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The JUDENJAGT in Action? Not Reliable and Not Objective. Better Works Available

jan peczkis|Thursday, October 17, 2013

The reader learns of some Poles denouncing Jews for the German reward of a bag of sugar, of grabbing anything that belonged to Jews, of even respectable Poles denouncing Jews, and of members of the Polish Blue Police (POLICJA GRANATOWA) drinking to assuage their acts against Jews, etc. Did you know that Jews acted in astonishingly the same ways (towards other Jews, and that even before the actual Holocaust)? Please click on In Those Terrible Days: Writings from the Lodz Ghetto and read the detailed Peczkis review. Clearly, this overall repulsive conduct was severe wartime demoralization, and not some mythical Poles' "failure of the test of humanity" (p. 5)

Every nationality and every war has produced its share of collaborators (surprise--also Poles)--a fact acknowledged even by nationalistic Polish works. Thus, the constantly repeated mantra that Poles need to be disabused of the "heroic narrative" of their history is misplaced. More on this later.

This book is another "sequel" to Jan T. Gross. Most readers, affected by media spin, suppose that the investigative IPN Commission has proved Gross right on Jedwabne. For clarification, please click on the IPN proceedings, Wokól Jedwabnego, and read the detailed English-language Peczkis review.

My review is divided into the following topics:



Grabowski relies largely on postwar trials of alleged Polish collaborators. He asserts that the new Communist authorities did not tamper with these trials. (p. 12, 279-on). To the contrary: It is a well-known fact that the U. B. (Communist police) habitually beat suspects into giving the desired confessions and testimonies, and framed innocent people. However, even if Grabowski was technically correct, his contention would still fly in the face of reality. The early years of the Soviet-imposed puppet government were a reign of terror designed to intimidate the Polish nation into abject submission. There were tens of thousands of murders and eventually hundreds of thousands of arbitrary arrests. [One of my uncles permanently "disappeared" one day, even though he had never been involved in anything remotely political.] How could credible trials even be imagined in this toxic atmosphere?

Revealingly, Grabowski points out that the allegations of collaboration were based on accusations made by disgruntled neighbors, jilted lovers, and feuding relatives. How credible are they? One quoted testimony was made by a German who (allegedly) was told by a surrendered Jew that a Polish peasant had (allegedly) informed the German about a certain Pole (allegedly) engaging in collaboration. Hearsay!

The author complains that some defendants successfully shifting the blame to "conveniently" dead individuals, and that the A. K. (ARMIA KRAJOWA) reckoned that a Jew they had targeted had spied for the Germans. (pp. 275-276). [Such Jews definitely existed, and one of the A. K.'s highest priorities was self-protection through counter-intelligence.] Instead of only showing the weak, unverifiable, and my-word-versus-your-word character of the counter-allegations and alibis, does it not also say the VERY SAME about the original accusations themselves? Does it not point to the impossibility of determining what actually happened--including the justification or otherwise of the alleged Jew-killing?

This book also rests in part on decades-later trials of German defendants in Germany. Admittedly, the German defendants tended effectively to shift the blame to the Poles. (p. 14). In addition, the reader needs to know that the Jewish witnesses had, over time, tended to revert to the historic Germanophilic orientation of most Polish Jews. This likely made them less anti-German and, to relieve the dissonance, more anti-Polish. [This tendency also animates much current Jewish Holocaust-related thinking.] In addition, Holocaust survivors tended to graft into their memories incidents that they had heard from others but not experienced themselves. [See the Peczkis review of COLLECTED MEMORIES, by Christopher R. Browning.]


Grabowski concludes that, in this county, 51 fugitive Jews survived the war (p. 15), while another 200 were definitely killed through denunciation, and 14 were killed directly by locals (Table 5:2). This is out of 5,500-6,000 Jews in Dabrowa County, the vast majority of which were ghettoized, and then murdered at Belzec, by the Germans.

The 200 denounced begs the question about the ethnicities of the denouncers. Just because a local spoke Polish, and even had a Polish-sounding name, hardly means that he was necessarily an ethnic Pole. He could have also been a German (VOLKSDEUTSCHE). (In fact, even the matter of signing the VOLKSLISTE admittedly went as far as dividing families: p. 265). The POLICJA GRANATOWA had its share of embedded Polish-speaking German agents, ensuring Polish conformity to German directives, and enabling Germans to commit crimes against Jews as "Poles".

In addition, many Polish-speaking Ukrainians served the Germans, throughout German-occupied Poland, and not only in native Ukrainian regions. As for Jewish denouncers of Jews in hiding, Grabowski mentions the ghettos, but glosses over their function in rural areas.

The serious reader should examine all this thoroughly. Study the detailed, objective, free online book: PATTERNS OF COOPERATION, COLLABORATION AND BETRAYAL: JEWS, GERMANS AND POLES IN OCCUPIED POLAND DURING WORLD WAR II, by Mark Paul.

The numbers presented by Grabowski, if accurate, are themselves telling. Since some denouncers were not ethnic Poles, and the average denouncer probably caused the death of more than one Jew, it follows that fewer than 200 Poles were responsible for the demise of the 200 proved (or half-proved) denounced Jews. This is a vanishing fraction of the nearly 60,000 rural Poles of Dabrowa County!

As for the incompleteness of the 200 figure, the implications do not change, as it cannot--at most--be many multiples greater. Of the 5,500-6,000 Jews living in this county, only a small fraction (up to perhaps 10%, that is, 550-600 or fewer) of them ever fled the ghettos and thereby became fugitive Jews.

In any case, the facts are clear. Grabowski has not presented ANY evidence that overturns the long-held so-called "heroic narrative"--namely that only a tiny fraction of 1% of the Polish population collaborated with the Nazis, in this case against Jews.


This work, if valid, is not necessarily representative of the rest of rural Poland. Grabowski scrupulously ignores every single one of the works of historian Marek Jan Chodakiewicz. In his BETWEEN NAZIS AND SOVIETS, Chodakiewicz shows that a relatively high 300 of 1,000 fugitive Jews, in another rural area of Poland, survived the German occupation (30%).

When it comes to all-Poland fugitive-Jew survival rates, Grabowski is tendentious. He rejects Jewish scholar Szymon Datner's estimate of 100,000 fugitive Jews surviving and another 100,000 fugitive Jews perishing (with and WITHOUT the acts of Poles). Instead, he arbitrarily prefers a newer figure of no more than 50,000 survivors--with as many as 200,000 fugitive Jewish perishing. (pp. 2-3). [Jan T. Gross once quoted the latter figure as fact.] In actuality, considering ALL scholarly estimates, the percentage of fugitive Jews in German-occupied Poland that survived the war could plausibly range from a low of 12% to a high of 71%. See POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS 1939-1945, by Ewa Kurek.


Jan Grabowski oversimplifies Poles as having life-and-death powers over fugitive Jews under Nazi rule. (p. 5). Poles throughout German-occupied Poland were part of a corvee system, in which the Germans forced Poles into various forms of compulsory labor, only one of which potentially involved the hunt for fugitive Jews (JUDENJAGT). In addition, Poles acted under duress, even when this was not obvious. The reader should remember that the German-Polish relationship was not that between colleagues or partners. Far from it. It was one between conqueror and conquered, UBERMENSCHEN and UNTERMENSCHEN, master and servant. Grabowski (p. 24) realizes that Poles were just one rung above the Jews, in German thinking, but evidently does not internalize this fact.

Grabowski dismisses the 1939-1941 Jewish-Soviet collaboration as locally irrelevant. Is the reader seriously supposed to believe that Polish anger over Jewish-Soviet collaboration existed ONLY in the geographic areas in which it occurred?

The author briefly alludes to Jewish banditry, but fails to develop this pivotal subject. Banditry is commonly a capital crime during war. Considering additionally that Poles were living in near-starvation conditions under the German occupation, is it surprising that they reacted fiercely to news of Jewish banditry, and sometimes were receptive to German propaganda that characterized ALL ghetto-fleeing Jews as bandits? Polish participants in the JUDENJAGT likely thought themselves protectors of Poles from banditry rather than as hunters of Jews. What's more, the privations faced by Poles made even modest German rewards for denouncing Jews especially tempting.

Grabowski understates the German-imposed death penalty for the slightest Polish aid to Jews, and glosses over its full implications. Heroism, by its very nature, must be exceptional, and some peasants instead opted to denounce Jewish trespassers at once rather than risk a German "visit". [Frightened Poles sometimes first warned Jews of impending denunciation if the Jews did not leave the area. See the Peczkis review of ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL, by Vladka Meed.]

The accounts of Poles torturing and killing Jews are rather lurid. To the informed reader, they smack of old-fashioned GRUELPROPAGANDA, of the archetypical brutish GOY, and of the peasant-as-ogre Polonophobic tall tales of Jerzy Kosinski-Lewinkopf. Of course, some cruelties were real. Accustomed to the wanton savagery of the Germans [and of bandits], peasants sometimes imitated their cruelty (as, in parallel, did some Jewish kapos and Jewish ghetto policemen.)

Interestingly, the Germans prosecuted SZMALCOWNIKI for such offenses as bribing Germans and impersonating Gestapo personnel. (p. 262). This implicitly identifies them as all-around lowlifes, and not just extortionists of Jews. In addition, Grabowski realizes that Polish denouncers of Jews commonly later joined the dreaded Soviet-sponsored Communist security forces (U. B., or BEZPIEKA). (p. 267). This shows that such individuals (yes, including previously respectable citizens) were marginal members of Polish society in that they had no loyalty to Poles or Poland, nor sense of propriety. It also indicates that, rather than avid Jewish-property-getters or anti-Semites, they were equal-opportunity exploiters and killers of Poles as well as Jews. This even has a term: CHAMOKOMUNA (Boor Communism).


The author repeats Jan T. Gross' myth of "greedy" Poles requiring payment to hide and continue hiding fugitive Jews. In actuality, Poles, owing to the near-starvation conditions under the German occupation, usually were in no position to feed Jews gratis.

Grabowski also emphasizes horror stories of Polish benefactors turning on their Jews and killing them. The unsuspecting English-speaking reader is unaware of the fragile death-defying co-dependency. The Polish benefactor knew that, were the Jew to leave, he would likely fall into German hands and then try anything to save his life, including denunciation of his Polish benefactor, with fatal consequences to the Pole and his family, and even the entire village. Furthermore, the Germans encouraged denunciations, by captured Jews, of Polish benefactors (as well as fellow Jews), through false promises of spared lives in exchange for information. Clearly, the Polish benefactor, having run out of resources, of superhuman courage, or both, was in an unenviable kill-or-be-killed situation, and sometimes acted accordingly.


Note that Grabowski's bibliography features the usual small circle of left wing and Judeocentric authors (including Gross-clones and Gross-lites) to whom the author conforms. These include Omer Bartov, Ana Bikont, Barbara Engelking, Krystyna Kersten, and, of course, Jan T. Gross.

In addition, Jan Grabowski displays his bias through some whoppers. He euphemistically soft-pedals the murderous Soviet-serving Communist GL-AL as merely "left leaning". (p. 272). Incredibly, he also suggests that the postwar Communist authorities were lenient against ideological enemies, including members of the A. K. (p. 12). On what planet is Grabowski walking on?

Interestingly, Grabowski largely relies on a work edited by Feliks Tych for the "factual" low estimates of the survival rates of Poland's fugitive Jews. (p. 248). Tych is the son-in-law of super-Communist Jakub Berman, who Stalin handpicked to be one of the most powerful henchmen in Poland's original Communist puppet government. Is Tych credible?

A number of historians have identified Jan Grabowski as a neo-Stalinist. This is not in the sense of rehabilitating Joseph Stalin, but in the sense of resurrecting Stalinist-era motifs that distort Polish-Jewish relations. Read the detailed Peczkis review of GOLDEN HARVEST OR HEARTS OF GOLD?

Finally, the reader should be aware of the fact that there has been, in recent years in Poland, a flurry of activities surrounding property restitution. Is the Holocaust Industry, with its efforts to extort massive "reparations" money from Poland, directly or indirectly behind this book? Help other customers find the most helpful reviews  Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Report abuse | Permalink
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ADDENDUM: Author Jan Grabowski tries to depreciate Polish aid to Jews by pointing out that most of it was small in scale and not prolonged. However, even the most "trivial" Polish aid to Jews cost the lives of Poles at the hand of the Germans. Please click on Through a woman's eyes;: Life in Poland under the German occupation, and read the detailed Peczkis review.

Grabowski repeats Jan T. Gross' distortions of Zygmunt Klukowski's diary. For a corrective, please click on Diary from the Years of Occupation 1939-44, and read the detailed Peczkis review.

Grabowski (pp. 266-267) cites Szanowny Panie Gistapo: Donosy Do Wadz Niemieckich W Warszawie I Okolicach W Latach 1940-1941, and the reader is tacitly misled into thinking that the contents of the book are related to the JUDENJAGT, or at least the Holocaust. They are not. They PRECEDE the Holocaust, and even precede the German-imposed death penalty to Jews who fled the ghetto! (see the Peczkis review).


Historian Bogdan Musial wrote a devastating analysis of Jan Grabowski's JUDENJAGT. Musial has extensively studied the Nazi German administration. He is well qualified to speak on German policies in German-occupied Poland. Musial has also long been studying the history of Dabrowa County, because it was his home. [I wrote my own review before reading Musial, so that I could render an independent assessment of Grabowski.]

Bogdan Musial wrote his analysis of Grabowski in the March 27, 2011 issue of DZIEJE NAJNOWSZY. (Volume 43, Number 2, pages 159-170). It turns out that Grabowski continues to misrepresent events, and to omit, brush off, or downplay inconvenient material facts. Here are some issues raised by Musial:

* Grabowski selectively focuses on prewar Polish anti-Semitism in Dabrowa County. He neglects the rural economic downturn that afflicted the area, and was quite relevant to local Polish-Jewish relations.

* Grabowski copies Jan T. Gross in willfully exempting Jewish testimonies from any scrutiny (also while subjecting the testimonies of Poles to the usual historical scrutiny). This violates the most elementary canons of historical objectivity. Grabowski also accepts German denials of Jew killing with little question.

* Grabowski ignores Polish testimonies on the events. (To emphasize the Jewish experience is one thing: To ignore the Polish perspective is inexcusable.)

* There was a significant population of deportees, moved to this county, in the wake of Poland's defeat in the 1939 war. This aggravated tensions between peoples, and contributed to rootlessness and lawlessness.

* The Pole-on-Jew misconduct in this area cannot be divorced from the broader context of extensive Pole-on-Pole misconduct. Thousands of Poles are known to have been robbed, and hundreds of Poles are known to have been murdered.

* Multiple sources of information indicate that many more fugitive Jews survived in Dabrowa County than Grabowski is willing to acknowledge.

* Were the denunciations of fugitive Jews some sort of Polish hobby? Hardly! Bogdan Musial demonstrates that the Germans not only imposed the death penalty for Poles aiding Jews. The Germans also imposed the death penalty on Poles merely for failing to report fugitive Jews! Poles are known to be burned alive by the Germans for failing to report fugitive Jews.

* Poles who denounced fugitive Jews caused not only the deaths of the Jews. They also caused the deaths of the Poles who were helping the Jews.

* The Polish Underground ARMIA KRAJOWA (A. K.) fought against the plague of lawlessness in Dabrowa County. In addition, it executed some Poles known to have identified the hiding places of Jews. Grabowski ignores important works on this subject in this specific county.

* The account of Polish volunteer firefighters killing Gypsies is unsupported by the source used by Grabowski.

* Members of Polish units formed by the Germans were subject to the death penalty for the slightest disobedience, or even for no reason at all.

* Some versions of the crimes committed by the likes of Engelbert Guzdek, who was a German gendarme, indicate all-around violence, not only against Jews.

* Though professing to know German, Grabowski commits some elementary blunders that tend to lessen the responsibility of the Germans in the killings of the Jews of Dabrowa County.

* Based on his knowledge of the Nazi German administrative structures, Bogdan Musial concludes that the Germans organized and led the JUDENJAGTs to a much tighter extent than Grabowski leads the reader to suppose.

* Grabowski misrepresents the Junaks and the BAUDIENST. The latter was a form of German forced labor, and disobedience was punished very harshly. The Germans used the BAUDIENST not only for such things as building roads, but also for hunting Jews. Poles in the BAUDIENST had no choice.

* Bogdan Musial includes a document proving that Polish village mayors were forced to sign an agreement, for the German occupation authorities, in which they stated that they would not tolerate the presence of a single fugitive Jew. The Germans treated village mayors as hostages to enforce compliance.
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