Karuzela na Placu Krasińskich. Studia i szkice z lat wojny i okupacji by Tomasz Szarota. 2008.
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis / My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Polonophobic Tall Tale of the Heartless, anti-Semitic Poles Enjoying Themselves on a Carousel While the Nearby Warsaw Ghetto Burned
THE CAROUSEL AT KRASINSKI SQUARE is the title of this Polish-language book. The author, Tomasz Szarota, is a historian, and his work covers many topics, a few of which I discuss.
By way of introduction to this subject, I use the word “legend” both in the sense of something that may have never taken place, and as something that has very much become a staple of Polonophobic Holocaust lore, irrespective of its factuality. Then again, what do facts matter to the media and to much of the modern Holocaust establishment? If it makes for a better Jewish-victimization, anti-Polish story, why not?
CAMPO DI FIORI
The event, or supposed event, of Poles enjoying themselves on a German-provided carousel, within sight, sound, and smell of the burning Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, was made famous by Czeslaw Milosz in his CAMPO DI FIORI. Since then, innumerable Jewish memoirs and authors (e. g, the media-acclaimed Jan T. Gross) have uncritically repeated it, and the tale has grown taller and taller into “proof” of the inhumanity of the Poles and the incurable nature of Polish anti-Semitism.
NAZI GERMAN PROPAGANDA HAS SINCE BECOME JEWISH PROPAGANDA
Author Tomasz Szarota suggests that the Germans deliberately erected the carousel near the Warsaw Ghetto as a propaganda stunt to showcase the ostensible cold Polish indifference or approval of Nazi acts against the Jews. (p. 150). If so, then this stunt has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its German makers, and it is both ironic and shameful that Jewish sources are promulgating this old Nazi propaganda.
ENJOYING ONESELF DURING UNFOLDING HORRORS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL
In actuality, it was unremarkable for both Poles and Jews to try to enjoy themselves despite the horrors of the German occupation, even in the death camps. This enjoyment was an attempt at normal living, and it had nothing to do with indifference or hostility towards those who were suffering! For example, Jews and others at Auschwitz had dances and made jokes about the smoking chimneys. See my review of I AM ALIVE, by Kitty Hart.
WAS THE CAROUSEL EVEN OPERATIVE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
What actually happened? Szarota cites numerous purported eyewitness accounts (pp. 154-163). They contradict each other as to whether or not the carousel was operative at the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. There is also the problem of ingrafted memories. Those who have claimed to have seen the carousel operating may have been influenced by Milosz. Perhaps the most interesting testimony is that of eyewitness Stefan Bratkowski. He reports that the carousel was inoperative during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and that no one even walked on Bonifraterska Street because of the danger of stray bullets. (p. 161).
In any case, the account of the Poles enjoying themselves on the carousel, while the Germans were burning the Warsaw Ghetto, is of dubious validity. It is high time that Holocaust materials stop presenting it as fact, and beating Poles up over this myth or semi-myth.
Finally, one of the purported eyewitnesses, who actually rode on one of the amusements, was himself Jewish—then 13 year-old Feliks Tych, the eventual director of Poland’s Jewish Historical Institute. (pp. 168-169). Although Szarota does not examine it from this angle, this, following the logic directed against Poles, creates the incongruous situation of a Jew enjoying himself within sight of the burning Ghetto of fellow Jews.
POLISH LOSSES DURING THE GERMAN SEIGE OF WARSAW IN THE 1939 WAR
Szarota presents various statistics on the 1939 German-Soviet conquest of Poland. For instance, he cites Cieplewicz, who estimated that 6,000 Polish soldiers died defending Warsaw and that about 25,000 Warsaw civilians died from German bombing and shelling. (p. 353). During the September 25, 1939, Luftwaffe bombing of Warsaw alone, well over 10,000 Polish civilians perished. This dwarfs the later victims of German bombing at Rotterdam, Coventry, etc. (p. 376).
THE GERMANS TRIED TO DESTROY EVIDENCE OF THEIR CRIMES
On another subject, Szarota elaborates how Germans burned the bodies of victims, on open-air pyres, to hide their crimes. This occurred with the exhumed bodies at Treblinka, and countless other locations in the occupied USSR in the wake of the shootings by the Einsatzgruppen (the Holocaust by Bullets). It also occurred with the Poles murdered in Wola during the Soviet-betrayed Warsaw Uprising. Finally, some of those German officials responsible for burning bodies in the east later put their skills to use to burn thousands of the bodies of Germans following the Allied bombing of Dresden. (pp. 392-393).
POLISH COLLABORATION: VERY UNCOMMON
The author discusses various definitions of this term. For some, the mere dutiful obedience to German commands constituted “collaboration”. (p. 109).
German historian Michael Foedrowitz estimated that up to about 100,000 Polish citizens cooperated with the Germans. (p. 114). Szarota does not examine the implications of this figure. Since there were about 28 million Poles, it means that, at very most, 1 in 280 Poles cooperated with the Germans. However, Szarota points out that Foedrowitz’ figure includes VOLKSDEUTSCHE. Therefore, the actual fraction of ethnic Poles who cooperated with the Germans was far less than 1 in 280.
Furthermore bearing in mind the fact that not all Polish collaborators denounced Jews, and that Poles who assisted Jews were in the 1-2% range (or higher), it is obvious that Poles who denounced Jews were greatly dwarfed by the Poles who assisted Jews.
POLISH SELF-CRITICISM: POLISH STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
The author cites the May 28, 1942, issue of the Underground BIULETYN INFORMACYJNY. It candidly discusses both the positive and negative sides of “Polish traits”. (pp. 429-430). For instance, the Polish hatred of absolutism has the downside of Poles tending to be hostile towards valid authority. The Polish tendency towards opposition towards censorship facilitates Poles becoming easily become divided over comparatively trivial matters. The tendency for Poles to be respectful towards other nationalities and their opinions also leads Poles to be weak-willed. The tendency of Poles to see the humanity of the enemy entices them to be too trusting of others. The Polish survival over 123 years of post-Partition foreign rule also leads them to have too much of a passive “things will work out” attitude.
Now consider a different, large group of Polish officers and their stated opinions on “Polish traits”.
Fully 91% thought of Poles as tolerant, and 9% as intolerant. (p. 435). This is instructive. NeoStalinist authors, and others like them, commonly cite this or that A. K. officer who opined that Nazi anti-Semitism is infecting Poles. This kind of selective citation clearly is intellectually dishonest.
Published with the author’s permission.
The title image: „Karuzela na Placu Krasińskich. Studia i szkice z lat wojny i okupacji” by Tomasz Szarota. 2008. – part of the cover. / Selected by wg.pco