Polish-Jewish relations

Are Poles anti-semitic? Before I came to Sydney, having grown up in the Polish community in Hobart, I had never met an anti-semitic Pole. Since coming to Sydney, I have met quite a few, mostly from the post-war generation - the very people who are least likely to have ever met Jews.

So are Poles anti-semitic? To some extent, yes. But I say this as a Pole of Catholic heritage, so remember not to tar all people with the same brush in your accusations.

Another side of this question is: are Jews anti-Polish. Based on the Jews I know, I would say "no". But based on what I read and hear about North America, I note that the loudest anti-Polish statements come from North American Jews. But don't tar a whole nation with the same brush. Many anti-Polish statements by Jews are a product of the same ignorance as anti-Jewish statements by Poles.

There are no clear answers to either question. But, since I am sick of defending logical thinking when talking to some Poles, I am also sick of listening to misinformed anti-Polish statements. Sure, many Poles are or were anti-semitic. But many Jews are anti-Polish.

By anti-semitic and anti-Polish, I mean irrational hatred, usually unfounded on evidence. I am not here to answer these questions. But if marshalling some facts from time to time turns down the level of misinformed extremism on both sides, then so much the better.

Today I am reporting some discussion from the "Friends of Poland" mailing list, on comparisons between Danish and Polish behaviour towards Jews during the WW2. Just two personal comments first:

  • Poland was the only occupied country in Europe which did not have a Polish administrative apparatus working under the Germans. Even in the occupied centre of Poland, the General-Government, there was no Polish governing authority. Every other wholly occupied country had its own "quisling" or (as with Denmark) a fully functioning government.
  • Poland was the only country in Europe where harbouring a Jew was punishable by death of the "perpetrator" and their immediate family.

With that in mind, here's some stuff to read:



Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 20:12:26 +0000
From: stevenkaminski
Subject: [FoP] Goldhagen: Poland and Denmark

Hello FoP,

The New York Review of Books [Dec. 19, 2002] has published a review
by Prof. Istvan Deak on Goldhagen's new book. It is quite
fascinating, especially if you are interested in the RC-word.

The entire article is available via the web for $4.00 at
http://www.nybooks.com/contents/20021219

I picked mine up at the local bookstore. Those who know me know I
wish every reviewer was as intelligent and balanced as Prof.
Deak.

The fascinating (to me, a must to remember) comparison between Poland
and Denmark deals with the Holocaust myth about the Danish King
wearing the Yellow Star (even the Danish royal family has denied
this).

"For instance, [Goldhagen] does not have a good word to say about the
unrelenting [NB] Polish fight against the Nazis; on the other hand,
because of their defense of Danish Jews, he holds up the Danish King,
government, Evangelical Church, and society as models of humanity.
No one wishes to deny the fundamental decency of Danish society
towards the 7,500 Jews in their country. But again, the historian
should avoid presenting history as a matter of black and white.
Careful research has shown that Denmark contained only 7,500 Jews
because it had admitted virtually no Jewish refugees from Germany.
The historian Myrna Goodman calls the Danish record with respect to
refugees 'dismal.' Wealthy Denmark could have trained a fighting
force to deter a German invasion; instead, it practically disbanded
its operatta army before the Germans arrived and chose to surrender
virtually without firing a shot.....

[here Deak quotes Goodman as to the Germans wish to maintain peaceful
relations with the Danes to obtain 'enormous amounts of food' and
Danish war material]...
...As a concession to Danish sensibilities the German
authorities...took no action to stop the departure of the Jews...[T]
hereafter, however, Denmark continued its invaluable assistance to
the German war effort. Had all other countries behaved as the Danes
did, the war would have lasted even longer and many more Jews as well
as non-Jews would have perished. It is simply wrong to measure other
countries' wartime behavior against what happened to the Danish Jews."

Of course readers of this list and Prof. Deak know that Poland had
not government at this time.

Regards,

Steven Kaminski



Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 20:14:19 -0800 (PST)
From: Lilka Maar-Walde
Subject: Re: [FoP] Goldhagen: Poland and Denmark



And there is this much earlier and more thorough I think critique of Goldhagen's approach by Rychlak, originally published in First Things and available on the web: http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0206/articles/rychlak.html
(Note that Rychlak discusses the case of Tiso, without calling him a priest, but he never says that he was defrocked, either.)
For those who like to examine the issue from yet another perspective wait for David Dalinís review of the book in the Weekly Standard. Here is his previous essay on Pius XII and the Jews: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/000/504iizii.asp
Lilka Maar-Walde, Berkeley, CA 
stevenkaminski



Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002 04:08:49 +0000
From: "sueknight2000 "
Subject: [FoP] Re: Goldhagen: Poland and Denmark


I haven't read the Goldhagen book, and probably won't. I
thought "Hitler's Willing Executioners" was unfair. (And I did write
to him - kindly and politely - and say so.) But, if his central
thesis is that the Catholic Church must be judged by what happened
in WW2, then it might be fair to point out that while parts of
Germany are intensely Catholic, surely Germany was also the very
home of Protestantism. Wasn't Martin Luther German?

Re the Lutherans, here is an extract from the book "Proclaimers of
God's Kingdom", published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

"As reported in the 'Oschatzer Gemeinnutzige' of April 21, 1933, in
a radio address on April 20, Lutheran minister Otto spoke about
the 'closest cooperation' on the part of the German Lutheran Church
of the State of Saxony with the political leaders of the nation, and
then he declared; "The first results of this cooperation can already
be reported in the ban today placed upon the International
Association of Earnest Bible Students (Jehovah's Witnesses) and its
subdivisions in Saxony."
Thereafter, the Nazi State unleashed one of the most barbaric
persecutions of Christians in recorded history. Thousands of
Jehovah's Witnesses - from Germany, Austria, Poland,
Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, France, and other countries - were
thrown into concentration camps."

I wonder if Jonah Goldhagen has much to say about the Protestant
Church in the book. Or do I detect my favourite subject once again -
Double Standards? (Collective groan from members of FoP)

regards Sue





Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002 08:03:03 -0500
From: Roman Solecki
Subject: Re: [FoP] Goldhagen: Poland and Denmark


Steven you quoted Deak:

"For instance, [Goldhagen] does not have a good word to say about the
unrelenting [NB] Polish fight against the Nazis; on the other hand,
because of their defense of Danish Jews, he holds up the Danish King,
government, Evangelical Church, and society as models of humanity.
No one wishes to deny the fundamental decency of Danish society
towards the 7,500 Jews in their country. But again, the historian
should avoid presenting history as a matter of black and white.
Careful research has shown that Denmark contained only 7,500 Jews
because it had admitted virtually no Jewish refugees from Germany.
The historian Myrna Goodman calls the Danish record with respect to
refugees 'dismal.' Wealthy Denmark could have trained a fighting
force to deter a German invasion; instead, it practically disbanded
its operatta army before the Germans arrived and chose to surrender
virtually without firing a shot.....
[here Deak quotes Goodman as to the Germans wish to maintain peaceful
relations with the Danes to obtain 'enormous amounts of food' and
Danish war material]...
...As a concession to Danish sensibilities the German
authorities...took no action to stop the departure of the Jews...[T]
hereafter, however, Denmark continued its invaluable assistance to
the German war effort. Had all other countries behaved as the Danes
did, the war would have lasted even longer and many more Jews as well
as non-Jews would have perished. It is simply wrong to measure other
countries' wartime behavior against what happened to the Danish Jews."

On the other hand William L. Shirer writes in "The Rise and Fall of the
Third Reich"

p.700 "For nearly four years, until the tide of war had changed , the
Danish King and his people, a good-natured, civilized and happy-go-
lucky race, offered very little trouble to the Germans. Denmark became
known as the "model protectorate." The monarch, the government, the
courts, even the Parliament and the press, were at FIRST [emphasis
mine RS] allowed a surprising amount of freedom by their conquerors.
Not even Denmark's seven thousand Jews were molested - FOR A
TIME. But the Danes later than most of the other conquered peoples,
finally came to the realization that further "loyal cooperation", as they
called it, with their Teutonic tyrants, whose brutality increased with
the years and with the worsening fortunes of war, was impossible....
Then resistance began."

p.957 "In Denmark what became known as a system of "clearing
murders" was substituted for the publicly proclaimed shooting of the
hostages [as was done in France, Poland and Holland RS]. On Hitler's
express orders reprisals for the killing of Germans in Denmark were to
be carried out in secret "on the proportion of five to one." Thus the
great Danish pastor-poet, Kaj Munk, one of the most beloved men in
Scandinavia, was brutally murdered by the Germans, his body left on
the road with a sign pinned to it: "Swine, you worked for Germany just
the same.""
Roman Solecki
Union, Connecticut
USA



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