Debunking Max Milstein and His Polonophobic, Fact-Free Essay:
To what extent can the Polish population be implicated in the Nazi campaign to exterminate European Jewry from 1939 to 1945?
By Jan Peczkis
(Max Milstein’s accusations are in italics. My rebuttal is in normal case).
The essay concludes that Poles were significantly implicated in the Nazi campaign to exterminate the European Jewry. Despite some attempts at rescue of Jews and evidence of resistance, the majority of Poles were implicated either by act or by omission.
A prejudicial, sweeping assertion that does not even begin to internalize (as oppose to give lip service to) the realities of the Nazi German occupation of Poland. For details, see:
Crucial to understanding the context of all Polish behaviour is the recognition of its long history of anti-Semitism. Over hundreds of years anti-Semitism had become internalised in Polish culture. This anti-Semitism “had a particularly harmful effect on the population of Poland, “forming an inseparable cultural divide between Jews and Poles….Christian European anti-Semitism – originating from the Jews being labelled the Christ-killers – had existed for millennia.
Yet another attempt read history backwards, and to shift the blame, for the Holocaust, from the Germans (where it belongs) and unto Christianity. To examine the many rhetorical forms by which this blame-shifting is done, see:
If you must search for antecedents to the Holocaust, why not focus on the centuries of German chauvinism, militarism, and racism?
There is no evidence, certainly none presented by Milstein, that traditional Church teachings about Jews had anything to do with any Polish disinclination to aid fugitive Jews.
And, if you must drag religion into it, why not also discuss such things as the Talmudic racism that is part of the Jewish religion?
One Polish-Jewish survivor commented that “years of discrimination and isolation had turned us inward to our own people”.
Playing the victim card. Fact is, the centuries-old Jewish separatism was a constant. It existed in episodes of Jewish persecution as well as during the longer, normal times that Jews were not persecuted.
This further reinforces the Polish myth of zydokomuna – the “unequivocal identification of Jews with communism”.
Typical Jewish-wrongdoing denialism, while always blaming others for the Jews’ problems. The Zydokomuna, and the crimes of the Zydokomuna, are undeniable and inescapable:
Not every Pole was rabidly anti-Semitic. Further, there were some Poles such as, Jerzy Turowicz, a leading Polish Catholic journalist, who claimed that “There is no direct connection between Polish anti-Semitism and the Jewish Holocaust.” Nonetheless, a centuries-long environment of prejudice provided fertile territory to perpetrate the Holocaust on Polish soil.
Moving the goalposts. First trying to connect Christianity to the Holocaust, and now saying that it provided a “fertile ground” for the Holocaust. Again, trying to blame Poland and Christianity for what were unilaterally German crimes.
BTW, Nazism was a secularist philosophy. Its hatred for Jews was driven by secular reasons (e. g., Jewish conduct, as in Weimar Germany). There is zero evidence that it had anything to do with Christianity, or that it had connection to any real or imagined Polish habits. So finally give it a rest.
But even narrower definitions of „perpetrator” would capture several Polish groups. One such group is the people of Jedwabne. On July 10th 1941 “half the population of a small Polish town murdered the other half”…The Jedwabne massacre is an extreme example of Poles as perpetrators.
Parroting Jan T. Gross and his mendacity, and again running history backwards. Jedwabne had nothing to do with the Holocaust: It PRECEDED the Holocaust! In July 1941, the Einsatzgruppen shootings of Jews further East were just beginning, and the death camps were not yet built. So (at worst) no Pole could know, in July 1941, that Jedwabne was anything more than a local act of retaliation against Jews. The eventual German murder of 6 million Jews was not even imagined! So whatever did or did not happen at Jedwabne, do not enlist it as part of the Holocaust, and do not conflate Polish and German acts.
But the evidence of perpetration within the broader sense identified by Goldhagen is extensive; and is expressed by Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Home Army, General Grot-Rowecki, in his report to the government-in-exile in London: “…it as an established fact that an overwhelming majority of the population is anti-Semitic… There are only tactical differences about what to do”.
Ah, the oft-misquoted out-of-context statement of Grot Rowecki yet again. Note, in the original Polish, that Rowecki said that Poles were anti-Semitically inclined, not that they were anti-Semitic—quite a difference. And a little bit of context, please. Rowecki made this remark soon after extensive Jewish-Soviet collaboration had taken place, thus justifiably angering most Poles.
Though the Polish perpetrator population was an “infinitesimal proportion” of Poles they made a “perceptible impression and their venomous voice struck deep”.
Milstein finally gets something right! Polish perpetrators were an “infinitesimal proportion” of the Polish population. So get off the Poles’ case.
The second part of Milstein’s statement—the “perceptible impression” and “struck deep”—is more fact-free spin.
The bystander appeared in many forms, but perhaps the most dangerous manifestation was the oblivious Pole.
The old “bystander” Holocaustspeak is a variant of the “guilt by inaction” insinuation. It can be applied to anybody. What if we were to say that, although most Jews were not Communists, the majority of Jews also did nothing to stop the crimes of the Jewish Communists, and so Jews are thereby collectively guilty?
However, it was Jewish Poles who were explicitly the target of Nazi eliminationist ideology. And consequently, their suffering differed in fundamental ways from the rest of Polish society.
Heinrich Himmler felt similarly: “All Poles will disappear from the world…. It is essential that the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles.”
The second statement is true. Milstein thus refutes himself. In the first statement, he had said that only Jews were “explicitly the target of Nazi eliminationist ideology’. And now he admits they were not. Poles, too, were subject to eventual extermination. It was only to take longer.
However, there were vital differences in the Nazi approach to Jews and Poles. One key difference was while “the Poles were treated as subhumans…the Jews were branded as nonhumans and treated accordingly.” As Krakowski notes “terror against the Jews and the Poles differed not only in intensity, but also in quality.” While “anti-Polish terror was selective…anti-Jewish terror was total, encompassing all segments of the Jewish population without exception.”
Subhumans and nonhumans—antics with semantics. Fact is, the Nazis regularly juxtaposed Gypsies, Jews, and Poles as objects of contempt and murder. The German-murdered Pole was just as dead as the German-murdered Jew. The murder of Poles was hardly selective: Any Pole, like any Jew, could be murdered by the Germans at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.
For more on the oft-repeated myths that undergird the supremacy of the Jews’ Holocaust over the genocides of all other peoples, see:
Polish victimhood should not be dismissed; it was immense and understandably shaped the national psyche. But it has also corrupted the capacity of the nation (and many of its historians) to fearlessly confront and analyse Polish implication in the Holocaust.
Exactly the same can be said about Jewish victimhood and Jewish wrongdoing. That is why Jews are incapable of facing up to the dark chapters of their history.
However, Zegota’s bravery proved the exception to the sad rule; as Kuperhand’s noted „For every noble Pole who risked all to rescue a fellow human being, there were ten scoundrels who hunted Jews for a livelihood.”
Another totally baseless assertion, and an emotional one spoken by a Holocaust survivor.
While Germany had no interest in seeking Polish collaboration – regarding Poland as „a nation without a future” – some Poles sought to collaborate. In fact, Poles were quite willing to serve the Nazi cause and it was only Hitler’s decision that he could do without Polish allies that put an end to their hopes. Ultimately, as Hilberg states: “in German eyes they were not even worthy of that role.”
Total nonsense. The Germans did seek—vainly—the quisling services of the likes of Wladyslaw Studnicki, Prince Janusz Radziwill, and even Jan Karski. No Pole of any significant prewar stature agreed to serve the Nazis.
Some Poles were in this way able to benefit economically, socially and psychologically, while maintaining an ostensibly clear conscience as the Germans exterminated European Jewry.
And exactly could be said of those Jews who personally benefited from the Partition Powers’ rule over Poland, while ostensibly keeping a clean conscience about their conduct during the Partitions themselves.
While there existed the “Righteous Gentiles”, who rescued Jews, their impact was minimal and they were severely outnumbered by those who were complicit…
Ingratitude towards Polish rescue of Jews. And yet another totally unsupported statement in this fact-free article.
Published with the author’s permission.
The title image: Public execution of Michał Kruk and several other Polish people from Przemyśl, Poland, committed by the Germans on 6 September 1943 as capital punishment for trying to hide local Jews. Source: en.Wikipedia.org / selected by wg.pco