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Patterns of Cooperation, Collaboration and Betrayal: Jews, Germans and Poles in Occupied Poland during World War II

Mark Paul|Thursday, February 18, 2010

Collaboration with the Germans in occupied Poland is a topic that has not been adequately explored by historians.
2 Holocaust literature has dwelled almost exclusively on the conduct of Poles toward Jews and has often arrived at sweeping and unjustified conclusions. At the same time, with a few notable exceptions such as Isaiah Trunk
3 and Raul Hilberg,
4 whose findings confirmed what Hannah Arendt had written about.

October 2009
Patterns of Cooperation, Collaboration and Betrayal:
Jews, Germans and Poles in Occupied Poland during World War II
Mark Paul

This is a much expanded work in progress which builds on a brief overview that appeared in the collective work The Story of Two Shtetls, Bransk and Ejszyszki: An Overview of Polish-Jewish Relations in Northeastern Poland during World War II (Toronto and Chicago: The Polish Educational Foundation in North America, 1998), Part Two, 231–40.
The examples cited are far from exhaustive and represent only a selection of documentary sources in the author’s possession.
Tadeusz Piotrowski has done some pioneering work in this area in his Poland’s Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces, and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918–1947 (Jefferson, North Carolina:
McFarland, 1998). Chapters 3 and 4 of this important study deal with Jewish and Polish collaboration respectively.
Piotrowski’s methodology, which looks at the behaviour of the various nationalities inhabiting interwar Poland, rather than focusing on just one of them of the isolation, provides context that is sorely lacking in other works. For an earlier treatment see Richard C. Lukas, The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation, 1939–1944 (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1986), chapter 4.

For a popular, but somewhat shoddy and uneven, overview of some Polish sources see Jacek Wilamowski, Srebrniki Judasza: Zdrada i kolaboracja. Konfidenci niemieckich wladz bezpieczenstwa w okupowanej Polsce 1939–1945 (Warsaw: Agencja Wydawnicza CB Andrzej Zasieczny, 2004). Wilamowski canvasses some of the older literature on this topic such as Wlodzimierz Borodziej, Terror i polityka: Policja niemiecka a polski ruch oporu w GG 1939–1944 (Warsaw: Pax, 1985), chapter 3; Józef Bratko, Gestapowcy: Kontrwywiad–konfidenci–konspiratorzy, Second expanded edition (Kraków: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1990);

Leszek Gondek, Polska karzaca 1939–1945: Polski podziemny wymiar sprawiedliwosci w okresie okupacji niemieckiej (Warsaw: Pax, 1988); Adam Hempel, Pogrobowcy kleski: Rzecz o policji “granatowej” w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie 1939–1945 (Warsaw: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1990). For more recent literature see: Tomasz Strzembosz, Rzeczpospolita podziemna: Spoleczenstwo polskie a panstwo podziemne 1939–1945 (Warsaw: Krupski i S-ka, 2000); Tomasz Szarota, U progu Zaglady: Zajscia antyżydowskie i pogromy w okupowanej Europie (Warsaw: Sic!, 2000); Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Polacy i Żydzi 1918–1955: Wspólistnienie, Zaglada, komunizm (Warsaw: Fronda, 2000); Barbara Engelking, “Szanowny Panie Gistapo”: Donosy do wladz niemieckich w Warszawie i okolicach w latach 1940–1941 (Warsaw: IFiS PAN, 2003); Jan Grabowski, “Ja tego Żyda znam!”:
Szantażowanie Żydow w Warszawie, 1939–1943 (Warsaw: IFiS PAN, 2004); Teresa Baluk-Ulewiczowa, Wyzwolic sie z blednego kola: Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit w swietle dokumentów Armii Krajowej i materialów zachowanych w Polsce (Kraków: Arcana, 2004); Andrzej Żbikowski, ed., Polacy i Żydzi pod okupacja niemiecka 1939–1945: Studia i materialy (Warsaw: Instytut Pamieci Narodowej–Komisja Scigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2006).

On the so-called reptile press and behaviour of some literary figures see Krzysztof Wozniakowski, W kregu jawnego pismiennictwa literackiego Generalnego Gubernatorstwa (1939–1945) (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe WSP, 1997); Krzysztof Wozniakowski, Polskojezyczna prasa gadzinowa w tzw. Starej Rzeszy (1939–1945) (Kraków:  Wydawnictwo Naukowe Akademii Pedagogicznej, 2001). One of the emerging “experts” on the subject of Polish “collaboration” in the West is German historian Karl-Peter Friedrich, whose blatantly biased writings have, not surprisingly, attracted followers among some German historians (such as Dieter Pohl) and, fortunately, also some harsh critics. Friedrich’s dubious claims were given undue publicity in the Winter 2005 issue (vol. 64, no. 4, pp.711–46) of Slavic Review, albeit with some effort by other historians (notably John Connelly, “Why the Poles Collaborated So Little—And Why That Is No Reason for Nationalist Hubris”, pp. 771–81) to distance themselves from his sweeping and ill-founded conclusions, if not his “facts.” Friedrich’s skewed focus has served to validate the comparative and contextual approach advocated by Tadeusz Piotrowski.
Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation (New York: Macmillan, 1972; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996).
Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Third edition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press,
the Jewish Councils (Judenräte—Judenrat in the singular),5 Holocaust historians have shied away from the topic of Jewish collaboration with the Germans. With few exceptions, Holocaust survivors are also in denial about this phenomenon.6 This dark chapter of the wartime history of Jews is one that merits closer scrutiny.
Patterns Of Cooperation Collaboration And Betrayal
Jews, Germans and Poles in Occupied Poland during World War II
by Mark Paul

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