Beyond the Cusp

February 8, 2018

Poland Finds Poland the Innocent Victim of Jewish Death Camps

 

The Polish Holocaust Law is no longer a simple signature away from law; Polish President Andrzej Duda has autographed the legislation making it the law. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has not objected giving the law his silent consent as he invited Israeli journalists so as to be allowed to explain to them how the law was righteous and the Polish completely innocent victims just as were the Jews under the Nazi occupation. What the Israeli journalists ended up witnessing were two simultaneous demonstrations urging Duda to sign the law which some compared to Germany in the 1930’s after Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass when the point of no return was crossed by the German people. The nationalist demonstration was the larger of the two and was punctuated by chants which included rants such as, “Take off (your) kippah (yarmulke in Polish), Sign the law!” “Enough Jewish lies!” “Jews try to rob Poland!” “Stop Jewish aggression in Poland!” Do any of these have a familiar sounding echo to you and remind you of previous times in numbers of places throughout history where the only difference was the name Poland changed to the nation in question? Such were the chants in Nazi Germany, Inquisition Spain, Purified France, Martin Luther’s Germany (not to pick on Germany), the Czar’s Russia, Mousseline’s Italy, Hadrian’s Rome, the Hellenists’ Greece, Pharos’ Egypt, Nebakanezzer’s Babylon, Haman’s Persia and on and on throughout history. Yes, we Jews remember these chants as they have always signaled it was time to grab your bags and get out of town as ignoring such threats has always proved foolish if not deadly.

 

We are more than willing to grant that many or at least some of those who supported this law are not anti-Semitic and are simply more upset with innocent Poles being tarnished by the Nazis and their horrific history. We wish to be optimistic that the main driving force of this law was to differentiate between the majority of the Polish people during World War II and their Nazi oppressors who victimized numerous Polish who fought against the Nazi presence. The problem arises when we consider the reports of such hateful rhetoric by the majority of the demonstrators and the seeming backing for this law seemingly arising from the anti-Semites. Let us state right up front that we do not believe that the average polish person is an anti-Semite or that any more than a minority hold anti-Semitic beliefs. Where the frightening truth invades our hopes was when referencing the Anti-Defamation League Global Anti-Semitism Survey shows some disturbing numbers for Poland. Their 2015 survey of Poland, the last time a full survey was conducted, shows that Poland has a population of approximately thirty-one-million and of those approximately eleven million hold anti-Semitic feelings which is thirty-seven percent. The survey has a breakdown by gender, age, and the percentages in answers to the survey questions themselves. The highest response was sixty-one percent agreement on the question “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.” At the other end, a mere fourteen percent responded agreement with the statement, “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” The high agreement with the first kind of explains partly the reactions and force behind the new law.

 

The Polish Holocaust Law outlaws blaming Poland as a nation for Holocaust crimes committed by Nazi Germany. This includes stating that such places as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek, Belzec and Chelmno as well as numerous camps built in Poland so that the prisoners could be worked to death out of the public eye; this policy was called Vernichtung durch Arbeit (annihilation through work), and large numbers of non-Jewish Poles were held in these camps which is one of the facts being pressed during the discussions over the Polish Holocaust Law (see map below). No longer may anyone refer to these camps as being Polish without facing fines and possible imprisonment. Exchanges by two Polish authors on a TV broadcast dealing with the new law were jesting when it was stated, “Jewish death camps” followed by the mocking question asking, “who actually did run the crematoria?” Even presumably joking, such language is beyond the pale. Once these phrases were aired on Poland Television, they were immediately picked up by numerous others, anti-Semites and others who simply believed that these were perfectly harmless jokes as they were permitted to be televised which give things an air of respectability. At the aforementioned nationalist rally, some of the speakers stated, “So my daughter would need to learn in her school that Poles killed Jews in Jedwabne, is not it scandalous?! Jedwabne lies, that baloney!” and “It all is about money. Jews would like to rob us of everything what we has build here after 1945.” and “Those who came here now under the red flags and in Israel’s interest, to attack Polish patriots.” These comments are counter to the records in history. Jedwabne was the location where three-hundred Jewish villagers burned alive by a group of their neighbors in Poland after gathering them in a barn for a meeting in 1941 after the war. These were former residents of Jedwabne who had survived the camps and ghettos and other efforts of the Nazis. Making matters even more serious, Jedwabne was just one as was Kielce Pogrom on July 4, 1946 where over twenty Jews were murdered by a mob which included many officials which became obvious when authorities indicted commander of the Kielce Office of the Security Service, Major Wladyslaw Sobczynski, and the Chief of Police, Colonel Wiktor Kuznicki, as well as his deputy, Major Kazimierz Gwiazdowicz; of the three, only Kuznicki received a one year sentence, while the other two were acquitted. Further information can be found about the Polish cities of Bial, Kielce, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz, Rzeszow and Warsaw in the PDF report “Patterns Of Anti-Jewish Violence In Poland, 1944-1946” by David Engel.

 

German Exterminations and Work Concentration Camps Located in Poland

German Exterminations and Work Concentration Camps Located in Poland

 

This law will also make references to these incidents as Polish illegal as the law will be enforced as a means of relegating all of Polish violence against the Jews forbidden speech. Everyone who has ever pointed to the Concentration Camps being in Poland knew and meant that these were built at the insistence of the Nazis, run by the Nazis, and the murdering was committed largely by the Nazis and the Polish were also victims of the war having had their nation invaded from both ends, one by the Nazis and the other by the Communists. This bred a great hatred of both the Nazis and the Communists in the Polish people, something which continued after World War II when Poland came under Communist occupation and rule. The catch is that there were a fair number who blamed the Jews for the Communist takeover of Poland after the war. By this law, making any reference to the location as an identifying characteristic of any of the Nazi Ghettos, Concentrations Camps and Murder Camps will be punishable by fines and even imprisonment. By fiat, the Polish government has made all the locations on the above map located in some alternate universe in a place called “Not Poland” and in this universe; it is evil to claim otherwise. This law applies to all whether polish or visitor. This has already cost Poland the tourism where Israeli high school students were brought to Poland and were given classes and lectures about the horrors of the Holocaust. As of now, references to the Holocaust as happening in these camps on Polish ground would place the teachers in Polish prison. These trips have already been suspended and are unlikely to ever be resumed. One can also bet that a great number of Jews worldwide will now avoid Poland believing it to be anti-Semitic or, at the very least, unwelcoming to Jews. The avoiding of Poland will be strongest amongst the Jews who lost their families in the camps, specifically the camps in Poland.

 

There is another application of this law which might come to be used in a political manner. The Polish might decide to also apply the law to any political individual who mentions in some way the relationship between Poland and the locations of the Exterminations and Work Concentration Camps and the Ghettos. Such references would more likely be made by Israeli politicians thus should an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist or especially an anti-Semitic leader come to power in Poland, they might attempt to use this law against Israeli politicians who made mention of the camps being located in Poland, and especially if they implied Polish participation in the construction or having turned over Jews to the Nazis and other forms of cooperation. We in Israel are very aware of those in Poland who bravely fought the Nazis and the Righteous Amongst the Nations from Poland who harbored and saved Jewish lives, but we also have painful reminders of those Polish who aided the Nazis in their efforts. Such a use of the law to indict foreigners under this law should they ever step within the borders of Poland will surely result in many deciding that a visit to Poland under any circumstance to unfavorably risky. This law will definitely drive a wedge between Poland and Israel if not others as well. If this law is ever applied to one who referenced Poland and the location of the Nazi camps and the treatment of the Jews, then Poland will become a place which many will find too dangerous to visit. This law will bring Poland only evil and bad times will lay ahead. The politicians who passed this law and President Andrzej Duda along with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will rue their complicity in this law as time passes. This is a dark day for Poland and does nothing to change the facts about the Concentration Camps and the Ghettos forced upon them by the Nazis. Still, there did exist some degree of Polish cooperation with the Nazi occupiers and that cannot be altered by or erased by or otherwise made different or to somehow disappear by passing a law making their mention illegal in Poland. If anything, this law reminds us of an old saying, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” which comes from Hamlet by Willian Shakespeare. In this case, we would have to say, The Poles doth protest too much, methinks.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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