Review of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, by Simon Sebag Montefiore. 2003. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis, appearing at Amazon.
A Fascinating Work on One of the World’s Greatest Mass Murderers
This information-packed volume has so much! I can only focus on a few matters in my review.
The author, a Briton of Jewish descent, is quite candid about the Zydokomuna (Bolshevized Judaism). One of the early leaders of the Cheka was Genrikh Yagoda (Iagoda), who is thus described by Montefiore: “His great achievement, supported by Stalin, was the creation by slave labour of the vast economic empire of the Gulags.” (p. 85). Bearing in mind that Jews constituted only 1-2% of theSoviet Union’s population, Montefiore points out that: “In 1937, 5.7 per cent of the Party were Jews yet they formed a majority in the Government.” (p. 270).
The author continues: “Yet Kaganovich insisted that Stalin’s view was formed by the Jewishness of his enemies—Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamienev. On the other hand, most of the women around him and many of his closest collaborators, from Yagoda to Mekhlis, were Jewish.” (p. 270). Also: “Stalin was surrounded by Jewesses—from Polina Molotova and Maria Svanidze to Poskrebysheva and Yezhova.” (p. 237).
This work does not address the question of whether Lavrenti Beria was Jewish. However, Stalin considered Beria too close to Jews, and perhaps a secret Jew. (p. 485, 550).
Stalin was two-faced on anti-Semitism—condemning and criminalizing it while being one himself. (p. 270). Even towards the end of his life, when he became strongly anti-Semitic, Stalin never stopped using Jews for his own purposes. For instance, while making accusations against Jewish doctors in early 1953, Stalin still found occasion to award Ehrenburg the Stalin Prize, if only as a decoy. (p. 561).
The collectivization process is described in some detail. The Holodomor cost the lives of millions of Ukrainians alone. (p. 75).
Stalin was as Polonophobic as he was anti-Semitic—to use Montefiore’s own term—until the 1940’s. (p. 270). The late 1930’s Great Terror combined classicide, indiscriminate mass murder, and conventional genocide. Montefiore comments: “Simultaneously, Yezhov attacked ‘national contingents’—this was murder by nationality against Poles and ethnic Germans among others… A total of 350,000 (144,000 of them Poles) were arrested in this operation, with 247,157 shot (110,000 Poles)—a mini-genocide.” (p. 204). And this was against Soviet Poles!
Apologists for Soviet conduct have alleged that the 1939-1941 Communist-Nazi alliance was merely a superficial one, and a tactical expedient designed to give the Soviets more time to prepare for war. Evidence to the contrary is provided by Montefiore, who writes: “Zhdanov’s son Yury remembers Stalin and his father reading a specially translated MEIN KAMPF and endlessly discussing the pros and cons of a German alliance. Stalin read in D’Abernon’s AMBASSADOR OF THE WORLD that if Germany and Russia were allies, ‘the dangerous power of the east’ would overshadow Britain. ‘Yes!’ Stalin noted approvingly in the margin.” (p. 272).
The scope of Stalin’s persecutions of Poles increased after the 1939 German-Soviet conquest ofPoland. 1.17 million Poles were deported from eastern Poland, into the depths of the USSR, by November 1940. 30% of the deportees died there. (pp. 277-278). The decision-making process that precipitated the Katyn Massacre is described in considerable detail. (pp. 296-297). Both Montefiore-identified Jews in Stalin’s inner circle (Mekhlis and Kaganovich) supported the slaying of the Polish officers. Soviet military officials were opposed to it. Lavrenti Beria, according to his son’s unverified statements, was opposed to the massacre (Montefiore thinks probably on practical grounds: The Poles may be needed later), but had to go along.
The author repeats the Soviet line about the Red Army being “exhausted” just as it was nearingWarsawin 1944. (pp. 420-421). But then Montefiore turns around, and recognizes the Soviet betrayal of the Warsaw Uprising for what it was: “The extermination of the Home Army completed the ‘black work’ ofKatynForest for Stalin who had no interest in coming to their rescue.” (p. 420).
In conclusion, Montefiore thus summarizes Stalin’s legacy: “Perhaps 20 million had been killed, 28 million deported, of whom 18 million had slaved in the Gulags.” (p. 571).
Here is my review, recently appearing at Amazon. It is ironic in view of all the complaints about the Polish-guerrilla NSZ being systematically anti-Semitic.
Review of Orly I Reszki, by Feliks Pisarewski-Parry. 1984. Warszawa. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis.
A Jewish Member of the Polish-Guerrilla NSZ
EAGLES AND TAILS—a Polish-language book. The NSZ (N.S.Z.) has frequently been accused, in Communist and Jewish writings, of being systematically anti-Semitic, and out to kill fugitive Jews. This work goes a long way to lay these myths to rest.
At first, when the Nazi-German occupants established ghettos for Jews, the eventual fate of the Jews was not apparent. To the contrary: “For some time, the Jews lived in peace and could move about the nation. Businesses flourished in the ghettos, as did communal life. Those sought by the German police found refuge among the Jews.” (p. 18).
For a time, the author bore the false name of Fiodor Bisarycki. He had contacts with the Polish Blue Police (Policja Granatowa) and found that it contained not only Polish traitors and German-servers, but also members of the Polish Underground and people of good will who helped those in need. (p. 23).
Pisarewski-Parry was, for a time, a member of the AK (p. 48) and spent time in the notorious Pawiak prison. (pp. 54-on). Later, he learned that, in 1939-1944, some 100,000 Poles had gone through this prison, of whom 37,000 were killed outright and the remaining 60,000 sent to concentration camps. (p. 59).
The author refrains from making the usual sweeping generalizations about Polish anti-Semitism, the attempt to link it to German Nazism, and the tendency to accuse Poles of delighting in the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto during and after the Uprising. He comments: “I was powerless as I was forced to observe the agony of the Warsaw Ghetto. The leadership of the AK remained in contact with the ZOB. Massive aid was impossible, but was delivered when it was realistic to do so…The Poles were shocked by the shameless mass murder–even those Poles who were considered anti-Semites. There was certainly a big difference between anti-Semitism and criminal conduct.” (p. 84).
Pisarewski-Parry elaborates on the situation facing Polish rescuers of Jews: “To hide one Jew and get caught meant being shot on the spot. Instances of entire Polish families thus executed were many. The Germans carried out the sentences with great sadism and perfidy…” (p. 85). Poles aided fugitive Jews. (e. g., p. 106). He did also, as a member of the Polish Underground, by making forged Aryan documents for them. (p. 86, 115).
As for the Poles as a whole, he comments: “Every nation has its heroes and its hooligans. Mosdorf, the prewar anti-Semite and member of the ONR (O.N.R), died atAuschwitzdefending Jews. His sister, Grace, my great friend, hid Jews and aided them throughout the duration of the war. There were thousands of noble Poles, but unfortunately the distinctive appearances and behaviors of many Chassidic Jews were impossible to camouflage. The conscience of the world should remember this!” (p. 85).
In reflecting upon his Jewishness and membership in the NSZ (p. 65), the author pointed out that membership in Polish guerrilla organizations was primarily the outcome of personal contacts, local circumstances, etc. In fact, he estimates that 50% of members did not know about the ideological affinities of their guerrilla organization. He obviously did.
This work does not say if the author’s Jewishness was open in the NSZ, but it is difficult to imagine that this fact was not known to others in the NSZ. Since Polish guerrilla organizations feared penetration by enemy agents, and realized that many Jews were Communists, they had to be inquisitive about the backgrounds and affinities of their members. Furthermore, Pisarewski-Parry had a Semitic appearance. (p. 19).
The author was arrested by the Germans, but fought his way out to freedom. He later participated in Operation Burza (Tempest).(pp. 120-on). He commented on the Ukrainian separatists’ (OUN-UPA) enmity against the Poles, and how these Ukrainians denounced many Poles to the Germans. (p. 104).
Pisarewski-Parry does not mention the postwar killings of Jews inPoland. However, he recounts the fact that a good deal of forest banditry existed in postwar Poland. (p. 147).
After the war, the author emigrated to Australia. He visited Poland successively in the 1980’s.
Review of Polish Self-Defence in Volhynia, by Wladyslaw Dziemanczuk. (1999). Alliance of the Polish Eastern Provinces, Toronto. Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis, appearing recently (a few more reviews since then) on Amazon.
Volhynian Polish Fortified Villages in Defense Against the Ukrainian Fascist-Separatist (OUN-UPA, or UIA) Genocide
This is one of the few English-language books on this little-known genocidal event. During the German occupation of prewar easternPolandduring WWII, Ukrainian collaborators massively assisted the Nazis in the extermination of the local Jews. In March 1943, with few Jews remaining, some 5,000 members of the Ukrainian collaborationist police (soon to be joined by 8,000-9,000 others members of this police) deserted their posts. (p. 24). They kept their weapons, and formed the nucleus of murderous separatist bands (the UPA, or UIA—the so-called Ukrainian Insurgent Army), now putting their Jew-killing skills to use against the rural Poles. Local Ukrainian peasants were also radicalized, recruited, and conscripted (by force if necessary) as killers.
Over 30,000 documented Polish men, women, and children were sadistically murdered. Owing to fragmentary coverage, the actual projected total was actually about 70,000—and that was only in Volyn. (p. 28).
OUN-UPA apologists have said that the killings were not genocidal, but only a tactic designed to scare the Poles into leaving “their” lands. The falseness of these claims is demonstrated by the OUN-UPA murders of Poles known to be in the process of leaving. For example, one massacre survivor recounted telling his Ukrainian neighbor and friend about his plans to flee to centralPoland. The Ukrainian agreed to warn him of any danger, but instead returned that night with an OUN-UPA group and murdered his family. (pp. 48-51).
Some Ukrainian clergy encouraged the genocide of Poles, blaming Poles for Ukrainians’ problems and employing obvious exterminationist language (Poles as weeds growing on Ukrainian soil). (p. 30, 64). Ukrainian bishops Polikarp and Sheptytsky belatedly (August 10, 1943) called for an end to the “hostilities”, but this was dismissed by the OUN-UPA: “A letter is a letter, because that is politics, but Poles must be cut down anyway.” (p. 31).
The terrorized Poles, at first not realizing the scale of the unfolding genocide against them, eventually established fortified villages (SAMOOBRONY) in defense. The official Polish Underground order to develop fortified villages did not come until May 17, 1943, by AK (A. K.—Armia Krajowa) Colonel Kazimierz Damian Babinski “Lubon”. (p. 16). This was months after the start of the OUN-UPA genocide against the Poles.
The Poles were hampered by an acute shortage of arms. One fortified village, Huta Stepanska, swelled to 16,000-18,000 destitute souls (p. 97)—the survivors of massacres and burnings of all the surrounding villages. The Polish defenders had only 40 firearms, (p. 40) yet managed to beat-off an OUN-UPA attack force that enjoyed at least a 10:1 ratio. (p. 87). Being nearly out of ammunition, the defenders subsequently conducted a mass evacuation. Though several hundred Poles were killed during the evacuation, tens of thousands of others saved their lives by coming to the Germans and “volunteering” for forced labor in the Reich.
At least 21 fortified Polish Volhynian villages, which are listed by name (p. 18), are known to have been well-armed enough to withstand OUN-UPA onslaughts at least until the arrival of the Red Army in early 1944 (after which the Soviets disarmed them.). The best known of these was Przebraze, located in Luck (Lutsk) district. (p. 19-23). It consisted of a series of hamlets converted into fortified bastions, complete with obstacles, barbed wire, etc. It had 120 armed defenders in June 1943, and 1,200 of them in September 1943.
Mobile Polish guerrilla units were developed in order to prevent overwhelming force from being delivered against any one base at any one time. Most of these Polish guerrillas were eventually consolidated to form the 27thVolhynian Division of the AK. In contrast to the 70,000 defenseless Volhynian Poles who lost their lives at the hands of the OUN-UPA rezuny (cutthroats), the lives of a total of some 150,000 Volhynian (Wolyn) Poles were saved by the Polish guerrillas and the defended Volhynian Polish villages. (p. 21).
Official AK orders forbade any acts of retaliation against the OUN-UPA that would involve the killing of Ukrainian women and children. (p. 17). One AK commander, Mikolaj Kunicki “Mucha”, reported capturing several UPA attackers, including a sergeant who had a list in his possession of 17 Poles he had killed, for which he endeavored to get awarded and decorated. “Mucha” ordered the UPA sergeant to be tortured to death, and the remaining UPA men to be hanged. (pp. 44-45).