Saturday, October 25, 2008

ANTI-SEMITISM AND POLONOPHOBIA Sets the Record Straight on Polish-Jewish Relations

ANTI-SEMITISM AND POLONOPHOBIA Sets the Record Straight on Polish-Jewish Relations

In recent years, there has been a great deal of emphasis on Polish anti-Semitism. This is despite the fact that anti-Semitism existed virtually everywhere, and in Poland never approached the level which Jews encounted in many other European nations. Moreover, the positive aspects of Polish-Jewish relationships have been virtually ignored. Pogonowski's excellent book does much to show, in fact, how Jewish communities flourished in Poland.

This review updates an earlier one, and refers to the 1998 paperback edition. This latter edition contains several articles not found in the original hardback edition. The authors trace many mischaracterizations of Polish-Jewish history in the American press. The informed reader can appreciate how little has changed since then. For example, the recent publications of NEIGHBORS and FEAR by Jan T. Gross have resurrected many old Polonophobic canards that should have been, if nowhere else, laid to rest by this 1998 edition.

There is an extensive expose of the so-called Kielce Pogrom--A Soviet-staged event (pp. 403-422). The Soviets wanted to discredit a free Poland in the eyes of the west, and to terrorize the remaining Jews into fleeing to Palestine. Other anti-Jewish actions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia got little press in the west, probably because anti-Communism had been relatively weak in those countries.

In Kielce, the tale of the blood libel had been spread by agent provocateurs (p. 414). The Jews were shot by Communist police, and club-wielding fake "steel workers" also took their toll. Other Communist police involved in the so-called pogrom had been dressed as goons or priests. There is the fantastic myth of the 15,000 to 75,000 cheering Polish onlookers (p. 406), a myth recently repeated by Gross in his FEAR. The actual number of Polish onlookers, most of whom were probably motivated by curiosity, didn't ever exceed several hundred at its peak.

After the "pogrom", inconvenient eyewitnesses met their deaths. The Kielce files themselves were burned in November 1989, shortly before the Communists left power.

Pogonowski makes clear that the Communist anti-Jewish policies of 1968 were not Polish. They were plainly Soviet-dictated (pp. 30-31).

The atlas itself is chock-full of useful information. The reader soon learns that, despite the frictions and mutual prejudices which sometimes developed between Poles and Jews, Poland was historically one of the most tolerant nations in the world for Jews. If the fact that 80% of the world's Jews, at one time, made their home in Poland does not prove this fact, then what does? This book makes it clear that Poland had been centuries ahead of others in terms of human rights and religious tolerance.

Iwo Pogonowski's book is a veritable mine of information about Polish-Jewish relations since the Middle Ages. This subject has been badly distorted in the English-language publications, mostly for reasons that have nothing to do either with history or honesty. "Jews in Poland" needs to be read slowly, in small doses, with frequent returns because sometimes a very important fact is hidden in a footnote or some such obscure place. This volume looks and reads like a scrapbook, and the impression is reinforced by its graphic aspect.
"Jews in Poland" is full of very instructional maps and diagrams, it also carries a good selection of illustrations (although their quality is rather so-so). All in all, a book that stands head and shoulders over any other treatment of Jewish-Polish history in the English language.

Of course Polish anti-Semitism existed and still exists. So does Jewish Polonophobia. In fact, the very Polonophobia whose existence Pelta denies has been the subject of studies by academics, including Jewish ones. The premise that more Poles denounced Jews than helped them has mathematically been shown to be false. Of course, fugitive Polish Jews were denounced not only by ethnic Poles, but more so by Polish-speaking Germans (Volksdeutsche), Ukrainians, and other Jews. (To elaborate on these two issues, and many others, see my Listmania: Exposing Polonophobia...).

Why does Pelta imagine that I deny the fact of the Kielce Pogrom? And of course there were other disturbances in Poland (see below). But this in no way negates the probable Soviet staging of the Kielce Pogrom.

Old newspaper accounts prove nothing. Time and time again, the western press had uncritically printed accounts from Jewish sources that later turned out to be fabricated or greatly exaggerated. For instance, Jewish sources in 1918 spoke of massive pogroms in Poland where thousands to tens of thousands of Jews were killed. The outraged Wilson administration sent Henry Morgenthau, an American Jew and his team, to investigate. It turns out that the actual number of Jews killed was about 280, and a large fraction of them had been the victim of common crimes (whose victims also included Polish gentiles), caused largely by the breakdown of discipline in the then-inexperienced Polish Army.

In the 1930's, there was a big hullabaloo about the Przytyk Pogrom. It turns out that all of 2 (two!) Jews died in it, as did one Pole.

The total number of Jews in Poland killed in the years after WWII comes out to 300-600, and most of these were the victims of common banditry (rampant in Poland at the time), rather than anti-Semitism. Higher figures (e. g., 1500 or 2000) are completely conjectural. Considering the fact that about 300,000 Polish Jews survived the Nazi occupation, the Jewish death toll comes out to 0.1-0.2% of Poland's remaining Jews. If this is not making a mountain out of a molehill, then what is?

I wouldn't be surprised if more Jews were killed in horse-carriage accidents than in all the Polish pogroms. So, if anything, Jews should fear for their lives more from horses than from Poles. In addition, Jews also killed Poles, and certainly not only in self-defense...But that's another subject in itself.

Pelta tries to diminish Polish suffering under the German Nazi occupation by making the bogus argument about Germans allowing Poles to move around, but not Jews. How ridiculous! To begin with, the Germans, under the wartime conditions, lacked the manpower to arrest and ship 28 million ethnic Poles into urban ghettos. Secondly, most Poles, unlike Jews, were farmers, and the Germans HAD to allow them to move around in order to enable them to farm their lands and deliver their goods to market or to collecting points (mostly for German confiscation). Finally, the Germans couldn't kill many more than the 2-3 million Poles they killed because it would have interfered too much with German war production (for further elaboration, see my Listmania: Forgotten Holocaust: Nazi Genocide Against Poles).

Pelta also tries to diminish Polish suffering by asserting that Germans spared Polish children but not Jewish children. He is wrong on both counts.

The Germans knowingly and deliberately spared various full-blooded German Jews (the Schutzjuden), including children, and relabeled them Aryans. So the old argument that "Unlike any other people subject to genocide, the Jews were uniquely targeted for complete extermination" is false.

Polish children with racially-desirable features were thought by Germans to be self-evidently of German descent. So the kidnapping of Polish children and their raising by German families was not any sort of mercy to Poles, but an act of taking actually-German children and subjecting them to de-Polonization and re-Germanization in a German environment.

Pelta's remark about the Poles attempting to stifle debate is as laughable as an ant calling a sauropod dinosaur a tiny creature. Fact is, it has always been the Jewish side trying to stifle debate by leveling the charge of anti-Semitism against anyone who disagrees with Judeocentric premises or who points out any Jewish wrongdoing. In fact, the accusation of anti-Semitism has become so overused that-like the boy crying wolf-- its effect has worn off.

Certain Jewish individuals and groups have joined the left-wingers in their smear campaign against RADIO MARYJA, and in attempts to get it shut down-all because its patriotic and religious message doesn't fit their worldview. Talk about attempting to stifle debate! (Charges about RADIO MARYJA being racist and anti-Semitic are completely bogus and slanderous. I have listened to RADIO MARYJA a long time and never once heard a single derogatory remark about any racial or religious group).

Considering the risks Poles took to so much as give a Jew a glass of water, Pelta should be ashamed of himself for his remarks.

Of course relatively few Poles helped Jews. To begin with, only a small fraction of Polish Jews had escaped from the ghettos to make themselves accessible to Polish help. And Poles lived under constant German surveillance and terror. Duh...

Pelta's wisecrack about Poles rescuing Jewish babies in order to convert them to Christianity is too absurd to dignify with a response.

Property loss during war is a common situation. My parents and grandparents were relieved of their property, of course without compensation, by the Soviets following their conquest of eastern Poland in 1939. Churchill and Roosevelt made it permanent by recognizing the Soviet annexation of eastern Poland at Teheran in 1943. So, as the rightful heir, from whom should I seek compensation? From Russia and/or the Ukraine? Or from the British and American governments? Or from all four?

Considering the no small amount of moral arrogance with which many Jews talk down to Poles, dare I suggest that the Jewish side is in need of learning kindness more than the Polish side?

Jan Peczkis