Zydokomuna in Action; Polish Rescuer Hides 24 Jews, and Another Hides 35
This book consists of two parts: The diary and poetry of Edmund Kessler, who was one of the fugitive Jews in hiding, and the narrative of Kazimierz Kalwinski, the son of the Pole who hid the 24 Jews in his bunker. (p. 110). This work centers on Lwow (Lviv), and encompasses the Soviet, Nazi, and renewed Soviet occupations. WARNING: The cruelties of the Germans and Ukrainians towards the Jews are described in graphic detail–even by Holocaust-material standards. This may be upsetting to sensitive readers.
The Zydokomuna (Bolshevized Judaism) is often rationalized as a reflexive Jewish reaction to fear of falling into the hands of the Nazis. In actuality, the Jewish-Soviet collaboration went far beyond any such considerations. The Zydokomuna was an unmistakably active act of treason and enmity against the Polish state. Kazimierz Kalwinski describes what happened when the Soviets occupied Lwow in 1939. “On the main street I saw a hearse pulled by black horses, on which lay an unusually large coffin draped with a Polish military flag. On both sides of the hearse young Jewish boys repeatedly yelled loudly in Polish, `We are going to bury rotten Poland.'” (p. 107). At one point, Kalwinski himself was threatened by a red-band-wearing, gun-wielding teenage Jewish boy. Members of the Zydokomuna denounced both Poles and wealthy Jews to the Soviets, causing them to be deported to Siberia, where many of them died. Kalwinski thus commented on all this: “This is how they thanked Poland for accepting their ancestors centuries before.” (p. 107).
As soon as the Germans entered Lwow in 1941, they and their Ukrainian collaborators began a mass campaign of robbery and murder of Jews. Kessler describes this as follows: “The notoriously low degree of education and intelligence of the Ukrainian masses with their narrow-minded clergy and bourgeoisie, do not prevent the mob, poorly educated and gullible, from assuming the role of judge and jury.” (p. 34). Just as innocent Poles (and Jews) had earlier suffered because of the Zydokomuna, so now innocent Jews were to suffer in retaliation for the same.
During the Auschwitz Cross controversy, we were told that the Cross is foreign to Judaism. Interestingly, though, Kessler used Christian imagery (e. g., Golgotha, crown of thorns) as he described the tortures and murders of Jews by Germans and Ukrainians. (p. 37).
Then, for a time, the murders abated. Things settled down to “normal”.
In his diary, Edmund Kessler describes the Judenrat. It attracted all sorts of socially marginal people, including: “…the dregs of society whom the tide of Jewish misfortune raised to the surface like muck after a flood.” (p. 46). The informed reader will recognize the striking parallels (even much the same terminology) used by Polish authors in describing the emergence of the szmalcowniki (blackmailers of Jews), out of the woodwork, during the German occupation.
The Germans commenced the mass extermination of the Jews. Besides his diary, Kessler includes poetry. Its imagery is reminiscent of Elie Wiesel’s NIGHT. (pp. 79-91). It also called for retribution: “When Freedom Bell rings, When the call of revenge is heard, There will be terrible consequences, The enemy’s blood will flow in streams.” (p. 85).
Some Jews went into hiding. Just one kilometer from the Pole Kalwinski bunker holding 24 Jews, there was another bunker, sponsored by a Pole, that held 34 Jews. The latter bunker was eventually discovered when a loud quarrel was overheard by a Ukrainian policeman, who informed the Germans. The Jews and Polish benefactors were publically hanged, and left hanging, for a week, as warning to anyone else who would contemplate aiding Jews. (p. 114, 125).
Kalwinski tells how his 24 hidden Jews reacted to this development: “The news caused the people in our bunker to break down, declaring they intended to leave, so as not to further endanger the lives of our family.” (p. 115). Now contrast this with Jan T. Gross and his fans, most if not all of whom did not go through the Holocaust, and who presumptuously continue their denial attitude towards the death penalty facing Polish rescuers of Jews. The 24 Jews in Kalwinski’s bunker most definitely did not share Gross’ attitude!
The 24 Jews in hiding regained their composure. After some eventual close calls, owing to the extreme proximity of some retreating Wehrmacht units, the 24 survived the Nazis.
Roman Dmowski Analyzes Poland’s Jews Under Tsarist Russian Rule
SEPARATYZM ZYDOW…(JEWISH SEPARATISM…) is the title of this Polish-language booklet. Originally published as an article in a Warsaw publication in 1909, it came out before the intensification of Polish-Jewish conflicts caused by the 1912 Jewish vote for a pro-Russian candidate to the Duma (Russian parliament), which amounted to a direct attack on Polish national aspirations, and which provoked the Dmowski-led retaliatory boycott of Jews.
Considering Dmowski reputation, it is astonishing to read the almost-exculpatory tone that he uses, in this publication, while analyzing Jewish separatism. There is no trace of rancor against Jews. He recognizes the fact that some Jews, both converted and unconverted, had been patriotic Poles. (p. 12).
The reader may be surprised to learn that Jewish separatism had been a relatively recent development. During the Piast and Jagiellonian dynasties, Poland’s Jews spoke Polish. It was only during the later influx of German Jews that Poland’s Jews switched to Yiddish–a German dialect. (p. 24). At the time of the Partitions, Poland’s Jews identified with Poland. However, this tie grew weaker with each generation of foreign rule over Poland. (p. 15). By 1909, as recognized by Dmowski, Jews still existed who had been raised from childhood in the spirit of Polish-ness, but these were very rare. (p. 15).
The turning point, in Russian-ruled Poland, had been the failed January (1863) Insurrection. (p. 12). The tsarist authorities commenced a savage repression of Poles that included Russification, effectively reducing Poles to aboriginals. (p. 16).
The Jews stopped seeing the Poles as masters of these territories. Instead of drawing closer to Poles by common suffering, the Jews identified with the powerful Russians. This Dmowski attributes to the Jewish survival instinct of living for centuries in foreign nations, and naturally subordinating themselves to whoever was in power. (p. 17). However, if so, Dmowski does not explain why Poland’s Jews, most of which had lived in Poland in relative stability and comfort for so many centuries, had not lost this instinct by now. [In any case, a similar psychology may explain those Poles who did not draw closer to Jews during the common suffering under the later Nazis.]
The Jews were educated in a Russian spirit and with contempt for Poles. They constantly saw everything Polish as nothing but the subject of putdowns. In time, this led to a “Polish is not desirable”, and then “Polish is contemptible” attitude among the Jews. [p. 17]. [Again, a similar psychological process may explain why some Poles treated Jews with contempt, or at least with lack of empathy, during the later Nazi occupation.]
Revolutionary ideologies grew in popularity among the Jews, and these favored internationalism over Polish-ness. In fact, anything Polish was scorned as contrary to modernity and progress. (p. 18). [Note how the very same slogans were used against Polish patriotism and religion under the Communists, and are again in very recent times by the lewaks (Polish leftists)].
The growth of nationalistic feelings among Jews also drove them away from anything Polish. The growing Jewish intelligentsia was attracted to its counterpart among Russian Jews, and acquired a condescending attitude towards everything Polish. (p. 19). Some Jews moved beyond their traditional role as shopkeepers and usurers, and became part of the Russian-sponsored industrialization of the Russian empire. (p. 23).
The growing Jewish Polonophobia took on a life of its own. Dmowski suggests that false accusations against Poles were made deliberately in order to solidify the anti-Polish orientation among the Jews. (p. 25).
Dmowski presents statistics that show that, whereas the percentage of Jews living in Austrian-ruled and Prussian-ruled Poland had been decreasing, that in the Kingdom (Russian-ruled central Poland) was steadily rising, and amounting to a very-high 15% at the time. (pp. 19-20). About 150,000 of the newly anti-Polish Russified Jews, or Litvaks (Litwaks), had arrived in the Kingdom (p. 7)–not only from Lithuania, but also from other parts of Russian-ruled Poland, and even from central Russia. (p. 5). Expressive and organized, the Litvak immigrants infected the remaining Polish Jews with anti-Polonism. (p. 7).
The overall situation was even worse in Prussian-ruled Poland. The Jews had become so completely self-Germanized that some even became members of the HAKATA–a fanatically anti-Polish German organization. (p. 16). Polish Jews in Austrian-ruled Poland also tended to become Germanized. (p. 11).
Some readers may find Dmowski’s explanations for Jewish separatism a bit on the exculpatory side, and as ones that beg the question. The Poles generally withstood the tsarist Russian oppression and intense Russifying pressures. Why, then, did the local Jews so largely succumb to these processes–unless their original ties to Polish-ness had been weak and ephemeral to begin with?
Certain commentators have blamed the alienation of Jews from Polish-ness on Polish anti-Semitism. Dmowski suggest that, to the contrary, Polish anti-Semitism had been mild in the light of local antagonisms. If anything, the savage nature of Russian anti-Semitism should have driven Jews away from anything Russian. Instead, precisely the opposite happened. Dmowski therefore concludes that it was not about anti-Semitism. It was about politics and economic dependence. (pp. 21-22).
There is no Endeck “inconsistency” on assimilation. Already by 1909, Dmowski had been of the position that Jewish assimilation is not the answer. To begin with, Dmowski (correctly) figured that most Polish Jews would never assimilate. (p. 29). Second, the Polonization of assimilated Jews was mostly superficial (p. 12). Dmowski spoke of assimilated Polish Jews who nevertheless remained far from Polish ideals, aspirations, and societal goals, and even remained in opposition to the same. (p. 26). Finally, Dmowski cited the example of Hungary. Jews had assimilated, and assumed positions of power, but had remained at odds with their host nation. (p. 29).
Nowhere in this work does Dmowski advocate the boycotting of Jews. This came later. The Jews started the boycott process. They suddenly stopped patronizing Polish doctors and lawyers in favor of Jewish ones (who, incidentally, were assimilated). (p. 28).
A Survey of Jewish History in Poland. Understanding Judeopolonia, etc.
JEWS IN THE DEALINGS OF POLAND is the title of this Polish language book. It starts with the beginnings of the Jewish religion (JEPD hypothesis) and ends with the Solidarity Movement. This book cites a large number of obscure sources. This means that the author brings to light a good deal of information that would otherwise be generally unknown, but also means that it is difficult to check most of his sources. Although Wysocki is often critical of Jews, he is even-handed in blaming both Polish and Jewish nationalists for the negative aspects of pre-WWII Polish-Jewish relations. (p. 116).
During the period after the Partitions when Poland languished under foreign rule, some Jews declared their support for Poland. (e. g., p. 69). Many others, however, threw their support towards the partitioning powers. For example, Rabbi Bloch, a member of the Austrian Parliament, spoke in 1890 of how well Jews had been treated in Poland–before declaring his unswerving support for German-ness. Jaffe, a prominent Poznan-area Jew, made a similar statement in 1901. (p. 88). Nor were these atypical in any way. Poznan-area Jews came out and declared their open support for the Prussians. (p. 69). Warsaw Jew David Fajnjaus, a member of Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute, concluded that a large fraction of the local Jewish bourgeoisie was pro-Russian, and that many of these actively support the tsarist authorities in their actions against Poles. (p. 73). Romuald Traugutt, the leader of the Poles’ January (1863) Insurrection, had reportedly been betrayed to the tsarist Russian authorities by a Jew, Arthur Goldman. (p. 72).
Judeopolonia had not been some sort of anti-Semitic bogeyman. Far from it. The concept went back to at least the time of Jacob Frank. An 1898 Jewish publication candidly advocated that Jews literally rule over Poles. Jewish personages, among them Rabbi Yitzhak Goldberg, in 1905, advocated that a type of geographically-separate Judeopolonia be carved out of Polish territory in the form of a separate Jewish province. Karol Kautski, a Jewish economist, favored a German-ruled Judeopolonia (Poles and Jews under Jewish rule), ultimately under the rule of the kaiser, in place of a resurrected independent Polish state. Jewish author Julian Unszlicht described the 1905 Revolution, in which members of the Jewish political party Bund denounced Polishness and Christianity, and called for a Judeopolonia in which Jews would have hegemony over Poles. (pp. 88-90).
Wysocki elaborates on the Jewish push, in the events leading up to and including the Minorities Treaty, to force the new Polish government to be required to conduct public dealings in Yiddish and Hebrew in addition to Polish. This was a backdoor attempt to establish a de facto Judeopolonia. Since few non-Jewish Poles spoke Hebrew or Yiddish, the mandatory use of these languages in public affairs would have created a literal Jewish ruling class over Poles and Poland.(p. 89).
The 1918 Lwow (Lviv) pogrom is described as follows. Poles were fighting with Ukrainian separatists. Jews, as described by quoted Ukrainian publications, sided with the Ukrainians. Jews threw rocks and boiling water, and directed occasional sniper fire, at the Polish combatants. During the transitional period between Ukrainian defeat and Polish control of Lwow, anarchy reigned. It was during this time that there were robberies and murders, commonly perpetrated by common criminals and deserters from the Austrian Army. During this episode, Polish authorities shot some 15 bandits. (p. 94).
Now consider the 1920 Polish-Soviet War. Wysocki quotes Polish General Szeptycki in frequently reporting on individual Jews, and in at least one case an entire Jewish battalion, deserting the Polish Army and joining the Red Army. (p. 109). Wysocki cites a detailed source which touches on the Polish forces fighting border wars with Germany. Here Jews accounted for 193 of 202 deserters, 398 of 411 draft dodgers, etc. (p. 110).
The remainder of the book, dealing with Poles and Jews before and during WWII, and the post-WWII aftermath, generally presents familiar information. However, there is also some seldom-told information. The author provides a very comprehensive account of post-WWII Jewish attacks on Poland (p. 179-on), many of which were made in Israel and other locations, and which therefore are unlikely to have been known to readers living outside these locations. Wysocki also presents a detailed listing, and analysis, of Jews in the post-WWII Soviet Communist puppet government ruling Poland after WWII. (p. 189-on).
Tells Us More About the Author’s anti-Polish Biases Than About the Holocaust
Marian Marzynski has produced a long and tedious film that not only exhibits a pronounced Polonophobic slant, but fails to inform the viewer about the proper context of the tragic events that took place. A much better and objective source of information about Shtetl life, in my opinion, is the book SHTETL, by Eva Hoffman.
The content of Marzynski’s film is so strongly Judeocentric that the viewer is almost made to think that nothing happened during WWII except the destruction of Jews. The viewer gets no hint of the fact that Poland, which had fallen to the Nazi German and the Soviet Communist aggression, was to suffer the loss of 3 million gentile lives in the hands of the Germans alone. Not a word is mentioned about the large number of Poles (and also some Jews) who had been deported from the Bransk area to horrible deaths in the Soviet gulags, partly the outcome of the large-scale collaboration of local Jews with the Soviets.
Marzynski presents other content in a tendentious manner. For instance, a scene depicts anti-Jewish prejudices in the form of a Polish peasant who supposes that Jews have lots of money. No context is provided. The viewer gets no idea of the economic disparities that had arisen between Poles and Jews, partly the result of centuries of a cozy relationship between Jewish merchants and the foreign rulers of Poland after the Partitions. And, of course, no mention is made of the fact that many Jews had equally distorted (not to mention also negative) views of Poles as that Polish peasant had of Jews.
Marian Marzynski pays a great deal of attention to a small group of Poles who collaborated with the German Nazis against Jews. This completely ignores the fact that Poland had a much lower collaboration rate than most other European countries. Moreover, it ignores the sad fact that the biggest assistants to the Germans in the roundup and sending of Jews to their deaths were none other than the Jewish collaborators-especially the notorious Judenrats and the Jewish Ghetto Police.
Marzynski presents a scene involving modern Israeli students. Judging by their questions and the tone and content of their anti-Polish accusations, one is struck by their frightful ignorance of basic historical facts. Not only do they have no idea of what Poles went through: They almost seem to think that Poles lived in freedom and prosperity during German rule. The tenor of Marzynski’s scene involving Israeli students is corroborated by the kind of questions asked of Poles by visiting Israeli high school students (e. g., “What kind of pensions are those Polish guards of Auschwitz getting?”). The informed viewer cannot help but ask questions such as the following: “Who is teaching Israeli children such venomous bigotry against Poles?” “Denial of the Holocaust is not tolerated, so why are such Polonophobic prejudices tolerated?” “What kind of portent do the warped attitudes exhibited by Marzynski’s sample of Jewish students have for present and future Polish-Jewish relations?”
Exceptionally Detailed About Foreign Rule Over Partitioned Poland. Substantial Size of Litvak Migration
The content of this book (review based on original, 2nd edition, published in 1920) starts with Polish territory in pre-literate times and leaves off at 1914. For this reason, it includes a perspective on Partitioned and occupied Poland not colored by later events.
One notable feature of this book is its depiction of Austrian rule over Poland that, although less harsh than its Russian and Prussian counterparts, was not nearly as benign as sometimes portrayed. For instance, there was Germanization at various levels, including the University of Lwow. Overall, “The German language and a German staff were supreme in the schools and seminaries; the censor ruthlessly blotted out the very names of Pole and Poland from the textbooks.” (p. 91). Ecclesiastical properties were confiscated, and large numbers of Polish men were conscripted to serve in Austria’s military adventures. (pp. 48-49). Taxation of Poles was murderous: “Thus it was that one of the richest Polish countries [Galicia] was reduced to a state of inconceivable poverty, the traces of which have not been effaced up to the present time.” (p. 49). Local German governors: “…blindly obeyed the orders from Vienna, absolutely disregarding the needs of the population, and were good for nothing but sowing discord between noble and peasant, between Ruthenians and Poles.” (p. 91).
Ukrainian accusations of Poles using their political power, under Austrian rule, to suppress them, are not true. Konopczynski comments: “The Polish parties had always endeavored to satisfy the intellectual needs and the intellectual culture of the Ruthenians, wherever such needs showed themselves. Proofs of this may be found in the Ruthenian upper schools opened in Eastern Galicia, in the thousands of Ruthenian elementary schools, in the equal status of the two languages in the training-schools of the east, in the introduction of Ruthenian as an official language in district-councils wherever the communes asked for it (1907), in the creation of numerous Ruthenian chairs at the university of Lwow [Lviv], in the granting of large subsidies to the Ruthenians, of national institutions of every sort. All Polish parties recognize the right of Ruthenians to possess a university of their own, though the majority are opposed to the division of the university of Lwow into two separate sections, one Ruthenian and one Polish. But all this was not enough to soften the hostility of the Ukrainian party, which is all-powerful among the Ruthenians. This party could not bring itself to acknowledge, that a people, whose culture and political education was in its infancy, has still many efforts to make in raising itself to a higher level, which would enable them to compete on equal terms with the heirs of an ancient civilized country like Poland.” (p. 101).
Now let us focus on the Prussian share of partitioned Poland. Konopczynski comments: “The overt aim of the government was to annihilate Polish landed property, and in consequence uproot the Polish population itself, according to the motto of the philosopher Edward Hartmann: `ausrotten'” (p. 80). Polish resistance to draconian German denationalization of Poles included the following: “In consequence a few years later (1906-1907) the Polish children protested against the Germanization of their religious lessons by a giant strike which lasted eight months and comprised more than 100,000 scholars.” (p. 81).
Bismarck’s KULTURKAMPF, which began in 1871 (p. 78), was so comprehensive that it washed away the previous German liberals’ sympathy for Poles, and turned even Germans outside Prussia against Poles. (p. 82). The fanatically anti-Polish Society of the Eastern Marches (OSTMARKVEREIN, or HAKATA) acquired tens of thousands of members throughout Germany. (p. 82). Poles faced repression like never before. In the end, Prussian rule over Poland was so brutal that large areas of Silesia, East Prussia, Poznania, and other areas ended up largely Germanized, especially within the span of a few decades, by the early twentieth century. (pp. 83-87).
Tsarist rule over the Russian share of Partitioned Poland became especially onerous after the failed January (1863) Insurrection. For example, there were public hangings of Poles in hundreds of locations in order to terrorize re-conquered Poland into submission. (p. 123). Systematic Russification was implemented. All traces of Polonism and Catholicism were erased as much as possible. In some locations, Polish Catholic Churches were converted into Russian Orthodox ones. (p. 128). [Decades later, after Poland had been resurrected as a nation, Poles reconverted some of these Orthodox churches back into Catholic ones. Because of this, Poles were (and are) falsely accused by Orthodox Ukrainians of forcible attempts to impose Roman Catholicism on Ukrainians!]
Much of the Pre-WWII anti-Semitism, for which Poland nowadays gets blamed, owed to the natural consequences of the tsarist-Russian policies towards Russian-ruled central Poland, as described by the author: “The Jews were driven from the [Russian] Empire, either by pogroms, or by administrative measures. They crowded into the Kingdom of Poland where their invasion caused a grave crisis of nationalities. Whereas in 1817 they did not form more than 7.8% of the population, they now constituted 14.5%. Under the influence of these newcomers, known as `Litwaks’ [Litvaks], a well-defined movement towards national separatism began to take shape among the Jews of the Kingdom. Moreover, these `Litwaks’ had brought with them the Russian language and a superficial Russian culture; they affected to despise their Polish surroundings and acted as Russifying helpers and `agents provocateurs’, sowing discord between the peaceful Pole and his Jewish fellow-citizen.” (p. 135). Obviously, if the Litvaks were sufficient in numbers to account for a substantial fraction of the difference between 14.5% and 7.8%, then their migration could not have been a small one, as argued by some.
Captures Much of the Drama About Polish Rescuing of Jews
The setting of this 90-minute DVD is Przemysl, eastern Poland, during WWII. First come the Russians, then the Germans, and finally the Russians again. Based on a true story, a teenaged Polish girl rescues many Jews by hiding them in a large house.
It is obvious that professionals did not make this film, and that it was not made by Hollywood. Granted that some of the visual effects are primitive, and that there are misconceptions about the war and occupation. What it lacks in Hollywood pyrotechnics, and other shortcomings, it more than makes up in content. It is a moving story of death-defying heroism, as well as the power of faith and prayer.
Poland in conquered in 1939, and Russians rule Przemysl. Nazi Germany attacks its erstwhile Soviet ally, and rules over Przemysl from mid-1941 to mid-1944. The teenage Polish girl “Fusia” (not the real name of the actual Polish girl who engaged in these heroics) loses her parents, who are deported to Nazi Germany for forced labor. She must care for herself and her little sister. Soon she will be caring for far more.
The Germans humiliate the Jews, destroy their shops, and shoot some of them. Soon they will do far more. They lock up the Jews in a ghetto. Fusia defies the law by smuggling food into the ghetto. Then the Germans start shipping the Jews out to “labor camps”. Some of the Jews figure exactly what the Germans actually have in mind, and beg to stay with Fusia. One of them shows up, all bloody, and tells of how he had jumped out of the train. She accepts more and more fugitive Jews in her house.
The situation in which the young Fusia has to deal with is onerous. She gets a job whose boss is a Volksdeutsche in order to earn enough money to feed the fugitive Jews. She cannot allow a prospective suitor to walk her home, or have any semblance of a normal life otherwise. Neighbors notice more and more people going to her home. Someone comments that the food that her little sister is carrying home is “quite a lot for two sisters.” However, no one denounces her.
During the German occupation of Poland, some Jews actually gave up, left their hiding places, and turned themselves over to the Germans–causing not only their deaths but also the deaths of other hidden Jews and their Polish benefactors. Fusia deals with a hysterical woman who wants to do the same.
For quite a while, things seem to be working out. There are the usual spats between confined people, and Fusia is angered by the conduct of some of the Jews–conduct which can easily lead to the German discovery of the hiding place, and certain death to Fusia, her sister, and all the Jews. Then, very unexpectedly, the Germans want to requisition the big house for themselves, and want it almost immediately. Fusia prays, and then…
Communist-Era Polish Church-State Relations With Amazing Similarity to Current Left-Wing Attacks on the Polish Church
Michnik quotes the Polish bishops’ riposte, which, again, is very timely: “Moreover, they (atheists attacking the Church) have put on a mask of tolerance, humanitarianism, and progress…How many times have we heard the outrageous charge that the holy Catholic faith, `our life and our hope’, is nothing but `reactionary, obscurantist, and backward’?” Yet this is the faith that has unified Nation and state, and has nourished virtually all Polish generations, including thousands of the very best sons of the Nation…We most solemnly declare that we will not allow our Catholicism to be called `religious fanaticism’…We would be fanatics only if, in our churches and on our pilgrimages, one could hear talk of hatred, of incitement to violence and vengeance. But no one has yet heard these things–neither at Jasna Gora nor any place else.” (p. 74).
Adam Michnik (vel Aaron Schechter) is identified, in the Introduction by David Ost, as a Jew and unbeliever. (p. 21). Not surprisingly, Michnik’s background colors his attitudes toward the Church. Ost comments: “He [Michnik] sees in the Church a powerful ally in the fight against the Communists’ antidemocratic rule, but is wary of the Church that is still committed to its own form of premodern antidemocratic rule.” (p. 9). Michnik also identifies himself as a socialist and opponent of both capitalism and, especially, all forms of totalitarianism, and adds: “When I speak of `dialogue’ with Christianity I am not speaking of intellectual swordmanship or a tactical play for power. I am speaking of basic human values.” (p. 192).
Michnik candidly comments: “To tell the truth, I am not too fond of the argument that Catholics deserve rights (religious, cultural, political, etc.) because they constitute a majority of Polish society.” (p. 139). What about the rights of the majority? When the will of the majority is about to be thwarted, should not the minority be required to satisfy the strongest burden of proof that its human rights have in fact been violated? Or should Polish public life be completely sanitized of any trace of Christianity, all in the name of “separation of church and state” [or, nowadays, “pluralism and diversity]?”
Cardinal Wyszynski defined secularization as the aggressive secularization of all social institutions. Such a definition, according to Michnik, implies the elimination of a nation’s religious traditions, and is merely synonymous with totalitarianism, which Michnik repeatedly rejects. (p. 140). This is patently disingenuous. As exemplified by the situation in modern Poland, when anti-Christians cannot suppress Christianity by government force, they do so gradually by other, more indirect, means.
The author defends Freemasonry, citing several prominent Polish Freemasons, quoting the voluntary nature of its membership, portraying the movement as one that has been a champion of human rights, and characterizing its critics as mere searchers for scapegoats. (pp. 145-146). In doing so, he ignores the many virulently anti-Christian aspects of Freemasonry. Read the Peczkis review of: The War of Antichrist with the Church and Christian Civilization, Lectures.
Michnik criticizes those Poles who reject French church-state conceptions. (p. 142). Then he turns around and tacitly validates such a rejection as he describes the early post-Stalinist views of Polish leftists: “The anticlericalism of Western Europe–radical and rationalist, Voltairean and Jacobin–corresponded quite well to the anticlerical ethos of the Polish intelligentsia.” (p. 249).
The author himself acknowledges once having held such views against the Church, until he gained respect for the Church because of the Church’s struggle against both Hitlerism and Stalinism. (p. 181). Michnik also rejected the notion that a renewed drive for political power is a significant danger emanating from the Church: “Under present conditions in Poland, there is no danger of theocracy.” (p. 182).
Now consider the present. David Ost hits the situation facing modern Poland right on the head as he comments: “The dividing line between the Right and the Left in the 1990’s is between nationalism and liberal internationalism more than between capitalism and socialism.” (p. 27). Such is the culture war in Poland that continues to this very day.
The Polish Question, Jewish Beneficiaries of Polish Losses, Encyclopedic Detail on the Polish anti-Prussian Economic Moves, etc.
Butler alludes to the Litvaks, and the tsarist Russian policies designed to exacerbate Jewish-gentile conflicts, as follows: “The problem of the Jew in countries like Russia and Poland cannot be stated in terms of Western Europe. It is conditioned, not primarily by religious feeling, but by economic conditions…The official Russian policy in recent years of concentrating the Jews in the Western provinces led to a large influx of Russian Jews into Poland (general called `Lithuanian Jews’ [Litvaks] though they do not for the most part come from Lithuania), who compete with the original Polish Jews, and have markedly lowered the standard of living…They held, and hold, four-fifths of the trade of the country in their hands, and control a large proportion–how large is not easy from the available statistics to determine–of the capital invested in Polish industry.” (pp. 124-125).
The author continues about the Jews and their self-imposed apartheid (my term): “With the exception of a very small number of wealthy individuals, who would like Judaism to be treated as it is treated in Western Europe, as an affair, not of nationality, but of religion, the Jews in Poland speak a different language, wear a different dress, eat different food, are educated in different schools, and organized in different political Parties, from their Christian neighbors. Movements like Zionism, which in West European eyes seem to have a purely visionary appeal, assume an intensely practical significance in the politics of Eastern Europe.” (p. 125).
As for Jewish political radicalism, Butler comments: “Social Democracy made its first appearance after the close of the [19th] century, and was confined almost exclusively to the towns, where it was colored and dominated by the White Russian and Jewish revolutionaries.” (p. 60).
Holocaust-uniqueness advocates would have us believe that genocide of Jews was special because of the long-held so-called Jewish Question. This is, at best, a NON SEQUITUR, if only because “Jewish Question” was open-ended (e. g., p. 125), and history cannot run backward. Moreover, Jews were not the only ones seen as some kind of challenge or problem requiring some sort of solution. Butler used the term Polish Question many times (see Index, p. 172, left side) and various German authors not only wrote of a JUDENFRAGE, but also of a POLENFRAGE (e. g., p. 85).
Nowadays, much is said about how Polish owners of post-Jewish properties are the beneficiaries of the German-made Holocaust. However, benefitting from the foreign-induced losses of the other was/is a two-way street in Polish-Jewish relations. Jews often were the beneficiaries of the heavy-handed Prussian policies that expropriated land from Polish owners. Butler comments: “Between 1886 and 1890, the Settlement Commission acquired 133,824 acres of land, 90 per cent of which came from Polish landlords, and settled 650 German families. The purchase money, or such part of it as the vendors could save from the Jews, filtered through to Paris, Nice, and Monte Carlo in the usual way.” (p. 91).
This book provides extensive detail about how the Prussian Poles developed themselves into an economic force that thwarted the Prussianization attempts of the likes of Bismarck and von Buelow. (pp. 83-102). The Prussian Polish peasant national consciousness was said to awaken about 1873, when the Germans tried to force the German language on the Poles. (p. 87). That year, there were 7 Peasant Unions in Poznania. In 1875, there were 58; in 1876, 74; in 1877, 105, and in 1880, 130. (p. 87).
Butler comments: “They [the Poles] have organized the economic life, first of the peasant, then of the tradesman, and, lastly, of the artisan, with an enterprise and a patience incredible to anyone who has studied the Polish character only in Galicia and the Kingdom. They have learned from the Prussian oppressor the virtue of discipline…They have evolved a State within a State…” (p. 84).
The Polish co-operative banks, like the earlier German ones on which they were modeled, existed in order to organize credit. The German ones, in turn, had been modeled by the English co-operative banks, whose goal had been to eliminate competition while relying on joint-stock banks for organization of credit. (p. 89).
The Polish co-operatives always included German members in order that the Prussian government would not bear down too hard out of fear of harming these Germans. (p. 96). By about 1900, the Polish co-operative movement had grown so powerful that the Prussian authorities could not destroy it without causing an economic crisis. (p. 97).
The end result of the Polish co-operative movement was a fine example of what nowadays is called POLAK POTRAFI (The Pole can do it.) It also was a veritable role-reversal of the disciplined German and the emotional, quarrelsome Pole: “The German co-operative societies have neither the cohesion nor the discipline of the Polish societies…The German Peasants’ Association and the German Landlords’ Association fight openly, while the Pole mocks.” (p. 100).
In time, the Prussian model was adopted, on a smaller scale, in Russian-ruled Poland. It ran into the same “growing pains” that its Prussian counterpart had encountered some twenty years earlier. (pp. 104-405).
Rubinstein’s Life Through 1916; Frank Comments on Jews; Poles Combat Prussianization
This memoir is about Rubinstein’s childhood and early career as a pianist. My review focuses on matters related to life in foreign-ruled Poland. For a time, Rubinstein’s love for Poland was not in a patriotic sense. (p. 13). Later, he identified himself explicitly as a Polish patriot in response to the Prussian mistreatment of the Poles. (p. 44). When news came of Poland being in the process of resurrection as an independent state, Rubinstein strove to join the Polish forces. (pp. 433-444).
While a boy, Rubinstein had personally experienced a Russian-made pogrom in Russian-ruled Poland. (p. 12). Later in life, he came to know pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski, and denied the claim that Paderewski had been an anti-Semite. (p. 81). While on a concert tour, Rubinstein was avoided by Fritz Mueller, a budding German composer, and Rubinstein suspected anti-Semitism as the motive. In actuality, Mueller was merely afraid of him personally. (pp. 277-278).
Rubinstein had conversations with his fellow Jews, in which the themes centered on Jews as victims and Jews as objects of envy. (pp. 364-365). Earlier, however, he had voiced frank criticism of certain aspects of Jewish conduct. He said: “My point of view was that anti-Semitism, in many ways, was justifiable. `When I see these rich Jews and their wives behaving in public the way they do, showing off their wealth, their jewels, their furs, pushing themselves forward wherever they go, I can understand the indignation of the Gentiles.'” (p. 363).
Rubinstein’s contempt towards Orthodox Jews paralleled that of those (e.g., reputed members of Haller’s Army) who humiliated them. When reminded by his friend Dr. Goldflam that only a small minority of Jews were wealthy, Rubinstein retorted: “‘All right, doctor, all right,’ I argued hotly, `but what do we have on the other hand? The ghettos? These masses of meek little men with their beards and side curls, afraid of everything and everybody? Why don’t they use their born gifts and intelligence for something better than buying and selling clothes? It infuriates me when anti-Semitic Poles slander us, calling us Jews usurers and thieves. I know that we have, fortunately, a highly cultured elite, too,…but it is too small–it is unable to offset the bad effect of the rest.” (p. 363).
Earlier in life, Rubinstein’s antagonism had been even stronger: “We had been brought up in the Polish language. We were little concerned about Jewish laws or dogma, although we were always proud of our race. Still, I do remember having been derisively critical of the Polish Orthodox Jews, with their long black coats and their sidelocks and beards and their singsong. My father had taken me, once or twice, to a synagogue, but only for musical reasons–to hear a famous cantor perform–and on these occasions there was a curious mixture of Jewish worshippers and Christians who were enthusiastic about the singer.” (pp. 46-47). [Misconduct against Orthodox Jews was hardly limited to some of Haller’s men. The informed reader realizes that, even in modern Israel, Orthodox Jews sometimes face humiliations–in this case from fellow Jews.]
Attention is now focused on German-Polish relations. Rubinstein described how the Poles thwarted the harsh Prussian measures: “Being fervent Catholics, they produced many more children than their oppressors or any other European country–the Germans used to call them, derisively, `Polnische Karnickel’ (slang for Polish rabbits). But that wasn’t all–overnight these carefree, free-spending, light-hearted people turned into first-rate economists. In order to fight the German offensive, clergy, peasants, and landowners pooled their money, opened banks and other organizations of credit, and thus, well-armed, succeeded in buying, often under assumed German names, twice as much land as they had been losing to the settlers. The whole province became divided into two fanatically hostile groups…” (p. 44).
Accounts of WWI German atrocities were not entirely GREUELPROPAGANDA (propaganda of horrors). Rubinstein reports how the Germans had murdered a noted fellow composer, Alberic Magnard, for not being polite enough to them. From then on, Rubinstein swore to avoid Germany in his concert tours. (p. 439).
New Post-WWI Nations, Polish-Jewish Relations, “Polish Fatalism”, Versailles “Injustices” to Germany Exposed, etc.
Mowrer discusses both Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism. He quips: “But Bautzen, Kottbus, Zerbst, Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Torgau, Glogau, Stargard–all these are old Slav names, Germanized…the ancient Slav lands, the valleys of the Elbe and the Oder…” (p. 298).
The author analyzes the Ruthenians (Ukrainians) of eastern Galicia. He affirms the fact that the Austrian authorities, “Took care to encourage by every possible means the national sentiment of the Ruthenians, so as to be able to play them off, in case of need, against the Poles…” (p. 208).
Although the author often mentions Poles as anti-Semitic, he does come to a point in which he blames both sides for the negative aspects of their relations. He writes: “None of these racial minorities are likely to be a cause of serious trouble except the Jews, who form an unassimilated and utterly foreign body, in language, customs and religion no less than in sentiment… [Jewish population concentration in Poland.] No other explanation is needed of the friction which has manifested itself between the two races, both prolific, both intelligent, both religious and both stubborn…Assimilation, which is not impossible, may truly begin only when the Poles, on their part, will adopt a liberal policy, as indeed they now seem inclined to do, and when the Jews, on theirs, will frankly accept Polish sovereignty and cease their subtle agitations against the newly founded state.” (p. 210).
As for the Zydokomuna (Bolshevized Judaism), Mowrer traces its origins as follows: “As for the Jews their sympathies may well be Bolshevist. Obliged under Czarism [tsarism] to dwell outside the pale, that is, west of the river Dnieper, intelligent, visionary, unhappy and oppressed, they absorbed extreme ideas out of Germany like so much blotting paper. Indeed, it may be said that it was through the Jews, living as they did near the German border, that socialism first penetrated into Russia.” (pp. 141-142).
When it comes to Polish attitudes towards Communism, Mowrer notes that, notwithstanding the wrongs faced by Polish peasants (p. 142), Communism had minimal appeal among Poles, for religious and patriotic reasons, notably the following: “Bolshevism to them [Poles] means simply a Russian army which tried to overwhelm them, and very nearly succeeded. It is the `hereditary enemy’ disguised in a social formula.” (p. 142).
Clearly, although both Poles and Jews experienced oppression, their diametrically opposite views of Communism stemmed largely from the fact that many of Poland’s Jews had no real solidarity with Poles and Poland. Consequently, unlike the Poles, these Jews had no problem with the Russian conquest and continued rule of eastern Poland. Also, unlike religious Poles, religious Jews were willing to overlook the antireligious and murderous aspects of Communism.
Poland’s detractors, notably the cleanliness-oriented Germans, have tended to look down on Poles as a dirty, fatalistic people who eschew order and discipline. Mowrer considered this idea in the context of peasant Poles’ resistance to modern measures that would end typhus: “This indifference and this fatalism seem to be based largely on the fact that not only typhus but many other forms of human misery are endemic in Poland. The villages are dirty and poor, the towns overcrowded, seeming to consist largely of slums.” (p. 109). The Poles’ resistance to authority stemmed from over a century of harsh foreign rule. Mowrer comments: “Again, the very fact that the government orders them to bathe is sufficient reason for the Poles to evade the order, if they can. For generations, the only government these unhappy people have known has been a government of oppression. For generations, they have been accustomed to suspect a hidden motive of oppression in every edict, and a hostile trap in every decree. They have therefore developed to a high degree the quality of passive resistance, and even knowing that the present government is wholly different from the old, they cannot change their attitude in a day.” (p. 112).
Both Poles and Jews had their irrational beliefs: “There is a time-honored superstition in Poland, among Jews and Christians alike, that body-lice ward off disease.” (p. 112). This, of course, made typhus hard to eradicate.
Now consider the Versailles accords. Mowrer points out that, instead of being penitent for their aggression, the Germans prefer to think of themselves as wronged by the peace accords. (p. 303). [Publishing this book in 1921, Mowrer could not have known that the “injustices” of the Versailles accords eventually would be (and still are today) used as an excuse for Hitler’s rise to power.] Ironically, the Germans damaged their own economy to enhance the credibility of their whining: “Finally, in order to prove its utter incapacity to pay the proposed indemnities, the German government seems to be making a deliberate effort to force the country into bankruptcy.” (p. 304). Finally, the premise that the Versailles accords were unduly punitive of Germany is fallacious. Mowrer comments: “As for the pretended misery of German industry, the German newspapers, in October, 1920, report the payment of dividends of twenty-two per cent by the Lindenberg metallurgical plants, twenty-two and a half per cent by the Runingen flour mills, thirty per cent by the Zypen metallurgical plants, sixty per cent by the Ammendorf paper mills, etc. With the exception of the United States, Britain, France and Belgium, Germany is already in better condition, in every respect, than any other of the recent belligerents.” (p. 305).
Fascinating Insights into Pre-Independence Polish National Development, Polish-Jewish Relations, Judeo-Polonia, etc.
Even when experiencing the Partitions, the Poles continued to affirm human liberty: “In fact, Poland, in 1794, was the first nation outside Western Europe to declare all its peasants free. This was not done in Prussia til 1823, in Austria till 1848, and in Russia till 1861.” (p. 84).
Tsarist Russian rulers assumed that Polish national consciousness was limited to the gentry and clergy, and so peasants could be appeased by giving them land, starting in 1864. (p. 96). This was, at most, only temporarily true. “The Polish peasant was scarcely conscious of his nationality even as late as the Insurrection of 1863 in which he took merely a passive part. But he has resisted the blandishments of alien governments, and declared himself a Pole, and to-day the main support of Polish nationalism is among the peasants.” (p. 117).
Roman Dmowski was not pro-Russian. He merely had seen Germany a greater enemy of Poland than Russia. (p. 105, 291).
Boswell devotes an entire chapter to the spectacularly successful Polish thwarting of heavy-handed Prussian rule, focusing on the pioneering work of Peter Wawrzyniak. His goal was to enable Poles: “…to compete with the German element and to emancipate itself from the strangling grip of German capital and the Jewish money-lender.” (p. 172). The Poles got educated, learned various trades, formed Agricultural Circles, co-operative societies, Credit Associations, banks, etc. The turnaround was dramatic: “His [Wawrzyniak’s] work made possible the growth of a Polish middle class of merchants and artisans; and soon the towns were repeopled by Poles who could compete with the Germans in every branch of trade and industry. One result of this movement was the elimination of the Jew as middleman, factor and usurer. Without pogrom or boycott the Jewish population was steadily reduced in numbers and influence, until the Jewish element was either assimilated by the Germans or Poles, or forced to emigrate.” (p. 177). All of this was facilitated by the fact that, unlike the other backward regions of foreign-ruled Poland, Prussian-ruled Poland had a well-developed infrastructure. (p. 170).
Jan T. Gross and his fans would have us conclude that Polish peasants’ belief in the blood libel animated their antagonism towards Jews. Boswell, in contrast, argues that (even in the period up to 1919), this was only marginally true: “The more serious accusations of ritual murder and similar superstitions, so widespread among the peasants of the Ukraine, as seen in the recent Beiliss [Mendel Beilis] trial, only lurk in remote corners of Poland. The real quarrel between Pole and Jew has arisen from the Polish attempt to free the peasant from Jewish exploitation.” (p. 190).
The boycotts of Jews, in Russian-ruled Poland, had partly been actual, and partly an indirect outcome of the changing economic players. “But the deepest cause of Jewish hatred for the Poles lies in the recent growth of a Polish middle class, and the attempt to eliminate the Jewish usurer from the village.” (p. 39). Boswell adds: “But it must be remembered that Jewish economic solidarity has constituted an informal boycott of Polish traders for hundreds of years, so that this measure is looked on by the Poles as a policy of self-defence.” (p. 191).
The circumstances behind the formal boycotting of Jews, started by Roman Dmowski in retaliation for the Jews’ insubordination to Poles in the 1912 Duma (Russian Parliamentary) election, is described by Boswell: “This Jewish nationalism is called Sionism [Zionism], but has little in common with the Western Jewish scheme for the revival of a State in Palestine. In its extreme form, it is a plan to create a joint State, Judaea-Polonia [Judeopolonia], where Poles and Jews shall have equal rights. In the main, it is a movement for the use of Yiddish in the administration and the schools, on an equality with Polish…The rise of Jewish nationalism has thus led to a great political antagonism between the two races.” (p. 190). [The Zionists wanted Jews to effectively function as a separate nation on Polish soil. The reader may compare this insubordination with that of going to one’s employer and telling him that, from now on, you are also boss alongside of him.]
All along, Jews had frequently been, wittingly and unwittingly, out of step with Polish national goals and essential Polishness in various ways, as described by Boswell:
“As Russian and Prussian oppression increased and Polish resistance stiffened, the Jews, where they did not actually support the prevailing power, yet by their mere passivity and inaction became a danger to the Polish element, which was forced to devote all its resources to self-defence.” (p. 38).
“Moreover, a generation of Jews, in Lithuania and the Ukraine, was growing up in Russian schools and was acquiring a scorn for everything Polish…they began to migrate into the Kingdom of Poland, and not only to display great arrogance and antagonism to everything Polish, but to infect the older Jewish residents with these antipathies.” (pp. 38-39). “Litwaki [Litvaks]…roused even the friendly Polish Jews to oppose all Polish national aims.” (p. 188). [Obviously, the influence of the Litvaks went far beyond their actual numbers, even if the numbers have been exaggerated.]
“On the whole, the life of the Jews in Warsaw is quite tolerable. They do not suffer the political disabilities that existed in the rest of Russia, and have been favoured by the [tsarist Russian] Government at the expense of the Poles.” (p. 191).
“The morality of the Orthodox Jews is very strict, but from the large class on the border line between Jewish and Polish society come a large proportion of the DEMI-MONDE of Warsaw, and the Jewish type is common in the cabarets, ubiquitous in the restaurants and in the streets.” (p. 189). [Perhaps these low-character Jews are the ones later referred to by Maciej Giertych, Cardinal August Hlond, etc.]
Social democracy was an anti-national movement. (p. 105). “The Jews…became also the chief supporters of Social Democracy in Poland, and formed a revolutionary association of their own called the `Bund'”. (p. 39).
“…Jews are born financiers, naturally tend to be cosmopolitan in their attitude and to favour German rather than Polish interests.” (p. 152).
“The commerce and transport agencies are also largely in the hands of the wealthier Jews, who act to a great extent as representatives of German firms…[the business traveler] will find that preferential treatment is given to German firms.”” (p. 188).
A Delightful and Superb Mini-Encyclopedia on Poland. Insights into Early Judeopolonia, Dmowski, and the 1920 War
The 1918 Ukrainian separatist war in eastern Galicia had been a German-paid and Austrian-paid anti-Polish intrigue (p. 57, 327-328). It had minimal support among the local Ruthenian (Ukrainian) population. (p. 328). After the Ukrainian separatists had seized Lwow, the local Poles organized an army of 6,000 volunteers, including many women, in a matter of hours, and took their city back. (pp. 149-151).
“For ten centuries the German has pressed eastward; for ten centuries the Pole has held his ground.” (p. 11). Phillips believes that German putdowns of Poles (e. g., Polnische wirtschaft, Polish `racial femininity’, Polish `incapacity of self-government’) are actually German envy of the fact that they could never subjugate, Germanize, or exterminate the Poles. (p. 312).
Economics has long divided Polish Jews and gentiles: “The first trade of the Jew in Poland was the slave trade. Money lending and the subleasing of State revenues next developed…then tavern-keeping and the liquor traffic, which became in time almost exclusively a Jewish business; finally, a general trading and brokerage in all commodities…Money-lending, in the days when such business knew no regulations and the profits were unlimited, naturally led to extortion and usury; and out of it all grew inevitably that bitter feeling which such trade always engenders between lender and borrower–in this case between Jew and Pole.” (p. 288).
Dmowski’s 1912 anti-Jewish boycott (see next two paragraphs) is nowadays presented without proper context. Phillips, by contrast, understands the crucial nature of Polish representation in the Duma [Russian parliament] : “But then had come the Russo-Japanese war and the establishment of the Duma, with Poles sharing in the newly-won constitutional privileges of the Empire. These privileges, extremely limited though they were, had revived the political impulse of the Pole.” (p. 52). “But Russia still feared the subject State. Within two years, practically all the blood-bought concessions of 1905 had been repudiated. Poland’s Duma delegation of thirty-four was reduced to twelve…” (p. 101).
Continuing this theme, Phillips elaborates on the overt Jewish separatism as follows: “The newcomers, especially those from Lithuania and Russia, the `Litwaki” [Litvaks], brought with them as counteractants against assimilation not only a rigorist Talmudism…but they added the embittering factor of political Judaism, which they immediately backed up with the foundation of the Jewish Press…It was at this period that the Poles, now literally inundated with the Jewish flood, heard perhaps for the first time the cry of `Polish Judea’ raised in their midst. `Judeo-Polonia!’–Poland was henceforth to be Zion…The Rabbinical extremists welcomed this new political strength…The Jewish masses, wholly ignorant except for their Talmudic training, fell completely under the spell of the new `Judeo-Polonia’ power, which spoke so efficaciously to them in terms of political ambition that by 1912, in the election for the Russian Duma, the Jews of Warsaw–40 percent of the city’s population–were able to secure majority enough to send their own representative to the Assembly at Petrograd as the spokesman for the Polish capital. If he had been simply a Jew–that is, if he had been merely a Polish citizen of the Mosaic religion–it would have been one thing. But he was a radical internationalist socialist, pledged to every policy and ideal abhorrent to Poland and to democracy. The complete cleavage of Pole and Jew dates from this time.”
It was then that Dmowski launched his much-condemned boycotts of Jews. Phillips sees the 1912 decision as not so much a boycott as “a protest of the Poles against political Zionism” (p. 305), and continuation of the positive goal whose end had been the economic emancipation of Poles: “The co-operative movement in Poland did not owe its origin to anti-Jewish politics, but was a natural outgrowth of the country’s agricultural and economic progress. The realization among Poles that Jewish trade was becoming a dangerous monopoly did, however, give enormous impetus to the idea….” (p. 305).
Polish resentment of the Minorities Treaty stemmed in part because it had been forced on them. (p. 64). Ironically, had it been fully implemented, it would have backfired. Phillips quips: “He [the Polish Jew] cannot, in fact, afford even to take advantage of the artificial rights and special privileges allowed him in the Minorities Treaty if he desires to progress.” (p. 304).
The Zydokomuna (Jewish-Soviet collaboration) has long alienated Poles from Jews. “`While it does not follow that all Jews are Bolsheviks’, says deputy Armand Libermann, a Jewish member of the Polish Sejm [Parliament], `the fact remains that a large number of Jews play a dominant role in the Communist movement.'” (p. 296). “At Kielce, three hundred Jewish youths marched through the streets shouting `Viva Lenin! Viva Trotsky! Down with Poland!'” (pp. 297-298). During the 1920 Polish-Soviet War: “Though Jewish individuals often suffered bitterly for their misplaced confidence in Trotsky’s hordes, on the other hand, in innumerable cases–in the generality of cases–Jews were rewarded with power and became active workers of the Red regime. Jewish commissars in the Bolshevik armies were quick to find their own in the invaded towns…” (p. 297). Phillips notes armed local Jews fighting on behalf of the Soviets at places such as Hrubieszow, Siedlice, Wlodawa, Bialystok, Minsk, and Vilna [Wilno, Vilnius]. (pp. 297-299). Members of the Danish legation made a sworn statement in which they affirmed seeing Jews firing on Polish troops at a railway station in Wilno. (p. 299). The ensuing Polish execution of the Jews responsible was then misrepresented as a pogrom.
General Jozef Haller organized the “Miracle Army” and threw it against the 1920 Bolsheviks. (p. 166). With Warsaw surrounded, Father Ignatius Skorupka, a volunteer chaplain, rallied and inspired the discouraged Polish troops at suburban Radzymin, reversed the Red advance, and gave his life. (pp. 223-225). Poland was saved.
Polish-Jewish Polarization Long Preceded the Holocaust: Pogrom Accusations in Historical Context
Since time immemorial, a profound disconnect has existed between the two communities, both in Poland and the USA. Kapiszewski cites a 1906 study by Beatrice Baskerville, who wrote: “`Which side was the more to blame at the beginning…it is difficult to say…there has been a good deal to forgive on both sides, and today, at any rate, Jews are as anti-Polish as the Poles are anti-Semitic. Jews do not want to assimilate, they do not want to blend their interests with the interests of the rest of the community. They are striving to assert their national individually, to live their own lives and attain their own ends, all three of which, are as far removed from Slavonic ideals as the twilight from dawn, as night from day.'” (p. 25).
Throughout this work, there is a negative portrayal of Dmowski and the Endeks. Interestingly, however, some influential Jews (Isaac Gruenbaum, Leo Glassman, members of the United Palestine Drive, and [not mentioned] Vladimir Jabotinsky) agreed that the only long-term solution to the Jewish problem in Poland was mass Jewish emigration. (pp. 141-142).
Around the time of Poland’s re-acquisition of independence (1918), there was a causus bellus between Poles and Jews, resulting from tales of massive Polish pogroms, in which each side attempted to sway American opinion, and in which both sides engaged in massive street demonstrations. (p. 62, 103). There were acts of violence between American Poles and Jews. (p. 176). Some influential Jews went into a Polonophobic frenzy. For instance, George Morris Brandes (p. 36) and Aaron Levy (p. 181) proclaimed that Poland did not deserve independence.
The press uncritically trumpeted fantastic pogrom death tolls: In one town alone, 14,000 Jews were reportedly murdered. (p. 128). Newspaper accounts even spoke of Polish extermination of Jews (e. g., facing page 64). Two decades later, the “crying wolf” about extermination of Jews helped undermine the credibility of reports about the very real Nazi exterminatory actions. Around 1918, Judge Felix Frankfurter vehemently accused Poles of exterminating Jews, but in an ironic later about-face, Frankfurter refused to believe Polish eyewitness Jan Karski on the unfolding German Nazi extermination of Jews. (p. 122).
Polish-Americans welcomed outside investigation of pogrom allegations. (p. 89). Furthermore, “The Polish authorities gave the Morgenthau Commission a free hand and made no efforts to restrict its access to Jewish representatives and witnesses.” (p. 94). Jewish-Americans did not want the pogroms investigated. (p. 90). In fact, “According to Morgenthau himself, some Jewish leaders opposed him because they were `afraid of the truth’ and only wanted to establish a case, not to determine the facts.” (pp. 90-91). [If so, the perceptive reader can see how history later repeated itself. The forensic dig at Jedwabne was stopped by a suddenly-discovered respect for the dead just as it began uncovering evidence refuting the Pole-accusing claims of Jan T. Gross.]
The author discusses the findings of the investigative reports. [See also the Peczkis review of The Jews in Poland: Official reports of the American and British investigating commissions, and follow the links in the review to the Morgenthau and Goodhart reports]. However, Kapiszewski goes far beyond the reports, quoting the apparently previously-unpublished papers of the likes of investigators Hugh Gibson and Henry Morgenthau, some of which I cite.
A mountain had been made of a molehill. There were 280 Jewish deaths in all of Poland (p. 97), not thousands or tens of thousands, and certainly no extermination of Jews. Even then, an unknown fraction of the 280 owed to wartime events, not necessarily animated by anti-Semitism. For instance, the Pinsk “pogrom” was actually a shooting of 35 Jewish Communists, who had been exposed by Jewish informers, and caught plotting an anti-Polish, pro-Soviet uprising. (p. 67). Pogrom accusations always had employed a double standard: “According to Gibson, when a Jew was injured it was always called a pogrom, but `when a Christian was mobbed, it was called a food riot.'” (p. 71).
The investigative reports were almost completely ignored by the Jewish press (p. 99), which otherwise called Morgenthau a traitor to the Jewish cause. (p. 95). Gibson was attacked as an anti-Semite or Jew-baiter (p. 84), with allegations that his WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) background animated his prejudices. (p. 110). [Ironic to this, one could just as easily suspect a WASP of prejudice against Slavs as against Jews.]. Gibson responded: “`I find that most of these people are over wrought and have reached that stage where they unconsciously want to believe every exaggerated yarn about excesses against the Jews. They take it as prejudice if you question any story no matter whether they know where it comes from or not, as long as it makes out a case against the Poles and shows that the Jews are suffering…'” (p. 85). Gibson never absolved Poles for killing Jews. (p. 76). He concluded that Polish-Jewish problems can only be solved by goodwill from both sides, including American Jews “`who could face facts honestly.'” (p. 71).
Investigator Gibson quoted General Haller as attempting to stop anti-Jewish excesses among his troops. American volunteers, unfamiliar with Orthodox Jewish men, saw them as freaks and objects for sport. They also reacted with “frontier justice” (my term) to peasants’ complaints of Jewish profiteering. (p. 78). However, Kapiszewski does not mention the fact that many accusations against Haller’s men proved to be, if nothing else, geographically impossible, and that beard-cutting tales had been so overused that they had become jocular. (See the Peczkis review of Pamietniki z Wyborem Dokumentow i Zdjec.).
Gibson suggested that pogrom tales were a tool of Zionists designed to scare Jews into supporting Zionism. (p. 84). Some American Jews, including a onetime Polish Jew veteran of the 1863 Insurrection, came out in strong defense of Poland. (pp. 128-129). They concurred with Gibson (p. 68) that the WWI-era pogrom accounts were products of Prussian and Soviet propaganda, designed to weaken western support for an independent Poland. [If so, the astute reader can again realize how history later repeated itself in the possibly Soviet-staged 1946 Kielce Pogrom, intended as it was to weaken western support for a free, non-Communist Poland.].
For a time in the 1920’s, relations between Jewish and Polish-Americans improved. However, they deteriorated again in the 1930’s.
Insights into Consequences of Aiding Jews, Jedwabne-Area Massacres, etc.
As usual, there is the one-sided focus on Polish nationalism and anti-Semitism (e. g., Zbikowski, p. 68; Blatman and Poznanski, p. 183) without any serious considerations of Jewish conduct that tended to provoke, or at least facilitate, Jew-unfriendly attitudes. There is the customary one-sided discussion of Church teachings on Jews and the Crucifixion of Christ, but nothing on equally hostile Jewish teachings against goys–the latter of which may well have provoked more antagonism against Jews than the former.
Unlike Polish rescuers facing the German-imposed death penalty, their counterparts in the Netherlands could be sent to a concentration camp, but “…this kind of punishment was not often meted out to people who only sheltered Jews.” (Verbeeck and Kosmala, p. 8). In fact, Dutch rescuers caught hiding Jews often went unpunished. (Croes and Kosmala, p. 129). Caught German rescuers of Jews were briefly imprisoned, fined, warned, or sometimes faced no punishment at all. (Croes and Kosmala, p. 123).
While focusing on the 1941 massacre of Jews at Radzilow (near Jedwabne), Andrzej Zbikowski provides a useful summary of the IPN study that was touted by the media as “proving Jan T. Gross right”. It is manifestly incorrect to say that a series of Jedwabne-style massacres took place in the Lomza district. Zbikowski notes: “There were many incidents of a varied nature…In certain places, a relatively small number of `activists’ indulged in violence and repressions; in others, wide circles from local society were involved…From the testimonies, it is not clear exactly how many victims there were, nor how many people participated in a pogrom. Nevertheless, the common characteristic of Jewish testimonies is that local Poles participated in such events on a mass scale. Confirmation of this can also be found in certain Polish testimonies.” (pp. 42-43). The accounts were not exactly independent: “Often testimonies were provided by people who knew each other.” (p. 43).
The main Jewish source of Zbikowski’s information on the events of Radzilow is the memoir of Czaja Finkelstein (also quoted by Jan T. Gross) and written years later–after her departure to Palestine in 1946. Zbikowski seems to be innocent of the problems with this memoir, not to mention the tendency of pogrom accounts written by Jews to fabricate or, more likely, greatly exaggerate things (e. g., a handful of Polish killers and Jews killed each become hundreds). This is exemplified by such things as the internationally-examined 1918-1920 pogroms, and the Polonophobic tall tales of Jerzy Kosinski (Lewinkopf).
The main Poles quoted were all defendants, and, not surprisingly, had an incentive to lie about other defendants (and even about Polish bystanders) in order to escape blame themselves. The postwar trials, even if not formally staged per se, occurred in an atmosphere of rampant Communist terror. The defendants consisted of Leon, Antoni, and Ludwik Kosmaczewski, Zygmunt Skrodzki, Jozef Ekstowicz, Feliks Godlewski, Henryk Dziekonski, and Henryk Statkiewicz. Interestingly, Jozef Ekstowicz, sought by the U. B. (Communist security police), was arrested in September 1947, thanks to a tip-off by a neighbor. (p. 50). This reminds us that some Poles denounced fellow Poles, and not only Jews.
Statkiewicz is cited for having signed the Volksliste. (p. 59). How many other “Polish killers of Jews”, for example, Bardon at Jedwabne, were actually Volksdeutsche (Polish-speaking Germans)?
Henryk Przyborowski, a Communist, testified that he saw “with his own eyes” how hundreds of Jews of Radzilow were murdered. Interestingly, he said that Poles who had collaborated with the Soviets were also killed. (p. 54). He adds: “I did not see Germans with them at the time, but I cannot deny it, they might have been there.'” (p. 54). However, he claimed that he saw Germans shortly after the killings. (p. 56). His testimony reminds us that an apparent absence of Germans does not equal their actual absence!
The “Gross was proved right” media spin about the IPN investigation of Jedwabne hinges on the premise that the Poles acted alone and the Germans only watched. If only one of the testimonies cited in the next paragraphs is true, then Gross’ premise falls apart.
Defendant Dziekonski (p. 55) said that armed Germans were there, while the Poles had no arms, and ordered that no Jews be left alive or the same fate awaited them. (p. 58). Eyewitness Antoni Pachucki testified that the Germans arrived in two taxis, helped the Poles round the Jews up into the barn at Radzilow, and that the Poles acted voluntarily. Pointedly, he said that he heard the German commander say to the Polish police: “‘If you don’t destroy them, we will come and burn you.'” (p. 56). Poles acted voluntarily indeed!
Furthermore, Communist Przyborowski asserts that a German told him that “we’ll burn you as well, old man.” (p. 56). Defendant Ekstowicz said that the Gestapo had originally come to Radzilow, asked about the Jews, and ordered the Poles to “bring them to order”, or the same would be done to them. (p. 51). Eyewitness Piotr Przestrzelski at least corroborated the fact that the Gestapo had earlier come to Radzilow and commanded the identification of the Jews. (p. 51). There are other testimonies that point, at very least, to significant active German involvement at Radzilow. (p. 53).
Defendant Ekstowicz claimed that he had climbed the roof of the Jew-filled barn, and poured 30 liters of petrol [From where did he get that much?] on it, under duress. (p. 51). Defendant Dziekonski (p. 57) denied that Ekstowicz was acting under duress. Is one of them lying, or do different people experience duress, or lack of it, differently?
Even Chaja Finkelsztejn, a decidedly hostile witness, writes that the Gestapo was in Radzilow three times before the massacre, and that it was the Gestapo who had given orders for Poles to round the Jews up. (p. 64). Finally, and not mentioned by Zbikowski, there are Jewish testimonies that point to the Germans, and not the Poles, as the main killers of the Jews of Jedwabne and Radzilow. See the Peczkis reviews of Deliverance: The Diary of Michael Maik, a True Story and The Warriors: My Life As A Jewish Soviet Partisan (Religion, Theology, and the Holocaust).
A Generally Positive View of Polish-Jewish Relations: Jewish Military Service to Poland
The book includes some general comments. This includes the Berek Joselewicz regiment in Kosciuszko’s Insurrection of 1794, Rabbi Ber Meizels preaching in support of the January Insurrection (1863), Jews fighting for the Polish cause in 1918 and 1920, etc. (p. 15).
Other information of the book is specific. Some 30,000 Jewish soldiers perished in the 1939 war. (p. 19). Afterwards, about 5% of the Polish officers incarcerated in the German Oflags were of Jewish origin. Significantly, “Some 200 Jewish officers, who were prisoners of war, survived the war.” (p. 20). [This contradicts Holocaust-uniqueness advocates, who posit that ALL known Jews in Nazi hands were slated for death.]
About 1,000 Jews served in the Polish Army in the U. K. in 1940. (p. 27). Of the officers murdered at Katyn, over 430 were Jewish. (p. 20). Thousands of Jews were released from the Soviet Gulags. Some 1,300 Jewish soldiers participated in the Battle of Monte Cassino, of whom 123 were officers. Twenty-eight Jews perished in that battle. (p. 27). Some 115 Jews died in the Lenino battle on the Russian front. In fact, 2,077 Jewish soldiers, including officers, were killed while fighting in the ranks of the (so-called) Polish People’s Army. (p. 30). Quite a few Jews were decorated for their military service, and many of these are identified.
Some information in this book needs elaboration. For instance, in the 1939 war, Jews, who were 10% of Poland’s population, had a comparable presence in the Polish armed forces. However, in 1937, Jews were only 6.6% of the Polish Army. (p. 18). How much of this owed to discriminatory policies against Jews, as Meirtchak says, and how much of it owed to Jews avoiding military service?
Although this book is supposed to be positive, the author, unfortunately, is not above throwing in a number of alienating and irrelevant items that detract from the book. For instance, he freely levels sweeping accusations of anti-Semitism, even directed against General Wladyslaw Anders. (p. 24; based partly on Soviet propaganda: p. 25). He calls postwar Communist Poland “a Polish Democratic State” (p. 29) and repeats (p. 32, 37) Communist Reuben Ainsztein’s false accusation of A. K. (Armia Krajowa, the mainstream Polish Underground guerrilla army) leader Tadeusz Bor Komorowski giving an order that was a veiled command to kill fugitive Jews. [For analysis, see the Peczkis review of Tajne oblicze GL-AL i PPR: Dokumenty (Polish Edition)].
Some readers of this book may find it unobjective in that if exclusively focuses on Jewish loyalty to Poland, while ignoring the many aspects of Jewish disloyalty to, or indifference to, Poland. Nevertheless, it presents a significant body of concrete information on Jewish military service to the Polish nation.
A Beautiful Book With Some Disappointments
As a professional educator, I am especially concerned about accuracy in books that children read. I found this book to be uplifting. Designed for children aged 9-12, it provides a generally accurate account of the heroic actions of the Polish woman Irena Sendler, who, together with Zegota, saved at least 2,000 Jewish children from the Nazis. (p. 35). (Some say 2,500).
The book discusses the German-Nazi conquest of Poland, the establishment of the ghettos, Sendler’s social work among the Jews, the doomed Jews in the ghettos, Sendler’s creative ways of smuggling Jewish children out of the ghettos, the heartbreaking parting of parents and children, the refusal of some parents to entrust their children to Sendler, the new lives of the disguised Jewish children, the secret list of parents and children, Sendler’s capture and torture by the Gestapo followed by her bribe-induced release, the Jews’ and later Poles’ Warsaw Uprisings, the children and Irena Sendler after the war, etc.
Unfortunately, a number of items in this book detract from it. There is mention of the pre-WWII ghetto benches for Jews at Polish universities. (p. 6). This is, at best, tangential to the main subject of this book, and, at worst, a relativization of prewar-Polish and later Nazi-German conduct towards Jews (especially in the impressionable child’s mind)–a clear case of relativizing the Holocaust. If Rubin insists on bringing up ghetto benches, she should at least inform the reader that they had been a corrective for Jews being strongly overrepresented at Polish universities. The teacher of older American children can compare the ghetto benches with a more polished version of the same–affirmative action in the US. Is it ever all right to discriminate against a more-successful group in order to create more opportunities for a less-successful group? In addition, what about the societal factors that had placed the less-successful group at a long-term competitive disadvantage relative to the more-successful group?
When Treblinka is referred to in the index, it is termed a “Polish death camp”. (p. 40). Apart from being at-best misleading and at-worst false, it is doubly unacceptable in view of the fact that children tend to think literally.
Rubin notes that, after WWII, the Communist government persecuted those who had belonged to the anti-Communist mainstream Polish underground, of which Sendler had been a member. However, Rubin also makes the following dubious assertion: “Anti-Semitism swept through Poland again, and Irena was persecuted for having saved Jews.” (p. 37). Really? What kind of persecution was Sendler supposed to have experienced from Polish anti-Semites? Also, if postwar Polish anti-Semitism is to be mentioned, then why not also mention one of the causes for it? Jews were strongly over-represented in the hated Soviet-imposed Communist government, and it is a sad fact that quite a few rescued Polish Jews later turned against Poles and served the Soviets. Hence the less-than-popularity of Polish rescuers of Jews in some Polish circles.
Despite these shortcomings, this book no doubt provides quite an experience for children. I hope that a future edition will eliminate the problem areas that I had identified. It will then be possible to appreciate fully this book for what it has to offer.