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700 Polish Citizens Killed While Helping Jews During the Holocaust (Kindle Edition)

jan peczkis|Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Catalogue of Some Poles Who Were Murdered by the Germans for Attempting to Save Jews, February 3, 2013 This review is from: 700 Polish Citizens Killed While Helping Jews During the Holocaust (Kindle Edition) This book is ideal for the reader who wants a short and concise introduction to Poles who perished in rescue attempts of Jews. This work consists of an alphabetical listing, along with an explanatory paragraph, of Poles who gave their lives to save Jews. It includes such visuals as a German poster, in German and Polish, warning of the death penalty for any form of Polish aid and comfort to Jews. It also helps the introductory reader by providing a glossary of WWII-related terms.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Of course, this list is not comprehensive, and the actual number of Poles who died trying to save Jews is in the thousands. The author also lists some villages that the Germans destroyed as collective punishment/terror for aid to Jews and, this too, is a very conservative number. [For more on all this, see MARTYRS OF CHARITY, by Zajaczkowski.]

Author Schwartz notes that, despite the fact that German-occupied Poland was about the only place where there was a German-imposed death penalty for the slightest aid to Jews, more Poles are honored at Yad Vashem than any other nationality. She also realizes that the Yad Vashem total is an underestimate, and this is recognized by Yad Vashem itself. Only those rescued Jews who chose to identify their benefactors are honored at Yad Vashem, and some rescued Jews had died before they could identify their rescuers. What's more, Yad Vashem does not honor Poles who were unsuccessful in saving Jews and, of course, Jews who perished during the rescue attempts cannot speak about those who had tried to save them. This book helps fill in the gap about those never-honored Poles.

There are some matters of common misconception, not discussed by Schwartz, that deserve mention for the sake of the reader. Some critics have asserted that, since only 5% of Poland's Jews survived the German occupation, this implies overall Polish indifference to the fate of her Jews. Others have belittled the high Polish Yad Vashem total through the disingenuous argument that it was high only because there were so many Polish Jews. Neither is correct. Only some 200,000 Polish Jews fled the ghettos, and became accessible to Polish rescuers; the remaining 3,300,000 did not, and were beyond possible help. The low 5% Polish-Jew survival rate is a composite of 3,300,000 (near-0% survival rate) and the 200,000 (40-60% survival rate).

Some critics have also tried to belittle Poles who aided Jews through the fallacious argument that such Poles were a tiny group of altruists acting alone, and that, furthermore, they acted in pervasive secrecy out of a fear of disapproval and denunciation by their Polish neighbors. In actuality, there were numerous instances of entire villages entering into conspiracies of silence to hide Jews. Apart from ZEGOTA itself, there are also hundreds of separate cases known of Polish families and friends forming a conspiratorial chain of benefactors that hid Jews from household to household. For more on all this, see the Peczkis review of Golden Harvest or Hearts of Gold?: Studies on the Wartime Fate of Poles and Jews.
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