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Polacy I Zydzi Pod Okupacja Niemiecka 1939-1945: Studia I Materiay (Polish Edition)

Jan Peczkis|Monday, October 11, 2010

POLES AND JEWS UNDER THE GERMAN OCCUPATION 1939-1945 is the title of this Polish-language scholarly anthology (with English summary: pp. 980-981). Owing to its breadth, I focus on only a few items.

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    Polacy I Zydzi Pod Okupacja Niemiecka 1939-1945: Studia I Materiay (Polish Edition)        
 
The documents published are themselves priceless. In one of them, AK (A. K.)(Polish Home Army) courier Tadeusz Chciuk "Celt", "Sulima" notes that the AK leadership is distrustful of Jews, yet criticizes the AK for not admitting, albeit with the appropriate caution, more Jews into its ranks. (p. 200). He characterizes Poles (whether politically right, center, or left) as generally sympathetic to the Jews' plight and willing to aid them, yet generally disliking them. (p. 197, 200).

The reasons for this Polish dislike owe to bad overall experiences with Jews (p. 200), as well as the following: 1) Massive Jewish-Soviet collaboration [Zydokomuna] , including denouncing Poles and aiding the NKVD...Great Jewish gloating over the fall of Poland...Jews and Communists became buddies...News of Jewish-Soviet collaboration spread all over Poland. 2). The Jewish attitude towards the Germans--extreme adulation and servility...Complaining against Poles while adopting a see-no-evil attitude towards the Germans. 3). Jewish-German collaboration: In Warsaw Gestapo Headquarters alone, last June, there were 70 active Jewish Gestapo agents, and they were among the most dangerous and cruel of all agents. 4). Strong Jewish involvement in Communist bands (GL-AL), which became the terror of the Polish countryside: Attacks, murders, burning of villages, banditry, rape of women and girls...provoking of German reprisals against Polish villages...The "forest Jews" have a burning hatred of Poles, as if it was the Poles, and not the Germans, responsible for the Jews' tragedy. [Sound familiar?] 5). Jews verbalizing threats of horrible revenge against Poles once the Red Army arrives. [This, of course, later became reality.]. 6). The lack of solidarity within the Jewish community, and especially its cowardice, passivity, and complete lack of will to resist the Germans. Whatever resistance belatedly developed (e. g., Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) was way overblown. 7). Jewish opportunism in the face of German enticements. 8). The strong tendency of uncovered Jews to immediately tell the Germans absolutely everything they know about their Polish rescuers. In contrast, German-captured Poles, even facing torture and death, are much less prone to divulge damaging information. (pp. 197-198) [In my discussions with AK leaders, I encountered much the same details about Jewish attitudes and conduct.]

Noted church historian Jan Zaryn (p. 375) soundly debunks the claim that the Polish Right (Endeks) opposed Zegota and other forms of Polish aid to Jews. To begin with, the SN (Stronnictwo Narodowe) lacked representation in the Polish Government-in-Exile. However, SN activists of the likes of Jan Dobraczynski and Tadeusz Mikulowski were active in Zegota. Zofia Kossack-Szczucka, one of the founders of Zegota, was a Catholic nationalist of lifelong anti-Jewish views. (p. 375). Many members of the more radical ONR were also involved in aiding Jews. (p. 379-on). Some of these had abandoned their prewar anti-Jewish views, while others had not. Endek publications simultaneously condemned the Nazi genocide of Jews while reaffirming the view that Jews are enemies of essential Polishness and of Polish economic independence. (p. 386). The notion that Poles, or at least the Endeks, gloated over the Nazi destruction of the Jews is repudiated by cited articles in Endek publications (p. 395). In one of them, Zaloga, the following is written: "It gives us no pleasure to behold what is taking place; we do not rub our hands with glee...we do not partake of the kind of racial bitterness practiced by both Germans and Jews." (p. 395).

Commonly-voiced complaints that the Polish Underground did not blow up the tracks leading to the death camps are based on ignorance. Whenever such acts were indeed performed, as to tracks leading to Belzec, they had little effect. For one thing, the Germans were able to repair the tracks very rapidly. (Libionka, pp. 55-56).

Andrzej Zbikowski cites and discusses the study of Jan Grabowski, based on German records, on the Jew-baiting szmalcowniks (blackmailers) in Aryan Warsaw. (pp. 451-452). Of 114 such szmalcowniks, 73 were ethnic Poles, 28 were Germans or Volksdeutsche, and 13 were Jews. These figures, if accurately representative, are telling, though Zbikowski doesn't mention this. Considering the fact that the Volksdeutsche and especially the Jews formed a very small percentage of Warsaw's Aryan population, it is obvious that the two groups were strongly overrepresented among the ranks of the szmalcowniks. Otherwise, Zbikowski points out that a criminal background can be verified for only 4 of the 114 szmalcowniks. He also provides information on their occupational background. From all this, Zbikowski makes the non sequitur argument that most szmalcowniks were not marginal members of Polish society. This overlooks the fact that previously-upright Polish citizens were driven to criminality owing to the privations of the German occupation, and, owing to fact that Poles generally frowned upon szmalcowniks, anyone who chose to become one thereby placed himself outside the mainstream of Polish society.

Jan T. Gross and his fans have promulgated the notion that Polish rescuers of Jews kept their acts secret, immediately after the war, out of fear of the anti-Semitic disapproval of their neighbors. In actuality, such secrecy owed largely to fears that they might be thought of as possessors of Jewish wealth, and therefore attractive targets for bandits. (Zbikowski, pp. 13-14).
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