Auschwitz, the Allies and Censorship of the Holocaust
by Michael Fleming – Published April 1st 2015 by Cambridge University Press. Edition Language: English.
Great Britain, and Not Poles, Gagged Incoming Information About the Unfolding German-Made Shoah. This Polonophobic-Lite Work is An Improvement Over Previous Hard-Core Polonophobic Books
In this work, historian Michael Fleming contradicts, or at least introduces some nuance into, the many long-standing Pole-accusatory memes that surround the Polish Underground and Polish Government in Exile–with regards to the emerging information about the fact and the magnitude of the Nazi German genocide of Polish Jews. This is especially true of the accusations promoted by David Engel. I elaborate on some of them.
All this must be kept in perspective. This work is in no sense totally fair to Poles, as I elaborate in the last sections of my review. Fleming commonly “moves the goalposts” by asserting an amorphous, softer version of a Polonophobic argument that he had just demolished.
THE MYTH OF POLISH ANTISEMITISM IMBIBED WITH THE MOTHER’S MILK
The next time certain Britons moralize about the attitudes and conduct of Poles, they should heed the following statements by historian Fleming, “There is no sound way to assess how the level of anti-Semitic sentiment in the Polish forces evacuated to Britain in 1940 compared with that found in the British military but it certainly was fairly common, and attracted the attention of some members of the British parliament.” (p. 80).
What exactly is “fairly common”? Fleming does not tell us. Then again, this is one of many unsupported statements and vague generalizations that Fleming makes throughout this work.
POLISH WARNINGS DISREGARDED: WILLFULL BRITISH REJECTION OF VERIFIABLE FACTS
Michael Fleming elaborates on the attitudes of Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, and one who could not possibly plead ignorance. Cavendish-Bentinck had access to the German Order Police and railway intercepts, which indicated the mass movements and killings of Jews. (p. 68). Despite this irrefutable evidence, Cavendish-Bendick, as late as August 1943, reacted to the Polish-proffered warnings with these patronizing words, “‘We weaken our case against the Germans by publicly giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have no evidence…incorrect to describe Polish information regarding German atrocities as “trustworthy”. The Poles, and to a far greater extent the Jews, tend to exaggerate German atrocities in order to stoke us up. They seem to have succeeded.’” (pp. 68-69).
DECONSTRUCTING DAVID ENGEL AND HIS WELTER OF ASSERTIONS ABOUT POLAND
Historian Michael Fleming writes, “The volume of data distributed by the Polish government in London about Auschwitz COMPLICATES David Engel’s (1987; 1993) thesis on the Polish government’s attitude to Jews. Engel maintained that the government was ambivalent toward Jews, that many of its policies which favored minorities (including Jews)—for example, equal rights—were instrumental policies only made to appease the Western Allies, and that it systematically marginalized Jews. First, every piece of intelligence about the camp that Engel (1987; 1993) suggests stalled with the Polish government was, in fact, distributed. Second, the marginalization of news about Jews can best be explained by the British and American censorship context, rather than simply by an anti-Jewish bias of the Polish government, which has been the default explanation hitherto.” (p. 266; Emphasis is in original.) I love the Orwellian usage of “complicates”.
Fleming adds that, “This study has shown that the difficulty in distributing news of the Holocaust, and of Auschwitz in particular, was not due to the actions of the Polish government in withholding information.” (p. 268).
DAVID ENGEL WRONG ON POLISH UNDERGROUND BELITTLING THE NAZI GERMAN GENOCIDE OF JEWS
Historian Fleming comments, “Between 22 July and 12 September 1942 General Rowecki sent no less than 155 radio messages…The infrequent references to Nazi actions against Jews should NOT automatically be understood as evidence that the Home Army leadership consciously marginalized news about the Jews, but as indicating how the underground state organized and managed the vast amount of intelligence which it gathered and send west.” (p. 136; Emphasis is in original.)
Elsewhere, Fleming realizes that the Polish Underground used the best information it had available at the time. (p. 171). Thus, later-apparent inaccuracies in its reports do not imply any attempt at deception.
DAVID ENGEL WRONG ON THE POLISH GOVERNMENT IN EXILE BELITTLING THE NAZI GERMAN GENOCIDE OF JEWS
Historian Fleming states that, “The marginality of news about Jews in the official Polish press indicates more about Polish adherence to British censorship policy than about the Polish government’s attitude to Polish Jews.” (p. 93).
He adds that, “Sikorski’s replies therefore demonstrate the Polish Government’s adherence to the British-led policy line of not highlighting German actions against Jews, rather than any specifically Polish policy of marginalizing news about Jews.” (p. 96).
DAVID ENGEL’S HOLOCAUSTSPEAK: JEWS WERE “OUTSIDE THE SPHERE OF MORAL OBLIGATIONS” OF THE POLES
Fleming rejects such a characterization as he comments, “The stable binary frame of in-group/out-group does not capture the complications of wartime relationships or the multiple oscillations as individuals and groups moved closer to, and further from, each other.” (p. 279). All well and good, but this does not even touch on all the times that Jews had found Poles and Poland outside of the Jews’ sphere of moral obligations. We never hear about that.
THE STANDARD JUDEOCENTRIC THINKING
While contradicting or refuting Engel’s accusations, Fleming is in no sense is trying to make the Poles look good. He, for example, editorializes about those big, bad “Polish nationalists” engaging in promotion of “the myth of impeccable Polish conduct during the war.” (p.279). He should abandon this rather silly media-propagandized straw man by bothering to read some Polish nationalist works, many of which are quite frank, and very detailed, about Polish collaborators.
In addition, Fleming consistently adheres to the standard Jews Can Do No Wrong ruling paradigm, in which Jews are nothing other than victims. For instance, Fleming engages in Zydokomuna negationism, especially with regards to the undeniable Jewish complicity in the murder of Polish patriot Witold Pilecki. (pp. 15-16).In another example (with reference to Jewish banditry and Jewish Communism discussed by Bor Komorowski), Fleming unthinkingly and flippantly puts all the blame on the Poles. (pp. 357-358).
MAKING CREATIVE EXCUSES FOR INFLUENTIAL JEWS REJECTING POLISH WARNINGS
Fleming tries to spin Jewish Supreme Court Judge Felix Frankfurter’s statements of disbelief in Jan Karski’s warnings. He speculates that this was not a denial of the truthfulness of Jan Karski, but a statement about the incredibility of the Holocaust events brought to light. (p. 13, 311). Oh, really?
Surely Judge Frankfurter, of all people, knew, or should have known, the difference between words indicating amazement and words indicating disbelief!
In making what clearly sounds like yet another excuse for Jewish misconduct (this time, the high-level Jewish rejection of Polish warnings), Fleming provides not a shred of evidence that Judge Frankfurter’s dismissal of Karski was anything other than straightforward, literal, and correctly understood. Meanwhile, Poles continue to be always blamed for “claiming too much credit” in rescuing Jews. Go figure.
RUNNING DOWN THE POLISH RIGHT
The author repeats the unsupported accusation of the Polish Right ignoring the plight of the Jews (pp. 266-on), and of finding the British censorship policies congenial to its attitudes. Fleming’s whopper, among other things, ignores Polish Rightists (e. g, NSZ, ONR) that rescued Jews. It also fails to consider the life-and-death decisions that animated the concerns of a few (certainly not all) Endeks: More Jews saved meant a larger base of talented individuals that served Poland’s enemies. Unfortunately, such concerns proved spot-on. Not a few rescued Polish Jews engaged in “You knew I was a snake” conduct. That is, they returned the favor of being rescued by Poles by later becoming Stalin’s willing executioners in the torture and murder of tens of thousands of Poles. And this does not even begin to touch on the many rescued Polish Jews who returned the favor by later slandering Poles and Poland. Think, for example, of Jerzy Kosinski vel Lewinkopf and his highly-acclaimed and widely-read (despite recognizably fraudulent) PAINTED BIRD. Of course, we never hear about that.
- Source: GoodReads.com , February 25, 2019
Published with the author’s permission.
- Title image: Auschwitz – Birkenau, the largest and deadliest German Nazi concentration and death camp. Photo: Massimo Pizzotti / Getty Images. Source: thoughtco.com. / selected by wg.pco