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Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews

jan peczkis|Sunday, February 23, 2014

Has Atypical Insights into the Ambiguous Polish Role, and the Unappreciated German Role, in the Jedwabne Massacre

          This review is from: Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews (Kindle Edition) Many reviews already written about this scholarly work provide general information and, instead of repeating them, I focus on a few issues. Longerich provides background on the early Nazi movement, as well as pre-WWII Nazi Germany, and rejects the notion that National Socialism had been a conservative movement. He comments, (quote) The radicalization of the persecution of the Jews in 1935 was closely linked to an intensified attack on the Catholic Church and on conservative circles labelled reactionary by the regime. (unquote). (p. 53).


Much of the media has misrepresented the investigative Polish IPN Commission as "proving Jan T. Gross" on Jedwabne. It did no such thing. For example, please click on The Massacre in Jedwabne, July 10, 1941: Before, During, After, and read the detailed Peczkis review. Longerich cites various works on Jedwabne (p. 503), including the pioneering work of the historian Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, to whom I link.

Peter Longerich leaves the degree of Polish culpability an open question as he writes, (quote) Even if the murders were carried out by local people--or more precisely by a group of forty or so men, distinct from other members of the indigenous population, mostly not from the town itself but from the surrounding area--closer analysis of the crime has now demonstrated that the pogrom was engineered by a unit of the German Security Police. This was probably a commando from the Gestapo office in Zichenau that had been assigned to Einsatzgruppe B as an auxiliary troop and which had organized several pogroms in the western part of the Voivodship of Bialystok (in which Jedwabne was located); it had recruited local Poles as auxiliary "pogrom police" for this purpose. This was also in accordance with Heydrich's order of 1 July in which he had described Poles as "an element...for initiating pogroms." (unquote). (p. 196).


Let us first consider the media-promoted book JUDENJAGD (THE HUNT FOR THE JEWS), by neo-Stalinist Jan Grabowski. Evidently attempting to make the Poles look as bad as possible, Grabowski would have us believe that 250,000 Polish Jews escaped from the Nazis (that is, 10% of the Polish Jews still alive in early 1942). This would mean that upwards of 200,000 fugitive Jews were potentially betrayed by Poles. In striking contrast, Longerich estimates that, (quote) In 1942-3 tens of thousands, possibly as many as 100,000 Jews living in Poland had managed to escape the ghetto liquidations and get away. (unquote). (p. 381). Note that Longerich's estimates are a fraction of those of Grabowski, with an outside chance of reaching 50% of that of the latter.


Although the Nazi genocides of Slavs are beyond the scope of this work, Longerich realizes that the German mass murder of Poles was racially motivated (p. 6; see also p. 144). He adds that, "This policy of the systematic mass murder of the Polish elites was bound to have a radicalizing effect on the persecution of the Jews." (p. 165). Longerich also notes that the extermination of the Jews was the first step in the Nazi German LEBENSRAUM policies against the Slavic east. (p. 313, 425).
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