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The Warriors: My Life As A Jewish Soviet Partisan (Religion, Theology, and the Holocaust) Paperback Germen killed Jews in Jedwabne

jan peczkis|Sunday, June 15, 2014

Zissman describes a time a prewar Poland during which he had a rosy view of Communism. He does not explain how he could have thought this in view of such things as the ruthless totalitarianism and the removal of Jews from top positions in the Soviet Union by Stalin in the mid-1930's. Or how could he be ignorant of these facts?

     
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Zissman describes a time a prewar Poland during which he had a rosy view of Communism. He does not explain how he could have thought this in view of such things as the ruthless totalitarianism and the removal of Jews from top positions in the Soviet Union by Stalin in the mid-1930's. Or how could he be ignorant of these facts?

In 1939, the Soviets occupied then-eastern Poland, a territory with a mixed Polish-Byelorussian-Jewish population. Zissman essentially confirms some historians (e. g., Jerzy Robert Nowak) as to the major cause of Jews being sent to Siberia: Jews manifesting their intent of going to the German-occupied zone. (p. 29). [This adds to similar testimonies elsewhere, and refutes the exculpation that Jewish-Soviet collaboration (sometimes called the Zydokomuna) was driven by a mortal fear of the Nazis. Obviously, had Jews been mortally afraid of the Nazis in 1939, it would have been unthinkable for any of them to voluntarily attempt to relocate to Nazi-occupied Poland!)

Zissman describes the existence of a Polish militia which briefly served the Germans after their 1941 invasion: "Then they began arresting those who had worked for the Soviets." (pp. 41-42). Later, the Germans shot the Poles along with the Jews (p. 47). Poles who continued to serve the Germans clearly did it under duress: "If he [the Polish guard] dared show any mercy to the Jews, they [the Germans] would shoot him or send him to a concentration camp." (p. 53). [Obviously, this Polish militia, sometimes accused of complicity in German crimes against Jews in the Lomza district, was not monolithic. Nor was it free to act on its own.]

In common with some other Jewish sources (e. g.,Deliverance: The Diary of Michael Maik, a True Story), Zissman confirms the fact that Germans, not Poles, were the main killers of Jedwabne's Jews: "Later on, some Jews who had fled Jedwabno for Derechin told us that when the Germans first entered their town, they had herded all the Jews into a barn and set it ablaze. Anyone who tried to get out was cut down by machine-gun fire." (p. 42). [The discovery of WWI-vintage bullet casings at the site doesn't disprove their connection with the Jedwabne massacre. The Germans probably relegated obsolete, WWI-vintage weaponry to the shootings of unarmed civilians.]

Bor Komorowski gave an order for the AK to liquidate bandits who were preying on Polish farmers. Apropos to this, Zissman mentions bandit bands of Soviet soldiers who had been trapped behind German lines after the 1941 invasion (p. 78). Later, Zissman was a member of one of the "pozorny" groups that masqueraded as the AK: "When carrying out `bombings' [bandit raids], we impersonated Polish Underground fighters, the point being to discredit the White Poles with the farmers. From the farms, besides food and clothing, we took naphtha, saws, and axes--the farmers would miss these things most of all." (p. 149). How many crimes attributed to the AK (including the killings of fugitive Jews) were actually the deeds of the "pozornys"?

After the Soviet "liberation" of Poland in 1944, Zissman was approached by a Jewish NKVD officer and invited to join (pp. 161-162). He did.

Zissman comments on the reaction to Jewish owners returning for their properties: "Besides not wanting to give up their loot, they [current owners] feared being sent to Siberia as collaborators. Many were ready to kill any returning Jews." (p. 161). Could the fear of being accused of Nazi collaboration, ipso facto for possessing Jewish property, been itself, in many other such instances, a significant motivator for killing returning Jewish owners?  
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