Thursday, January 3, 2008

Poland and the Holocaust: Jan Gross' book, Fear, about to appear in Polish translation.

"This may be the biggest event of the year." So said a reporter from Rzeczpospolita, one of Poland's leading dailies, when he called to interview me this afternoon.

Fear, which examines some -- many -- Poles' treatment of Jews during and immediately after the Holocaust. He has found some horrifying evidence. It is unclear just how widespread this antisemitic behavior was, but, according to Gross, it was not unique to Jedvabne [Yed-vab-nia] the town in which the Jewish residents were murdered in the period right before the entry of the Germans into the town. Gross wrote about that town in Neighbors.

The book strikes at the Polish self-image of the nation as a "victim." I reviewed the book in Publisher's Weekly [the review is posted on Amazon] and then commented on it subsequently in previous posts.

More on this as it evolves. It will be a striking example of how history is not confined to the past. In fact it's not even over.

30 comments:

hockey hound said...

"We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experiences, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental, unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not forseen by anyone. It took place in the teeth of all forecasts; it happened in Europe; incredibly, it happened that an entire civilized people, just issued from the fervid cultural flowering of Weimar, followed a buffoon whose figure today inspires laughter, and yet Adolf Hitler was obeyed and his praises were sung right up to the catastrophe. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say." -Primo Levi

FAIIRPLAY said...

If the Germans had not invaded Poland, then eventually the Poles would have organised their own pogroms or took part in acts intended to force Jews to leave Poland.

The Poles slogan - Poland for the Poles is a vote winner, as was the German slogan 'One Volk, one Reich, one Fuhrer'. We might deplore it, we might try to reason with these people - but who wants to argue with a man with a loud voice, bad manners, highly impulsive and carrying a gun.

The Holocaust tells us the truth about mankind and we need to accept that using gas and building gas chambers was always at the back of Hitlers mind. The Poles knew what was going on [re the camps] and it did not stop them from colloborating with the Nazis.

Denying it won't do them any good because the evil they did lives on in hundreds of survivors diaries and printed works.

makalu said...

Faiirplay, you're making the kind of comparisons which Deborah just derided. How can you possibly maintain with such certainty what would have happened. Pogroms had been going on in Poland for centuries but to hint that they would have morphed into something akin to the Holocaust is fantasy.
And you seem to be implying that all if not most Poles were collaborators. This is slanderous and must be refuted. Since the Nazis considered Poles to be untermenschen and only one rung above the Jews on their racial ladder this couldn't have happened. Some Poles certainly would have wanted to set up a puppet state a la Vichy France but this was never in the cards. The fate of Poland was to be as follows:
1. Jews, Gypsies and intellectuals were to be exterminated.
2. The racially acceptable were to be Germanized.
3. The rest were to turned into helots slaving for the Reich until the "Polish race" disappeared.
The situation between Jews and Poles was nuanced and not the black and white you make it out to be. Some collaborated, some helped but most just looked on trying to survive. That is the real human nature and the same would have taken place in any country undergoing the horrific Nazi occupation. Read Lukas, Paulsson, Gilbert or Edelmann for descriptions of these nuances.

hockey hound said...

"Pogroms had been going on in Poland for centuries but to hint that they would have morphed into something akin to the Holocaust is fantasy."

This statement is pure fantasy.


"Read Lukas, Paulsson, Gilbert or Edelmann for descriptions of these nuances."

Nuances? There was more than a subtle difference between how the Nazis treated the Poles and how they treated the Jews. Please write out for me on this blog just one of Martin Gilbert's descripton of these "nuances". I've never come across them. I've read many books on the Holocaust, and I've never perceived of them this idea that there were mere nuances between the Nazi's treatment of Jews and Poles. You're dreaming. You are living in a make-believe world.

"We learned of this massacre from the Polish police themselves. They told Moshe Hersh about it in minute detail, because they themselves had taken part in that slaughter.
"On the following Sunday, they went to church with their families, as if nothing had happened. They suffered no guilt feelings. After all, they were only murdering Jews, with the blessing of their priests, who inflamed them from their pulpits on Sundays." -Martin Rosenblum, on the destruction of the Jews of Dzialoszyce Poland (1942). From Martin Gilbert's The Holocaust.

hockey hound said...

"...there are, it is true, those who lie consciously, coldly falsifying reality itself, but more numerous are those who weigh anchor, move off, momentarily or forever, from genuine memories, and fabricate for themselves a convenient reality." -Primo Levi

FAIIRPLAY said...

Makalu: Everything you say is quite correct, but read again if you will what I said. I stated if the Germans had not invaded Poland, then eventually the Poles would have organised their own *pogroms or took part in *acts intended to *force Jews to leave Poland.

Read the last 12 words, I never mentioned camps or organised brutality, but pogroms. A pogrom being as you well know a civil disturbance causing uproar, fear, uncertainty, accompanied with violence, robbery, intimidation, assault and murder. And if you don't believe me look through the 100 or so photographs on the internet of Jews laid dead, row upon row, in the middle of "quite ordinary, small, respectable Polish towns". You can also include here Lithuania, Ukraine, Hungary, the Riga Area and Estonia. Just bear in mind that 33000+ Jews were marched through Kiev to their deaths and there was not one native voice of protest, no hiding places offered so they kept marching onwards. Bear in mind that tomorrow some Polish youth's will go digging amongst J mass graves to see what they can find and no village priest or Mayor will scold them, denouce them, or cast scorn on what they are doing. And tommorrow 1 million Locks+ on one million+ former Jewish homes will be opened to let 1 million Polish families enjoy these dead Jews labour, and again it needs to be said that no one will think it strange? Robbing Jews was a national sport during the war for Polish Blue Collar workers. They took the watches, the shoes, and the tables, whilst the Police and the Higher Ups took the land and property. If these people are so perfect, so wonderful, then when are they going to set up an Welfare FUND to compensate victims. The answer is never!!. PS: Himmler had it in mind to preserve blonde Germanic Poles, and to kill the Slav prominent cheekbones Poles of Russian origin. We need to remember the ethnic cleansing actions that have occurred in Europe since 1945.

makalu said...

Hockey Hound , perhaps you should read the posts more carefully. The nuances being referred to are those of the relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish Poles not to the Nazis' treatment of these people.And what does writing a few anecdotal narratives prove? That most Poles were evil and immoral just like the Nazis. You seem to believe so.
Sure there were Poles who killed and robbed Jews but to extend that and to say that the Polish nation, which didn't exist at the time, is guilty of complicity in these barbarities because of some genetic propensity is highly prejudicial. Comparing these incidents perpetrated by individuals to state sanctioned genocide is nonsensical. Wasn't that the point of Deborah's post?

hockey hound said...

"the Polish nation, which didn't exist at the time, is guilty of complicity in these barbarities because of some genetic propensity"

I'm saying exactly that, and moreover, that the "genetic propensity" you refer to, which you seem to purport as incredible, is the religion of Christianity.

And Poland was not the only European nation that "did not exist at the time" (pure cavil) in possession of this same "genetic propensity," which "morphed into something akin to the Holocaust." This was not "state sanctioned genocide" but religiously sanctioned genocide condoned by the non-existent state of Poland. Precisely similar religiously sanctioned genocide exists today also in a state that doesn't exist. Only today it's not the religion of Christianity nor the caldron of anti-Jewish hatred that was Poland of the Nazi era; today it's the religion of Islam and the non-existent Palestinian state.

My post was a condemnation of Poland's Christian anti-Jewish hatred, which I readily admit to; yours is the "anecdotal narrative," a manifestation indicative of those timid minds whose effete intellect (re David Irving) constricts them to the colloquial arena of exculpating the guilty (which is also highly prejudicial), which is antithetical to defending the memory and testimony of the innocent. The dark, anti-Jewish history of the nation of Poland needs a "anecdotal narrative" and this, I believe, is the point Prof. Lipstadt is making in regards to Jan Gross' book.

As for reading the posts "carefully," you will surely have noticed that Prof. Lipstadt's primary purpose here, as I believe, is to also defend the testimony and memory of the innocent. This is why she fought David Irving in court. Everything else, including a book that 'strikes at the Polish self-image of the nation as a "victim"' is, quite conceivably, secondary to that purpose.

"Lipstadt has shown us that freedom of speech is also on our side. So let us exercise our collective right to tell the truth and to expose falsehood. Lipstadt has done her job, and so has the court, and they have done it well. Now it is our job to continue the never-ending quest for truth, justice, and freedom of speech." -Alan Dershowitz (Afterword from History On Trial)

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Faiirplay

Are you saying that all Poles are anti-semites?

If this is the case, should Anglo-Jewry be fearful of the 300,000+ Poles now residing in Britain?

hockey hound said...

"Are you saying that all Poles are anti-semites?"

Forgive my intrusion here, but Fairplay did not say anything so absolutely. He simply remarked, as I did, that anti-Jewish hatred was pandemic in Poland before and during the Nazi era(and probably still is today).

"...should Anglo-Jewry be fearful of the 300,000+ Poles now residing in Britain?"

This is a brazenly simplistic question. It's common knowledge that Poles behave differently outside of Poland in the same way that Muslims behave differently outside of the Middle East and Indonesia. Of course, things have changed in Britian and France where now, in predominantly Muslim enclaves in London and Paris, Christian clerics are beaten by Muslims should they be imprudent enough to wear their "collars" in public. An anti-Jewish Pole would behave much differently toward a religiously dressed Jew in America than he would toward that same Jew say in a village in the middle of the countryside of Poland.

As for those 300,000+ Poles living in Britain, I would be fearful walking in their neighborhood were I Jewish, I'm not ashamed to say. To be otherwise would be foolhardy. Poland's history is proof of this.

It seems you have a difficult time grasping the reality of Poland's anti-Jewish past. Hence you play the racist card by denigrating anyone who recounts honestly such inconvenient and ugly truths. This is what David Irving does.

FAIIRPLAY said...

[Quote] Jeremy Jacobs said... to Fairplay. Are you saying that all Poles are anti-semites? If this is the case, should Anglo-Jewry be fearful of the 300,000+ Poles now residing in Britain?

All races and people are racist, the posers amongst them say they're not, but guess what - they send their children to private schools to avoid the riff-raff, won't walk or enter certain areas, won't live near them, won't allow their children to marry Jews or Blacks, and yet, they love preaching how noble they are. In the 1930S some genius wrote for the very poor and despised for being poor a song to sing - he called this song "Buddy can you spare a Dime". Naturally the Jews had to have their own song in order to preserve ethnic identiy, it was called "Tell me where can I go?". The title sums up the flavour of the times.

As for the Poles, no the English / Polish Jews are not anti. But in 25 years time they will be telling all and sundry whimsical anecdotes about how Poland was once run by Jews and for that reason what Hitler did was right.A Pole can get rich and that's okay, but a Jew can't, and in a nut-shell thats what anti-semitismn is all about.

contested-terrain said...

One of the really valuable contributions Gross makes on this topic in his book, "Fear" is to argue that the post-war pogroms were a product of polish experiences during the Nazi occupation. And that to understand the postwar pogroms - and the expulsion of jews from Poland after the war - one has to understand Polish involvement in the Shoah, and their resistance to coming to terms with it.

Gross' point, I think, is that one can not understand this post-war persecution as an eternal expression of polish antisemitism. Rather, the intensity and veracity of polish hostility towards jews after the war was in large part due to their experiences during the war. Speculation about what poles would or would not have done if so and so did or did not happen, has nothing to so with Gross' thesis.

There's a good review of his book here.

makalu said...

It is simply astounding that supposedly intelligent people believe like Shamir did that "Polesimbibe anti-Semitism along with their mother's milk." Are you seriously saying that you would be afraid to walk through a Polish area in London for fear of being beaten up and that Poles go around secretly saying to each other that they're glad Hitler got rid of their Jews for them?
Frankly I've got nothing to say to people who have such blatanly ignorant and intolerant viewpoints. It really is like saying that all Jews are shysters or that all blacks are mentally deficient. And what are these based on? Some research that you've done? Have you been to Poland and talked to people there?
I think not. These are just ingrained prejudices of people who will never change. And yes, I'm sure you believe that Poles collectively behaved as bad as if not worse than the Germans during the war and that most collaborated with the Nazis. It's pointless to engage in dialogue with people who have such a shallow knowledge of history and who have absolutely zero credible evidence to back up their silly pronouncements.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"As for those 300,000+ Poles living in Britain, I would be fearful walking in their neighborhood were I Jewish"

I thought one of you would fall for this. There are no "Polish" areas in Britain any more than there are "Muslim" or Turkish" areas. There may have been a few isolated incidents involving the "black hats" in certain parts of London but Britain, by and large, is a tolerant nation.

You may have been right about Poland in former times.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Makalu, I have visited Auschwitz and Birkenau twice, Mauthausen once, and Maidjanek once. I have seen watched and studied Poles, and despite what you might think I like them. They are a lot like the English. But like the English they are prone to bouts of national sentiment that if aroused or called upon, follows a well worn path of expressed hate and taboo-ismn. The English, Germans and the Poles Military leaders twist this love of homeland to get the men to do acts which are dangerous, foolhardy, ill-advised, and B-R-A-V-E.

No doubt you have heard of our VC medal. My private views are that all these medal winners are fools and deserve to get killed. For instance attacking a machine gun post armed with a revolver and a few hand grenades is not wise. So we must ask why do they do it? Why? What good does it do?

What many people don't know is that the Brits massacred a lot of POW German prisoners. And I have no doubt that if Hitler had come to power in England he would have found millions of 'ferocious willing executioners here. And that's a fact'.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Time to lighten up a little; so let's play the "Can you explain this game".

You're walking past a prison and get pulled up in the street by a prison officer who says "they need your help, advice and experience" and that in return for one hour of your time they are willing to pay you $100.00. He invites you into the prison and takes you into the execution chamber. Inside this room are five men all strapped into electric chairs. The prisoners are from various races, creeds and backgrounds. One individual certainly stands out from the rest because he wears a yarmulke [skull cap] sports a black beard, is wearing a black Chassidic overcoat and someone mumbles to you that he's a Jew and a Rabbi no less.

You're told because it's July 4th it's been decided to allow four of the condemned men to live and you have been invited inside the prison to select the one who as to die. The game is you have to explain why you and how you chose the man who was to be reprieved and give an outline of how you think a Pole or a Ukrainian might vote? If you wish you can even guess who got executed. The point is wearing a yarmulke and being dressed differently to others can get you killed?

hockey hound said...

"I thought one of you would fall for this."

Fall for this? Next time could you mark your posts either as falsehood or truth? I assumed your statements were posted according to a basic code of honesty. Consequently, this is the last time I will ever respond to any of your posts. I do not consider the subject of the Holocaust or anti-Jewish hatred an occasion for frivolity and sport.

hockey hound said...

"It is simply astounding that supposedly intelligent people believe like Shamir did..."

Yes, I believe as Shamir did. I'm a lot like Stephen King in this respect, who wrote:

"I believe there are alligators in New York City sewer system, not to mention rats as big as Shetland ponies."

Jeremy Jacobs said...

hockeyhound

you need to lighten up and get that chip off your shoulder.

hockey hound said...

Jeremy Jacobs wrote:'There are no "Polish" areas in Britain any more than there are "Muslim" or Turkish" areas.'

Excuse me???

"We understand of the European Muslim community and even in the UK, there is a greater degree of Muslims living in enclaves." -Edina Lekovik, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (USA)

"MPAC...which notes that most British Muslims live in South Asians enclaves."

"It is said he was preaching murder, but he was actually preaching from the Koran itself." -Edward Fitzgeral, defence lawyer for ABU HAMZA OF FINSBURY PARK, commenting on Hamza's sermons

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"MPAC...which notes that most British Muslims live in South Asians enclaves."

RUBBISH.

Keep your Jewish paranoia to yourself.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

I think it is time to shut this conversation down. It's getting a bit vituperative and personally insulting for my taste.

However, regarding "enclaves," the following article was posted by the AP today: http://www.elpasotimes.com/nationworld/ci_7891542

A Pakistani-born Church of England bishop bemoaned the creation of separate Muslim living areas and enclaves.

He said that "those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them."

So I guess we can't say that this idea of living in self-contained neighborhoods is pure fantasy.

makalu said...

Your statements are right on Faiirplay. Poles are subject to this nationalistic fervour and romanticism which at times causes them to act irrationally. The 1944 Warsaw Uprising ,although heroic enough, caused the deaths of 200000
Poles and the utter destruction of the city for no apparent good reason. Things may be changing though. Younger Poles don't seem to have the same xenophobic attitudes that older ones do and don't dwell on the glories, both real and imagined, nor on the vicissitudes of Poland's past.

FAIIRPLAY said...

Thanks Makalu:

It's going to be an interesting period watching the young Poles here. So far I understand about 600 000+ plus have arrived, all reports so far especially from employers is great. Our local Post Office employs two, both very lovely girls. But their instant success is undermining the Muslims and Asians generally. People are openly saying "The Poles are fine but I hate the Muslims, and comparing the Poles to the Muslims. We then have people who want England to remain firmly white. So you can 2nd guess a Pole admirer supports these white sentiments. England is now the most populated nation in the world. So this means we are going to need the USA back, it's far too good a place to waste on those Americans? Montana, Colorado and Rhode Island are the Jewels in the Crown, and you can guess which Crown I'm referring to?

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"A Pakistani-born Church of England bishop bemoaned the creation of separate Muslim living areas and enclaves.

He said that "those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them."

This man is a well-known trouble maker. Besides, who really takes the news that seriously?

FAIIRPLAY said...

Reference Jeremy Jacobs post above:

[Q] A Pakistani-born Church of England bishop bemoaned the creation of separate Muslim living areas and enclaves, and ended with "This man is a well-known trouble maker. Besides, who really takes the news that seriously".

From your name Jacobs I assumed you were Jewish. But reading this post makes me wonder? The man is a Church of England Bishop for Gods sake and this alone means his word his very much his considered bond.

Now lets look at what he says, he decrys Islamic ghettos and wants Muslims to integrate and take part in the social activities of the wider community. 100 years ago this was the aim of all Russian Jews and it still is. Why you call him a troublemaker I don't know, but please don't do it again.

From_Poland said...

"FAIIRPLAY said...
Makalu, I have visited Auschwitz and Birkenau twice, Mauthausen once, and Maidjanek once. I have seen watched and studied Poles, "

May I ask what is, according to you, the connection between the camps you mention and your ''study'' of Poles?

Roman Werpachowski said...

Unfortunately, the Polish public opinion has largely reacted with hysteria and denial to the facts presented in Gross’s book. As a Pole I am deeply shocked by those facts (majority of them I wasn’t aware of, which says volumes about the way history has been taught to me in school) and by the hatred and denial with which the truth about Poles’ past crimes has been met in Poland.

"Fear" does not aim to be a dry academic monography. But it was not meant to be one. It presents carefully researched facts with the author's personal intepretation. Even if we completely ignore Gross's own arguments, his facts are shocking and fly in the face of the Polish martyrological myth.

From_Poland said...

Members of my family died in a number of countries during WWII, killed by Germans, Soviets, Allied bombs. I wasn't aware till today that it is 'the Polish martyrological myth'.

hyper79808 said...

Great comments by makalu, everything he says is correct. The Poles were considered an inferior race by Germans, just barely above the Jews, and anyone who denies this is a vicim-whore who is looking to suck up all the victimhood for themselves. It's been going on since the book of Exodus, so I'm not surprised.