community in Rosewood, Florida, massacring between 40 and 150 people. Houses were torched and looted, and the community was eradicated. Black churches were set on fire throughout the state. These are just a few of many communal attacks on Blacks during that dark and hidden period of American history. See Brent Staples, “Unearthing a Riot,” The New York Times, December 19, 1999; Remembering Rosewood, Internet: </history.html>. Anti-Black riots continued to occur unabated after the Second World War. When Blacks went to use the public swimming pools for the first time in St. Louis, Missouri, on Independence Day in 1949, “Outside the pool fence, a mob of some 200 restless white teen-agers collected. Police arrived in time to escort the Negroes safely from the park. But all that afternoon, fist fights blazed up; Negro boys were chased and beaten by white gangs. In the gathering dusk, one grown-up rabble-rouser spoke out: ‘Want to know how to take care of those niggers?’ he shouted. ‘Get bricks. Smash their heads, the dirty, filthy —.’ Swinging baseball bats, the crowd shuffled in mounting excitement. Then someone called out: ‘There’s some niggers!’ The crowd cornered two terror-stricken Negro boys against a fence. Under a volley of fists, clubs and stones, the boys went down—but not before one of them whipped out a knife and stabbed one of his attackers. In a surge of fury, the nearest whites kicked and pummeled the two prostrate bodies, turned angrily on rescuing police with shouts of ‘Nigger lovers.’ Within an hour the crowd had swollen to number more than 5,000. In the park along bustling Grand Boulevard, busy teen-age gangs hunted down Negroes. Other ones climbed into trucks and circled the park, looking for more targets. … By 2 a.m., when hard-pressed police finally cleared the streets, ten Negroes and five whites had been hospitalized, one critically injured. Next day Mayor Joseph M. Darst ordered both outdoor pools closed, and ruled that St. Louis’ pools and playgrounds would stay segregated.” See Time Capsule 1949: The Year in Review, As Reported in the Pages of Time (New York: Time Inc). Yet no national memorial has been erected in the United States to mark this shameful legacy, and no apologies are offered by American officials for the shameful behaviour of the American people. Other minorities did not fare much better, especially in the 19th century when Chinese people were demonized across the American West. A recent study by Jean Pfaelzer, Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans (New York: Random House, 2007), cites records of more than 100 round-ups, pogroms, expulsions and ethnic cleansings (to use the author’s various terms) in which white Americans united to drive the Chinese out of their communities from 1850 to 1906. They used warnings, arson, boycotts and violence to achieve their goal. In many circumstances, labour organizations led the campaigns, casting the Chinese as competitors for jobs and depressors of wages. But the middle-class civic leaders, as in case of the city of Tacoma (including the mayor, chief of police, two councilmen, a probate court judge and the president of the YMCA), often acted in alliance with workers. Over 200 Chinese communities and thousands of Chinese were forced from their homes. White citizens were rounded up Chinese immigrants at gunpoint by the thousands, marched them out of town and burned their homes to the ground, under the rallying cry “California for Americans!”
The British track record is, unfortunately, not much better. Only in June 2010 did the British Prime Minister acknowledge and apologize for the massacre by British troops of 14 peaceful Catholic civil rights marchers (17 more were wounded) in Londonderry on January 30, 1972, after the release of a scathing report that unequivocally condemned the British actions and exculpated the protesters. The report established beyond doubt that what had long been suspected: that none of the men killed in 1972 had provoked the soldiers in any serious way or possessed any bombs or pistols; that the soldiers had no reason to be firing, and shot the victims from secure positions, in some cases while the victims were cowering, crawling away, waving surrender flags or being treated for injuries. None of the victims were shot accidentally and the only reason that the victims were shot was because they were Catholics. “What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable,” David Cameron told the House of Commons. The Saville Report, which completely reversed an earlier British government report which said that some of the victims had been armed terrorists, came as a result of a concession for a neutral inquiry into Blood Sunday when the IRA disbanded in 1998. See Doug Saunders, “The Blood Sunday Report: After 12 Years and 5,000 Pages, Report Leads to British Apology for Bloody Sunday Events,” The Globe and Mail, June 16, 2010. Thus the cover-up lasted for almost forty years and British justice fared far worse than Stalinist Poland’s response to the Kielce massacre.
562 Cariewskaja, Teczka specjalna J. W. Stalina, 421; Anna Cichopek, “The Cracow Pogrom of August 1945: A Narrative Reconstruction,” in Zimmerman, ed., Contested Memories, 221–38; Anna Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, 11 sierpnia 1945 r. (Warsaw: Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, 2000), 78, 81; Jan Tomasz Gross, “In the Aftermath of the Kielce Pogrom: The Special Commission of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland,” Gal Ed, no. 15–16 (1997): 121. Gross also mentions the following localities were Jews were attacked by the authorites: Bytom, Chrzanów, Bielawa, Legnica, Strzegom, Wałbrzych, Szczecin, and Wieluń. Two Jews who returned to Wielkie Oczy in May 1945 were killed by militiamen, one of whom was later caught and sentenced to a prison term. See the account of Kazimierz Sawiński in Kazimierz Sawiński in Krzysztof Dawid Majus, Wielkie Oczy, Vielkochi, Velyki Ochi (Tel Aviv: n.p., 2002); this account is also posted at </Memories/KS.htm>. The security police and militia were also responsible for the mistreatment and murder of Germans in Nieszawa.
563 Contrary to Jan T. Gross’s thesis, the fear of loss of Jewish property and a perceived threat to material gains allegedly acquired by Poles during the war was by no means a central cause of the violence directed against Jews in the postwar period. Official records from that period confirm that Jews returning to Kielce, and elsewhere, were usually able to reclaim their property without any significant difficulties. For the most part they then sold their recovered properties to Poles before leaving Poland. Historian Stanisław Meducki summarizes the findings of his research as follows: “By the strength of a special law enacted 6 May 1945 ‘On Abandoned Real Estates’, a strongly simplified inheritance procedure was applied. Jews could recover their property: former apartments, workshops, firms, on condition that they had not been seized by the Nazis. Courts had to examine every motion within 21 days. In Kielce, Jews did not have any difficulties with recovering their own property. As a rule, every motion was settled favorably and quickly. In most cases, the property was taken over by the relatives of the former owners, whose rights were ascertained on the grounds of witnesses’ testimony. Witnesses, most often Poles, neighbors or acquaintances from before the war, testified before the court willingly, without reluctance or prejudice.” See Marta Pawlina-Meducka, ed., Z kroniki utraconego sąsiedztwa: Kielce, wrzesień 2000/From the Chronicle of the Lost Neighborhood: Kielce, September 2000 (Kielce: Kieleckie Towarzystwo Naukowe, 2001), 202. See also Urbański, Kieleccy Żydzi, 180–90; Krzysztof Urbański, “Żydzi w Kielcach w latach 1939–1945,” in Bukowski, Jankowski, and Żaryn, eds., Wokół pogromu kieleckiego, vol. 2, 41–43. There is no evidence that any pogrom, whether in Kielce, Kraków or Rzeszów, was inspired by disgruntled Poles who had lost or feared losing property to Jews. (For example, the majority of the several hundred civilians—out of a population of 300,000—who too part in the riots in Kraków in August 1945 were poorly educated, unskilled, and unemployed; half of those arrested were newcomers to the city who were housed in former Jewish buildings, while the other half were state officers. Anna Cichopek, cited earlier, inflated the Jewish toll in Kraków to five, whereas there is only one confirmed death. See Julian Kwiek, “Wydarzenia antyżydowskie 11 sierpnia 1945 r. w Krakowie: Dokumenty,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytut Historycznego, nr 1 (2000): 77–89. The riots were confined to the Kazimierz district and did not affect the vast majority of the thousands of Jews who resided throughout the city.) Property disputes accounted for only a small part of the violent conflicts which Jews experienced, and numerically they constituted a relatively small number of cases, perhaps a few hundred. More often, throughout Poland, Poles came forward as witnesses on behalf of Jews in property claims filed by Jewish survivors, as borne out by the documents cited below concerning Jedwabne and other places. A Jew from Lublin, who was able to recover several properties with the assistance of helpful Poles, states: “At that time, there was a Minister in the Polish government by the name of Somershteyn [Emil Sommerstein, chairman of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland in 1944–1946]. Any surviving Jew whose property had been taken by others received from the Minister a confirmation of ownership to help him recover the property. … In those days a law was enacted, that any Jew who had a store before the War which passed into foreign hands could get it back.” See Shiye Goldberg (Shie Chehever), The Undefeated (Tel Aviv: H. Leivick Publishing House, 1985), 215, 220. In 1945–1948, Jews brought 291 court applications for the return of property in Zamość alone. See Adam Kopciowski, Zagłada Żydów w Zamościu (Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, 2005), 203. Jews brought 240 such applications in the municipal court in Włodawa, and were able to recover real estate, houses, farm buildings, livestock, carriages, and utensils. See Adam Kopciowski, “Anti-Jewish Incidents in the Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II,” in Holocaust: Studies and Materials, vol. 1 (2008): 188. The return of property also proceeded smoothly in Radom, where several hundred properties were returned to the prewar Jewish owners or their heirs residing both in Poland and abroad. See Sebastian Piątkowski, Dni życia, dni śmierci: Ludność żydowska w Radomiu w latach 1918–1950 (Warsaw: Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych, 2006), 268–71. For a well-documented study regarding the situation in Szydłowiec see Grzegorz Miernik, “Losy Żydów i nieruchomości pożydowskiej w Szydłowcu po II wojnie światowej,” in Jacek Wijaczka, ed., Żydzi szydłowieccy: Materiały sesji popularnonaukowej 22 lutego 1997 roku (Szydłowiec: Muzeum Ludowych Instrumentów Muzycznych w Szydłowcu, 1997), 135–66. For individual examples from other localities see the following memoirs and accounts: Oscar Pinkus, A Choice of Masks (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1969), 6, 23, 75 (Łosice); J. Berglas and Sh. Yahalomi (Diamant), eds., Sefer Strizhuv ve-ha-seviva (Tel Aviv: Former Residents of Strzyzow in Israel and Diaspora, 1969), 255ff. (Strzyżów); D. Shtokfish, ed., Sefer Drohiczyn (Tel Aviv: n.p., 1969), 42ff. (English section) (Drohiczyn); Stanisław Zabierowski, Rzeszowskie pod okupacją hitlerowską (Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1975), 189–90 (Kolbuszowa); Isaiah Trunk, Jewish Responses to Nazi Persecution: Collective and Individual Behavior in Extremis (New York: Stein and Day, 1979), 142 (Zarszyn near Sanok); Sefer zikaron le-kehilat Mielec: Sipur hashmadat ha-kehila ha-yehudit (New York: Mielec Yizkor Book Committee, 1979), 43ff., translated as Remembering Mielec: The Destruction of the Jewish Community, Internet: </yizkor/mielec/Mielec.html> (Mielec); Julius L. Baker and Jacob L. Baker, Yedwabne History and Memorial Book (Jerusalem and New York: Yedwabner Societies in Israel and in the United States, 1980), 98 (Goniądz); Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger, Until We Meet Again: A True Story of Love and War, Separation and Reunion (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1983), 286 (Hrubieszów); Goldberg, The Undefeated, 204, 211–15, 220–21 (Lublin and vicinity, Kraków); Samuel P. Oliner, Restless Memories: Recollections of the Holocaust Years (Berkeley, California: Judah L. Magnes Museum, 1986), 182 (Gorlice); Edith Weigand, Out of the Fury: The Incredible Odysssey of Eliezer Urbach (Denver: Zhera Publications, 1987), 111 (Skoczów); Rachel Leizerson, My Story (Melbourne: n.p., 1990), 89 (Szczuczyn); Interview with Sheila Peretz Etons, April 30, 1990, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Chełm); Alexander Bronowski, They Were Few (New York: Peter Lang, 1991), 42 (Lublin); Arnold Geier, Heroes of the Holocaust (Miami: Londonbooks, 1993), 219 (Skarżysko); Sara Rose, My Lost World: A Survivor’s Tale (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1993), 289 (Kraków); Peretz Hochman, Daring to Live (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense Publishing House, 1994), 222 (Warsaw); Ryszard Juszkiewicz, Losy Żydów mławskich w okresie II-ej wojny światowej (Mława: Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Ziemi Mławskiej, 1994), 144 (Mława, with incidents of property claim irregularities); William Kornbluth, Sentenced to Remember: My Legacy of Life in Pre-1939 Poland and Sixty-Eight Months of Nazi Occupation (Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press; London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1994), 147 (Tarnów); Elinor J. Brecher, Schindler’s Legacy: True Stories of the List Survivors (New York: Penguin, 1994), 364 (Kraków); Denise Nevo and Mira Berger, eds. We Remember: Testimonies of Twenty-four Members of Kibbutz Megiddo who Survived the Holocaust (New York: Shengold, 1994), 53 (Falenica near Warsaw); Interview with Feliks Horn, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., dated July 19, 1994 (location not specified); Interview with Braunia Sztul, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., dated May 19, 1995 (Lublin area); Mark Verstandig, I Rest My Case (Melbourne: Saga Press, 1995), 204 (Mielec); Abram Korn, Abe’s Story: A Holocaust Memoir (Atlanta, Georgia: Longstreet Press, 1995), 169 (Krośniewice, Lipno); Joseph Freeman, Job: The Story of a Holocaust Survivor Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger, 1996), 102–103 (several properties in Radom); Edward Reicher, Une vie de Juif (Paris and Montréal: L’Harmattan, 1996), 273 (Łódź); Doba-Necha Cukierman, A Guardian Angel: Memories of Lublin (East Bentleigh, Victoria: Ester Csaky, 1997), 194–95 (Lublin); Barbara Stanisławczyk, Czterdzieści twardych (Warsaw: ABC, 1997), 142 (Chełm), 251 (Radom); Cunge, Uciec przed Holocaustem, 333 (Łódź); Janusz Niczyporowicz, “Ciemność z jasnością,” Rzeczpospolita (Warsaw), May 20–21, 2000 (Brańsk); Jan Prochwicz, Żydzi skawińscy (Skawina: MK, 2000), 84 (Skawina); John Munro, Bialystok to Birkenau: The Holocaust Journey of Michel Mielnicki (Vancouver: Ronsdale Press and Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, 2000), 13, 221–22 (Wasilków); Samuel P. Oliner, Narrow Escapes: A Boy’s Holocaust Memories and Their Legacy (St. Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House, 2000), 153 (Mszanka and Bielanka near Gorlice); Hania Ajzner, Hania’s War (Caulfield South, Victoria, Australia: Makor Jewish Community Library, 2000), 218 (Warsaw); Dunwill, Trzy kolory mojego życia, 172, 184 (Siedlce); Joseph Rosenberg, My Name is Józef Nowak: The Life and Times of Joseph Rosenberg (Toronto: Lifestories, 2001), 56–57 (Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski); Jerzy Jacek Bojarski, ed., Ścieżki pamięci: Żydowskie miasto w Lublinie—losy, miejsca, historia (Lublin and Rishon LeZion: Norbertinum, Ośrodek “Brama Grodzka–Teatr NN,” Towarzystwo Przyjaźni Polsko-Izraelskiej w Lublinie, Stowarzyszenie Środkowoeuropejskie “Dziedzictwo i Współczesność,” 2002), 77 (Lublin); Paweł Machcewicz and Krzysztof Persak, eds., Wokół Jedwabnego (Warsaw: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2002), vol. 2 (Dokumenty), 376–84ff. (Białystok, Łomża, Jedwabne), 943 (Radziłów); Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, To Life: 36 Stories of Memory and Hope (Boston, New York, and London: Bulfinch Press, 2002), 82 (Rypin); Nelli Rotbart, A Long Journey: A Holocaust Memoir and After: Poland, Soviet Union, Canada (Montreal: The Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies and The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, 2002), 94 (Sionna near Kałuszyn); testimony of Yonah Lumko of Radzyń, Yad Vashem Archives, 03/8971, noted in Daniel Blatman, “Strangers in their Own Land: Polish Jews from Lublin to Kielce,” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 15 (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2002), 345 (Blatman, who has evidently not researched the topic, claims that such cases were “evidently few in number”); Chodakiewicz, Between Nazis and Soviets, 249, 304 (Kraśnik, Janów Lubelski); Mordechai V. Bernstein, ed., The Zamosc Memorial Book: A Memorial Book of a Center of Jewish Life Destroyed by the Nazis (Mahwah, New Jersey: Jacob Solomon Berger, 2004), 736, 738 (Zamość); Gutman and Bender, eds., The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, vol. 4: Poland, Part 1, 175 (Wizna), 185 (Lubaczów), 191 (Sonina near Sieniawa), 200 (Kalisz), 279 (Kazimierówka near Dynów), 282 (Białystok); Gutenbaum and Latała, eds., The Last Eyewitnesses, vol. 2, 65 (Kraków); Stella Zylbersztajn, A gdyby to było Wasze dziecko? (Łosice: Łosickie Stowarzyszenie Rozwoju Equus, 2005), 68 (Łódź); Henryk Schönker, Dotknięcie anioła (Warsaw: Ośrodek Karta, 2005), 295 (Oświęcim); Testimony of Salomea Gemrot, February 2005, Internet: <> (Staroniwa near Rzeszów); Anna Pyżewska, “Losy ludności żydowskiej w województwie białostockim w latach 1944–1949—wybrane problemy,” in Wijaczka and Miernik, eds., Z przeszłości Żydów polskich, 290 (Knyszyn); Rivka and Israel Teyer, eds., The Red Forest: As Narrated by Izhak Shumowitz (Raanana, Israel: Docostory, 2005?), 224 (Zambrów); Joseph Freeman, Kingdom of Night: The Saga of a Woman’s Struggle for Survival (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2006), 115 (Zamość); Joseph Freeman, Kingdom of Night: The Saga of a Woman’s Struggle for Survival (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2006), 103 (Radom); Glassner and Krell, eds., And Life Is Changed Forever, 174 (Łosice); Kurek, Poza granicą solidarności, 219 (Wereszczyn near Chełm); Kopel Kolpanitzky, Sentenced to Life: The Story of a Survivor of the Lahwah Ghetto (London and Portland, Oregon: Vallentine Mitchell, 2007), 190–91 (Białystok); Marian Skwara, Pruszkowscy Żydzi: Sześć dekad zamkniętych zagładą (Pruszków: Powiatowa i Miejska Biblioteka Publiczna im. Henryka Sienkiewicza w Pruszkowie, 2007), 172, 185, 233–34 (Pruszków); Jerrold Jacobs, ed., The Book of Zgierz: An Eternal Memorial for a Jewish Community of Poland (League City, Texas: JewishGen, 2007), and Memorial Book Zgierz, Internet: </yizkor/zgierz/zgierz.html>, 769–71 (Zgierz); Abram and Sonia Hurman, as told to Halina Birenbaum, Pod osłoną nocy: Wspomnienia z lat 1939–1945 (Kraków and Oświęcim: Fundacja Instytut Studiów Strategicznych and Państwowe Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau w Oświęcimiu, 2007), 122 (Huta-Dąbrowa near Żelechów); Mordecai Paldiel, The Righteous Among the Nations (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem; New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 176 (Białystok); Emily Taitz, Holocaust Survivors: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press, 2007), vol. 2, 326 Radziejów); Freiberg, To Survive Sobibor, 422 (Chełm), 432 (Łódź); Elżbieta Rączy, Pomoc Polaków dla ludności żydowskiej na Rzeszowszczyźnie 1939–1945 (Rzeszów: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2008), 206 (Pilzno), 209 (Przemyśl); Anna Dąbrowska, ed., Światła w ciemności: Sprawiedliwi Wśród Narodów Świata. Relacje (Lublin: Ośrodek “Brama Grodzka–Teatr NN,” 2008), 59, 61 (Bełżyce); Blaichman, Rather Die Fighting, 161 (Lubartów), 166 (Pińczów); Bill Tammeus and Jacques Cukierkorn, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust (Columbia, Missouri and London: University of Missouri Press), 80 (Kalisz); Grzegorz Berendt, “Ocalona na Kaszubach,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 3 (2009): 76 (Chmielno); Cecylia Gruft, “W imię Boga,” Zagłada Żydów: Studiai i materiały, vol. 5 (2009): 444 (Przemyśl). There are countless more documented examples of property being reclaimed by their Jewish owners in towns like Klimontów, Sandomierz, and many others not mentioned earlier. In the Białystok region, there was even a Jewish mafia-like ring that worked closely with Jews in the security office to fraudulently “reclaim” Jewish property; the property of the deceased Jews was then sold to Poles and the profits distributed among the ring members. See Jerzy Kułak, “Szaleniec i inni,” Karta (Warsaw), no. 15 (1995): 121–22; Krzysztof Persak, “Akta postępowań cywilnych z lat 1947–1949 w sprawach dotyczących zmarłych żydowskich mieszkańców Jedwabnego,” in Machcewicz and Persak, eds., Wokół Jedwabnego, 379–87; Jerzy Kułak, “Faber i S-ka—krótka historia pewnego przekrętu,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 6 (June 2002): 55–58, 80–83; Anna Pyżewska, “Losy ludności żydowskiej w województwie białostockim w latach 1944–1949—wybrane problemy,” in Wijaczka and Miernik, eds., Z przeszłości Żydów polskich, 289. Anna Pyżewska (ibid., 289–91) also describes rather frequent cases of individual Jews misappropriating Jewish property by making fraudulent claims as alleged “lawful heirs” of the deceased owners. There are many reports of Polish courts increasingly becoming aware of such Jewish “rackets,” which alarmed the Central Committee of Jews in Poland and belied the notion that Jews were fearful of reclaiming their property. A Jewish criminal ring operated in cahoots with the security office in Warsaw searching for gold hidden away by Jews at the start of the war. See Joanna Żelazko, “Złoto dla Bezbieki,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 10 (October 2003): 66–67. In Częstochowa, the surviving Jews emptied the ghetto of large quantities of furniture that remained and sold it to the Poles. See the account of Leo Scher, Loiusiana Holocaust Survivors, The Southern Institute for Education and Research, posted at <http://www.tulane.edu/~so-inst/scher.html>. Even Jewish communal property was restored to the Jewish community and sold, or simply sold privately. For example, the Jewish community sold the synagogue property in Zabłudów for the sum of 130,000 złotys. A copy of the authorization for this transaction issued by the Voivodship Association of Jewish Communities can be viewed in the Internet at </users/bartman/zabludow/datner%20document>. Shiye Goldberg states: “I met a Jew from Levartow [Lubartów] who was engaged in selling synagogues, now abandoned.” See Goldberg, The Undefeated, 227. A number of Jews transferred their property to their Polish rescuers out of gratitude before emigrating from Poland. See, for example, Israel Gutman and Sara Bender, eds., The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, vol. 4: Poland, Part 1 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2004), 185 (Lubaczów), 191 (Sieniawa), 200 (Kalisz), 282 (Białystok). According to Mark Verstandig, who served as a legal counsellor with the Ministry of Security, comprehensive legislation for the restitution of private property which had been confiscated by the Nazis (this was for the most part Jewish property), was blocked by Mieczysław Mietkowski, the deputy minister, who was himself Jewish. See Verstandig, I Rest My Case, 218. Disrepect for property rights, especially property belonging to “reactionaries”, “bourgeois” and other class eniemes, was encouraged by the Communist regime. However, Poles did rush to take over abandoned Jewish properties. In Biała Rawska, abandoned Jewish homes remained empty throughout the war, and it was only with the encouragement of the Communist regime that they were occupied by the local poor. See Stanisławczyk, Czterdzieści twardych, 59. In the 1960s the government of Poland paid $40 million to the United States government as settlement for property claims of Polish Jews who had immigrated to the United States. Notwithstanding the payment of $177,000 to the Theological Seminary Yeshivath Chachmey in Michigan in 1964 as compensation for a yeshiva building in Lublin taken over by the state, the Jewish community in Poland advanced a further claim on that same property and secured its return in kind in 2001. When word of the double indemnity got out, the leaders of the Jewish community openly opposed the idea of returning the property and pressed on the Polish authorities to sanction this injustice. See “Jesziwa podwójnie zwrócona,” Kurier Lubelski, September 5, 2008. Another example of unust enrichment at the expense of the Poles was the return in 2002, to the Jewish community in Poznań, of communal properties which, before the war, were indebted to the municipality and state for several times in excess of their value. See Wojciech Wybranowski, “Oddali z nawiązką,” Nasz Dziennik, August 28, 2002. There have also been bogus property and compensation claims made by private individuals in recent years.
564 See, for example, Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust, 187; Kamiński and Żaryn, eds., Wokół pogromu kieleckiego, vol. 1, 360; Bukowski, Jankowski, and Żaryn, eds., Wokół pogromu kieleckiego, vol. 2, 44.
565 American Jewish Year Book, 5708 (1947–1948), vol. 49 (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1947), 390.
566 See, for example, Stanisławczyk, Czterdzieści twardych, 178, which mentions the case of a Jewish woman who did not want to return to the rightful Polish owner items looted from the latter’s home during the war. See also Hurman, Pod osłoną nocy, 124.
567 Archiwum Akt Nowych, GUKPPi W 3, t. 1/7, k. 6: “Polska drugą ojczyzną,” Gazeta Ludowa, October 1, 1946.
568 Krzysztof Kaczmarski, “Pogrom, którego nie było—wydarzenia w Rzeszowie 11–12 czerwca 1945 r.: Glosa do Strachu J. T. Grossa,” Glaukopis, no. 11–12 (2008); Krzysztof Kaczmarski, “Pogrom, którego nie było,” Nasz Dziennik, June 27, 2008; Krzysztof Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było:Rzeszów 11–12 czerwca 1945 r. Fakty, hipotezy dokumenty(Rzeszów: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Oddział w Rzeszowie, 2008).
569 Zbigniew Romaniuk documents two cases in Brańsk where the motive was robbery. See Romaniuk, “Brańsk and Its Environs in the Years 1939–1953: Reminiscences of Events,” in The Story of Two Shtetls, Part One, 89–90, 102. Some examples of robbery in the Kraków voivodship can be found in Julian Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy w Województwie Krakowskim w latach 1945–1949/50 (Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka, 1998), 25.
570 For example, the murder of four members of the Berger family in Połaniec near Staszów in April 1945 is wrongly attributed to the Home Army; in fact, it was the deed of drunken Soviet soldiers, a fact covered up in the official incident report. Interestingly, the commander of the public security office in nearby Sandomierz, which had carriage of the investigation, was a Jew named Captain Hipolit Duliasz. See Dovid Schnipper, “My Town Plontch,” in Elhanan Erlich, ed., Sefer Stashov (Tel Aviv: Former Residents of Staszów in Israel and in the Diaspora, 1962), 633ff., translated as The Staszów Book, Internet: </Yizkor/staszow/sta633.html>; compare with “Odpowiedź na apel Mariana Wojciechowskiego z USA w sprawie stosunków polsko-żydowskich w Połańcu, a szczególnie w sprawie okoliczności śmierci żydowskiej rodziny Bergerów w kwietniu 1945 r.,” Zeszyty Połanieckie: Czasopismo Towarzystwa Kościuszkowskiego w Połańcu (2005): 6–23.
571 Piotr Szczepański (Zbigniew Romaniuk), “Pogromy, mordy i pogromiki,” Kurier Poranny, April 12, 1996 (no. 87/1691), edition AB. See also Zbigniew Romaniuk, “Brańsk and Its Environs in the Years 1939–1953: Reminiscences of Events,” in The Story of Two Shtetls, Part One, 29, 90; Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust, 115–16. Characteristically, a Jewish survivor turns these Jewish robbers into victims of the Polish Home Army: “Josl’s brother Itchale, was a happy seventeen year old teenager. … They both survived the war but soon after Itchale Broida got killed by polish [sic] AKA, Josl was no more the same man. He left Poland with a curse on his lips …” See Goldberg, A Sparkle of Hope, 171. For examples of Jews who returned to rob or denounce their Polish benefactors after the Soviet entry, sometimes in their new capacity as Communist militia see Tadeusz Bednarczyk, Życie codzienne warszawskiego getta: Warszawskie getto i ludzie (1939–1945 i dalej) (Warsaw: Ojczyzna, 1995), 308–309.
572 Zygmunt Klukowski, Red Shadow: A Physician’s Memoir of the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland, 1944–1946 (Jefferson, North Carolina and London: McFarland, 1997), especially 12–122.
573 Adam Kopciowski, “Anti-Jewish Incidents in the Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II,” in Holocaust: Studies and Materials, vol. 1 (2008): 184–85.
574 Zbigniew Romaniuk documents numerous cases of robberies, assaults and murders perpetrated on Poles by criminal groups, including Jewish ones, the security police and Red Army soldiers in the Brańsk region during this period. See Romaniuk, “Brańsk and Its Environs in the Years 1939–1953: Reminiscences of Events,” in The Story of Two Shtetls, Part One, 89–98. In the small town of Czyżew, nine Poles and nine Jews were killed in retaliations against Communist collaborators in March 1945. See Kazimierz Krajewski and Tomasz Łabuszewski, “W odpowiedzi ‘damom’,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 6 (June 2006): 103.
575 In a private letter sent by a Jewish woman in Poland to an acquaintance in the West, the author wrote in May 1946: “In the so-called Aryan society there are very many people who help Jews, [and] defend them…” See Zofia Borzymińska, “‘I ta propaganda zapuszcza coraz nowe korzenie…’ (Listy z Polski pisane w 1946 roku),” Kwartalnik Historii Żydów, no. 2 (2007): >>.
576 A Jew who returned to Węgrów, his home town, opened a restaurant that was patronized by Poles and prospered. When he was assaulted by a security policeman (a customer), “The restaurant grew quiet. The patrons advised me to go to the commanding officer and tell him what happened. The man had assaulted me for no reason. They even offered to testify on my behalf.” See Shraga Feivel Bielawski with Louis W. Liebovich, The Last Jew from Wegrow: The Memoirs of a Survivor of the Step-by-Step Genocide in Poland (New York, Westport, Connecticut, and London: Praeger, 1991), 156.
577 Korboński, The Jews and the Poles in World War II, 72–86; Piotrowski, Poland’s Holocaust, 58–65; Mirosław Piotrowski, Ludzie bezpieki w walce z narodem i Kościołem: Służba Bezpieczeństwa w Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej w latach 1944–1978—Centrala, 2nd edition (Lublin: Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej, 2000), 313–45; Jerzy Robert Nowak, Zbrodnie UB (Warsaw: Maron, 2001). The activities of the security office were directed not only against the underground, but also against the intelligentsia and Catholic Church. Julia Brystygier (née Prajs or Preiss), who joined the Fifth Department of the Ministry of Public Security in 1945, and between 1950 and 1954 was its director, stated: “In fact, the Polish intelligentsia as such is against the Communist system and basically, it is impossible to re-educate it. All that remains is to liquidate it. However, since we must not repeat the mistake of the Russians after the 1917 Revolution, when all intelligentsia members were exterminated, and the country did not develop correctly afterwards, we have to create a system of terror and pressure that the members of the intelligentsia would not dare to be politically active.” See Czesław Leopold [Arkadiusz Rybicki] and Krzysztof Lechicki [Antoni Wrega], Więźniowie polityczni w Polsce 1945–1956 (Gdańsk: Młoda Polska, 1981), 20. In 1947, Brystygier issued instructions detailing measures including intelligence operations to be implemented against the Catholic Church and its clergy. Under her tenure, around 900 Catholic priests and several bishops were arrested, and numerous Church organizations were destroyed. See Leszek Żebrowski, “Brystygierowa Julia,” in Encyklopedia “Białych Plam” (Radom: Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne, 2000), vol. 3, 191–94. Jewish organizations were not targeted in this way.
578 According to a survey of survivor accounts in the archives of the Jewish Historial Institute in Warsaw, of the 54 recorded attacks on Jews only ten or so indicated that the attackers were members of the Polisdh armed underground. The survey also found that the violence against the Jews reached its highest intensity in the first half of 1945, and that the attacks subsided around the end of 1945, which raises issues as to why a pogrom occurred in Kielce in July of 1946, which was clearly unconnected to the Polish underground, despite Communist and Jewish claims to the contrary. See Magdalena Siek, Aleksandra Bańkowska, and Agnieszka Jarzębowska, “Morderstwa Żydów w latach 1944–1946 na terenie Polski na podstawie kwerendy w zbiorze 301 (Relacje z Zagłady) a Archiwum ŻIH,” Kwartalnik Historii Żydów, no. 3 (2009): 356–67.
579 Konrad Kozłowski, “Wspomnienie o ojcu,” Glaukopis, no. 7–8 (2007): 169–70.
580 Gilbert, The Holocaust, 789, 817.
581 The lack of police records and investigation, typically found in other cases, is surprising given Feldhendler’s profile and connections. In addition to the many versions of his death cited by Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust, 164, 179 (the perpetrators are identified as “AK,” “NSZ” or “mobs of anti-Semtic Poles”), according to Dov (Berek) Freiberg, an escapee from Sobibór, Feldhendler went to a village near his home town to negotiate the return of some possessions left with a farmer. When he did not return to Lublin that same day, his friends went out to look for him and found him dead at the side of the road, not far from the village. See Freiberg, To Survive Sobibor, 419. Philip Bialowitz, an escapee from Sobibór, states that that Feldhendler was killed in his tannery in Lublin, together with another young Jew who was asleep there, in broad daylight, simply because he was a Jew. See Philip Bialowitz, as told to Joseph Bialowitz, Bunt w Sobiborze: Opowieść o przetrwaniu w Polsce okupowanej przez Niemców (Warsaw: Nasza Księgarnia, 2008), 235. In the English version of his memoir, however, Bialowitz does not mention the circumstances of Feldhendler’s death, or that there was allegedly another victim, but simply states: “He has been shot by unknown assailants. Nobody knows the motive for the murder. … we guess that Leon has been murdered because he was a prominent Jew who was helping other Jews to live [by employing them in his leather factory].” See Philip “Fiszel” Bialowitz with Joseph Bialowitz, A Promise at Sobibór: A Jewish Boy’s Story of Revolt and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), 155. Miles (Shmoil or Meelek) Lerman, Feldhendler’s business partner at the time, states that Feldhendler was killed in his home by “Polish extremists,” but the motive is unclear. See Interview with Miles Lerman, dated July 17, 2001, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Historian Shmuel Krakowski states that Feldhendler was killed in June 1945 in his Lublin apartment on 4 Kowalska Street by “a Polish anti-Semitic gang”. See Krakowski, The War of the Doomed, 249. Chaskiel Menche, who shared the premises at 4 Kowalska Street, states that Moishe Blank’s son was executed there by the Home Army but that no one else was harmed. Feldhendler was shot, allegedly by the Home Army, afterwards when he was living with Esther, Moshe Blank’s son’s former girlfriend; he managed to jump out the window and was taken to a hospital where he died. See the interview with Chaskiel Menche, 1983, Internet: <http://www.sobiborinterviews.nl/en/search-interviews?miview=ff&mizig=317&miaet=14&micode=804b&minr=1412836> (Menche makes the bizarre claim that the Polish underground chopped off the feet of a Jew in a Lublin hospital, which is discredited in Adam Kopciowski, “Anti-Jewish Incidents in the Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II,” in Holocaust: Studies and Materials, vol. 1 (2008): 186.). Another Jewish source places the attempt on Feldhendler’s life, allegedly by the Home Army, on April 3, 1945. See Jules Schelvis, Sobibor: A History of a Death Camp (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2007), 182, 234. According to Feldhendler’s wife (girlfriend?) Esther, who was present at the time but was not harmed, Feldhendler was shot in their apartment on 6 Złota Street on April 2, 1945, and died in hospital three days later. The hospital records, however, give his date of death as April 6, 1945. She provides no information about the identity of the culprits or the motive for his murder, but seems to have known them. According to a police report, a Polish woman named Hanna Gil was killed at the same time, possibly Feldhendler’s housekeeper. However, her death is not mentioned in Jewish sources, which is a sad commentary on the value placed on the loss of Polish lives. In a radical departure from an earlier claim (that Felhendler was shot at the same time as Hersz Blank—see Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust, 179), Polish historian Adam Kopciowski acknowledged that Feldheldler dealt in gold and and that robbery may have been the motive for his demise. However, it does not appear that anything was stolen from his apartment. See Hanna Krall, Wyjątkowo długa linia (Kraków: a5, 2004), 114–16, 131; Adam Kopciowski, “Anti-Jewish Incidents in the Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II,” in Holocaust: Studies and Materials, vol. 1 (2008): 190–91; Paweł P. Reszka, “Gdy życie ludzkie straciło wartość,” Gazeta Wyborcza (Lublin), January 17, 2008. Chaim Zylberklang states that Feldhendler traded with Russians and even travelled with them to Wilno. See Zylberklang, Z Żółkiewki do Erec Israel, 157. According to another source, the Jewish survivors who formed an organization in Lublin to promote the emigration of Jews to Palestine were involved in lucrative smuggling operations. “Exodus organizers were sent back to the Soviet Union to bring Jews out, and they bought gold cheaply there, reselling it at inflated prices on their return … ‘We also robbed speculators,’ that is, Jews who exploited the postwar chaos for shady transactions, said Mordechai Roseman and [Vitka] Kempner openly.” See Porat, The Fall of a Sparrow, 192. Gabriel Sedlis, one of Abba Kovner’s partisans from the Wilno area, paints a much more graphic picture of these little know events. Enormous fortunes were made by Jews who smuggled diamonds and gold from the Soviet Union into Poland, and then on to Cairo. An entire network was set up utilizing Jews in positions of authority who fabricated documents authorizing smugglers entry into the Soviet Union, by official Soviet planes, ostensibly to purchase typewriters with Polish keys that had been left behind in the Polish territories annexed by the Soviets. Smugglers, former partisans, undercover policemen and even NKVD officers worked hand-in-hand to carry out these elaborate schemes. See Renata Gorczyńska, Jestem z Wilna i inne adresy (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Krakowskie, 2003), 29. Feldhendler was mostly likely involved in such transactions. Polish historian Robert Kuwałek surmises, from Feldhendler’s wife’s (girlfriend’s) postwar testimony deposed at Yad Vashem, that the Feldhendlers likely knew the murderer(s) who came calling. See Bialowitz, Bunt w Sobiborze, 235–36 n.90. Her testimony is reproduced in Rubin, The Rise and Fall of Jewish Communities in Poland and Their Relics Today, volume II: District Lublin, 328–29. If that was the case, not reporting the culprits(s), had they been Poles, makes no sense, since the Poles responsible for killing Hersz Blank or Blanke, the former husband (boyfriend) of Feldhendler’s wife (girlfriend), were apprehended and dealt with harshly by the authorities in Lublin. The sheer multiplicity of conflicting versions of Feldhendler’s death illustrates how unreliable survivor accounts can be. Executions of this ilk, by “Jew-hating Poles,” have prompted Western observers such as Richard Rashke to philosophize: “At that moment, as I stood under Feldhendler’s balcony, I hated Poland. I couldn’t understand a people who killed and betrayed Jews, who plundered and robbed them. I found it difficult to make distinctions between good Poles and bad ones, between peacetime and wartime, between heroism and the desire to survive, even if that meant selling Jews to the Gestapo for sugar and security. I felt hatred even for that Polish woman living in what once was a Jewish ghetto. And the Polish Jews were not my people.” See Richard Rashke, Escape From Sobibor (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982), 357. It could also be that this was a Jewish revenge killing which was pinned on the Poles. After all, Feldhendler had been the chairman of the Jewish Council in the town of Żółkiewka, and accounts were sometimes settled after the war with those who had collaborated with the Germans. According to the Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, “The Judenrat and the Jewish police were responsible for providing the Germans with forced labour. In 1940 the Judenrat sent a group of Jews to the labour camp at Belzec [Bełżec], and shortly afterwards some 300 additional young people were sent to the labour camp at Ruda-Opalin, where they were occupied with digging sewage and irrigation ditches under such severe conditions that many of them died.” See “Zolkiewka,” in Pinkas ha-kehilot: Polin, vol. 7 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1999), 196–98, translated as Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland, Internet: </yizkor/pinkas_poland/pol7_00196>. For an example of such Jewish revenge, see the account of Sonia Guss-Hornstein, who witnessed a group of Jewish men ambush and beat to death a Jew in Łódź who, her father later told her, was a kapo. See Julie Meadows, ed., Memory Guide My Hand: An Anthology of Autobiographical Writing by Members of the Melbourne Jewish Community, vol. 3 (Melbourne: Makor Jewish Community Library, 2004), 145–54. A similar, perhaps the same event was witnessed by Yankel (Jack) Pomerantz in May 1945: “As we were arriving in the city, I watched a group of Jews converge on one man. He had been a collaborator with the Nazis in a concentration camp. He had overseen the killing of children, one man joining the group told us. Now in Lodz [Łódź], Jewish survivors from the camp had recognized him. They set upon him and beat him right in the street. They delivered blow upon blow until he died.” See Pomerantz and Winik, Run East, 158. Szaja Langleben, the most hated Jewish policeman in the slave-labour camp in Starachowice, returned to Poland and was killed in a restaurant in Radom, an apparent target of revenge killing. See Browning, Remembering Survival, 360 n.35. When Harry Haft returned to him home town of Bełchatów after the war, he ran into a Jewish kapo named Mischa, who had beaten Harry repeatedly in a slave labour camp in Jaworzno. Harry gave Mischa a good thrashing and almost shot him, but his gun did not fire. “Harry grabbed him and threw him into two garbage cans lined against a wall in the alley. … He picked up a garbage can and started to beat him with it. … Harry started beating him again with the lid of the can. … Mischa lay there bleeding. … Harry pulled out his revolver and said, ‘Mischa, now it is your turn to die.’ Harry enjoyed watching Mischa beg and plead for his life, but he pulled the trigger anyway. The gun did not fire. Harry cursed and pulled the trigger again. Again, it only clicked. ‘Maybe it is not your time to die. Next time, you may not be so lucky.’” See Alan Scott Haft, Harry Haft: Auschwitz Survivor, Challenger of Rocky Marciano (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2006), 89–90.
582 A brief account of Hirszman’s assassination, on March 19, 1946, by one of the participants (based on court records) is provided in Henryk Pająk, Konspiracja młodzieży szkolnej 1945–1955 (Lublin: Retro, 1994), 130–31. See also Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust, 135, 149 n12. For confirmation that Hirszman was a member of the security office, a fact that Jewish sources generally pass over in silence, see Alina Cała and Helena Datner-Śpiewak, eds., Dzieje Żydów w Polsce 1944–1968: Teksty źródłowe (Warsaw: Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, 1997), 43; Dariusz Libionka, “The Life Story of Chaim Hirszman: Remembrance of the Holocaust and Reflections on Postwar Polish-Jewish Relations,” Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 34 (2006): 219–47; Adam Kopciowski, “Anti-Jewish Incidents in the Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II,” in Holocaust: Studies and Materials, vol. 1 (2008): 184–85. Libionka suggests that the principal motive for the assault on Hirszman was the desire to obtain weapons. For a source based on Jewish evidence that acknowledges Hirszman’s Soviet ties, see Robin O’Neil, Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide: Hitler’s Answer to the Jewish Question, Chapter 10 (under “Escapes”), Internet: </yizkor/belzec1/belzec1.html>.
583 Five Home Army members were arrested soon after, sentenced to death and executed in connection with Blanke’s execution on November 4, 1944. Five other Jews who shared the same premises at 4 Kowalska Street in Lublin, including Toivi Blatt, were not harmed. There is still some uncertainty among historians as to who was behind this execution, as well as the motive. See Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust, 134, 149; Zofia Leszczyńska, ed., Straceni na Zamku Lubelskim: Dokumenty procesu 11 żołnierzy AK (kwiecień 1945) (Lublin: Czas, 1995); Zylberklang, Z Żółkiewki do Erec Israel, 49–50 n.123; Adam Kopciowski, “Anti-Jewish Incidents in the Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II,” in Holocaust: Studies and Materials, vol. 1 (2008): 183–84. Some sources claim Blanke was imprisoned in Sobibór, but he is not listed among the known survivors. See Schelvis, Sobibor, 168; Hanna Krall, The Woman from Hamburg and Other True Stories (New York: Other Press, 2005), 64–65, 81–83. At least two other escapees from Sobibór joined the security office after “liberation”: Toivi Blatt, who assumed the name Stankiewicz, and Yehuda (Leon) Lerner, who, at the age of 18 (sic), became the deputy commander of police in Radom in January 1945 (until the summer of that year), after a stint in a partisan unit led by Chil Grynszpan. See Schelvis, Sobibor, 232, 236.
584 Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust, 138–40; Wnuk, Lubelski Okręg AK DSZ i WiN, 1944–1947, 357. See also David Engel, “Patterns of Anti-Jewish Violence in Poland, 1944–1946,” Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 26 (1998): 70–72; Dariusz Magier, “Pogrom ubeków,” Najwyższy Czas!, February 14, 2004. Several Jewish police officers, former partisans of Grynszpan, deserted their posts after this incident.
585 The Kałuszyn memorial book, for example, states that Shmul Lev was killed because he was a Jew who wanted “to bring to account those who spilled Jewish blood.” In fact, both he (Lew Szmul) and Jankiel Komorowski were killed on April 12, 1945 as PPR members. See Yosef Kermish, “Instances of Passive and Active Resistance,” in A. Shamri and Sh. Soroka, eds., Sefer Kaluszyn: Geheylikt der khorev gevorener kehile (Tel Aviv: Former Residents of Kaluszyn in Israel, 1961), 338ff., translated as The Memorial Book of Kaluszyn, Internet: </Yizkor/kaluszyn/Kaluszyn.html>; compare with “Kałuszyn,” Internet: <.pl>. For additional examples of Jewish functionaries who were killed by the anti-Communist underground that are not mentioned in Chodakiewicz’s After the Holocaust, see: Błażejewicz, W walce z wrogami Rzeczypospolitej, 150–51 (Patoki, Narewka); Pietrzak, et al., eds., Rok pierwszy, 155 (Henryk Deresiewicz, a security officer in Lublin), 290 (Ignacy Cymerman, a security officer in Chełm); Ryszard Śmietanka-Kruszelnicki, “Podziemie antykomunistyczne wobec Żydów po 1945 roku—wstęp do problematyki (na przykładzie województwa kieleckiego),” in Wijaczka and Miernik, eds., Z przeszłości Żydów polskich, 255, 262 (Roman Sznajfeld, a security officer in Kielce; Bolesław Gaut, a police investigator in Radom; Dawid Cale, a militiaman in Rusinów; Albert Grymbaum, a senior security officer in Kielce; Henryk Ochin, a PPR official); Adam Kopciowski, “Anti-Jewish Incidents in the Lublin Region in the Early Years after World War II,” in Holocaust: Studies and Materials, vol. 1 (2008): 184–86 (Dawid Biberman, a militia commander in Zwierzyniec; Mordka Honig, a militia platoon sergeant; Junak Milsztajn, a militiaman from Lublin, and others). Adam Kopciowski estimates that about 20 percent of the 118 killings of Jews in the Lublin region between the summer of 1944 and autumn 1946 were politically motivated; the rest were likely motivated by robbery, property disputes or anti-Semtism. Ibid., 204.
586 For many Jews, the treatment they experienced in their new roles as henchmen of the Communist regime has remained baffling, up until the present day. The only explanation they can offer is endemic anti-Semitism on the part of the Poles. Harold Werner, for example, writes: “The newly created Polish government offered the Jewish partisans jobs in the government administration in Lublin. We were also given positions in local police forces. However, in these jobs we quickly experienced resentment and hatred directed at us by our anti-Semitic Polish coworkers. In some cases, we were attacked in public by gangs of former Army [sic] Krajowa units. … In Lublin, mobs of anti-Semitic Poles killed a number of Jewish survivors. Among those killed in Lublin were Leon Feldhendler … a young man, named Blank, from the town of Izbica. … Anti-Semitic Poles broke into his house at night and shot him. Even Chiel Grynszpan was the target of this type of violence. He had taken a job as a policeman in Hrubieszow [Hrubieszów] … An Army Krajowa group sent him a package of flowers containing a bomb. … He suffered injuries from the blast but luckily survived.” See Werner, Fighting Back, 232–33. This book contains photographs of the following Jewish partisans dressed in militia uniforms after the war: Chanina (Henry) Barbanel, Leon from Warsaw, Velval Litwak, and Harold (Hersh) Werner.
587 Małgorzata Szlachetka, “Relacja powstańca z Sobiboru,” Gezeta Wyborcza (Lublin), October 16, 2008. An escapee from Sobibór who was sheltered by Polish farmers near his home town of Izbica, Bialowitz (Fiszel Białowicz) was enlisted with the Security Office from January 1, 1945 until June 15, 1945. According to official records, he was arrested in May 1945, strangely on suspicion of belonging to the Home Army, and severely beaten during interrogation. See Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, BU 0193/157 (162/V). These episodes are missing from his memoir:Philip “Fiszel” Bialowitz with Joseph Bialowitz, A Promise at Sobibór: A Jewish Boy’s Story of Revolt and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), published in Polish as Philip Bialowitz, as told to Joseph Bialowitz, Bunt w Sobiborze: Opowieść o przetrwaniu w Polsce okupowanej przez Niemców (Warsaw: Nasza Księgarnia, 2008). According to Jewish sources, two Polish officials from the Security Office killed Dudl Safian (Rabaleh), a mill operator. “In order to cover up their act, they carried out an arrest of a group of young Zamość Jews, and brought out a libel that they had, so to speak, sold weapons to the ‘AK.’ The Jews remained in jail for several weeks. Among them Yidl Safian, a brother of the murdered man, Mordechai Goldberg … After an intervention in Warsaw, at the Security service, they were set free.” See Beryl Eisenkopf, “Residents of Zamość in a Fight for Life During the Hitlerist Occupation,” in Mordechai V. Bernstein, ed., The Zamosc Memorial Book: A Memorial Book of a Center of Jewish Life Destroyed by the Nazis (Mahwah, New Jersey: Jacob Solomon Berger, 2004), 592.
588 In Raciąż, according to a Jewish woman who spent the war there with her mother passing as Christians (a ruse widely known to the townspeople), the heavy-handed deeds of a Jew called Szymek, who appears to have joined the security police or the NKVD, led to an assault on a house occupied by this Jewish official and other Jews; as luck would have it, Szymek was away and thus avoided punishment, while innocent blood was spilt. See Helena Bodek, Jak tropione zwierzęta: Wspomnienia (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1993), 149–50. On the other hand, Shalom Yoran, who also returned briefly to that same home town, has no recollection of any of these complicating factors. According to what he had later heard, six young Jewish men who had returned to Raciąż were simply “taken out of their house at night, and disappeared. They were most likely killed.” See Yoran, The Defiant, 253.
589 Pninah Papier, “In the Warsaw Ghetto and in the Wyszkow Forests,” in Aryeh Shamri and Dov First, eds., Pinkas Novi-Devor(Pinkas Novy-Dvor) (Tel Aviv: The Organizations of Former Novy-Dvor Jews in Israel, the United States, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay and France, 1965).
590 Bernard Goldstein, The Stars Bear Witness (London: Victor Gollancz, 1950), 275.
591 The following examples are found in the court records reproduced in Szwagrzyk, Golgota wrocławska 1945–1956, 106, 137, 150–51. It is worth noting that those charged were not only identified by their citizenship but also by their nationality as “Poles”, and that Jewish state functionaries played a prominent role in their trials. Ibid., 115, 117, 153.
592 James Park Sloan, Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography (New York: Dutton/Penguin, 1996), 49, 53. The author also goes on to describe (at 59) another “close call” Kosinski’s father, now a state “apparatchik,” had after he relocated to Jelenia Góra. Apparently, “White” (i.e., anti-Communist) guerrillas stopped his car when he was travelling to Warsaw in the company of the father of Jerzy Urban, another Jew from his home town of Łódź. Urban would eventually become the hated spokesman for General Jaruzelski’s martial-law regime and more recently, as founder and publisher of the weekly gutter tabloid NIE!, Poland’s biggest pornographer.
593 This charade continued to gather momentum in North America and captivate the Holocaust education market for over two decades despite the fact that it had been exposed as a slanderous hoax by Janina Dembowa, a Jewish woman, as early as June 1968. See Bartoszewski and Lewinówna, eds., Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, 534–37. In fact, as late as 1992, Kosinski published an autobiographical essay claiming that while passing as a Christian child in occupied Poland, he never confessed to a priest that he was Jewish because he was afraid that his true identity might be revealed to the Germans. See Jerzy Kosinski, Passing By: Selected Essays, 1962–1991 (New York: Random House, 1992), 159. It was not until Joanna Siedlecka, a Polish investigative journalist, published her stirring exposé of Kosinski, Czarny ptasior (Gdańsk: Marabut; Warsaw: CIS, 1994), followed two years later by a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary, Sex, Lies and Jerzy Kosinski, that the bubble burst. When James Park Sloan picked up on the story for the New Yorker (“Kosinski’s War,” October 10, 1994, 46–53), public reaction (largely Jewish) was predictable: “Why should we listen to all those good Polish witnesses in preference to him?” (letter, November 14, 1994). Tellingly, on April 21, 1996, the New York Times Book Review ran a review by Louis Begley (damage control) of Sloan’s biography under the title, “True Lies.” For more on this controversy see Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry, 55–57. See also the entry “Jerzy Kosinski” in Wikipedia, Internet: </wiki/Jerzy_Kosinski>.
594 Sloan, Jerzy Kosinski, 225, 16. In order to round out his portrayal of Poles as vicious anti-Semites, Kosinski concocted an incident in which he was allegedly assailed in his New York apartment by Polish goons threatening to beat him with lengths of steel pipe whom he skillfully fended off. Ibid., 244–45. Needless to say, this story, like all the others, was eaten up unquestioningly and regurgitated by American literary critics. More recently, it was reported in Dziennik Łódzki (May 10–11, 2008) that Kosinski’s alleged trip to the Soviet Union, which was the basis for his first book The Future is Our Comrade: Conversations with the Russians, published in 1960 under the pseudonym Joseph Novak, was likely a fabrication as well.
595 U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Fifty Years Ago: Revolt Amid the Darkness—1993 Days of Remembrance (Washington, 1993). Kosinski’s The Painted Bird is one of a string of American novels—written almost exclusively by Jewish authors—that unfairly denigrate Poles; others include Leon Uris’s Mila 18, Herman Wouk’s Winds of War, Gerald Green’s Holocaust, and William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice. A fascinating analysis of this topic is found in Thomas S. Gladsky, Princes, Peasants, and Other Selves: Ethnicity in American Literature (Amherst: The University Press of Massachusetts, 1992), 163–76, 190–213. Other prominent examples of that style of writing are Alan M. Dershowitz and Elie Wiesel. French-Jewish intellectual Pierre Vidal-Naquet has taken note of “the sort of primitive anti-Polish sentiments that too often characterize those whom I shall call ‘professional Jews’.” See Pierre Vidal-Naquet, The Jews: History, Memory, and the Present (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 182.
596 As Norman Davies points out so eloquently in his monumental book Rising ’44, Poland’s Western Allies raised no objections to the Soviet takeover or the depradations of the NKVD in their First Ally’s homeland. Given the chance, the Soviets demonstrated amply that they would have treated the British in much the same way, as is illustrated by the “Freston story,” which was carefully concealed at the time. See Davies, Rising ‘’44, 447–51.
597 Eliach, “The Pogrom at Eishyshok,” New York Times, August 6, 1996.
598 Norman Davies, Europe: A History (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 1022–23.
599 Norman Davies, “The Jewish Strand in European History,” in Sławomir Kapralski, ed., The Jews in Poland, Vol. II (Cracow: Judaica Foundation Center for Jewish Culture, 1999), 89–90.
600 Samuel Gringauz, “Some Methodological Problems in the Study of the Ghetto,” Jewish Social Studies 12, no. 1 (January, 1950): 65.
601 “Recording the Holocaust,” Jerusalem Post (International Edition), June 28, 1986. See also Raul Hilberg, Sources of Holocaust Research: An Analysis (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001).
602 In the worst cases, some accounts such as Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Child (New York: Schoken Books, 1996) have proven to be outright forgeries. As in case of Kosinski’s The Painted Bird, Wilkomirski’s book was also greeted with the customary rave reviews in the New York Times Book Review, The Nation, and many other journals, and reaped a number of honours, including the National Jewish Book Award in the United States and the Prix Mémoire de la Shoah in France. Wilkomirski also toured the United States to deliver lectures in major cities sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. See Doreen Carvajal, “Memory or Holocaust fantasy?” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), October 15, 1999, based on the New York Times Service.
603 Cited in Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry, 82.
604 Quoted by Marilyn Henry, “Holocaust ‘micro-history’ can mislead,” The Jerusalem Post, April 18, 1999.
605 Christopher R. Browning, Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony
(Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), 42–43. Despite these reservations, in his 2010 study Remembering Survival, Christopher Browning based his assessment of Polish-Jewish relations—during the interwar period, under German occupation, and postwar—exclusively on Jewish accounts without any effort to verify them against Polish sources. Browning did so notwithstanding the prevalence of negative stereotypes in many testimonies (p. 175) and the following admission: “I am also faced with conflicting and contradictory—in some cases, clearly mistaken—memories and testimonies. In some instances, differing memories and testimonies simply should not and cannot be reconciled, and critical judgments must be made.” (P. 7.) As for interwar relations, “A very distinct minority of survivors remembered Poles and Jews as getting along fairly well”—likely those who maintained relations with Poles. “Far more prevalent are bitter memories of a widespread anti-Semitism in Wierzbnik”—generally those who had little to do with Poles. (P. 21.) Browning also noted a trend in more recent testimonies “in which the portrayal of Poles increasingly bordered on that of co-perpetrators and not just unsympathetic or hostile bystanders.” (P. 50.)
606 Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 462.
607 Recently, Raul Hilberg bemoaned: “How come we have no decent quality control when it comes to evaluating Holocaust material for publication?” Quoted in Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry, 60. The following memoirs from Warsaw are illustrative of this phenomenon. After their rescue by the Home Army in December 1944, Yitzhak Zuckerman, Marek Edelman and other ghetto fighters, lived in Grodzisk, a small town outside of Warsaw, under the protection of the Home Army, who even delivered to them secret mail from overseas. The charlatan Roman Grunspan takes credit for, among other obvious fabrications, the task of locating Yitzhak Zuckerman in a Warsaw bunker after the Red Army “liberated” that city in January 1945. Grunspan’s memoirs parade around under the deceptive title, The Uprising of the Death Box of Warsaw: A Documentary Book about Jewish and Christian Lives under Nazi Rule in the Warsaw Ghetto and in the Non-Jewish Region of Warsaw (New York: Vantage Press, 1978), 201. Grunspan also claims to have been part of a three-member hit squad called “Parasol” (Umbrella) who assassinated the notorious henchman General Franz Kutschera, who headed the SS and the police for the District of Warsaw, on “Aleja sucha” (sic) in Warsaw. The book even contains a photograph showing a crude superimposition of a hand holding a machine gun with the following caption: “To the right you can see the punishing hand of the author with the machine gun that gunned down the Nazi lunatic.” (Ibid., 172, 177.) However, that well-known operation carried out by the Home Army bears little resemblance to Grunspan’s tale: “On February 1, 1944, after weeks of planning, a platoon of Pegasus [Pegaz], commanded by twenty-year old Bronisław Pietraszkiewicz, attacked Kutschera’s car on Ujazdowskie Avenue. In an operation lasting scarcely a minute, Kutschera and several other Germans were killed, but four of the attackers, including, Pietraszkiewicz, were killed.” See Richard C. Lukas, The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation, 1939–1944 (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1986), 92. Avrom Feldberg is another survivor of the Warsaw ghetto who spins a tale of heroism along the same lines. Allegedly a member of the Jewish Fighting Organization who joined up with unnamed Polish partisans, Feldberg claims to have headed a team of five Polish partisans who executed the unnamed chief of police on the Aryan side in the Fall of 1942. See Alvin Abram, The Light After Dark II: Six More Stories of Triumph After All Hope Had Gone… (Toronto: AMA Graphics Incorporated, 2000), 132. (Interestingly, he also states that he later met a Jewish woman who told him that the police chief was sheltering her in the basement of his house.) However, the execution of the “Blue” police chief Aleksander Reszczyński, who cooperated with the Home Army’s counter-intelligence and who was not looked on favourably by the Germans, was carried out by a four-member squad of the People’s Guard (Gwardia Ludowa) on March 5, 1943 in circumstances that bear little resemblance to those given by Feldberg. See Adam Hempel, Pogrobowcy klęski: Rzecz o policji “granatowej” w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie 1939–1945 (Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1990), 321–23, 383–87. Another blatantly charlatan memoir is that of Maurice Shainberg, who allegedly descends from “a family of prominent rabbis.” Shainberg claims to have been the guard of ŻZW leader Paweł Frankel yet knows little about how that organization started and how it interacted with ŻOB; gets the date of the creation of the Warsaw ghetto wrong by a year; carries out all sorts of daring missions (e.g., the bombing of a Nazi conference in the spring of 1941 in which 38 German police are killed); participates in a meeting with the Polish underground in a non-existent church; thinks that Żagiew, a Jewish collaborationist organization, was “three pro-German Polish groups,” and makes the fantastic claim that ŻZW killed about 600 (sic) “members of these anti-Semitic organizations”; does not know that the Jewish police took part in the great deportation of the summer of 1942 and thinks that it occurred in the spring of 1943; claims that it was not the Jewish police and Jewish Gestapo agents, but rather “Poles…watched over our every step, keeping the Germans informed about our activities and hiding places.” After the Soviet “liberation” Shainberg claims that he joined the intelligence section of the Polish army, quickly rose to the rank of major, and became the personal aide of Colonel Zaitsev, the Soviet military intelligence head in Poland. In that latter role, he allegedly penetrated Zaitsev’s secret diary containing detailed information about the Katyn massacre and entrusted the pages he copied from the diary to a Resurrectionist priest in Poznań by the name of Kwiatkowski. See Maurice Shainberg, Breaking from the KGB: Warsaw Ghetto Fighter…Intelligence Officer…Defector to the West (New York, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv: Shapolsky, 1996), 70–99, 165–74. Shainberg is not mentioned in Chaim Lazar Litai’s detailed monograph about the ŻZW, Muranowska 7: The Warsaw Ghetto Rising (Tel Aviv: Massada–P.E.C. Press, 1966). It has been established that there was no Rev. Kwiatkowski in Poznań at the time and, although Shainberg claims to have attained the rank of major before April 1944 (p. 155), the photograph of a Polish military certificate from May 1946 gives his rank as second lieutenant (“podporucznik”). Several of the photographs reproduced in the book appear to have superimposed images. Furthermore, Shainberg’s assumed named (Mieczysław Prużański) does not appear in the Ministry of Public Security’s personnel files for 1944–1947 under any rank. See Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert and Rafał E. Stolarski, “Bijące serce partii”: Dzienniki personalne Ministerstwa Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, vol. 1: 1945–1947 (Warsaw: Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa, and Adiutor, 2001), 235ff. Another patent forgery is Jacob Bierman’s blatantly racist tract, The Penalty of Innocence: From the Diary of Yakoiv Zeiv Weiler (New York, Washington and Hollywood: Vantage Press, 1973), which is “Dedicated to Truth and Justice” and of course purports to be “a true story.” Yakoiv, who supposedly worked closely with the Communist Polish People’s Party, claims to have “thrown quantities of weapons, ammunition, hand grenades [sic] … over the high ghetto fence,” and after the fighting, Yakoiv’s boys “waited at every hole to help” thousands of Jews escape from the ghetto.” Near the ghetto wall he allegedly saw “mobs of Poles…fighting with each other over the dead Jewish victims. They had, with their sharp knives, cut the faces to make it easier to pull gold crowns from the victims’ mouths.” Ibid., 87–89. No serious Holocaust historian has advanced such charges. Another somewhat less obvious, but undoubtedly fabricated memoir is Martin Gray (with Max Gallo), For Those I Loved (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, 1972), which is translated from the French. The author claims to have joined the Jewish Fighting Organization in March 1943, and, with his excellent knowledge of the maze of sewers, was able to smuggle into the ghetto weapons and munitions acquired through contacts he made with the People’s Army and Home Army. He then became a fighter of herculean proportions who, in his spare time, led women, children and old men, and fighters too, through the sewers to safety. Ibid., 198–211. Gray’s alleged exploits have come under close and devastating scrutiny by Polish historians, and were even sharply rebuked by Yisrael Gutman. For a summary of the debate which appeared in many Polish newspapers including Gazeta Wyborcza, see Jerzy Robert Nowak, Spory o historię i współczesność (Warsaw: von borowiecky, 2000), 359–61. A 145-minute French-language film based on Gray’s memoirs Au nom de tous les miens, directed by Robert Enrico and staring Michael York, was released in 1983 and an English-language U.S. version in 1990. Another memoir that is full of startling revelations that no serious historian has endorsed is that of Jack Eisner, who founded the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization in 1962. In his memoir, The Survivor, Eisner claims that he joined an unaffiliated underground group led by Artek Milner, and that through his arms supplier he managed to acquire for one thousand dollars a brand-new Schmeisser machine gun stolen from a SS depot. Eisner challenges the widely held contention that arms were difficult to obtain in the ghetto: “Until then, I’d been an armed smuggler with a bunker to my credit, like many others in the central ghetto who also had guns and bunkers.” Eisner’s gang of smugglers also controlled two “toll” tunnels in the ghetto which brought that group an enormous revenue, collecting in the course of just one day “more than one hundred thousand zlotys—enough to buy half a dozen Molotov bottles and several guns.” One of his daring missions was, allegedly, the execution of the Jewish police officer Kronenberg. This is probably a reference to Firstenberg, a high-ranking officer in the Jewish ghetto police who was executed by the ŻZW in February 1943. See Chaim Lazar Litai, Muranowska 7: The Warsaw Ghetto Rising (Tel Aviv: Massada–P.E.C. Press, 1966), 196. Eisner also claims that in January 1943, on the third day (sic) of fighting, he and his friend Artek Milner opened fire on the German soldiers who had entered the ghetto to round up Jews for deportation and carried out a routing that the fledgling ŻOB could only dream of: “Artek whispered, ‘It’s now or never,’ and aimed his Schmeisser, spraying a barrage of bullets. Within seconds, half a dozen Germans were lying in their own blood. The panicked horses began to gallop in all directions. Rudy and I opened fire with our pistols.” These events are not acknowledged by historians. It was after that exploit that Artek decided that his group of more than forty members should join forces with the ŻZW. Contrary to what Eisner writes, all reliable sources confirm that the Polish flag was hoisted alongside the Jewish flag by the ŻZW on April 19, 1943, the first day of the revolt. In his diary, SS Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, the German general who quelled the revolt, wrote: “The main Jewish battle group, mixed with Polish bandits, had already retired during the first and second day to the so-called Muranowski Square. There, it was reinforced by a considerable number of Polish bandits. Its plan was to hold the Ghetto by every means in order to prevent us from invading it. The Jewish and Polish standards were hoisted at the top of a concrete building as a challenge to us. These two standards, however, were captured on the second day of the action by a special raiding party.” See Jürgen Stroop, The Stroop Report: The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw Is No More! (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979). A Polish eyewitness who lived outside the ghetto walls, across the street from ŻZW headquarters, describes the event in her memoir: “On the roof just across, we could see people walking around, all carrying arms. At a certain moment we witnessed a unique sight—they hoisted a blue-and-white flag and a red-and-white flag. We burst into cheers. ‘Look! Look! The Jewish flag! The Jews have captured Muranowski Square!’ … We embraced and kissed one another.” See Alicja Kaczyńska, Obok piekła: Wspomnienia z okupacji niemieckiej w Warszawie (Gdańsk: Marpress, 1993), 67. David Landau, a leading ŻZW member, organized the hoisting of the Polish flag, asking his Polish colleague Jan Kostański to bring it into the ghetto. See David J. Landau, alias Dudek, Janek and Jan, Caged: A Story of Jewish Resistance (Sydney: Macmillan, 2000), 216, 222–24. See also Władysław Bartoszewski, “The Martyrdom and Struggle of the Jews in Warsaw under German Occupation 1939–43,” in Władysław Bartoszewski and Antony Polonsky, eds., The Jews in Warsaw: A History (Oxford: Basil Blackwell in association with the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies, 1991), 339; Engelking and Leociak, Getto warszawskie, 736–37, translated as The Warsaw Ghetto; Marian Apfelbaum, Retour sur le ghetto de Varsovie (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2002), 195. Eisner, however, maintains that a Polish flag was raised only after the Home Army had complained to the ŻZW, and that because of his knowledge of the sewers acquired as a smuggler, he was the one who was sent to escort the Home Army messenger who brought the flag to the ghetto on April 20, in somewhat different circumstances. See Jack Eisner, The Survivor (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1980), 141–81. August Grabski, a historian at Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute, also questions the veracity of Eisner’s memoir, as well as Maurice Shainberg’s memoir Breaking From the KGB. See August Grabski, “Czy Polacy walczyli w powstaniu w getcie? Rzecz o polskich sojusznikach Żydowskiego Związku Walki,” Kwartalnik Historii Żydów, no. 4 (2007): 423. (Eisner’s book was turned into a play written by Susan Nanus and performed on Broadway in March 1981; a film, War and Love, directed by Moshe Mizrahi, screenplay by Abby Mann, produced by Jack Eisner, and released by Cannon Group, 1985; and an opera, Jacek, written by David A. Yeagley (2000).) Another memoir that falsely attributes an accomplishment of the Zośka battalion of the Home Army to the Communist People’s Guard or People’s Army, namely, the liberation of several hundred foreign Jews from the so-called Gęsiówka concentration camp in Warsaw (and not Pawiak as the author claims) on August 5, 1944, is Yehuda Nir, The Lost Childhood: A Memoir (San Diego, New York and London: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1989), 132, 159. Beyond any serious consideration of integrity is Leon Uris’s novel Mila 18, which is a thinly disguised anti-Polish diatribe replete with historical inaccuracies and of dubious literary merit. Interestingly, historian David Engel has exposed the role of Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute in manipulating and censoring Calel Perechodnik’s memoir, published under the title Am I a Murderer?; the manuscript of Perechodnik’s memoir, which was located in the Yad Vashem Archives, has been published in its uncut version as Calek Perechodnik, Spowiedź (Warsaw: Karta, 2004). See “Ukazało się poprawione wydanie wspomnień Perechodnika,” Polska Agencja Prasowa, November 26, 2004; Zbigniew Gluza, “Prawdziwa ‘Spowiedź’ Perechodnika,” Rzeczpospolita, November 29, 2004. Testimonies in the archives of the Jewish Historical Institute have been known to be altered after the fact, in one case to paint a more dire picture of life in the Warsaw ghetto. See, for example, ŻIH sygnatura 301/5062. Moreover, the important role of the Jewish Military Organization (ŻZW) in the Warsaw ghetto uprising—an organization with strong ties to the anti-Communist Polish underground—has been virtually eliminated in writings of both Jewish Communists and Jews who have championed the Jewish Fighting Organization (ŻOB). For an important corrective see Marian Apfelbaum, Retour sur le ghetto de Varsovie (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2002); Marian Apfelbaum, Dwa sztandary: Rzecz o powstaniu w getcie warszawskim (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2003).
608 See, for example, David Cymet, “Polish State Antisemitism as a Major Factor Leading to the Holocaust,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1999): 169–212, which charges that Poles were the co-authors of the Holocaust and inspired the Germans to attack Jews on Kristallnacht. The author uses no Polish-language sources, despite the fact that the actions of the Polish government are his main concern. See the critical review of this article by Jerzy Tomaszewski, “Upside-Down History,” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 14 (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2001), 377–80. On the alleged Polish inspiration for the Nazis to attack Jews on Kristallnacht, see also John and Carol Garrard, “Barbarossa’s First Victims: The Jews of Brest,” East European Jewish Affairs, vol. 28, no. 2 (Winter 1998–99): 3–47, especially 13. For an attempt to compare antisemitism in pre-war Poland with that in Nazi Germany, see William W. Hagen, “Before the ‘Final Solution’: Toward a Comparative Analysis of Political Antisemitism in Interwar Germany and Poland,” The Journal of Modern History, no. 68 (June 1996): 351–81. Hagen’s theories have been endorsed in Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001), 240, where we learn that “all the major components of the post-Pilsudski Polish polity adopted exclusionary, violent ideologies … In this environment the physical removal and even destruction of ethnic groups who violated the desired harmony of the national body was acceptable.” In actual fact, the United States with its racial policies (legislated segregation, institutionalized discrimination, pogroms, lynchings, church burnings, medical experimentation on and day-to-day harassment of Blacks and Native Indians) shared far more in common with Nazi Germany than Poland did, and unlike the citizens of totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, the average American citizen, who democratically elected their government and endorsed its policies, cannot shrug off this legacy of oppressing poor, powerless minorities who posed no threat to the state. These examples can be multiplied and include recent books such as Leo Cooper’s In the Shadow of the Polish Eagle: The Poles, the Holocaust and Beyond (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire and New York: Palgrave, 2000), which historian David Engel trashed in no uncertain terms: “The book is thus worse than useless; it is a step backward in a field that has made much progress.” See Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 140–41. Nor is it surprising that Reuben Ainsztein, the author of the most vicious sustained attack on the Polish underground Jewish Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Eastern Europe, penned an equally hostile and racist memoir—In Lands Not My Own: A Wartime Journey (New York: Random House, 2002)—branding all Poles as anti-Semites and natural allies of the Nazis. (A far more telling barometer of a predilection for Fascism is the fact that, in 1938, 10,000 out of Italy’s 47,000 Jews, in other words almost all the adult male Jews in that country, were card-carrying members of the Fascist party. See Nicholas Farrel, “It Happened in Italy Too,” The Spectator, December 7, 1996.) For a critique of Ainsztein’s book see M.B. Biskupski, “Poles, Jews and the Second Polish Republic, 1918–1945: Memoir As Indictment,” The Polish Review, vol. 48, no. 1 (2003): 101–108. Another example is John Weiss, who postulates in his The Politics of Hate: Anti-Semitism, History, and the Holocaust in Modern Europe (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003), 192: “We can never know, but it seems likely that without the alliance with the West and the murderous policies of the Nazis toward the Poles, a majority of Poles would have been willing participants and not simply indifferent bystanders during the Holocaust.” (John Weiss is an emeritus professor at Lehman College and the Graduate Center of the City University in New York.) Omer Bartov, an Israeli-American Holocaist historian, suggests that World War II was a disguised blessing for the Poles because they allegedly struck it rich as a result of grabbing Jewish property (in fact, most Jewish property was seized by the Germans): “the very term ‘bystander’ is largely meaningless. The majority of the non-Jewish population profited from the genocide and either directly or indirectly collaborated with the perpetrators of the Holocaust. Even if at times the non-Jews also resisted the occupation for their own reasons, only a minority was involved in rescue and feared the vengeance of the majority. In this sense no one was passive or indifferent.” See Omer Bartov, “Much Forgotten, Little Learned,” Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 35, no. 2 (2007): 276. Emboldened by strident writing of the ilk of Jan Gross and Joanna Michlic, Rachel Feldhay Brenner, of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin, writes tediously of joint German-Polish complicity in the Holocaust: “the prevailing majority of Poles subscribed to the German racial view of Jews as sub-human species and therefore legitimate objects of extermination; and many voluntarily collaborated with the perpetrators, blackmailing and denouncing the Jews on the ‘Aryan’ side of the city. The cooperation between the Poles and the Germans effectively dehumanized the Jews; they became grotesque creatures who lost their human image. … the ‘Aryan side’ … became an arena of Polish persecution of the Jews. The prevailing agreement of the Poles with the German treatment of the Jews created compatibility between the occupier and the occupied … The ideological horizon of the extermination of the Jews that the majority of the Poles shared with the German occupier precluded the voice of humanism.” See Rachel Feldhay Brenner, “The ‘Poor’ Polish Writers Look at the Ghetto: A Struggle with Self and History, The Case of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz,” Conference Paper, “Between Coexistence and Divorce: 25 Years of Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jewry and Polish-Jewish Relations,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem, March 17–19, 2009. An Israeli who is a professor of philosophy at an American university writes much in the same vein, but on a personal level, arguing that it was the Poles who inspired the Germans to carry out the Holocaust: “Personally, it was only after I met the Polish people that I could finally understand how the Holocaust happened. It is not the case, as some argued, that it was the largest concentration of Jews that motivated the Nazis to build their extermination camp in Poland. Rather, the Germans constructed all their major extermination camps in Poland because they understood the deep and religiously motivated hatred that the Polish masses held against their Jewish neighbors; neither were the death-camps built in Poland for the purpose of exterminating the Polish nation, as Polish historians want us to believe.” See Yoram Lubling, Twice-Dead: Moshe Y. Lubling, the Ethics of Memory, and the Treblinka Revolt (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 107. Swedish historian Kristian Gerner portrays Germans and Poles as suffering parallel fates surrounding the Holocaust: “For both Poles and Germans, the relation to the Holocaust was influenced by the parallel story of Nazi atrocities against the Poles in the war and the Polish expulsion of and atrocities against civilian Germans at the end of the war.” See Kristian Gerner, “Ambivalence, Bivalence and Polyvalence: Historical Culture in the German-Polish Borderlands” in Echoes of the Holocaust: Historical Culture in Contemporary Europe, edited by Klas-Göran Karlsson and Ulf Zander (Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2003), 115–40, here at p. 118–19. This bizarre, ahistorical current, which has been decried by preeminent Holocaust historians such as Raul Hilberg and Israel Gutman, has in fact spawned a new historical genre in the United States which concerns itself not with Polish-Jewish relations as such, but with Polish “anti-Semitism,” which is premised on the assumption that whatever conflict arose between Poles and Jews in the past, it was the Polish side which was at fault (with perhaps a few inconsequential exceptions). See the Collaborative Research Project on Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland under contract with the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, directed by Professor Robert Blobaum of the Department of History, University of West Virginia, which includes in its complement historians like the aforementioned William W. Hagen, published as Robert Blobaum, ed., Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2005). These publications should be contrasted with the thoughtful and well-researched works—but alas far fewer in number—that present a complex and nuanced portrait of Polish-Jewish relations, such as Eva Hoffman’s Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997); Rosa Lehmann’s Symbiosis and Ambivalence: Poles and Jews in a Small Galician Town (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2001); and Shimon Redlich’s Together and Apart in Brzezany: Poles, Jews and Ukrainians, 1919–1945 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2002). This pronounced bifurcation in recent trends went unnoticed in Joshua D. Zimmerman’s essay, “Changing Perceptions in the Historiography of Polish-Jewish Relations during the Second World,” which paints a rosy, but not too accurate picture, of mainstream Jewish historiography (which can be, and very often is, as strident as ever) having gradually abandoned (from the 1980s) what Zimmerman concedes had been a longstanding maligning of Poles. See Zimmerman, ed., Contested Memories, 1–16.
A highly biased and moralistic approach has also infected German scholarship on Polish-Jewish relations, which exhibits a strong undercurrent of shifting blame for the Holocaust onto non-Germans, especially Poles. A prominent exponent of that approach is historian Klaus-Peter Friedrich, for whom alleged Polish “collaboration” with the Nazis and “false position of victimization” have become an obsession. (The latter formulation is found in his article “The Nazi Murder of Jews in Polish Eyes.” Polin, vol. 22 (2010): 410.) Friedrich’s lack of balance in assessing the Polish record has been noted by a number of non-Polish scholars. In his review of Friedrich’s essay “Zusammenarbeit und Mittäterschaft in Polen 1939–1945,” in Christoph Dieckmann, Babette Quinkert, and Tatjana Tönsmeyer, Kooperation und Verbrechen: Former der “Kollaboration” im östlichen Europa 1939–1945 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2003), Bernhard Chiari points out that Friedrich ignores the achievements of the Polish underground and stresses alleged Polish-German cooperation against their “common” enemies: the Communists and Jews. See Bernhard Chiari’s review in Sehepunkte, vol. 4 (2004), no. 10, /2004/10/5865.html. Even William Hagen has noted that Friedrich embraces “one-sided Western stereotypes of Polish attitudes” that the Poles allegedly believed they were the only real victims of the war and denied Jewish claims to victimhood. Hagen argues, contrary to Friedrich, that the Polish underground press’s primary with the fate of the Catholic Poles is not ipso facto evidence of anti-Semitism or moral indifferentism. See William W. Hagen’s review of Friedrich’s Der nationalsozialistische Judenmord und das polnisch-jüdische Verhältnis im Diskurs der polnischen Untergrundpresse (1942–1944) (Marburg: Verlag Herder-Institut, 2006), in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol, 23, no. 3 (Winter 2009): 487–90. A far more scathing review of Klaus-Peter Friedrich’s article “Collaboration in a ‘Land without a Quisling’: Patterns of Cooperation with the Nazi German Occupation Regime in Poland during World War II,” Slavic Review, vol. 64, no. 4 (Winter 2005): 711–46 was authored by John Connelly: “Why the Poles Collaborated So Little—And Why That Is No Reason for Nationalist Hubris,” Slavic Review, vol. 64, no. 4 (Winter 2005): 771–81. However, that study hardly begins to enumerate the many historical errors and misinterpretations that permeate his texts. Despite these glaring shortcomings, Friedrich has no problem in finding venues for his writings in leading academic publications and receives invitations to scholarly conferences on Polish-Jewish topics. At a recent conference Friedrich characterized the German assault on Poland not as a war of annihilation, but as being “in the tradition of the struggle of nationalities (Volkstumkampf) on the borderlands—albeit recklessly brutalized by Nazi ideology.” But “Nazi ideology notwithstanding, the growing pressures of the war economy implied a tacit factual upgrading of the Poles’ status.” Having declared the Jews to be one of their three enemies, along with the Germans and Soviets, the Poles found “common ground” with the Germans in despoiling and persecuting the Jews. See Klaus-Peter Friedrich, “Relations between Jews and Poles under Nazi Rule: The Crucial Period, 1939–1941,” Conference Paper, “Between Coexistence and Divorce: 25 Years of Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jewry and Polish-Jewish Relations,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem, March 17–19, 2009. (Surprisingly, the “common ground” argument in not levelled at the French, Dutch, Belgians or Czechs, who also “profited” from the deportation of several hundred thousand affluent Jews, or at the Jews under Soviet rule who “profited” from the removal of Poles from their prewar positions.) Tellingly, it is in Germany—of all countries—where Jan Gross’s Neighbours received unprecedented and more attention than any other book about Poland, and where alleged Polish “collaboration” with the Nazis has become the most discussed topic in Polish history, eclipsing knowledge of German wartime atrocities directed at Poles.
609 István Deák, “Memories of Hell,” The New York Review of Books, June 26, 1997.
610 For the distinction between the two, see Norman G. Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998), part one, section 3. See also generally Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry, 41–78.
611 Radziłowski, “Ejszyszki Revisited, 1939–1945,” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 15 (2002): 454–55, 467–77.
612 A case in point is Jewish-American sociologist Jan T. Gross, whose role in legitimizing the dissemination in American historical discourse of the crudest prejudices about wartime Polish conduct cannot be overstated. Gross postulates a non-dynamic view of Polish-Jewish relations predetermined by various degrees of anti-Semitism and advances, without any serious research or evidence, sweeping claims about Poles, while at the same time becoming an apologist for Jewish conduct under the Soviet occupation and in the postwar period. He maintains, for example, that “it is manifest that the local non-Jewish [i.e., Polish] population enthusiastically greeted entering Wehrmacht units in 1941 and broadly engaged in collaboration with the Germans, up to and including participation in the exterminatory war against the Jews”; and that “in the process of Communist takeover in Poland after the war, the natural allies of the Communist Party, on the local level were people who had been compromised during the German occupation.” See Gross, Neighbors, 155, 164. A great defender of Jews who greeted the Soviets en masse in September 1939, Gross does allow the Poles, who were severely oppressed by that invader, the luxury of choice he gave to the Jews to prefer the Germans, whose rule they had not yet experienced and who were advancing in an orderly fashion. Polish historians have taken Gross to task in the past for his unwarranted generalizations based on scant research. For example, Andrzej Friszke takes issue with Gross’s baseless charge that the Polish underground press was, with few exceptions, opposed to the Jews. See Andrzej Friszke, “Publicystyka Polski Podziemnej wobec zagłady Żydów 1939–1944,” in Grześkowiak-Łuczyk, Polska, Polacy, mniejszości narodowe, 212. For a devastating critique of Gross’s recent scholarship by well-versed scholars see: Bogdan Musiał, “Tezy dotyczące pogromu w Jedwabnem: Uwagi krytyczne do książki ‘Sąsiedzi’ autorstwa Jana Tomasza Grossa” in Dzieje Najnowsze, no. 3 (2001): 253–80, an English version of which, “The Pogrom in Jedwabne: Critical Remarks about Jan T. Gross’s Neighbors,” is found in Antony Polonsky and Joanna B. Michlic, eds., The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004), 304–343; Alexander B. Rossino, “Polish ‘Neighbours’ and German Invaders: Anti-Jewish Violence in the Białystok District during the Opening Weeks of Operation Barbarossa,” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 16 (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2003), 431–52; Wojciech Roszkowski, “After Neighbors: Seeking Universal Standards,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 3 (Fall 2002): 460–65; Anna M. Cienciala, “The Jedwabne Massacre: Update and Review,” The Polish Review, vol. 48, no. 1 (2003): 49–72; Dariusz Sola, “Jedwabne: Revisiting the Evidence and Nature of the Crime,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 17, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 139–52; Marek J. Chodakiewicz, “Ordinary Terror: Communist and Nazi Occupation Policies. Jedwabne 1939–1945,” Glaukopis, no. 1 (2003): 266–76; Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, The Massacre in Jedwabne, July 10, 1941: Before, During, and After (Boulder, Colorado: East European Monographs, 2005). Many publicists have been quick to espouse Jan T. Gross’s efforts to substitute one myth, that of “Judeo-commune,” for an equally perverse one: “endeko-fascist-commune.” Writing in the September–October 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs, in an article entitled “Poles and Jews,” Abraham Brumberg offered these rambling and internally contradictory views on the Nazi and Stalinist occupation: “The ruling Communist Party became, its formal ideology notwithstanding, the heir to the National Democrats in its vehement nationalism and obeisance to Moscow as the guarantor of Polish security (an article of faith in Dmowski’s writings). … Still another writer, Jerzy Sławomir Mac, rebutted the smug assertions that Poland, unlike other occupied countries, produced no collaborationists, no traitors, and no quislings. On the contrary, said Mac, quite a few Poles actually served the Nazi cause, and others were ready to serve. It was only ‘Hitler's decision that he could do without Polish allies’ that put an end to their hopes.”
613 Another proponent of this approach is Brian Porter, who views the role of historians in the following terms: “it is our task to show how specific worldviews emerge in specific times and places, and how those worldviews, shape social reality and individual actions.” See Brian Porter, “Explaining Jedwabne: The Perils of Understanding,” The Polish Review, vol. 27, no. 1 (2002): 26. This approach goes hand in hand with the author’s penchant for focusing almost exclusively on the conduct of the Poles when assessing Polish-Jewish relations, and by judging that conduct against present-day standards.
614 In her bibliography, Eliach does refer to one title by Jarosław Wołkonowski, but even if she has read it, it is apparent that it had no impact on her assessment of Polish–Jewish relations. There is no reference to any Polish source dealing with the Home Army in the endnotes.
615 Most of thc serious acts of revenge were, in fact, perpetrated by Ukrainians. See Andrzej Żbikowski, “Lokalne pogromy Żydów w czerwcu i lipcu 1941 roku na wschodnich rubieżach II Rzeczypospolitej,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce, no. 2–3 (April-September 1992): 3–18, and the abridged English version, “Local Anti-Jewish Pogroms in the Occupied Territories of Eastern Poland, June-July 1941,” in Lucjan Dobroszycki and Jeffrey S. Gurock, eds., The Holocaust in the Soviet Union: Studies and Sources on the Destruction of the Jews in the Nazi-Occupied Territories of the USSR, 1941–1945 (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1989), 173–79. See also Cholawsky, The Jews of Bielorussia during World War II, 271–73.It is to be noted these incidents often occurred in localities that had not witnessed anti-Jewish incidents in September 1939, and therefore constituted retaliation against Jewish collaborators with the Soviet invaders rather than anti-Semitic outbursts. Moreover, the Polish population did not, by and large, succumb to provocations directed against the Jewish population at large in the immediate aftermath of the Germans’ exposing Soviet atrocities, in which local Jews had taken part. In Głębokie, for example, the local council spoke out against Jew-baiting and called upon the population, consisting of many faiths and nationalities, to unite and make peace among themselves. The punitive actions that followed nonetheless, were not random but targeted those who were closely connected to the Soviet regime: “At first the Gestapo, with the help of the local police and some other local Christians, began to search for Communists and their cohorts who had worked for the Soviet occupation forces, or served them in some capacity. Almost immediately, 42 persons were arrested. … There were also a few Christians … All of those arrested, except for the few, above mentioned merchants, had been officials of the Communist regime during the Soviet occupation.” See Memorial Book of Gluboke (Canton, New York, 1994), 27, 37, a translation of Khurbn Glubok…Koziany by M. and Z. Rajak (Reiyak), originally published in 1956 in Yiddish by the Former Residents’ Association in Argentina.
616 Wołkonowski, Okręg Wileński Związku Walki Zbrojnej Armii Krajowej w latach 1939–1945, 171–84.
617 Krajewski, Na Ziemi Nowogródzkiej, 173–89.
618 Boradyn, Niemen–rzeka niezgody, 173–82.
619 Piotrowski, Poland’s Holocaust, 88–90.
620 For example, the research of Michael Foedrowitz is summarized in Polish in “W poszukiwaniu ‘modus vivendi’: Kontakty i rozmowy pomiędzy okupantami a okupowanymi dotyczące porozumienia niemiecko-polskiego w czasie II wojny światowej,” Mars: Problematyka i historia wojskowości 2 (1994): 165–80.
621 Radzilowski, “Yaffa Eliach’s Big Book of Holocaust Revisionism,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1999): 277.
622 Radziłowski, “Ejszyszki Revisited, 1939–1945,” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 15 (2002): 461–62.
623 Gutman and Krakowski, Unequal Victims, 131.
624 Czesław Miłosz, The History of Polish Literature (New York: Macmillan, 1969), 499–500.
625 Ryszard Kiersnowski, Tam i wtedy: W Podweryszkach, w Wilnie i w puszczy, 1939–1945 (Warsaw: Editions Spotkania, 1994), 173–92; Stanisław Nowicki, Pół wieku czyśćca: Rozmowy z Tadeuszem Konwickim, 3rd revised edition (Warsaw: Oficyna Wydawnicza, 1990), 42.
626 There is no obstacle in the way of historical works of this ilk receiving lavish funding from government sources in Canada. Levine’s book, for example, was subsidized both by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Manitoba Arts Council. (The former council has in the past rejected worthy projects by Polish Canadian authors.) The Canadian Polish Congress voiced meritorious objections to Levine’s book which were summarily dismissed by the Canada Council’s chairman, Jean-Louis Roux, as advocating censorship. The following points were made by the Canadian Polish Congress:
“[Fugitives of the Forest] advances the thoroughly discredited contention that the Polish Home Army unilaterally declared war on the Soviet partisans and Jews. (See especially pages 189–91, 207 and 294, where it is falsely claimed that “the Poles received an order from London ‘to get rid of the Red partisans, especially the Jews’” and that “in late 1942 … the Polish Home Army … declared war on Nazis, Soviets, and Jews”). This thesis has been firmly abandoned by historians from countries of the former Soviet Union (Russia, Belarus and Lithuania) now that the Soviet archives are open and contain numerous documents proving that it was just the reverse, i.e., the Soviet partisans were in fact given instructions to eliminate the Polish partisans and initiated a murderous assault on them.
“Surprisingly, Allan Levine simply ignores the existence of these archives, as well as Polish sources, and relies exclusively on Jewish memoirs. Earlier this year The Polish Educational Foundation in North America published a book dealing with this very same topic (namely, Jewish partisans in the northeastern provinces of prewar Poland—see The Story of Two Shtetls, Part Two, especially pages 40–61), in which the relevant archival documents are cited.
“There is no excuse for any historian worth his salt to ignore important archival material that is readily available and to push views that have been discredited. Nor is it a matter where “facts” are reasonably open to interpretation. The facts are clear and the existence of Soviet orders are not in doubt. On the other hand, the “order” that the Polish Home Army allegedly received to initiate such a confrontation is a fiction. It does not exist. No one has been able to cite such a document even though the Polish archives in London have always been open to historians. …”
“Messrs. [André] Stein and Levine are free to publish their historical musings privately, but certainly the taxpayers of Canada, among them hundreds of thousands of Polish origin, should not be financing books with content of the type we brought to your attention.”
627 Levine is equally poorly informed and tendentious in his more general observations about Polish-Jewish relations. For example, he refers to the “complex and deep-seated anti-Semitism propagated for generations” by Catholic clergy and “passed down as gospel by uneducated peasants to their children.” (Ibid., 33.) First of all, one wonders what is “complex” about Levine’s black-and-white scenario, and secondly, why is he oblivious to the role of traditional Jewish attitudes toward Polish Christians. Another example is his ascribing to the Polish “Blue” police some significant role in the Holocaust. (Ibid., 34.) Szymon Datner, a longtime director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, has stated that the Polish police “were employed in a very marginal way, in what I would call keeping order.” See Małgorzata Niezabitowska, Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland (New York: Friendly Press, 1986), 247. Raul Hilberg, the leading historian on the Holocaust, has portrayed them in a different light than Levine: “Of all the native police forces in occupied Eastern Europe [and to this we could readily add the French police—M.P.], those of Poland were least involved in anti-Jewish actions. … The Germans could not view them as collaborators, for in German eyes they were not even worthy of that role. They in turn could not join the Germans in major operations against Jews or Polish resistors, lest they be considered traitors by virtually every Polish onlooker. Their task in the destruction of the Jews was therefore limited.” See Raul Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe 1933–1945 (New York: Aaron Asher Books/Harper Collins, 1992), 92–93. Notably, the Polish police did not carry out the deportation of 250,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka death camp in the summer of 1942. That ignoble task, larger than the deportations from France and Holland combined, fell principally to the Jewish police.
628 Sharon Abron Drache, for example, hailed it as a “must read” for those who wonder about organized Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, in her review, “Attack of the Jewish partisans,” The Globe and Mail, January 2, 1999.
629 Michael Marrus, a leading Holocaust scholar and dean of graduate studies at the University of Toronto, for example, stated: “My sense is that the Polish Canadians have a case. … Some 140,000 Poles, we estimate, were kept in the camp of Auschwitz and more than half of them were murdered there. Now, this camp has importance for the Polish memory of a war in which some three million non-Jewish Poles died at the hands of the Nazis. … Surely that’s enough to qualify as victims. What more does one need? What more price does a nation have to pay?” See “Michael Coren Live,” CTS—Crossroads TV (Toronto), February 1, 1999. Norman Spector, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel and former editor of The Jerusalem Post, stated that the Prime Minister’s office had “erred” by forgetting about the Canadian Polish Congress.
630 For the various exchanges see Jeff Sallot, “Polish Canadians vent anger at PM,” The Globe and Mail, January 23, 1999; Allan Levine, “The Prime Minister, Auschwitz and the battle for memory,” The Globe and Mail, January 26, 1999; Bernard Wisniewski (Executive Vice-President, Canadian Polish Congress), “What the Polish Christian stake is in Auschwitz,” The Globe and Mail, February 8, 1999; Canadian Press, “Polish group still smarting over trip,” The London Free Press, January 28, 1999; Bernard Wisniewski, “How could that offend?” (letter), The London Free Press, February 9, 1999.
631 Ellen Livingston, Tradition and Modernism in the Shtetl: Aisheshuk, 1919–1939. An Oral History (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1986).
632 Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1999): 273–80.
633 Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 15 (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2002), 453–68.
634 Glaukopis, no. 1 (2003): 284–300.
635 Radzilowski, “Yaffa Eliach’s Big Book of Holocaust Revisionism,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1999): 273.
636 Ibid., 275–76.
637 Ibid., 276.
638 Radziłowski, “Ejszyszki and It Neighbors,” Glaukopis, no. 1 (2003): 289.
639 Radzilowski, “Yaffa Eliach’s Big Book of Holocaust Revisionism,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (June 1999): 278–79.
640 “‘The New Jew Hitler Has Fashioned Into Being,’” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 15 (2002): 445–53.
641 Liekis levelled a similar unsubstantiated charge against the Polish Canadian Congress, who requested Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance to investigate the Koniuchy massacre in February 2001. Liekis writes: “The first impetus to the investigation was made by the Polish emigree (sic) group in Canada who presented their own version of the collective memory. Their story was a repetition of the story displayed during the World War by the followers of the endek ideology in the ranks of the AK.” It is not clear how Liekis arrived at the conclusion that the Canadian Polish Congress’s intervention, which relied almost exclusively on Jewish testimonies, was a display of “Endek ideology.” See Šarūnas Liekis, “Koniuchy in the ‘New’ and ‘Old’ Polish and Jewish Memory,” Conference Paper, “Between Coexistence and Divorce: 25 Years of Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jewry and Polish-Jewish Relations,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem, March 17–19, 2009.
642 On the treatment of the Polish minority in prewar Germany and on the outbreak of the Second World War see Czesław Pilichowski, ed., Zbrodnie i sprawy: Ludobójstwo hitlerowskie przed sądem ludzkości i historii (Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1980), 188, 194–95; Maria Wardzyńska, Był rok 1939: Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce: Intelligenzaktion (Warsaw: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Ścigania przeciwko Narodowi, 2009), 28–42, 75–88. The German authorities closed all Polish schools in Germany proper and, in February 1940, issued a decree banning all Polish organizations and confiscating their assests. This decree was never rescinded by the postwar democratic German state, nor was the Polish community in Germany compensated for their losses. Polish organizations in Germany appealed to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to annul the decree outlawing the Polish minority on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland and commencement of World War II. The treatment of Germany’s Polish minority has been excised from German history books. Although detailing the pesecution of Jews and other groups in prewar Germany, Peter Longerich avoids mention of the treatment of that country’s Polish minority in his The Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). However, one can still encounter the baseless charge that the German minority was persecuted in interwar Poland, even though the evidence overwhelmingly discredits this claim. In fact, the German minority enjoyed full political and civil as well as minority rights including the right to education in German, unlike the Polish minority in Germany which faced severe restrictions. With respect to the Lithuanian minority, the actions of the Polish authorities simply mirrored, by way of retaliation, the treatment of the Polish minority in Lithuania. See, for example, Krzysztof Buchowski, Polacy w niepodległym państwie litewskim 1918–1940 (Białystok: Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku, 1999).
Although Poland has come under particular scrutiny by Western historians for its treatment of minorities—for example, Per Anders Rudling writes that “Poland had one of the poorest records of respecting minority rights in Eastern Europe,” a claim that is simply illegitimate and even perverse having reharg to the treatment of minorities in Germany and the Soviet Union (see Per Anders Rudling, The Battle Over Belarus: The Rise and Fall of the Belarusian National Movement, 1906-1931 (Edmonton, Alberta: n.p., 2010), 187)—those historians somehow manage to overlook the fact that while numerically both national and religious minorities grew rapidly in Poland during the interwar period (except for the German minority, since many of its members left voluntarily for Germany), the Polish minority in all of the surrounding countries decreased in numbers dramatically, despite any outward migrations. For example, in Germany, the number of Poles fell from 301,968 to 113,010 between 1925 and 1933 (when bilingual speakers are added, the numbers fell from 1,525,556 to 440,168), and virtually disappeared in the May 1939 census which recorded only some 14,000 Poles; in the Soviet Union, the Polish population dropped from 788,000 in 1926 to 630,000 in 1939; in Lithuania, the 1923 census reduced the number of Poles to 65,600 (or 3.23% of the total population), whereas the Polish slate took 7.1% of the votes cast in the parliamentary elections that year; in Czechoslovakia, Poles shrank from more than 130,000 in 1900 to 92,700 by 1930 (and to 52,000 in 2001), and intensive Czech colonization (and assimilation policies) managed to transform the onece predominantly Polish Cieszyn/Tĕšín area from 9.8% to 55.8% Czech in that period (and to 80% by 2001). The Polish minority fared worse, often much worse, in every neighbouring country (including Czechoslovakia, which implemented restrictions on Polish schooling and colonization of Czechs in areas populated predominantly by Poles), than the minorities of those countries fared in Poland. Historian Nicholas Bethell believes that reports of Poland’s mistreatment of minorities were exaggerated, and comments: “Poland had none of the security and stability which leads a country to take a tolerant, enlightened attitude towards its national minorities.” See Nicholas Bethell, The War Hitler Won: The Fall of Poland, September 1939 (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1973), 307, 343. The Polish authorities had to respond to rebellions and terrorist activities and did so in a manner that was not nearly as ruthless as the British rersponse to the Easter Rising in Dublin.
Moreover, the situation for minorities in Poland did not fall outside the European norm at that time and compares rather favourably even in relation to many Western European countries. In Italy, in 1922, the use of German in public was forbidden in the former Austrian region of South Tyrol and the following year German place names were replaced with Italian ones. The use of German in classrooms was restricted, being banned completely in 1924. In 1926 all German-language newspapers were closed. Teachers caught teaching German were imprisoned and afterwards banished to convict islands or remote areas of southern Italy. All German teachers were relieved of their duties or were moved to the Italian provinces; all German officials were fired, replaced by a policy of “Italians only.” All German economic associations (workers’ and farmers’) and all German clubs and societies (alpine, gymnastic, etc.) were dissolved and their property confiscated. All public announcements, signposts, signs and shop names had to be in Italian. These brutal measures of Italianization pressured 78,000 ethnic Germans to leave Italy for Austria, with Italian settlers being brought in from Southern Italy, thus dramatically changing the ethnic composition of a region that had been 95 percent German-speaking in 1919. The treatment of Italy’s 300,000-strong Slovene minority was even more abysmal. The Fascists launched institutionalized, ideological warfare against the “barbarous” Slavs and Mussolini decided to “energetically cleanse” the Trieste area of Slovenes. The headquarters of the Slovene movement was sacked and Slovenes were attacked on the streets. A well-functioning Slovenian school system (counting some 500 schools) as well as the Slovenian press and publishing houses were dissolved, teachers and priests were deported or dismissed from their posts, and the use of the Slovenian language in public was forbidden. The Italianization of family names was implemented without the permission of those affected by it. Special courts pronounced 19 death sentences on Slovene resisters between 1930 and 1942. See Klaus Bochmann, “Racism and/or Nationalism: Minorities and Language Policy under Fascist Regimes,” Racial Discrimination and Ethnicity in European History, CLIOH Notebook, Internet: <http://www.stm.unipi.it/Clioh/tabs/libri/book7.htm>; Regional Dossiers for German (South Tyrol), Internet: <>; Rolf Steininger, South Tyrol: A Minority Conflict of the Twentieth Century (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2004); R.J.B. Bosworth, Mussolini’s Italy: Life under the Dictatorship, 1915–1945 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2006), 155–58, 179; Giles MacDonogh, After the Reich: From the Liberation of Vienna to the Berlin Airlift (London: John Murray, 2007), 503–6. The track record of the French is one of the most xenophobic in Europe. The only language allowed in primary schools in France before World War I was French. All other languages were forbidden, even in the schoolyard, and transgressions were severely punished. The French government “carried out a blatantly racist assault on the civil rights of German-speakers in Alsace-Lorraine, eventually deporting 200,000 of them with impunity.” The German language was eliminated from schools in the German-speaking province of Alsace, and was re-introduced as a school subject for two or three hours a week only in 1927. German instruction was completely banned again following Second World War. See Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (New York: Penguin, 2008), 39; Regional Dossier for German (Alsace), Internet: <>. Other Mercator dossiers for France note that minority languages such as Occitan and Breton were suppressed since at least the French Revolution and that, under government and societal pressure, the number of speakers of those languages dwindled dramatically in the 20th Century, to the extent that the French state has been criticized as conducting a campaign aimed at eradicating Breton. In 1925, France’s Minister of public education declared that “the Breton language must disappear.” As late as the 1950s official warning signs were posted in schools declaring: “No spitting on the ground or speaking Breton.” As a result, the speakers of Breton and other minority languages began to be ashamed of using their own language and over time, many families stopped teaching their native language to their children and spoke only French with them. The number of people who speak Breton as their main language fell from more than one million in the 1950s to about 200,0000 today, most of whom are elderly. In 1972, President Georges Pompidou declared that “there is no place for the regional languages and cultures.” France still refuses to this day to ratify the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and teaching in regional languages is not supported by the state. There is very little Breton to be found on the airwaves. Conditions in postwar Western Germany, were not much. After British protection helped restore Danish schools in Schleswig, the number of students fell almost by half between 1950 and 1955 and funding was slashed to cover only half the operating budget of the remaining schools. None of their prewar rights were restored to Germany’s Polish minority. See Edmund Pjech, “Niemiecka polityka oświatowa a mniejszości nardowe w latach 1918–1990: Sytuacja Serbołużyczan na tle innych miejscowości,” Dzieje Najnowsze, no. 2 (2009): 15–33.
After the Civil War in Spain, not only was the use of Catalan forbidden in public, at first it was even punishable with the death penalty. All cultural and educational institutions were closed down, entire libraries and all Catalan publications were destroyed, and the Catalan school system, publishing industry and press were eliminated. Writers and journalists emigrated or went into exile, when they were not murdered or did not become the victims of war. See Klaus Bochmann, “Racism and/or Nationalism: Minorities and Language Policy under Fascist Regimes,” Racial Discrimination and Ethnicity in European History, CLIOH Notebook, Internet: <http://www.stm.unipi.it/Clioh/tabs/libri/book7.htm>. The same held true, incomprehensibly, in countries that had virtually no minorities—certainly none that posed any threat to the dominant societies. After successfully assimilating the Danish inhabitants of Scania, the southernmost part of the Scandinavian peninsula, which was occupied by Sweden in the 16th century and rechristened “Southern Gotaland” (see “Scania: A Region in Europe,” Internet: </index.html>), the Swedes competed with the Norwegians and Finns in carrying out aggressive programs aimed at eradicating the language and cultural heritage of the native Lapps (Sami), who were considered to be racially inferior, by curtailing their property rights, implementing restrictive economic policies, denying admission to public elementary schools, and creating boarding schools where Lapp children were alienated from their people, taught in Swedish, and punished for speaking their native tongue in school (even during breaks between lessons), a rule abolished in Sweden only in 1956. Similar racially motivated policies were introduced to deal with the “Roma problem.” See “The Sami: An Indigenous People in Sweden,” Internet: <http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/03/97/05/4ef76212.pdf>; “Sami People,” Wikipedia, Internet: </wiki/Sami_people>; Reports on “Norway,” December 2000, Institute for Jewish Policy Research and American Jewish Committee, Internet: <.uk/antisem/countries/norway/norway.htm>. Between 1935 and 1976, 60,000 people were forcibly sterilized in Sweden, as part of a government program designed to weed out “inferior” racial types and “social undesirables” in the pursuit of a stronger, purer, more Nordic population. Apart from the mentally and physically handicapped, the undesirables included mixed race individuals, single mothers with many children, deviants, Gypsies, and other “vagabonds.” The sterilization program was rooted in the study of eugenics but expanded in 1941 to include any Swedes who exhibited behaviour judged by the state to be anti-social. Similar programs were in place in other countries such as Denmark, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, and Austria. See Paul Gallagher, “The Man Who Told the Secret,” Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 1998, Internet: </year/98/1/sweden.asp>. The notion that linguistic and ethno-cultural minorities fared better in Western Europe than in East-Central Europe during the interwar period is simply fallacious. The situation in the United States, Canada, and Australia was no better. In Louisiana, for example, 1916 witnessed an assault on the native Cajun culture, when the use of French was banned in all schools and government agencies.
643 Wardzyńska, Był rok 1939, 23–25.
644 Szymon Datner, Crimes Committed by the Wehrmacht during the September Campaign and the Period of the Military Government (Poznań: Institute for Western Affairs, 1962); Szymon Datner, Crimes against POWs: Responsibility of the Wehrmacht (Warsaw: Zachodnia Agencja Prasowa, 1964); Szymon Datner, 55 dni Wehrmachtu w Polsce: Zbrodnie dokonane na polskiej ludności cywilnej w okresie 1.IX.–25.X.1939 r. (Warsaw: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej, 1967); Pilichowski, ed., Zbrodnie i sprawy, 262–75, 285; Alexander B. Rossino, Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2003); Marcin Libicki and Ryszard Wryk, eds., Zbrodnie niemieckie w Wielkopolsce w latach 1919–1945 (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2004), 30–42, 81–104; Phillip T. Rutherford, Prelude to the Final Solution: The Nazi Program for Deporting Ethnic Poles, 1939–1941 (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2007), passim; Wardzyńska, Był rok 1939, 88–99. For the belated German literature on this topic see: Jochen Böhler, “‘Tragische Verstrickung’ oder Auftakt zum Verrnichtungskrieg: Die Wehrmacht in Polen 1939,” in Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Bogdan Musial, eds., Genesis des Genozids: Polen 1939–1941 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2004), 36–56; Jochen Böhler, “Größte Härte”: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht in Polen September/Oktober 1939 (Osnabrück: Deutsches Historisches Institut, 2005); Jochen Böhler, Auftakt zum Vernichtungskrieg: Die Wehrmacht in Polen 1939 (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2006); Jochen Böhler, Der Überfall: Deutsclands Krieg gegen Polen (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 2009).
645 Piotr Semków, “Martyrologia Polaków z Pomorza Gdańskiego w latach II wojny światowej,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, nos. 8–9 (2006): 46.
646 Wardzyńska, Był rok 1939, 98–99.
647 Szymon Datner, Zbrodnie Wehrmachtu na jeńcach wojennych armii regularnej w II wojnie światowej (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1961), 50–51.
648 The figure of 40,000 comes from Rutherford, Prelude to the Final Solution, 43. Rutherford argues that without the experience the Germans gained during the deportation of the Poles from western Poland, the Nazis’ war of annihilation against the Jews of Europe would not have gone as smoothly and swiftly as it did. Ibid., 11. On the German Fifth Column see: Andrzej Szefer, “Mniejszość niemiecka w Polsce w koncepcjach politycznych Trzeciej Rzeszy lat trzydziestych,” in Grześkowiak-Łuczyk, ed., Polska, Polacy, mniejszości narodowe, 171–75; Rossino, Hitler Strikes Poland, 14–16; Tomasz Chinciński, “Niemiecka dywersja w Polsce w 1939 r. w świetle dokumentów policyjnych i wojskowych II Rzeczypospolitej oraz służb specjalnych III Rzeszy, część 1 (marzec–sierpień 1939 r.),” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość, no. 2 (2005), 159–95; Tomasz Chinciński, “Niemiecka dywersja w Polsce w 1939 r. w świetle dokumentów policyjnych i wojskowych II Rzeczypospolitej oraz służb specjalnych III Rzeszy, część 2 (sierpień–wrzesień 1939 r.),” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość, no. 1 (2006), 165–97; Grzegorz Mazur, Życie polityczne polskiego Lwowa 1918–1939 (Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka, 2007), 186–87; Tomasz Chinciński and Paweł Machcewicz, eds., Bydgoszcz 3–4 września 1939: Studia i dokumenty (Warsaw: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Badania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2008), passim, especially 170–204, 338–52; Tomasz Chinciński, Forpoczta Hitlera: Niemiecka dywersja w Polsce w 1939 roku (Gdańsk: Muzuem II Wojny Światowej w Gdańsku; Warsaw: Scholar, 2010).
649 Ephraim Farber, “In German Captivity,” in Dov Shuval, ed., The Szczebrzeszyn Memorial Book (Mahwah, New Jersey: Jacob Solomon Berger, 2005), 106.
650 Christian Jansen and Arno Weckbecker, Der “Volksdeutsche Selbstschutz” in Polen 1939/40 (München: Oldenbourg, 1992); Pilichowski, ed., Zbrodnie i sprawy, 504–18. In the district of Radom alone, the Sebstschutz counted some 4,500 members comprised mostly of ethnic Germans from that area. They took part in the pacification (destruction) of thirty-one villages. See Krzysztof Urbański, Zagłada Żydów w Dystrykcie Radomskim (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Akademii Pedagogicznej, 2004), 51, 58. On the activities of the German minority directed against the Polish state see Wardzyńska, Był rok 1939, 43–49.
651 Lukas, The Forgotten Holocaust, 4; Rossino, Hitler Strikes Poland, 9.
652 “Bombing of Wieluń,” Wikipedia, Internet: </wiki/Bombing_of_Wielu%C5%84>. See also Joachim Trenker, “Wieluń, czwarta trzydzieści,” Tygodnik Powszechny, August 31, 2008 (reprint from a 1999 issue); Janusz Wróbel, ed., Wieluń był pierwszy: Bombardowania lotnicze miast regionu łodzkiego we wrześniu 1939 r. (Łódź: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2009); Joanna Żelaźko and Artur Ossowski, eds., Wieluń 1 IX 1939 r. (Łódź: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2009).
653 Renya Kukielko, Escape from the Pit (New York: Sharon Books, 1947), 2.
654 Mazur, Życie polityczne polskiego Lwowa 1918–1939, 426.
655 Norman Davies, Europe At War, 1939–1945: No Simple Victory (London, Basingstoke and Oxford: Macmillan, 2006), 297.
656 Józef Niedźwiedź, Leksykon historyczny miejscowości dawnego województwa zamojskiego (Zamość: Regionalny Ośrodek Badań i Dokumentacji Zabytków w Lublinie–Pracownia w Zamościu and Kresy, 2003), 44.
657 Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 119.
658 Roman Halter, Roman’s Journey (London: Portobello Books, 2007), 69–79. A Jewish survivor from the town of Bielsko, near the Czech border, recalled that her German neighbours greeted the German soldiers with flowers, screamed “Heil Hitler! Long live the Führer! We thank thee for our liberation!” and even turned a Polish flag into a Nazi German one. Her neighbour, Mrs. Rösche, explained the process: “It’s really simple. You leave the red stripe as it is, cut a circle out of the white, and put a black swastika on it.” See Gerda Weissmann Klein, All But My Life, Expanded edition (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995), 8, 10.
659 Pertti Ahonen, Gustavo Corni, Jerzy Kochanowski, Rainer Schulze, Tamás Stark, and Barbara Stelzl-Marx, People on the Move: Forced Population Movements in Europe in the Second World War and Its Aftermath (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2008), 175–76. As this book points out, Poles seized for forced labour (but not Ukrainians from the Generalgouvernement) and the so-called Eastern workers (Slavs from the Soviet Union) were, by far, the most oppressed of the foreign workers in Germany. Ibid., 170–81.
660 German historian Anna Rosmus has uncovered evidence of widespread involuntary abortions and the killing of thousands of newborn babies born to Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian women deported to do forced labour in the German Reich. Rosmus writes: The mass murder of foreign infants was one of the most shameful crimes committed during the Third Reich. Throughout Germany, unborn fetuses and newborn babies were killed. Fetuses were cut out of their mothers’ wombs, some of them even piecemeal, and killed, sometimes only shortly before birth. It is estimated that about fifty thousand unborn and newborn babies died. Not all pregnancies were discovered and aborted; some babies were born and then taken away from their mothers and placed in so-called children’s homes. There they were allowed to die a lingering, painful death. The total number of these victims is estimated at five hundred thousand. In the small region of Passau, in eastern Bavaria, at least 220 forced abortions took place and at least 700 infants were fed spoiled milk so that they would become ill and die a painful death. All this occurred because their mothers and fathers were Poles, Russians, or Ukrainians who had been brought to Germany to do forced labor and because their children would only be ‘useless consumers of food’ from whom Germany would not profit. The local community bears primary responsibility for these murders, especially peasant wives whose husbands fathered ‘foreign’ babies and who insisted that the abortions be carried out.” See Anna Rosmus, “Involuntary Abortions for Polish Forced Laborers,” in Elizabeth R. Baer, and Myrna Goldenberg, eds., Experience and Expression: Women, the Nazis and the Holocaust (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2003), 78–79.
661 Poles were the first group targeted purely on ethnic grounds, and the hardest hit of the “enemy nations.” Some 17,000 Poles were deported from the Belorussian and Ukrainian border areas in March 1930. At least 36,000 Poles (but perhaps as many as 60,000) were deported to Kazakhstan in 1936 from regions of the Ukrainian SSR adjacent to the Polish border. In 1937 and 1938, in the so-called Polish operation, 144,000 people were arrested, which constituted about nine percent of the 1.6 million Soviet citizens arrested during the Great Purge. (Not all of those arrested in that operation were Poles; Poles accounted for 118,000 to 123,000.) Of these, 140,000 were sentenced administratively, and 111,000 (or 79%) executed. Thus, almost one fifth of the Polish population (which numbered 636,000 according to the 1937 census) were executed or imprisoned in camps in 1937–1938. In addition, several hundred thousand Poles were deported from Soviet Ukraine and Soviet Belorussia to the interior. Historians Aleksandr Gurianov and Andrzej Paczkowski estimate that Poles accounted for almost ten percent of the total number of victims of the Great Purge, and for around 40 percent of the victims of purges directed against national minorities. Amir Weiner points out that by 1939, the 16,860 Poles in Gulag camps accounted for 1.28 percent of the inmate population, while their share in the entire Soviet population was only 0.37 percent. With the exception of Russians, the 0.91 percent gap was the largest among the ethnic groups in the Gulag system. See Aleksander Gurjanow [Aleksandr Gurianov], “Sowieckie represje wobec Polaków i obywateli polskich w latach 1936–1956 w świetle danych sowieckich,” in Jasiewicz, Europa nieprowincjonalna, 972–76; Andrzej Paczkowski, “Poland, the ‘Enemy Nation,’” in Courtois, The Black Book of Communism, 366–67; Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001), 142–46; Stanisław Ciesielski, Grzegorz Hryciuk, and Aleksander Srebrakowski, Masowe deportacje ludności w Związku Radzieckim (Toruń: Adam Marszałek, 2003), 22, 184–93; Pavel Polian, Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2004), 69, 93, 95, 97, 307, 327–28. See also Mikołaj Iwanow, Pierwszy naród ukarany: Polacy w Związku Radzieckim 1921–1939 (Warsaw and Wrocław: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1991), 324–78; Stanisław Morozow, “Deportacje polskiej ludności cywilnej z radzieckich terenów zachodnich w głąb ZSRR w latach 1935–1936,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość: Biuletyn Głównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu–Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 40 (1997–1998): 267–81; Józef Lewandowski, “Rosjanie o Europie Wschodniej i Polsce,” Zeszyty Historyczne (Paris), no. 126 (1998): 180–82.
662 On the little-known anti-Polish policy of the Soviets see Ewa M. Thompson, Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism (Westport, Connecticut and London: Greenpoint Press, 2000), 163–81; Ewa M. Thompson, “Nationalist Propaganda in the Soviet Russian Press, 1939–1941,” Slavic Review, vol. 50, no. 2 (Summer 1991): 385–99. Thompson points out: “For about a month after the Soviet invasion of Poland, virtually every issue of each major Soviet Russian newspaper contained at least one hostile article or poem about Poland and Poles, with a height of thirty-nine in Pravda on 19 September 1939. Poland was presented as a country of inept, brutal people who had somehow managed to survive between two highly civilized nations, Germany and Russia. … Against this assortment of Polish targets an abusive vocabulary was used in articles, poems, and stories, written by Russians of otherwise spotless reputations. … Poland was presented as a place where a small group of Polish nobles brutalized millions of Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Jews.” On the other hand, the signing of the Non-Aggression Pact between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia on August 23, 1939 “eliminated any further criticism of Nazi Germany. The word ‘fascist’ disappeared, and literally overnight the press adopted a pro-Nazi point of view regarding Europe.” Thompson, Imperial Knowledge, 166–68.
663 Proportionately, Lithuanians suffered fewer casualties than probably any other national group under German occupation. Only a few thousand ethnic Lithuanians, out of a population of almost two million, were killed, a toll that includes 500 men who had enlisted for German-sponsored battalions. At least ten of those battalions took part in operations directed against Jews. See Rimantas Zizas, Persecution of Non-Jewish Citizens of Lithuania, Murder of Civilian Populations (1941–1944), Report submitted to the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation in Lithuania (Vilnius, 2003).
664 Since the Germans had only a small occupation force in Lithuania, they relied heavily on many thousands of Lithuanians who served in various formations, as well as local policemen and administrators, to carry out the murder operations. Lithuanian collaborators were also deployed in Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland. See Knut Stang, Kollaboration und Massenmord: Die litauische Hilfspolizei, das Rollkommando Hamann und die Ermordung der litauischen Juden (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996), 156–71; Christoph Dieckmann, “The Role of the Lithuanians in the Holocaust,” in Beate Kosmala and Feliks Tych, eds., Facing the Nazi Genocide: Non-Jews and Jews in Europe (Berlin: Metropol, 2004), 149–68. See also the following essays in Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, and Darius Staliūnas, eds., The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2004): Yitzhak Arad, “The Murder of the Jews in German-Occupied Lithuania, (1941–1944)” (pp. 175–203); Arūnas Bubnys, “The Holocaust in Lithuania: An Outline of the Major Stages and their Results” (pp. 205–221); Martin C. Dean, “Lithuanian Participation in the Mass Murder of Jews in Belarus and Ukraine, 1941–44” (pp. 285–96).
665 Piotrowski, Poland’s Holocaust, 167–75; Stanisława Lewandowski, Życie codzienne Wilna w latach II wojny światowej, 2nd revised and expanded edition (Warsaw: Neriton and Bellona, 2001), 62–77; Stanisława Lewandowska, Losy wilnian: Zapis rzeczywistości okupacyjnej. Ludzie, fakty, wydarzenia 1939–1945, 3rd edition (Warsaw: Neriton and Instytut Historii PAN, 2004), 65–66, 68–78; Cyprian Wilanowski, Konspiracyjna działalność duchowieństwa katolickiego na Wileńszczyźnie w latach 1939–1944 (Warsaw: Pax, 2000), 29, 32, 38, 47–52; Jarosław Wołkonowski, “ZWK-AK a problem mniejszości etnicznych na Wileńszczyźnie,” in Piotr Niwiński, ed., Opór wobec systemów totalitarnych na Wileńszczyźnie w okresie II wojny światowej (Gdańsk: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2003), 45–46.
666 In addition to tens of thousands of Jews, Lithuanian auxiliaries also murdered several thousand Poles in Ponary outside of Wilno. See Helena Pasierbska, Wileńskie Ponary, 2nd revised edition (Gdańsk: n.p., 1996); Kazimierz Sakowicz, Dziennik pisany w Ponarach od 11 lipca 1941 r. do 6 listopada 1943 r. (Bydgoszcz: Towarzystwo Miłośników Wilna i Ziemi Wileńskiej, 1999), translated as Kazimierz Sakowicz, Ponary Diary, 1941–1943: A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005); Marek Robert Górniak, “Ponary,” Encyklopedia “Białych Plam” (Radom: Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne, 2004), vol. 14, 243–45; Monika Tomkiewicz, Zbrodnia w Ponarach 1941–1944 (Warsaw: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2008), especially 139, 143, 216, 222–51, 337–48; Christina Eckert, “Die Mordstätte Paneriai (Ponary) bei Vilnius,” in Vincas Bartusevičius, Joachim Tauber, and Wolfram Wette, eds., Holocaust in Litauen: Krieg, Judenmorde und Kollaboration im Jahre 1941 (Köln: Böhlau, 2003), 132–42. On the persecution of Poles and Jews by Lithuanian collaborators and nationalists see also Piotrowski, Poland’s Holocaust, 163–76. Both German reports and Jewish chronicles from the period refer frequently to anti-Polish measures taken by the Lithuanians. See, for example, Kruk, The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania, 84; Nikžentaitis, et al., eds., The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews, 180.
667 This is a report of the 403 Security Division from July 16, 1941, cited in Raul Hilberg, Sources of Holocaust Research: An Analysis (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001), 111.
668 Aryeh Wilner’s account, “Mon retour de l’URSS,” recorded in October 1941, is found in English translation in Yalkut Moreshet: Holocaust Documentation and Research [Tel Aviv], vol. 1 (Winter 2003): 81–93, especially at 86–87; for the Polish, see Andrzej Żbikowski, ed., Archiwum Ringelbluma: Konspiracyjne Archiwum Getta Warszawskiego, vol. 3: Relacje z Kresów (Warsaw: Żydowski Instytut Historyczny IN-B, 2000), 437.
669 Linas Venclauskas, “Lietuvos įvaizdžiai antinacinėje lietuvių spaudoje” [The Vision of Lithuania in the Lithuanian Anti-Nazi Press], Genocidas ir rezistencija, no. 1 (15), 2004.
670 Arad, Ghetto in Flames, 355–56. An underground newspaper, Laivsė (“Liberty”), issue no. 9 of May 25, 1943, stated: “Over 80 percent of the Jews of Lithuania have already been shot. The Germans conducted these executions, and they were carried out by Germans and all kinds of Janeks and Jasieks (Poles) in Lithuanian uniform.”
671 Wanda Krystyna Roman, “Litwini, Białorusini, Żydzi i Rosjanie w raportach komendanta wileńskiego okręgu SZP–ZWZ,” in Michał Gnatowski and Daniel Boćkowski, eds., Polacy–Żydzi–Białorusini–Litwini na północno-wschodnich ziemiach Polski a władza radziecka (1939–1945): W kręgu mitów i stereotypów (Białystok: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku, 2005): 177–93, here at 185.
672 Impartial observers of conditions in German-occupied Poland dispel the notion that Poles regarded all Jews as their enemies. General Johannes Blaskowitz, commander of the Eighth German Army during the September 1939 campaign and subsequently Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Territories, wrote to Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch, the Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, in his report of February 6, 1940: “The acts of violence carried out in public against Jews are arousing in religious Poles [literally, “in the Polish population, which is fundamentally pious (or God-fearing)”] not only the deepest disgust but also a great sense of pity for the Jewish population.” See Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Reiss, ‘Those Were the Days’: The Holocaust through the Eyes of the Perpetrators and Bystanders (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1991), 4; Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham eds., Nazism 1919–1945: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts, vol. II: Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination (New York: Schocken Books, 1988), 939. Chaim Kaplan, an otherwise harsh critic of Poles, acknowledged: “We thought that the ‘Jewish badge’ would provide the local population with a source of mockery and ridicule—but we were wrong. There is no attitude of disrespect nor of making much of another’s dishonor. Just the opposite. They [the Poles] show that they commiserate with us in our humiliation. They sit silent in the street cars, and in private conversation they even express words of condolence and encouragement. ‘Better times will come!’” On February 1, 1940, Kaplan wrote: “But the oppressed and degraded Polish public, immersed in deepest depression under the influence of the national catastrophe, has not been particularly sensitive to this [pervasive Nazi anti-Semitic] propaganda. It senses that the conquerors are its eternal enemy, and that they are not fighting the Jews for Poland’s sake. Common suffering has drawn all hearts closer, and the barbaric persecutions of the Jews have even aroused feelings of sympathy toward them. Tacitly, wordlessly, the two former rivals sense that they are brothers in misfortune; that they have a common enemy who wishes to bring destruction upon both at the same time.” See Abraham I. Katsh, ed., Scroll of Agony: The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan (New York: Macmillan; and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1965), 82, 114.
673 Andrzej Żbikowski, “Kilka słów o pułapkach w badaniach nad stosunkami polsko-żydowskimi pod okupacją sowiecką w latach 1939–1945,” in Jolanta Żyndul, ed., Rozdział wspólnej historii: Studia z dziejów Żydów w Polsce (Warsaw: Cyklady, 2001), 305–307. This impression is based on an anonymous account by a refugee from Łódź published in Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 667–73, especially at p. 670–71.
674 Aryeh Wilner, “Mon retour de l’URSS,” Yalkut Moreshet: Holocaust Documentation and Research [Tel Aviv], vol. 1 (Winter 2003): 84; Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 435.
675 The descriptions of these massacres are truly horrific. “In Bóbrka, many inmates were scalded with boiling water; in Berezwecz, people’s noses, ears and fingers were cut off, and there were also children’s corpses in the prison compound; in Czortków, female prisoners’ breasts were cut off; in Drohobycz, prisoners were fastened together with barbed wire; in Łuck, a drum lined with barbed wire stood next to one of three mass graves unearthed in the prison yard; in Przemyślany, victims’ noses, ears, and fingers were cut off and their eyes put out; similarly in Sambor, Stanisławów, Stryj, and Złoczów.” Jan T. Gross, Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland’s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 181. This topic has been examined recently by Bogdan Musiał in his study Konterrevolutionäre Elemente sind zu erschießen, which analyzes how Soviet atrocities escalated the brutalization of the German-Soviet war and their impact on the local violence against Jews. According to that author, the total number of prisoners deported to the Soviet interior was 16,340, and the number of those murdered was close to 10,000. Ibid., 200–210.
676 M. and Z. Rajak, Memorial Book of Gluboke (Canton, New York, 1994), 27, 37; a translation of Khurbn Glubok…Koziany (Buenos Aires: Former Residents’ Association in Argentina, 1956). We also learn that the few Jews from Głębokie who had been imprisoned by the Polish authorities before the war were not targeted randomly, but were in fact members of an underground communist cell and thus part of a subversive organization that did not recognize the legitimacy of Polish rule. Ibid., 5. On the whole, the Jewish community had been quite prosperous: “The Jewish Community Executive Committee in Gluboke was a rich one. It owned a lot of land… The Jewish bank, which was held in high esteem, did a colossal volume of business. For both the large and small merchants, the bank would grant aid in the development of their undertakings. In volume, the Jewish bank outdid the local Polish Government Bank. A very important institution, was the ‘Free Loan Society’. They would lend out money, for a long term, without charging interest, and the repayment would be made in installments. Hundreds of craftsmen and small shopkeepers were put back on their feet by the Jewish ‘Free Loan Society’.” Ibid., 3–4. At the beginning of the German occupation, in July 1941, many Christians were arrested for anti-German underground activities and brought in smaller and larger groups to town, only to be executed in the Borek forest. “In the early days this had a horrible effect on the Jews. … They couldn’t reconcile themselves to the fact that people could be taken and shot without any recourse to justice or a trial. The women and children were certainly innocent! Afterwards they became used to it. They became indifferent! They would simply tell about it, passing it on from mouth to mouth, that before dawn so many and so many people were taken into the Borok [sic] to be shot.” Ibid., 44. The initial assistance provided to the thousands of Soviet prisoners of war captured by the Germans soon dried up too. “At the beginning, people didn’t know that giving a prisoner a piece of bread or a little water to drink, was a crime, and people were bold enough to throw bread, vegetables and other food items to the passing prisoners. Immediately, announcements were posted stating that anyone caught giving bread to a prisoner, would be shot to death! Understandably, such an announcement frightened people off, and so they restrained themselves from helping the prisoners. There were some, whose pity for the wretched prisoners weighed so heavily upon them, that they could not help themselves from secretly throwing them bread, thereby putting their lives in jeopardy. … Among the prisoners there were also traitors, which made it even more difficult to flee and to receive any help in one form or another. … Of the 47,000 Red Army prisoners brought to Berezvetch [Berezwecz], almost none were left alive, except for the few who had managed to flee.” Ibid., 28–30. The similarities and parallels in behaviour patterns of the various ethnic groups under both the Soviet and German occupation are again striking. Reports from other towns are similar.
677 Hanna Świda-Ziemba, who hails from Wilno, describes the stunned and sorrowful reaction of the Polish population to the mass murder of the Jews carried out in Ponary by the Nazis’ Lithauanian henchmen, in her article “Hańba obojętności,” Gazeta Wyborcza, September 23, 1998.
678 Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 175.
679 Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 337, 345.
680 Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 416.
681 Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 456.
682 Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 461.
683 Żbikowski, Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 3, 471–72, 473–74.
684 Report no. 5 on the Activities and Situation of the SP and SD Operational Groups in the USSR for September 15–30, 1941, in Wojciech J. Muszyński and Marek J. Chodakiewicz, “W cieniu ‘Barbarossy’: Wybór niemieckich dokumentów policyjnych maj 1941–kwiecień 1942,” Glaukopis, no. 1 (2003): 254.
685 Herman Kruk, The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939–1944 (New Haven and London: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and Yale University Press, 2002), 109–110, 112, 280–81.
686 Nathan Cohen, “The Attitude of Lithuanians Towards Jews During the Holocaust As Reflected in Diaries,” in Zingeris, ed., The Days of Memory, 215.
687 Daniel Blatman, En direct du ghetto: La presse clandestine juive dans le ghetto de Varsovie (1940–1943) (Paris: Cerf; Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2005), 423.
688 Pola Wawer, Poza gettem i obozem (Warsaw: Volumen, 1993), 31.
689 Shalom Cholawsky, The Jews of Bielorussia during World War II (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998), 108, 139, 180–81, 216, 226.
690 Martin Dean, Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941–41 (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire and London: Macmillan, 2000), 142–44. Martin Dean is an Applied Research Scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.
691 See CNN interview with Peter Duffy by Paula Zahn (aired July 8, 2003), posted at: </TRANSCRIPTS/0307/08/se.17.html> and NBC Newsweek article “War Heroes,” by Barbara Spindel (July 10, 2003), posted at: <.news/937363.asp>. It was announced that the film rights to this book were purchased by Miramax for a hefty figure. However, the film Defiance (2008), directed by Edward Zwick, was based on the scholarly study by Nechama Tec of the same name, with obvious embellishments such an intense combat scene involving a German tank which never occurred. For a scathing critique of Duffy’s book see Leszek Żebrowski, “Afery wokół dziejów braci Bielskich ciąg dalszy,” Nasz Dziennik, May 30–31, 2009.
692 Duffy, The Bielski Brothers, 232–33. The reference for the last statement is the final report of the Nowogródek Regional Commissar, written on July 27, 1944 and August 3, 1944, that is, well after the Germans had left the area. It is found in the Bundesarchiv, Berlin, Germany, document R93 13, pp. 138–48. However, an “agreement” is hardly an alliance. An alliance is what Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union entered into in August 1939 when they agreed on the division of Poland between them. At p. 246, Duffy mentions a joint attack by Soviet partisans and Bielski’s combatant unit, on March 5, 1944, in which 47 “White” Polish fighters were eliminated and 20 more injured. According to historian Zygmunt Boradyn, based on Soviet records, an assault by the Kirov and Chapaiev brigades that day resulted in 31 Polish partisans being killed, 22 wounded, and 17 missing. In actual fact, based on Polish sources, only 7 Poles were killed and 8 wounded. Based on their own count, Soviet casualties amounted to 6 killed and 5 wounded. See Boradyn, Niemen–rzeka niezgody, 262.
693 Israel Gutman, “Uczmy się być razem,” Znak (Kraków), June 2000: 66.
- Sir Walter Scott, (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832). He was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet popular throughout Europe during his time.
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- The story contained within these pages actually happened. It is a story which ultimately reveals truths about men, women…and love. It is a story also about the internet which in this day constantly reveals its ubiquitous presence in
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Welcome to the Deuce’; 'Man, we are the real police'; 'You’ve fought long enough'; 'All of us are suffering'ДокументTwo young men, Michael Ceriale and Joe Ferenzi, met in the Police Academy, became friends and partners, then saw their lives change forever one fateful night on patrol in the 2nd District the Deuce.
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