New Directions in the History of the Jews on Polish Lands


New Directions in the History of the Jews on Polish Lands by Antony Polonsky (Editor)Published 2018. Edition Language: English.

No Significant Polish Collaboration With the Nazis. The Rest of the Volume is the Standard Narrative on Jews and Poles

This volume is hardly “new directions” as advertised, but does have a few interesting items amidst the same old same old blame-everything-on Poles approach. I begin with the few interesting items.

ADMITTEDLY NO BASIS FOR SAYING THAT POLISH NAZI COLLABORATION AGAINST JEWS WAS EXTENSIVE, OR THAT IT NECESSARILY WAS COLLABORATION AT ALL!

Andrzej Zbikowski writes:

“We still don’t know how many such Poles there were—thousands or tens of thousands—or whether their main motive for murder or denunciations was lust for property or rather fear of the occupying Germans—who had, after all, forbidden on pain of death any assistance to Jews.” (p. 418). 

Even in this glimmer of objectivity, however, Zbikowski retains a Jewish-centered, Polish-suffering-diminishing mindset. He fails to inform the reader that Poles were in desperate poverty under the German occupation, so they could hardly have been animated by a “lust for property”. (Were still-living Jews that appropriated the property of murdered Jews also driven by a “lust for property”?) 

Zbikowski also fails to provide much-needed perspective. “Tens of thousands” or “thousands” of Jewish-betraying Poles, out of an unmentioned total of 28 million ethnic Poles, comes out to a staggering collaboration rate on the order of 0.1%–0.01%, again assuming that this truly was collaboration to begin with. 

In any event, the facts are clear: The media has no business going around promoting the falsehood that Polish collaboration with the Nazi Germans was significant, much less that it makes “Poland complicit in the Holocaust” (whatever that means). So will the media finally do justice to Poland? Fat chance. 

THE “POLISH DEATH CAMP” LIE IS ALIVE AND WELL

Lithuanian scholar Saulius Suziedelis comments, “The canard that the Nazis chose Poland as the site of the death camps because of Polish anti-Semitism is still current in some circles.” (p. 127). Canard indeed. But, absent an agenda, why does this canard continue? 

NO “POLISH DEATH CAMP” LIE NEEDED: A MORE SUBTLE SHIFTING OF THE BLAME FOR THE HOLOCAUST FROM GERMANS ONTO POLES

Omer Bartov waxes eloquent as he writes, “Clearly, without Nazi Germany there would have been no Holocaust. But this cannot obscure the fact that there were powerful forces in Poland, which hoped and worked for the removal of Jews from the country; that these forces reflected a prevalent and growing anti-Semitic sentiment; that this sentiment became part and parcel of much of Polish nationalism; and that as a result of a combination of factors, including prejudice, ideology, greed, fear, cowardice, and resentment, to name only some of the most prominent, the existence of Jews in German-occupied Poland became unsafe not only because of the German will to murder them but also because so many of their Christian neighbors were glad to see them go or were at least indifferent to their fate.” (p. 112). 

German guilt diffusion is at work overtime. Notice Bartov’s slurs against Polish nationalism and the transparent attempt to “Nazify” it. Then take note of Bartov’s effortless mixing up of Nazi German genocidal actions against Jews with the entirely-different Polish desire for a peaceful emigration of Poland’s Jews (BTW, also advocated by some Jews). Notice also Bartov’s effortless equating of merely verbal Polish dislike for Jews with some kind of imagined Polish complicity in the German-made Holocaust. But wait: It gets even better. Even more facile is Bartov’s slippery re-use of the totally unsupported, decades-old inane assertions that “so many of their Christian neighbors were glad to see them go or were at least indifferent to their fate.” 

HOLOCAUST SUPREMACISM RULES OVER THE WEST, AND INCREASINGLY OVER POLAND AS WELL

Dan Michman candidly remarks, “The ‘Holocaust’ has undoubtedly acquired a central status, or even more so a KEY STATUS, IN THE CONTEMPORARY PUBLIC IMAGINATION; it has become, to use Alon Confino’s definition, a foundational past ‘in modern European history,’ together with the French Revolution, and consequently of the Western mind-set.” (p. 386; Emphasis added.) It most certainly has. 

Michman continues, “In European societies, interest in and research on the Holocaust have become central to national identity struggles, to education, and to collective memory. In Poland, this aspect has been at the frontlines in recent decades.” (p. 386). 

JEWISH MUSEUMS IN POLAND—A TOOL OF HOLOCAUST INDOCTRINATION

Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs is quite correct as she writes, 

“The POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews has the opportunity to change the attitudes of Poles, especially younger ones, toward Jews, and toward the Holocaust and its memory, on the basis of careful planning and systematically applied research.” (p. 171). Yes, and that is what it is for.

MENTIONS OF NON-JEWISH GENOCIDES ARE MORE A DEFLECTION THAN A SOFTENING OF HOLOCAUST SUPREMACISM

Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, using other words, alludes to the fact that non-Jewish genocides can be mentioned, but only as long as they “know their place”—in subordination to the Holocaust: 

“Education about the Holocaust under the project of the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has been defined as ‘education that takes the discrimination, persecution and destruction of the Jews by the National Socialist regime AS ITS FOCUS , but also includes Nazi crimes against other victim groups, both for the purpose of deeper understanding and contextualization of the Holocaust and out of a desire to acknowledge and commemorate the suffering of numerous non-Jewish victims of the Nazi era.’” (p. 172; Emphasis added).

OVERT DISRESPECT TOWARDS POLISH SUFFERING

One common property of Holocaust supremacism is the active belittling of the sufferings of non-Jews. In the case of Poles, this is commonly exhibited in terms of negative references to “Polish martyrology” or to put downs of Poland as “the Jesus Christ of nations.” Evidently not wanting to feel left out, Andrzej Zbikowski sings the tune about Poland’s “martyrological line” (p. 409), as if Poles only imagined that they suffered during World War II.

ANOTHER OPEN ATTEMPT TO DELIGITIMIZE SCHOLARS WHO DISAGREE WITH THE PREVAILING NARRATIVE

Andrzej Zbikowski calls scholars such as Jan Zaryn and historian Marek Jan Chodakiewicz nationalists (p. 407)—evidently hoping that the bad smell of this naughty word will nullify their scholarship. This is where Holocaust “scholarship” is today.

Then again, if Orwellian labeling and name-calling are just fine, then why doesn’t Zbikowski also call himself what he so obviously is—a Judaizer? That would even things out a bit.

So, in this corner are the nationalists and in that corner are the Judaizers. The audience is waiting with bated breath for the action. Bring it on!

———–

LACHRYMOSE JEWISH HISTORY? A CYCLE CONSISTING OF LONG-TERM JEWISH PRIVILEGE AND SHORT-TERM JEWISH PERSECUTION: THE VIEWS OF ZIONIST BEN-ZION DINUR CONVERGE WITH THOSE OF HITLER

Daniel Blatman cites a Hebrew-language source as he writes,

“He [Ben-Zion Dinur in 1943] argued for a fixed pattern of Jewish life in the Diaspora: the rise of a Jewish center in a specific place (Babylonia, Ashkenaz, Spain, Poland and Lithuania, Germany), which achieves a glorious economic and cultural life, until the moment when its existence becomes a thorn in the side of the host society or the local ruler. As a consequence, the center collapses and disintegrates, the Jews are expelled or murdered, and the place of the destroyed center is taken by a new center that develops elsewhere. In other words, Jewish life in exile has a deterministic and periodic nature, with cycles of migration or expulsion, consolidation, a flourishing zenith, and then collapse and destruction, followed by migration to another place where the community is renewed.” (p. 424). 

However, Daniel Blatman does not mention the fact that this particular cyclic view of Jewish history is the same as that in Hitler’s MEIN KAMPF. The only difference is Hitler’s view that the Jews were the ones at fault for successively wearing out their welcome in the nations that had accepted them.

Jan Peczkis

Published with the author’s permission.

– More reviews by Jan Peczkis on PCO  ….. .

  • Title image: „New Directions in the History of the Jews on Polish Lands” by Antony Polonsky (Editor), part of the cover / selected by wg.pco
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, 2019.02.13.