Implications of the Preeminence of the Holocaust Over All Other Genocides. Nazi Concentration Camps Little Better Survivorship Than Death Camps. An Introduction to the Polokaust
- Forgotten Survivors: Polish Christians Remember the Nazi Occupation by Richard C. Lukas (Editor) – Published November 19th 2004 by University Press of Kansas (first published September 21st 1989)
Owing to obvious misunderstandings, the very title of this book needs clarification. The concept of „forgotten”, not elaborated by Lukas, goes far beyond which side has done a better job of presenting its sufferings to the American public.
It goes right to the heart of (1). Which side has the power and influence to get its message out, (2). Which side is in a position to control the very language of the debate, and (3). Which side has the political clout to have its sufferings enshrined in American educational law. As for (1), American Jew Novick pointed out in his book, THE HOLOCAUST IN AMERICAN LIFE, that Poles „never had the political, cultural, or financial resources to press their case.” As for (2), George Orwell noted that those who control the language control the debate. Note contemporary Newspeak, in which there is no generally-recognized term for prejudices against Poles, only Jews (anti-Semitism), no special term for a massacre of Poles, only Jews (the pogrom), and no special term in existence for the German genocide of Poles, only Jews (the Holocaust). [Specialized terms exist for other genocides, such as Holodomor, Pharajmos, Aghet, etc. But, outside of specialist circles, whoever heard of them? It is also for this reason that some Poles speak of their genocide at the hands of the Germans as the Polokaust.]
As for (3), are we supposed to believe that it is by accident that American children are required, in many US states, to learn about the murder of 5-6 million Jews in appreciable detail, as if it were something higher than the sufferings of others in WWII? Finally, the fact that Jewish spokesman have forcefully opposed the teaching about the 3 million murdered Poles alongside that of the 6 million murdered Jews (except perhaps as a footnote in order to deflect the argument) should serve as crowning proof that „forgotten” is FAR more than simply a matter of which side has done a better job of communicating its sufferings to the general public.
A SYNOPSIS OF THIS BOOK
Lukas has done a great deal of commendable work to counter the foregoing trends. This book is an anthology of Polish survivors of German Nazi persecution, a persecution that cost the lives of at least 3 million Poles, including over half of Poland’s prewar intelligentsia. WARNING: The descriptions of German methods throughout this book are often graphic, and may upset the sensitive reader. The content focuses on the September 1939 German conquest and five-plus years of occupation, the unrelenting German terror, the mass executions, Gestapo methods, the hellish German concentration camps, Jan Komski’s paintings of Auschwitz (pp. 58-on), the atrocious treatment of Polish forced laborers (2 million of them), Zegota, the betrayed Warsaw Uprising, and the „liberation” of Poland by a new occupant (the USSR).
Some seldom-discussed German barbarities are mentioned throughout this anthology, including the bleeding of Polish children for blood transfusions to wounded German soldiers (Bozenna Urbanowicz-Gilbride, p. 198), and the sterilization of Polish forced laborers (Katherine Graczyk, p. 34; Bozenna Urbanowicz-Gilbride, p. 197). No one mentions the KL Warschau extermination camp, where some 200,000 gentile Poles were gassed and cremated Auschwitz-Birkenau-style.
NO CLEAR-CUT DICHTOMY BETWEEN THE NAZI DEATH CAMPS AND THE „ORDINARY” CONCENTRATION CAMPS
OK, so the death camps had essentially 100% mortality. However, the 5-year survival rate for Poles at Mauthausen Concentration Camp was only 8 out of 200 (Antoni Palmowski, p. 109), and the several-month survival rate for Poles incarcerated at Auschwitz, following the foredoomed Warsaw Uprising, was still a small 300 out of 3,000 (Stanley J. Sagan, p. 163). Such was the starvation in the work camps of Flossenburg concentration camp that Polish inmates killed and ate a German shepherd guard dog that belonged to one of the SS men (Paul Zenon Wos, p. 217).
ANTI-POLISH MYTHS REFUTED
Various incidental details, while not intended for this purpose, help rebut common Polonophobic mischaracterizations. For example, the well-worn tale of Polish cavalry charging German tanks, originating from wartime German propaganda, is once again refuted (Notes, p. 212). And, contrary to accusations, Polish Jews were actually walled off into ghettos by the conquering Germans (Barbara Makuch, p. 85), not by the prewar Poles. The shortage of food in the countryside (Jan Porembski, p. 134), caused by German confiscations, enables the reader to understand why some Poles did not help fugitive Jews, and even betrayed or killed Jews who stole food from them. Against the claim that the German-appointed Polish police were collaborationists as such, it turns out that 90% of them were involved in the Polish Underground (Paul Zenon Wos, p. 214).
The Jews of Torczyn (near Warsaw) were initially trusting of the German conquerors (Halina Martin, p. 91, 99), adding rebuttal to the argument that Polish Jews immediately feared Germans, and that this (imagined) fear is what drove the widespread Jewish-Soviet collaboration in eastern Poland that occurred in the first stages of WWII. The actions of incarcerated Poles against incarcerated Jews, simplistically blamed on anti-Semitism, must be balanced by the actions of incarcerated Jews against incarcerated Poles (Dr. Stanley Garstka, p. 26).
A LATE-WWII IMPROVEMENT OF THE JEWS’ FATE
Finally, consider the „All Jews Were Victims of the Nazis” argument, a common rationalization for the primacy of Jewish sufferings in American social studies classes. Antoni Palmowski (p. 113) describes the fate of Jews brought to Mauthausen Concentration Camp: „Early in 1945, new transports, mostly from Auschwitz, arrived…What was unusual was that the Jews were clean, blue and gray striped prisoner uniforms….The Germans began to treat Jewish prisoners much better than before. They even increased their rations. We joked that the Germans `smelled’ the end of the war, which they realized by now they could not win.” It is obvious that not all known Jews were slated for extermination, even among already-apprehended Jews, and the killing of every last possible Jew was clearly NOT a priority of the dying Third Reich.
All this may be related to an attempted late-WWII deal involving Heinrich Himmler and the Jews. See my review of IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, by Wallace.