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April 23, 2015 12:20 pm

As FBI Chief Apologizes to Poland, Jewish Group Praises Remarks Over Holocaust Complicity

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FBI director James Comey. Photo: United Stated Department of Justice

As the head of a U.S. intelligence service apologized to Poland over remarks he had made, a Jewish group offered praise for “aptly noting the complicit role that some civilians in certain European countries played in the Holocaust.”

The National Council of Young Israel praised FBI director James Comey for his remarks at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. last week. The group “defended Director Comey after his comments at the event drew a sharp rebuke from Polish officials and others,” according to a statement.

According to Poland and Hungary, Comey “insensitively” accused Polish and Hungarian civilians of abetting the German genocide of European Jewry.

“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do,” Comey said. His remarks were later published by the Washington Post, leading Poland and then Hungary to respond.

“The words of the FBI director bear witness to astounding insensitivity and impermissible superficiality,” the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The National Council of Young Israel responded: “Rather than seeking to parse the verbiage that the FBI Director used while aptly noting the complicit role that some civilians in certain European countries played during the Holocaust and condemning him for his remarks, people should instead be commending Director Comey for taking such a strong and public stand against evil and tyranny.”

On Thursday Comey told the Polish ambassador that he regretted his comments and Poland said it now considered the matter settled.

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  • American

    Many millions of people were affected by WWII not just jews. Remember the Roma? 🙂

  • Pioro

    For too many years has Poland been the easy scapegoat of what happened during the war. Ultimate guilt must always lie squarely with GERMANY! Ever since end of WW2, it was easy to blame Poland to hide the guilt of UK, France, and USA for selling Poland to Uncle Joe and his Evil Empire. Poland was the reason why UK and France went to war, but now it was sold off to appease another monster not unlike Hitler. Were there individual Poles who took advantage of the anarchy during the occupation and turn against their Jewish brothers? Of course! But what about Vichy France? What about Netherlands (largest foreign SS volunteer force)? What about Belgium (active anti Jewish collaboration)? What about Italy (birthplace of fascism)? WHAT ABOUT GERMANY? But after the war Germany became ally, and said it was just a simple mistake, and error in judgement and we are now the West and love Coca cola and John Wayne. And today many Jews drive Mercedes and Porsche, which is sick. The same companies that had active programs to annihalte all their kin. Only Poland had an active organization to save Jews (Zegota). Only Poland risked everything to inform the West of what was happening to her Jews (See: Karski and the Lords of Humanity). But what did FDR do? What did American Jews do? NOTHING! So its easy to point a finger at weak Poland and create a false equivalence with the few Poles who acted like treacherous scum and the massive, sophisticated, state-sponsored, KILLING MACHINE that was Nazi Germany.

    • one doesn’t excuse the other
      they were all complicit

    • My quest for comprehension of the events within The Holocaust commenced with the Murder of a 4 year old Jewish Girl, Tokele. She resided in Sokoly, Poland. Now for a Catholic like myself, it is an abhorrence that anyone should be Murdered because of a Faith, Belief system, ethnicity or antecedence. Troubling too that a Child’s life can be so callously destroyed. I am sure that anti-Semitism played a key role in this particular atrocity as it does in the whole of The Holocaust. It also concerns me that those who have profited within Poland from the Destruction of 3,000,000 Polish Jews can maintain their Christian catholic status?

  • BMS

    Hungary and Poland still feel the guilt for the role they played in the extermination of the Jewish populations in their countries. The FBI director spoke the truth and sometimes the truth hurts

    • HJZ

      I am reading the stories- and wonder if these the writers are aware that 3 million Polish people that perished in the war, many Polish people were thrown into the concentration camps, many Polish children were kidnapped by the Nazi’s and taken into slavery to work for German farmers and in munition factories. There were, I am sure there were some anti smites in Poland, but over all most people were not! I happen to be a daughter of Polish parents that survived the Holocaust, so please I am appalled that a somewhat educated US Representative would make such a remark and accusation. The suffering of any person under any circumstance is not acceptable. Do not blame an entire nation for the mistakes of a few! Put the blame on the individuals themselves.

    • HJZ

      There is no way to comprehend something of these proportions. No I have to add, both my parents were Catholic and remained Catholics for the remainder of their lives. My father was saved by a priest in last days of the war, while in the concentration camp. This only strengthened his faith. On the other we children were taught tolerance toward any other faith, race and nationality. Since Americans liberated both my parents, they were very grateful to this nation and their sacrifices during the war. I know that I am the person I am because of them. I have taught my children the same and they received a religious education by having experienced various religions, to include the Jewish religion. I hope they will do the same.

  • We have received much material for the new book. Please understand THEIR IS NO COMPENSATION for work contributed nor can we deal with copyright issues as I am not an attorney. I am paying for the publication out of my own pocket and my secretary has volunteered her time. I seriously doubt this will be a best seller or if there will be any profit. I am doing this book as a MITZVAH to allow those who wish to contribute material to have their children and grandchildren read this material in the future. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    I have been inundated by requests to extend the dead line for the new book. IT IS TRULY AMAZING. EXTENDED TO MAY 8..

    We are including pictures of those who submit material as well as bio. This is a once in a life time opportunity to share your thoughts regarding the holocaust…with future generations

    Send the info to,

    Please send material including: poems,art work, essays, belief in G-d, philosophy regarding the Shoah, Yiddish expressions,language you spoke as a child,characteristics you learned from your parents, did your parents speak about the Shoah, what profession were your parents, what profession did you enter. I especially would like contributions by 2g and 3g RABBIS…. Include you picture and a brief bio.

    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • Paul

    Ahh, yes. The murderers are so SENSITIVE, one should be very gentle and careful not to hurt their feelings by mentioning the truth in simple terms.
    For example, today, the Turks are SO OFFENDED when anyone suggests their murder of millions of Armenians was genocide. They think it was NOT genocide, simply slaughter of millions of helpless civilians. Genocide is a harsh word, right ?
    It would behoove them to admit the truth and apologise and claim to have changed, rather than be offended. Have they changed ?
    Some valiant gentiles hid jews from the Nazis, often paying for this with their own lives. But so many more directed the Nazis to hiding jews. But they are offended when confronted with this.

  • Peter von Fábry-Eichner

    We all know that the Polish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Latvian, French and many other nationals took a non-negligible and in many cases enthusiastic part in the persecution of jewish citizens in the German occupied countries. Many of them as SS-guards at various concentration camps.

    The truth is not black and white, rather grey – and glum. But there were also a few brave exceptions, even i Germany; people who, risking their own and there loved ones’ lives, saved persecuted people.

    But, unfortunately the opposite was far more usual. Knowing quite well what happened i Hungary, being born there (My parents and I escaped to Sweden since 1956), I can’t help reacting to the Polish and Hungarian officials idealization of their respective countries history.

    My father, who lived through the pre-war era and who spent the war on the Eastern Front gave me many proof of this. Especially cruel were the members of the gendarmerie, the “CsendÅ‘rség”, the majority being Arrow Cross (Hungarian nazis) sympathizers.

    During the war my father was on a leave on his way home to Nagyvárad in Transylvania, when he came across a line of well dressed city people, old and young, tied together with a rope around their wrists, with the yellow star on their coats. Leading and guarding the maybe 40-50 persons were a few young men (18-20 years old) of the CsendÅ‘rség. This was a particularly cold and late November and the Danube was full of flakes of ice and the stream very strong. My father was just wondering where they were taking these poor people when he suddenly witnessed how one of the boys kicked an elderly lady violently in the back, towards the water. With the butt of their rifles the pushed more into the violently flowing, icy water. People fell into the water, pulling the others with them. My father scream something like “Stop…!” But the boys mockingly made a salute to the army lieutenant (my father) and as some of the people were already fighting for their lives in the river they started to takes shots at them. In less than a minute or two all the jews had perished in the Danube. This was just one of the numerous occasions that my father witnessed the more than enthusiastic antisemitism in Hungary before and during the war.
    To deny these not insignificant crimes against humanity is not just immoral and a falsification of modern history, but unforgivable, coming from official representatives of the democratic countries in Europe, members of the EU. The leaders of more decent thinking Governments should criticize the Hungarian and Polish for their unacceptable statements.

    • david freilich

      Well said!!!

  • Henryk Zaleski

    I agree that many sold out to the Nazi’s but, throwing accusation on the entire nations by a broad brush stroke is not fair and its down right ugly. If you got names, print them, otherwise who are these people? How about naming all those who helped in those dire times instead?

  • baruch

    ukraine .baltic states glorifications , who killed jewish. stop support nazi, antisemites, fashist, criminal rejim, huntu in ukraine. stop support baltic states.

  • Lauren Goldman

    Oh, Poland, what a selective memory you have. Just one quick question; Who killed Jewish Shoah survivors when they returned to their pre-war homes in Poland? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Canadians or space aliens. Maybe it is time to own up to collaborating with the Nazis to murder Jews and stop carrying on as if you were only victims. Too many of us died as a result of your treachery.

  • Poland is a large country and there were several sides of Poland’s response to the Holocaust. Many Poles risked their lives to save Jewish neighbours and friends, but many Catholic Poles may have seen the Holocaust as the destiny of the Jewish people for rejecting the Nazarene. Most Poles were neither heroes nor villains. Pre-WW2 there were three million Jews in Poland, half a million in Warsaw, but very few survived. For a reliable account see Sir Martin Gilbert zl, ‘The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of The Holocaust’,(Doubleday 2002)

  • sifter

    We know the truth. The Romanians,Ukrainians and Croats scared the Germans with their unlimited cruelty and barbarism. Read ” The Holocaust Chronicles ” and weep.

  • racy

    He told the truth as I have heard countless of times from the mouths of survivors. The Poles, Hungarians aided
    the Nazis ruthless mission to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Once the Jews were herded into the concentration camps the Poles and Hungarians took their personal property and many moved into their beautiful homes. What the Nazis didn’t steal the Poles and Hungarians did. And when the few Jewish survivors returned to their homes after the war to reclaim their property, the Poles continued to shoot, maim and murder many of them because they weren’t going to leave the Jewish houses they occupied or return Jewish possessions and property. Of course, there were Christian Poles and Hungarians who tried to save Jews, but they were in the minority, a very small percentage. Israel has honored them as the Righteous and pays them a pension for life for their effort to help hide Jews during the Holocaust. Again, they were few in comparison for those complicit with the Nazis.

  • Linda Golden

    It is a shame he apologized. He spoke the truth and one should not have to apologize for that…it is Hungary and Poland that should apologize …oh wait, no one killed the Jews, they traveled to the concentration camps on their own and were met by welcoming Poles and Hungarians who let them kill themselves …they had such a great time, the Roma, Gays, Mentally Challenged and others seen as “unfit” just had to follow and get in on the fun! No one can tell me the citizens of those two esteemed countries , who are so offended, didn’t know what was going on as they watched the smoke rose. It is we, who should be offended by the governments of Poland and Hungary .

  • Joe Brazil

    Ditto, truth hearts! and these people would repeat it again, they haven’t learned !!

  • Vivarto

    Unfortunately he was saying the truth.
    Without Polish complicity, Germans would have no way to distinguish most Polish Jews from ethnic Poles.
    If Poland issued new passports to Jews, they could have been saved.
    Jews had to hide not just from Germans but also from Poles.
    In several small towns the entire Jewish populations were murdered by Poles, rather than by Jews.
    E.g. Jedwabne.

  • Tabitha Korol

    Director Comey’s remarks were not a direct insult to the audience, but to a past generation, yet they still can’t come to terms with the truths of those years. If they can’t accept what was done, and won’t accept the guilt of their ancestors, they will not deal with the truth and history – a dangerous situation once again. I commend Director Comey.

  • Sofia

    His comments might be hurtful, but we all know that Europe especially Eastern Europe was most accommodating in helping Einsatzgruppen and SS Soldiers in the killings of Jews.
    It’s not a secret, it even existed after the war, when Jews were coming home that were taken over by others, they were shot instead of giving back their properties.

    There were good people, sure, my Mother and Sister was one of them, Their names are engraved at the Washington Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem as Righteous Among Nations – they suffered but did manage to save four Jewish people for 20 months under the noses of the killers in Pinsk.
    It wasn’t the most endearing town for the Jews either by the gentile population.
    Alexandra Dochmacka deserved the honor – she had a heart and empathy. Much lacking in today’s world as well.

  • Mark_NYC

    It is no secret that MANY citizens of German occupied countries were complicit during WWII in helping the Nazis identify Jews who were then sent to extermination camps. The Poles were particularly vicious in this regard, and were more than delighted that they could appropriate Jewish property for their own use. I was a small boy when my parents returned to their Polish village after the war ended, and I remember a local thug yelling at us (in Polish) “Zhud; I thought we got rid of all of you” followed by his throwing a rock that struck me in the head. Right then and there, my parents decided we had to get out of Poland, which we promptly did by being smuggled in a truck (driven by young Israeli boys from the Hagganah) across the German-Polish border while being pursued by a Polish Communist military vehicle. Jews were widely persecuted by Poles when they returned after the war- this is common knowledge. All these false howls from Polish and Hungarian diplomats are just another manifestation of the self-blindness and anti-Semitism so prevalent these days in Europe.

    A short historical overview

    The Holocaust

    The Holocaust was the murder by Nazi Germany of six million Jews. While the Nazi persecution of Jews began in 1933, the mass murder was committed during WWII. The background of the Holocaust was in the prevalent anti-Semitism in Europe and Auschwitz did not begin in Auschwitz. In many cases existing anti-Semitism inhibited people from coming to the aid of the Jews. So it was that very few stood up for the Jews and in four and half years Germans and their accomplices murdered six million Jews. They never showed any restraint and they only stopped when the Allies defeated them.

    There was no escape. Not only were Jewish communities destroyed but each Jew was hunted down and traced in order to be put to death. The crime of being a Jew was so great that every single one had to be put to death. They were men, women and children. They were healthy and sick; the committed and the disinterested; the creative and the lazy. There was no reprieve and no amnesty. All of the Jews were meant to suffer and ultimately die. To this purpose industrial scale extermination centers were established.

    The Allies could of saved millions of people by bombing the railroads which transported the Jewish people to German extermination camps and the Gas chambers.

    The British who were set up as the trustee for the Jewish people in the Jewish Mandate for Palestine under the San Remo Agreement which was confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres.
    The British adopted a policy of restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine in the late 1930’s, this was in violation of the Mandate for Palestine. It caused millions of Jews to be exterminated. The British went as far as blowing up Jewish refugee ships trying to come to Palestine-Israel.

    The Allies finally put a stop to the mass murder. But most of the Jews of Europe had perished by 1945 and a civilization that has flourished for 2000 years was no more.

    Many nations and people are questioning Israel’s control of its liberated territory. No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had ejected about a million Jewish people and their children from their countries, confiscated their assets, businesses, homes and Real estate 650,00 Jewish people and their children of these expelled Jewish people were resettled in Greater Israel. The Land the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people 120,400 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles, which is over 5-6 times the size of Israel, and its value today is the trillions of dollars.

    Learn more about the Holocaust at Yad Vashem’s website.

  • Recently PBS Plus broadcasted terrifying documentary about Trebblinka camp .
    It’s widely known that Ukranian civilians collaborated with Nazi in exterminating , killing Jews during the war . The documentary besides mentioned those Ukranians who worked in this camp and NEVER was brought to justice …
    More over , we vitnessing how so called new Ukranian Government proclaiming new laws practically re-writing the history and making Nazy collaborators and killers – as Bandera and other ones , the heroes !
    New Right wing party – as the dark shadow of well learned past on the rise subsidized by West ‘ money with very old agenda …
    My own family went through the hell in Odessa with that Ukranian civilians who collaborated okkupants , why it’s never mentioned ?
    Just because West covering for new Kiev government ?

  • Paddy

    Sure, the Communists and Nazis agreed to butcher Poland and Bella Abzug screamed her praises. Communists never change their spots.

  • manley kiefer

    It’s the diplomats job to whitewash whatever dirt might be uncovered about their misdeeds. Same goes for us as for them but I think we are more willing to bow to facts than they.

  • Jill Maleson

    The FBI Chief was correct the first time. His apology is an insult to every holocaust victim and their families. Civilians turned in friends and neighbors willingly usually after they had taken every penny the victims owned. Yes, there were righteous people and god bless each and every one. They were the small minority. Without civilian cooperation there would have been fewer deaths.

  • Fred

    How complicit were the folks in the accused European countries, one should go into small towns & villages where Jews lived to see the mass graves. Most of these Jews were murdered by their neighbours & “friends” with no help from the armed forces of the day. These days you hear the same refrain from the new Muslim NAZI’s and the nostalgic Nationalist in France, Germany , US, UK and the rest of Europe. The volume of denial grows bigger & the tacit silence of the respective Government grows mute. As a survivor I remember the horror of family & acquaintances murdered in the surrounding villages & towns.

  • Yes, the poles sadly abetted the Germans and even murdered and looted. Poland is a vast Jewish graveyard. I am part polish and wouldn’t pay the airport tax to land the plane because I know how they corroborated with the Germans. They also murdered plenty of returning Jews after the war.

  • brenrod

    the polish slaughtered jews who returned after the war and defeat of germany.