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The Construction of European Holocaust Memory: German and Polish Cinema after 1989 (Warsaw Studies in Jewish History and Memory)

jan peczkis|Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Author Malgorzata Pakier introduces her book as follows, “In recent years, commemoration of the Holocaust has become a major political, cultural, and educational issue for the European Union…There is no other historical event to which European institutions have demonstrated any comparable deep commitment. It is manifest in such initiatives as the European Parliament’s ‘Resolution on Remembrance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism, and Racism’ approved on January 27, 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and in the adoption of legislation criminalizing denial of the Holocaust at the level of the European Union under the German presidency in April 2007. The European Union has also played a key role in setting up the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, launched on the occasion of the International Forum on the Holocaust, which took place in Stockholm in 2000.” (p. 9)

[For Poles that are Euroskeptics, here is yet another reason for POLEXIT—Poland leaving the European Union.]

[The astute reader can appreciate the irony of the big fuss made in the media about Poland’s recent criminalization of the phrase “Polish death camp”, while it has no problem with the criminalizing of other forms of objectionable Holocaust-related speech (Holocaust denial).]


The very approach taken by this book is suspect. It focuses on major milestones in the development of Holocaust-related films—in Germany and Poland. Some readers will be able to see through this—as yet another attempt to conflate past German and Polish conduct towards the Jews, and thereby to gradually dilute the guilt of the Germans. The conflation of the two nations makes about as much sense as conflating the Pacific Ocean with a pond of water.

This is no aberration. It fits-in with the de-Germanization of the Nazis in Holocaust films, the increasingly German-less Holocaust in eastern Europe, the frequent media mendacious remarks about "Polish death camps", etc.

For some time after WWII, Poles were recognized as co-victims, alongside Jews, of the Nazis, if only as "unequal victims". This gradually gave way to Poles as so-called bystanders to the Jewish catastrophe. Now books such as this one take the final step--effectively putting Poles and Germans on the same side, however subtly.


This book consists of the standard Judeocentric Holocaust narrative. It also repeats the standard Holocaustspeak (e. g, “coming to terms with the past”—VERGANGENHEITSBEWALTIGUNG in German: p. 13). Needless to say, rarely are peoples ever required to “come to terms with the past” for their wrongs against Poles.

Consistent with the standard Holocaust narrative promoted by this book, it treats the Shoah as above the genocides of other peoples, although it mentions some dissenters from this view. (pp. 156-157). It effectively calls on the Poles to forget all their own sufferings (which is dismissed as “romanticism”: e. g, pp. 39-40) and to embrace the sufferings of the Jews as something special. It also chides the Poles for their “heroic narrative” of WWII conduct instead of Poles engaging in breast-beating over the [rare and trivial] instances of Poles collaborating with the Nazi Germans. [The latter is a standard part of the PEDAGOGIA WSTYDU (“Pedagogy of Shame”), which can easily become the “Politics of Shame”.]


This book is completely silent about the factual errors, and anti-Polish biases, of many of the cited Holocaust-related films and other materials. I present just three examples of this.

Pakier uncritically mentions Claude Lanzmann and his SHOAH (e. g, p. 16, 87, 160). For corrective, please click on, and read my detailed review, of Shoah.

Not surprisingly, Pakier presents neo-Stalinist Jan T. Gross, on Polish responsibility for the events at Jedwabne, as fact. (e. g, p. 10, pp. 107-108, 145-147, 161). It is not. For corrective, see, for example, my review of this Jewish-authored work that affirms the fact of German, and not Polish, guilt for Jedwabne: Deliverance: The Diary of Michael Maik, a True Story.

Malgorzata Pakier misrepresents Barbara Engelking and her study on denunciation-letters to the Gestapo written by Poles, (p. 144). For corrective, please click on, and read my review, of Szanowny Panie Gistapo: Donosy do Wladz Niemieckich w Warszawie i Okolicach w Latach 1940-1941 .

What about the shoe on the other foot? Author Malgorzata Pakier is in deep denial about the fact of the ZYDOKOMUNA (Judeo-Bolshevism)(e. g, pp. 39-44). But no matter. The crimes of the ZYDOKOMUNA cannot be denied. Nor can they be airbrushed out of history. In addition, the reader should realize that Jewish complicity in Communism went far beyond membership in the Communist Party itself. [For details, see the first Comment under this review.]


The “usual suspects” are behind this book, and one does not have to believe in some kind of nefarious Jewish-German conspiracy to realize this. In the Acknowledgments (p. 5), author Malgorzata Pakier thanks the Center for Ad
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