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Beyond Violence: Jewish Survivors in Poland and Slovakia, 1944-48 Property Restitution: Clarifies Many Misconceptions About Postwar Jewish Returnees and Property,

jan peczkis|Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This book features seldom-available information. On the other hand, author Anna Cichopek-Gajraj drifts into many of the standard Judeocentric constructs, and gives too much credence to Jan T. Gross, though, to her credit, not in a completely uncritical manner. My review is limited to issues surrounding Poland.


The author cites Piotr Weiser's estimate of 2.71 million murdered Polish Jews during the Shoah. (p. 19). [This is below the 3.0-3.1 million toll claimed by other authors.] She apportions the Holocaust-surviving Polish Jews, based on Weiser, as follows: 232,000 situated beyond the reach of the Nazis while in the USSR; 40,000 thus in other countries; about 145,000 Jews in Nazi-German occupied Poland, most of whom did not register as Jews after the war. [Note that the 145,000 figure is much greater than the 40,000-50,000 admitted by neo-Stalinist Jan T. Gross and Jan Grabowski, another neo-Stalinist. They had cited the greatly-deflated figure of Jewish survivors under German occupation, along with an absurdly large number of Jews fleeing the ghettos (250,000) in order to make Polish rescues of Jews as insignificant as possible, and (presumed) Polish betrayals of fugitive Jews as big as possible. Weiser's figures imply that, even with the imagined 250,000 Polish Jews fleeing the ghetto, more than half of these fugitive Jews survived the war!]

Cichopek-Gajraj does not overlook the sufferings of the Poles during the German occupation. Besides the millions of Poles murdered, Poland's losses were staggering in terms of infrastructure. Based on a cited 1947 study, the losses included 50% of arable land, 60% of educational and scientific institutions, 64% of communications (telephone, telegraph, and postal), and 43% of cultural objects. (p. 19).


Neo-Stalinist Jan T. Gross and like-minded types have attributed the Poles' buying, at Nazi auctions, of the belongings of doomed Jews, to (what else?) greed and anti-Semitism. In addition, Polonophobic publications such as MAUS have made the unsuspecting reader think that Poles killing Jews over property disputes were a usual occurrence. Interestingly, a group of Polish Jews, at the 1945 World Zionist Conference in London, had put this entire subject into proper perspective. They also appreciated Polish sufferings, and the forced Communization of Poland, as major parts of the entire Jewish-property equation. They wrote, (quote) "Restitution of Jewish property is not so real a prospect as it may appear in theory. Most of the mobile Jewish property had been sold out to peasants or on the black market in the first few years of the German occupation for food to supplement the starvation rations, or rather, the non-existent rations. The remainder of the property was destroyed, burnt, or pillaged in the subsequent `actions' (the terror raids by the SA and their Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian henchmen, which preceded mass expulsion and mass deportation and were usually accompanied by mass slaughter in or outside the ghettos) or in the risings. As to immobile property, all larger landed property, as well as heavier industry plants in the country have either been parceled out by the Government or virtually taken over by the State in this or another form. Besides, the existing anti-Semitism makes restitution of Jewish property extremely difficult, and SOMETIMES dangerous...It is similarly extremely difficult to carry on litigation in the case of property which has changed many hands..." (unquote. Emphasis added). (pp. 71-72). [The multiple changing of ownership of once-Jewish properties is, of course, even more an issue today, 70 years after WWII, than it was in 1945. It is all the more reason that the demands of the Holocaust Industry should be repudiated.]

Ironic to the usual characterization of Polish anti-Semitism giving rise to Polish resistance to Jewish property restitution, a Jewish JOINT report concluded precisely the opposite! (quote) "The instinctive resentment against the mere idea of restitution enhanced the anti-Semitic feeling of the people." (unquote). (pp. 87-88). The decisive factor in Poles being hostile to Jews reclaiming their property was the extreme poverty of Poles in postwar Poland. A quoted 1945 report, by some Quaker visitors to Poland, makes this graphically clear. (p. 88).


(Quote) In the late 1940s, Irena Hurwic-Nowakowska conducted a survey on national self-identification among Polish Jews in which 74 percent of the interviewed considered themselves "members of the Jewish nation"; 22 percent claimed to be Polish; and, among them, 2 percent considered themselves Polish and Jewish at the same time. (unquote). (p. 203).

It is thus interesting that, even after the German-made Holocaust and the virtual wipeout of Poland's once-huge Jewish community, most of Poland's Jews still considered themselves a separate nationality. [This was a process that had become reinforced by the decades-old Yiddishist movement. The persistence of Jews-as-nationality thinking among Jews, not surprisingly, reinforced the notion of Jews as the "other", even after almost all of Poland's Jews were long gone. It also made the massive Jewish-Soviet collaboration, and the self-misrepresentation of Jews changing their names into Polish ones, all the more noticeable and odious to Poles.]


Cichopek-Gajraj at first tries to minimize what is sometimes called the Zydokomuna, but then presents some interesting Jewish perspectives that corroborate the truth of this phenomenon. She cites an American Jewish Committee (AJC) paper that comments that (quote) "The number of Jewish officials is entirely out of proportion with the size of the Jewish population." (unquote). (p. 49).

She also quotes extensively from a May 1949 American Jewish JOINT Distribution correspondent in Poland as follows, (quote) "The question of why the Government is so lenient toward the Jews should also be answered. It is easy to answer that question. In a country where at least eighty percent of the population is against the Government and the ruling party, it is good to know that it can rely, at least on some part of the population, which wants to cooperate with the Government...The Government knows that the Jews may be black-marketing, dealing in hard currency, illegally leaving Poland, etc., but there is one thing they are not guilty of--i. e. working and conspiring against the government." (unquote). (pp. 49-50). Obviously, the extent of Jewish-Soviet collaboration is much, much broader than the already very disproportionate fraction of Jews in high positions in the Soviet-imposed Communist puppet government. Clearly, Jews were complicit in the subjugation of Poland and the torture and murder of tens of thousands of patriotic Poles. Furthermore, if the quoted statement above is accurate, it refutes the argument of some (e. g, Krystyna Kersten?) that there were as many actively anti-Communist Jews as pro-Communist Jews in Poland.


The postwar killings of Poles by Jews, which the author reduces from the conjectured 2,000 into the 650-1,200 range (p. 117), must be put in the context of widespread lawlessness in postwar Poland, on which the author elaborates in considerable detail. (p. 49). How many of these killings were actually animated by murderous anti-Semitism, and, of these, how many were motivated by revenge for Jewish-Soviet collaboration? [Earlier, some of the Jews who had collaborated with the Soviets had said that they were taking revenge on Poland for (real or imagined) Polish injustices to Jews. Now the circle of revenge had turned again. Innocent Jews died because of Poles. Earlier, innocent Poles had died because of Jews.]

Finally, Anna Cichopek-Gajraj puts the "train pogroms" in perspective (see Reference 48 on page 42). Those waylaid or thrown out of trains were not only Jews, but also functionaries of the hated Communist regime, and passengers unwilling to turn their baggage over to the bandits.
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