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March 25, 2016 7:38 am

Poland’s Very Short Memory on Jews and the Holocaust

avatar by Judith Bergman

Email a copy of "Poland’s Very Short Memory on Jews and the Holocaust" to a friend
The gates of Auschwitz. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The gates of Auschwitz. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Polish national anthem, in a glass-half-full kind of way, solemnly declares, “Poland is not yet lost.” These optimistic words, which do not actually sound very cheerful, especially when performed to the anthem’s depressing tune, were written by Jozef Wybicki in 1797, two years after the third and last partition of Poland between the great powers of the day: czarist Russia, Prussia, and Austria.

Poland, once an empire in its own right, never recovered. It did not become an independent state again until 1918, and then enjoyed independence only briefly, until Nazi Germany invaded it on Sept. 1, 1939, and proceeded to occupy and destroy it, aided by the Soviet Union. After the war, Poland, which had been reduced to rubble by the Germans, was once again devoured, when the Soviet Union occupied it and made it a satellite state, cut off from the non-communist world by the Iron Curtain. Only after the end of the Cold War did Poland re-emerge as a self-determining state.

As reported by Israel Hayom, the governing Law and Justice party in Poland has embarked on a strategy to promote certain glamorous episodes in Poland’s history, such as the anti-communist resistance after World War II, while aiming to suppress the discussion and research into less convenient topics, particularly how Poles helped massacre their Jewish compatriots during the Nazi occupation. The current nationalist government’s revisionist historical policies should be viewed in the light of the above history, which has informed how Poles have seen themselves and others throughout the centuries.

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One obvious aspect of Polish history, which cannot be emphasized enough, is the prevalence of a virulent antisemitism that continues to haunt the country today. After World War II, the few Jews who had been left alive out of a pre-war Jewish population of over 3 million were met by Poles who had moved into their houses and overtaken their valuable possessions — many of which have not been repatriated to their rightful owners to this day, since communist Poland subsequently expropriated many of them. On top of all that, the Poles rained fresh pogroms on the heads of the Jewish concentration camp survivors, such as the terrible pogrom in Kielce in 1946.

Jan Tomasz Gross, the historian who more than anyone has revealed the extent of Polish war crimes against Jewish neighbors during the Nazi occupation, is being demonized by the current Polish government, with the president even threatening to strip him of a national honor bestowed upon him 20 years ago. The truth hurts, no doubt, but Gross has not relented, claiming that Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans during the war, which is not an unreasonable claim at all, given the speed and ease with which Germany occupied Poland and the zest with which Poles threw themselves into killing Polish Jews, as documented by Gross in his book, Neighbors.

Antisemitism flared up again after the 1967 Six-Day War, when Poland decided to take the Soviet dissatisfaction with Israel out on the country’s remaining Jews — around 13,000 of them — by firing them from jobs, denying them the right to study at university, and various other forms of harassment. Consequently, nearly all the remaining Polish Jews left Poland between 1968 and 1972.

Yet, even in a country largely bereft of Jews — albeit with a burgeoning Jewish cultural industry, which profits from the country’s wealth of Jewish history — antisemitism persists like a plague for which there is no cure. In November 2015, a protest against taking in Muslim refugees at the western city of Wroclaw ended with the burning of an effigy of an ultra-Orthodox Jew holding the flag of the European Union. Antisemitic graffiti is not uncommon and even the Polish language has traces of it with some Poles using the expression “to Jew” as a way to communicate all things unsavory.

Polish society is very formal, and communication is always polite, with men being addressed as “sir” and women as “madam.” Not that long ago, it was still common for men in polite society to greet women with a symbolic kiss on the hand in the old-fashioned French way, from where Polish culture has traditionally taken many of its cues. So much more disturbing is the primitive undercurrent of antisemitism, which exists just under the polished veneer, as it has indeed done throughout history in all European societies.

Before embarking further upon the jingoistic course of historical enhancement, the Polish government might want to reflect on the tremendous debt it owes to the Polish Jews, for everything they brought into Polish culture and for the murderous way in which the Poles ultimately repaid them. They ought also to ask themselves if Poland itself is served well by glossing over the crimes that were committed in order to communicate a picture post card to the younger Polish generations. Viewed from Israel, the question that inevitably comes to mind is this: How dare they?

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom. 

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  • rafael

    no , algemeiner??? you have very selective memory of Jews and black history of Jews
    whitewashing Germans wont help you. Jewish have to deal with Jewish crimes against Jewish first.

  • Sliwinski

    I am fascinated by this topic. My dad is from Poland. He came here after the war. He told me that the Jewish people lived well in Poland for hundreds of years. It is important to note that Poland was probably the only country that was available as a refuge for Jewish people. The Poles did not cause the holocaust it was Germany. Poland has done a great deal of good for the Jewish people. This article is extremely insulting to the Polish people, and the writer is extremely biased. Poland is a great country, and it has a great history. There are 3 sides to every story. However, bad mouthing Poland is really not right. Given the totality of the circumstances, Poland has done a great deal of good for the Jewish people. The writer just ignores this fact.

    Additionally, if Poland is so rotten for the Jewish people, why is there so much Israeli investments in Poland? The reason is because they really like Poland. There are many malls and businesses in Poland that are financed and owned by Israeli companies and businesses. If it was so horrible, I am sure that they would not invest in Poland!

  • Rubin Katz

    If the comments here, as well as other publications trolled by Poles, is anything to go by, classic Jew-haters are still very much in evidence. The Jew just can’t do right; he is to blame for all their own shortcomings. If not the Jews, then it has to be Germans or the communists, as if the latter could never be Polish, or Russians or Jewish Stalinists. Some even accuse Polish Jews, like me, of lying because it doesn’t slot in with their inflated notion of ‘Honor Polski’. Some even claim that the Jews are to blame for their own demise. The Nazis too blamed the Jews for all their problems. A well known slogan of theirs was “Die Juden sindt unzer ungluck” – The Jews are our misfortune. So what was the reason behind the virulent Polish anti-Semitism and the deadly pogroms like Przytyk in 1936? Poland was not occupied then. Furthermore, the Sejm voted in 1938 to expel the Jews to Madagascar but they run out of time as the war intervened. One writer here has a problem with Israel/Palestine. When I lived in Poland, the indignant cry was Zydzi do Palestyny! Now it is Jews out of Palestine! The Arabs want us to return to Poland. Poland rejected me in 1946, when I had to flee to England for safety. There were attacks on Jews all over Poland, including where I was.

    I will try to ignore some of the attitudes here and admit there are also lots of good people in the Poland of today, some of whom I know. But I have to defend my corner, by telling it the way it was. Furthermore, consecutive Polish governments have been supportive of Israel internationally to the benefit of both countries.

    • Jacek Gronka

      Dear Mr Katz, in 1936 two Jews and one Pole were killed in Przytyk. Please put on scales Holocaust and all pogroms in Poland before the war and you will see the difference between german and polish antisemitism.
      link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Przytyk_pogrom

  • Rubin Katz

    As a witness to those events, I didn’t find anything in Ms Bergman’s piece that doesn’t ring true or exaggerated. You may not like to hear it, but that is how it was. Though I am pleased to see two or three moderate and objective voices here, the rest are just the usual excuses and evasions, repeated like a mantra, as to why the situation Poland vis-a-vis its Jews was so different from all the other occupied countries. It matters not to Polish-Jewish survivors that there was anti-Semitism in other countries too, and so on. The Baltic countries were perhaps even worse for a Jew to find himself in, than in Poland, but then they collaborated with the Germans, and Poland didn’t, except in the case of its Jews. We expected better from our compatriots, that’s why it remains a festering sore that just won’t go away. And when we are all gone, the many books and personal testimonies will remain.

  • Rubin Katz

    You are not quite right. The vast majority of French Jews survived. My French wife did so with her entire extended family in Vichy France in the Lyons area. In the area of Les Chambon, some 5,000 Jewish youngsters were sheltered by the Protestant population. The Danes saved all their Jewish citizens by shipping them to Sweden.

  • Ash c moncure

    Once again Judith Bergman words have failed you. Your lack erudition shines bright in public.

  • Larry

    When you look at a coin and see heads, you can’t see the tails side, and visa-versa. That does not mean that the other side does not exist. The fact that there were many Jews saved by heroic Poles does not mean that there were not many Poles who betrayed their fellow citizens who were Jews. The fact that Poland took in and was home to more than 3 million Jews, does not negate the pervasive anti-semitism that existed there for centuries.Each side hurts its own narrative by by denying the truth of the other.

  • Zamoyski

    Regarding the following quote from the article, the author’s ignorance and/or intransigence is blatantly obvious.

    Quote: “Antisemitism flared up again after the 1967 Six-Day War, when Poland decided to take the Soviet dissatisfaction with Israel out on the country’s remaining Jews — around 13,000 of them — by firing them from jobs, denying them the right to study at university, and various other forms of harassment. Consequently, nearly all the remaining Polish Jews left Poland between 1968 and 1972.”

    Any person with minimal intelligence or knowledge of Poland during 1045-89 would know that it was the USSR totally IN CHARGE of Poland , and especially of Poland’s foreign policy. This means that it was NOT “Poland” instigating these reprisals against Jews in USSR-occupied Poland – it was obviously the Soviets, unhappy as they were with the victories of the Israeli forces. It was in no way “Poland’s” decision, purely the USSR’s.

    No one should ever try to daub the Poles/Poland with the Guilt-Brushes of the Germans and the Soviets/Russians. The author here has displayed significant ignorance of historical facts, and/or significant racial bias, neither of which is acceptable.

    • George Jorge Soltysik

      Thank you Pan Zamoyski for offering a perspective that is totally ignored by those select Jews who refuse to acknowledge the historic truth in their pursuit of their sacrificial self image, a pursuit which is totally unnecessary but which they believe will further their interests in receiving continuous support in spite of the horrific policy pursued currently by their favoured Likud regime against the Palestinians of West Bank and Gaza. I am sorry and disheartened over these continuous attempts at fomenting discord in Polish-Jewish relations. I pray we can turn to a positive rapprochement in the near future.

    • Rubin Katz

      All too many Poles tend to blame the post-war communist administration for all Polish post-war ills, as if they came from outer space and were not Polish, and all the wartime crimes on only the Germans. As a Polish Jew, who lived through those terrible times in the provinces, as well as in Warsaw, passing for a non-Jew. I bear no malice whatsoever towards the post war Polish generations. But certain things must be admitted because they really did happen. It is all very well documented and its no good trying to deny it, it only makes things worse and causes division between the two peoples. Historians have summed it up as follows and as a living witness, I would agree totally: “As far as Poles at large are concerned there can be no doubt that many welcomed Nazi persecution of the Jews from which they benefited materially. A significant number of Poles were involved in criminal activities against Jews and a small number, relatively speaking, of brave outstanding people risked their lives to help. But the vast majority of people were actively hostile, or at best, totally indifferent to the Jews’ fate.” I don’t relish saying this, but I have a duty to say it. That’s the way it was. I was lucky, I was saved by my face. Those with Jewish features could’t get down the street very far without someone pointing at him, shouting Zyd! or Jude!

      • Martsy Ketlinski

        “All too many Poles tend to blame the post-war communist administration for all Polish post-war ills, as if they came from outer space and were not Polish”

        Indeed, they were often not Polish. Many of the occupiers couldn’t even speak our language. The others were Polish renegades. And a very significant group was Jewish, unfortunately. They often chose to work in Stalinist secret police, where they tortured and murdered thousands of Polish patriots. If we aim to be honest, this perhaps should be mentioned here (I haven’t noticed you doing it though…). It’s the sad fact of life that in every community there will be human scum, very active in time of inhumanity. Within Jewish community there were brutal ghetto policemen helping Germans to transport Jewish victims to Auschwitz or Treblinka. Would you blame all Jews for Judenrat selecting Jews for gas?

      • George Jorge Soltysik

        To Rubin Katz – I truly regret your sad experience in Poland, and I’m ashamed of all who ill treated you.

        My dispute with your comment above is the reference you make to the numbers, or at least the overall negative impression of Poles and Poland that one is left with from reading your comment.

        You see, this is the one and only quasi-positive comment you were gracious to offer:

        “..a small number, relatively speaking, of brave outstanding people risked their lives to help.”

        I am now reading Timothy Snyder’s Black Earth (as a follow up to his Bloodlands) which he offers some explanation of the behaviour of all nationalities during those hard times, not a la Gross fashion but truly researched. Perhaps you might also benefit from reading his work and hopefully view the Polish people in general somewhat more kindly.

        Kind regards,

        George A Soltysik
        Canada

    • Zamoyski

      Correction: Should of course be 1945-89, not “1045-89”.

  • Sue

    Professor Jan Gross has certainly done his work well, which is why he is lauded and applauded I suppose.

    I understand that Poland has been moved to the Axis Side and is now responsible for the crimes of the Axis. By the way, does anyone know when it was that the countries that actually were in the Axis sent down the Memory Hole?

    But in The World of What Actually Happened, Poland fought on the Allied Side, and Poles were targeted under Nazi race laws. My dear aged father was a Polish para, fighting on the Allied side.

    His reward? Betrayal the moment the war ended, and vilification ever since from the most powerful media and academe in the world.

    Should I become bitter and angry about this? Or should I take the lesson?

    I prefer to learn from it. The lesson clearly is to stay neutral and stay out of these dreadful wars. I do understand what an impossible position Poland was in back then, but surely it is a lesson to take forward?

    The countries that managed to stay neutral during WW2 did not suffer as Poland did, and don’t come in for all this ProfessorJanGrossery either.

    • George Jorge Soltysik

      Thank you Pani Sue, I kiss your hands in true Polish tradition. I suppose the author of the article Ms Judith Bergman points out that that we learnt to do so from the French as we were probably deemed incapable of developing such a practice ourselves. Thank you for reminding readers of Ms Bergman’s article of the betrayal of Poland by the allies. The constant pounding and alluding to Polish antisemitism is foremost in her mind with no room for accepting the role of Polish military training and providing arms to Beta and Irgun to assist with the creation of present day Israel…of the Jewish initial attempt at seeking help from Hitler and his Nazis to expedite the emigration of European Jews to Israel. The collaboration of Jews with Soviet communists in the killing of Poles during the Soviet invasion of Kresy.

  • Iwona

    According to the Israeli War Crimes Commission, one-tenth of one percent (.1%)of Poles were war criminals. This would include prewar Polish citizens of Ukrainian or German descent. Condemning a country of millions on this basis would be as unfair as judging all Jews on the basis of those who were complicit with the Germans in the annihilation of their own people, or those who collaborated with the Soviets in the persecution or death of their Polish neighbors. The Holocaust has taught Ms. Bergman nothing about the dangers of hatred, prejudice and stereotyping.

    • Jakub Przedzienkowski

      Great reply hope she understands Poland was the most tolerant country to accept Jews for hundreds of year. Changing your writings does not change history.

  • Myron Slater

    In typical Polish, they try to cover up all the crimes over the hundreds of years against Jews. There is a Jewish cemetery in Balestock, Poland, that has been vandelized by the Germans, and then again by the Poles after the war. They tore up and broke the headstones after it was restored. No Jew should forget!!

    • Iwona

      Then why did they stay for one thousand years? Jewish migration to Poland was the result of pogroms and expulsions from many other countries and kingdoms. Jewish culture flourished in Poland and it’s a pity that a millennium of history is seen by some only through the prism of six years of German occupation

    • Iwona

      But of course, the current efforts of Poles to preserve Jewish cemeteries and other Jewish landmarks go unnoticed by anti-Polish haters.

    • Zbigniew Kowalczyk

      I have been trying to figure out why a handful of such virulent anti-Polish Jews spread such lies and distortions about Poland during the War. I am beginning to think that maybe it is because they want to stir up antipathy towards the Jews in order to reclaim their fading victim status. Maybe my speculations are off the mark but it is interesting why these Jews lie. Christian Poles took extraordinary risks and much sacrifice to help Jewish Poles as well as Jews from other countries. There were far more brave Poles than there were bad Poles during the War.

  • michal karski

    Yes, there were murderers. Yes, there are still xenophobes making headlines around the world, but the author might want to consider the people who actually died trying to save Jewish citizens.

    Painting the whole of Poland with the damning brush of anti-Semitism is not the basis for any kind of reconciliation.

  • William Trent

    If it wasn’t for the German State and the Nazi’s the Holocaust would never have happened. Why do you fail to recognize that this is where the hatred for the European Jews festered it’s ugly head. What about the guilt of the French, Italian, Danes and others who willingly gave up their Jewish citizens to the death camps that were run by the German’s in occupied Poland? How about the Poles who gave up their lives to saves Jews, even at the threat of death from the Germans? The Ally Forces knew about the concentration camps as early as 1942 from Jan Karski and others and did nothing. You seen to have whitewashed over the facts of history to get across your incomplete story of what happened to the Jews in WWII.

  • Ken Paul

    Last year my Daughter spent 6 months in Poland under a student program offered by UNC Chapel Hill, N.C.

    She was upset by the blatant antisemitism expressed by its citizens and the graffiti on walls around the country. She did get to attend a Temple while there but was advised to remove or hide her Star of David. She will not be returning but after visiting Scotland this year she along with my son are ooking forward to exercising their right of return.

    • Iwona

      I also hear blatant antisemitism from Americans but it would be unfair to judge all Americans on that basis.

      • Martsy Ketlinski

        Or the French for that matter. Many thousands of Jews are leaving France now. French Vichy government helped deporting French Jews to death camps. Nothing like this ever happened in Poland – the first country which put brave, even if hopeless resistance to both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. A country that never had collaboration government (out of 460 PM only 2 were willing to consider this idea). A country where there were no volunteers to Nazi German army. A country with the strongest resistance (whole “underground state”)in Europe. And now there is an ignoramus who knows NOTHING about Polish history, poor thing can’t even understand an easy distinction between occupied Poles and Soviet occupiers. And he says Poles have no right to honor many heroes who gave their life punished by Germans for saving their Jewish compatriots. How dares he?

        • Martsy Ketlinski

          I have to apologize Ms. Judith Bergman for referring to her as a man.

  • Luke

    Mr. Gross has an unabashed political agenda – clearly stated in this piece by Ms. Harper – and he uses his credentials as a recognized historian to cross into politics to calumny Poland. As a result, he has become a figure who divides and re-opens wounds instead of helping to heal them.

    He is a master of the concept of apples and oranges to confuse the unwary reader to flesh out his political point. Take the military combat deaths of Germans on Polish soil at the hands Poland’s military to compare the civilian deaths of Polish Jews at the hands of Polish Christians.

    First, he conveniently “forgets” to come up with the count of the rest of the German military dead at the hands of Poland’s military in the battles of: Tobruk, Monte Casino, Battle of Britain, Battle of Falaise, Lenino, Berlin… to name but a few. I suppose he couldn’t get reliable numbers from the Germans. Poland’s military fought on all European fronts as the 4th largest Allied force only to be stabbed in the back by its allies in Tehran and Yalta.

    Second, he conveniently “forgets” to mention that Poland had no “Quislings”, no Vichy-like government and that Poland’s underground army – the Home Army (AK, in Polish) – at nearly half a million, was the largest in all German-occupied countries. He “forgets” that the AK set up a special unit – the Żegota – to save Jews and to carry out death sentences against Polish Christian who collaborated with the Germans. He “forgets” that Christian Poles have saved the lives of the most Jews than those in any other German-occupied country ( i.e. Yad Vashem ). He “forgets” that saving Jews was punishable by death of entire families in German-occupied Poland and that this peculiar German law did not exist in any other German-occupied country. He “forgets” that many thousands of Christian Polish families were exterminated by the Germans having been caught saving Jews.

    Finally, he “forgets” that the AK infiltrated ( Pilecki ) the German deaths camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau – which were initially established to exterminate Christian Polish political prisoners – and sent emissaries ( Jan Karski) to Washington to inform of German atrocities. He “forgets” that AK’s reports to Washington of German atrocities was dismissed as “propaganda”.

    With the election of the conservative government in October 2015, Poland is finally at a juncture – for the first time since September 1, 1939 – of dealing with its history and how it is portrayed outside of Poland honestly and critically. But, as seen in most recent responses, it will not sit idly by when it comes to calumny.

    Mr. Gross, having experienced the American “melting pot”, knows full well that the “melting pot” is really a “quilt”. He knows first-hand the difficulties of different cultures and religions co-existing together in a democratic and free setting. He knows that this experience cannot be simply extrapolated and compared to that under oppressive occupation with an automatic death sentence for saving the life of a fellow human being. As a historian, he knows that people can behave as animals and treat others as animals in those extreme situations. Yet, he chooses – for political reasons – to point his accusatory finger at an entire nation.

    In current PC terms – that is the definition of the language of hate.

    • Iwona

      It is very telling that Gross edited one hundred pages from the Polish edition of “Fear” for the apparent reason that Polish readers would recognize many of his accusations or conclusions to be patently false and even absurd. Obviously, these pieces of disinformation would not be discernible to most readers of the English language version (which has generally been accepted as irrefutable truth and is widely presented as evidence of Polish antisemitism). It is also incriminating that since Gross’s disastrous first public presentation after publishing “Neighbors,” he has no longer accepted questions (i.e. challenges) from his audiences. A commentary recently published in The Daily Princetonian finally exposes Gross as the fraud that he is.

  • Bob

    Corrected text:

    Evidently, Judith Bergman is not a historian but an amateur commentator.

    “The truth hurts, no doubt, but Gross has not relented, claiming that Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans during the war, which is not an unreasonable claim at all, given the speed and ease with which Germany occupied Poland and the zest with which Poles threw themselves into killing Polish Jews, as documented by Gross in his book, Neighbors.”

    Not sure what she means by ‘speed and ease’. Poland fought against Germany valiantly 1939, as did 100,000 equally valiant Jews in the Polish Army, which held out alone longer against Germany and its then ally the USSR than France did in 1940 with British help. The Polish resistance to the German invaders continued throughout the war and it included a Jewish resistance. Polish Armies, which included Jewish soldiers, continued to fight Germany on both the Eastern and Western fronts.

    As for ‘the zest with which Poles threw themselves into killing Polish Jews’ that is true of the Jedwabne pogrom and many others, as well as other forms of killing by murderers. Some Polish historians say this resulted in up to 2% of the Jewish deaths in the Holocaust, or up to 120,000 murders of Jews by Poles. All of this was criminal according to the law of the continuity Polish state, which included Jews in its government.

    It’s a wild exaggeration by Ms Bergman to suggest that the entire Polish nation went in for such killing. Most Poles simply kept their heads down because they themselves were living in fear, defined as they were as “Untermensch” by Germany; they were raped, tortured, murdered on the street, around 2 million Poles were killed by the Germans alongside 6 million Jews.

    And by the way, the US president ignored Polish envoy Jan Karski when he pleaded with America to help with the plight of his country’s Jews. He received a sarcastic reply about the plight of his country’s horses.

    Trying to censor a historian is idiotic, but getting Holocaust history wrong is worse.

    • Iwona

      One million Jews were murdered on the territory of the USSR before the first Jews were gassed in occupied Poland. Somehow, one doesn’t see the USSR pilloried for this; only Poland is bullied and harassed because of a relatively small number of lowlife collaborators.

  • Bob

    Evidently, Judith Bergman is not a historian but an amateur commentator.

    “The truth hurts, no doubt, but Gross has not relented, claiming that Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans during the war, which is not an unreasonable claim at all, given the speed and ease with which Germany occupied Poland and the zest with which Poles threw themselves into killing Polish Jews, as documented by Gross in his book, Neighbors.”

    Not sure what she means by ‘speed and ease’. Poland fought against Germany valiantly 1939, as did 100,000 Jews in the Polish Army, which held out alone longer against Germany and its then ally the USSR longer than France did in 1940 with British help. The Polish resistance to the German invaders continued throughout the war and it included a Jewish resistance. Polish Armies, which included Jewish soldiers, continued to fight Germany on both the Eastern and Western fronts.

    As for ‘the zest with which Poles threw themselves into killing Polish Jews’ that is true of the Jedwabne pogrom and many others, as well as other forms of killing by murderers. Some Polish historians say this resulted in up to 2% of the Jewish deaths in the Holocaust, or up to 120,000 murders of Jews by Poles. All of this was criminal according to the law of the continuity Polish state, which included Jews in its government.

    It’s a wild exaggeration by Ms Bergman to say the entire Polish nation went in for such killing. Most Poles simply kept their heads down because they themselves were living in fear, defined as they were as “Untermensch” by Germany; they were raped, tortured murdered on the street, around million Poles were murdered by the Germans alongside 6 million Jews.

    This is a German publication and I have to ask whether the reason why such errors were not corrected is because such comments by Jews about Poles flatters and relieves Germans who are tired of apologizing for the democratically elected Nazi government of Germany thinking up and carrying out the Holocaust.

  • Lola Piasecka

    The spirit of Judith’s article is clear and I do agree with her. Poles are anti-Semite. Because Polish Church is deeply and incurably anti-Semitic since day one of their history in Poland. But the history of Poland and the history of Jews in Poland are not as simple as Judith describe. Many historians and sociologist has been trying to write about some periods off history of Jews in Poland since it is almost impossible to write about WHOLE history. It differs in each century. Most of the times it was not so shine except from the times of king Kazimierz III Wielki (1333-1370) when the Jews was treated as equal and got most of privileges at any time. And Judith is right: Polish Jews gave Poland despite basely approach the most incredible writers, poets, painters, sculptures, film directors, historians, scientist etcetera.
    But I oppose to close in one tiny article such long and complicated history of Polish Jews and Polish anti-Semitism. Yes, current government with Law and Justice on top of it IS anti-Semitic. Period. Let’s talk about that. Without any poor comparisons with Poland’s history.

    • Iwona

      Another scurrilous accusation against the Polish govt, considering that Kaczynski is a strong supporter of Israel and Pres. Duda’s wife is half-Jewish.

    • Martsy Ketlinski

      I can’t see any evidence of Polish government being anti- Semitic. There is no even one member of the ruling party who is an anti-Semite. One of Kaczyński twins, former President was a big force behind building of Jewish Museum in Warsaw and (as Israeli politicians called him) the best friend and ally of Israel in Europe. BTW. Polish Church was the first group of people who initiated Polish-Jewish dialogue while it was still forbidden and censored by Soviet Communist occupiers.

  • Gordon Black

    Wrong spirit, Judith, if you think that the step of the Polish anthem – it’s said to be the only national anthem in the tune of a dance, the mazurka – is depressing. Do it right;: you’ll like it. I anticipate no glossing over crimes as you fear; quite the opposite, a disclosure of crimes, including Kielce. Would you try visiting Poland for a while, to see whether your intense attitudes, your information and interpretations might not become modified in experience? What glossing over have you seen so far? Can you report in terms of true and false? That would be good service. Do you understand how reckless it is to claim that “Poles killed more Jews than Germans”? Do you understand that rhetorically and sociologically it invites another question about how many Poles were killed by Jews? Shouldn’t such discussion proceed in a less angry spirit?

  • AnnaD

    And what in particular does Polish government against Jews? You are unable to list anything with logic and sense, instead you recite quotes about atrocities committed under foreign regimes. Between 1939-1989 Poland wasn’t a sovereign country, too bad you fail to notice that.

    Have you ever heard about Karski? He was representing Polish government in exile. Have you heard about recent speech of Polish president at Ulma museum opening? Apparently not. Probably you don’t even know who Ulma family was.

    Is there antisemitism in Poland – of course there is. But anti-semitism in Poland is an attribute of low educated people from the bottom of society. Contrary to the outrageous Jewish antipolonism and spreading prejudice basing on just someone’s nationality so common among Jews who consider themselves intelligent and literate. This article is perfect example of that.

  • Mieczyslaw de Woldan

    The only possible respose to this is “How dare” the author write a piece so full of bigotry. “A virulent antisemitism that continues to haunt the country today” … what drivel! If one analyses each paragraph of this piece, each is founded on a deliberate misinterpretation of statemments or events. Shame on you Algemeiner for publishing this dross without an editor’s warning or disclaimer as to its misleading content.

  • Brenda Franks

    I’m 67 years old & have heard about Polish & European anti-semitism all my life having been born in London and miraculously have never personally experienced it.

    My Jewish father’s parents left Poland at the turn of the century- around 1909-1910 but most of the family who didn’t were murdered. So sad to think we’re still hated after all these years. One can only pray that one day the world will see what marvellous people we Jews are.

  • Noras Kos

    Poland was the first country who said Hitler and the Germans: NO! Poland fought alone against the invasion of Hitler’s Germany on Poland. Poland was the first ally and the only ally of the United Kingdom. USA asleep sleep calm when we fought against Hitler and Nazi Germany. Poland was the only country in Europe had NOT Quisling government, not a single division of the SS was not Polish. 700 years Jews in Poland found refuge from persecution in Spain, Germany, Russia, France, Italy and others. It was an oasis of culture and the Jewish people. Hitler’s Germany during the German occupation introduced the death penalty for the help given to Jews by Poles. They killed the Pole and his entire family, along with the Jews, which helped those Poles. Despite the threat of the death penalty was carrying more than one million Poles help in times of war and famine her – brothers in humanity and “elder brothers in faith” – various help. More than 6,454 trees Poles Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem planted. Many Polish men and women have died anonymously with each other rescued by Jews at the hands of the German Nazi invaders, occupiers. Are you trying rewriting history?

  • A true Zionist Jew

    The Poles righteously deserved to be blamed for WW2. The Germans already paid us handsomely for our loses. It’s a good thing we Jews promote political-correctness so that if anyone doesn’t agree with our zionist way we can just destroy them through the media by calling them anti-semites since we successfully run the media (most).Our holy Talmud will show us the way, the goys are nothing but scum. One day the Jews will enslave the whole world and we’ll be on top and than no one will be able to stand in our way!

    • Wilner

      With your rhetoric you could be a ghost writer for a second “Mein Kampf”. Your observance of religion could be compared to IS’s adherence to Islam too. Please do not defile the holy Talmud!

  • Wilner

    Completely senseless article of a Jewish Poland hater. The author has neither historical knowledge nor talent for journalism. The text is based on pseudohistorical rubbish of Gross. Just ignore it!

    By the way, pls read about Izaak Fleischfarb and his postwar crimes on Poles!

  • jr

    What’s up with the constant obsession about Poland? Jews have Israel now, so move on…

  • Paweł Chądzyński

    Funny how while trying to paint another culture with a broad accusations of a racial bias the author helplessly shows his own racial/cultural predispositions – with the comment on the Polish anthem in the article’s opening paragraph. Polish national anthem, a mazurka (mazurek), is a “depressing tune”? Never mind what would Chopin or Arthur Rubinstein say to that – the real question is how does so ridiculously silly and biased personal opinion have anything to do with the subject of the article – other than exposing deep-seated bias of the author? Whoever wrote this article – look carefully in the mirror before taking on subjects like the one in this article.

    • Paweł Chądzyński

      My apologizes for not addressing my comment to the author by name: Judith Bergman. I missed the name on the screen. Again, my apologies.

  • Eric R.

    Poland also tried banning shechitah a couple of years ago.

    While their relations with Israel are not that bad right now, Israel really has to know that in the long run, Poland cannot be trusted, because just as with the rest of Europe, they will never get over their Jew-hatred. It is pathological and eternal with them.

    • Martsy Ketlinski

      “Poland also tried banning shechitah a couple of years ago.”

      Most European countries did as animal rights organizations become stronger and more vocal every year. Finally Polish parliament rejected this project on the ground of respect for Jewish traditions.

      Shechitah has been totally forbidden in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand… would you seriously call those states anti-semitic?

      Poza Europą:

      Nowa Zelandia (od 2010r)

  • David

    How dare you, Mr Hayom.

    How dare you only focus on the bad episodes in Polish history and conveniently forget the thousands of Jews that Poles saved during WWII, in spite of the fact that the Poles were the only ethnicity in the whole of Europe punished with death for aiding Jews.

    No one for a second is denying these horrible events occurred or that they were terrible examples of human behaviour, but the reality is, all nations have blemished histories. Some more than others.

    It wasn’t Poland who gassed the Jews. But it was Poland who took in tens of thousands of Jews in the 13th and 14th centuries when violent antisemitism drove Jews from Western Europe. Poland provided a safe haven for Jews for hundreds of years when no other nation would.

    How dare you, Mr Hayom. How dare you ignore the greater good that Poles have done for the Jews over the instances of bad.

    And for the record, hand kissing originated from the Szlachta in Poland and was then taken up by the Western European nobility. A simple Wikipedia search on the topic will confirm this fact.

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