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EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE WARSAW GHETTO

jan peczkis|Wednesday, October 9, 2013

EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE WARSAW GHETTO is the title of this Polish-language book. The author grew up with Jews in pre-WWII Poland, and was an eyewitness to many of the events near and in the Warsaw Ghetto. (e. g, p. 39).


             
 
Although the objectivity of this author has been impugned, and he has--surprise--been called an anti-Semite for criticizing Jews, his work shows obvious marks of objectivity. These include the inclusion of information that is unfavorable to Poles, and especially information that is favorable to Germans. Thus, he mentions the fact that a small number of the Polish Blue Police (POLICJA GRANATOWA), acting alongside 200 German gendarmes and 800 Baltic collaborators, was complicit in the January 1943 German "action" against the remnant of the Warsaw Ghetto. (p. 56). Earlier, some members of the Blue Police had been involved in the unmasking of fugitive Jews. (p. 89). As for righteous Germans, Bednarczyk (p. 51) candidly reports knowing a German official who cried when recounting the order to deport the Jews, and knowing some Jews who had been protected, by German officials, from deportation to the death camps.

The author presents a very comprehensive survey of influential Jews who have maliciously attacked Poland (pp. 6-7, pp. 121-on), and even the informed reader may be struck at their numbers, as I was. This is not to say that Bednarczyk's work is comprehensive. Since Bednarczyk wrote this book, there has been much more, including the much-publicized successive works of Jan T. Gross, Gross-clones, and Gross-lites.

Bednarczyk takes Emmanuel Ringelblum to task for insinuating that Poles rescued Jews to make money, and only helped Jews as long as the money kept flowing. (p. 88). The Poles hid Ringelblum gratis and, when the Germans discovered his hideout, they shot his Polish benefactors. (p. 88). [Now, decades after the war, neo-Stalinists such as Jan T. Gross and Jan Grabowski have dusted off this old help-only-when-paid anti-Polish accusation, and even presented it as some kind of new "revelation".]

For the longest time, Germans had been portraying their anti-Jewish activities as ones that the Poles supported, or at least approved of. (p. 21). In fact, Bednarczyk (p. 89) remembers seeing German propaganda films in which Poles were conducting pogroms against Jews, when the perpetrators were actually Polish-speaking Germans. [Years after Bednarczyk wrote this book, this blame-Poles German theme resurfaced in the Jedwabne "revelation".]

One common line of blame against Poles is directed against SZMALCOWNIKI (blackmailers) and denouncers of fugitive Jews. However, Bednarczyk reminds us that the SZMALCOWNIKI were not only Poles, but also other local nationalities such as the Polish-speaking Germans (VOLKSDEUTSCHE), Ukrainians, and Jews themselves.

Notwithstanding the fact that Warsaw was ethnographically Polish, there were plenty of Polish-speaking Germans available to be potential SZMALCOWNIKI. Bednarczyk cites the 1963 work of Miroslaw Cyganskie, in which he estimated that there were at least 70,000 VOLKSDEUTSCHE living in the Warsaw area alone. (p. 89).

The author points out that the greatest danger to the survival of fugitive Jews came from Jewish SZMALCOWNIKI. They were the ones who knew many of the addresses of fugitive Jews (p. 89), and they specialized in uncovering Jews in Aryan Warsaw (p. 103), Aryan Krakow (p. 105), and throughout the General Government. (p. 105). They posed a major danger to Poles because they would pretend to be Jews in need, and later report to the Germans those Poles who offered to help them, with fatal consequences to the Poles. (p. 105).

Jews collaborating with the Germans led to the deaths of large numbers of fellow Jews in other contexts in the Warsaw Ghetto. For a long time, Jewish agents spread false assurances, from the Germans, that Warsaw's Jewish population would not be resettled. (p. 64). Jewish agents also played a major role in the infamous Hotel Polski affair, in which thousands of fugitive Jews were lured out of hiding, in Aryan Warsaw, through a false promise of German amnesty. (p. 104).

In this work, Bednarczyk identifies many Jewish Gestapo agents by name. He also elaborates on the Jewish-Nazi collaborationist ZAGIEW. He estimates that, in the Warsaw Ghetto, there were over 1,000 special Jewish Gestapo agents and ZAGIEW members, along with 6,000 other Jewish collaborators, in 1941/1942. (p. 107).

Bednarczyk disputes those who say that the Polish Underground did almost nothing to combat the SZMALCOWNIKI. In the Warsaw area, 300 sentences were pronounced, and 80 executions carried out. The number was modest only because of the limited capabilities of the Underground in acting against SZMALCOWNIKI. (pp. 89-90).

In conclusion, the author has presented a wealth of seldom-presented information. This work should be translated into English, and followed up with further study.
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