Lanzmann Lies: Polish Cut-Throat Gesture was a Warning to Jews, Not a Mockery of Them

SHOAH Lanzmann Cut-Throat Gesture Unmasked. Jewish Prejudices. Witold Pilecki Confirmed. Fromer

The Holocaust Odyssey of Daniel Bennahmias, Sonderkommando, by Rebecca Fromer. 1993

Jewish Service to the Nazis, Misrepresented Gestures, Jewish Antagonisms to Other Jews, Witold Pilecki Corroboration

Danny Bennahmias, a Greek Jew, was one of the few body-removing Jewish sonderkommandos at Auschwitz who survived the experience. His experiences shed light on various aspects of Jewish life and the German-made Holocaust.


Fromer thus describes the Nazi roundup of Greek Jews, and the Jews’ reaction, “They went into hiding in occupied Athens or in the villages and mountains of Free Greece, or they escaped to Turkey through the Resistance network. Only a few of these were caught in the roundups of communities throughout Central Greece during the Passover night of March 24-25, 1944, or during subsequent arrests in Athens. The Germans were assisted in these roundups by several Jewish traitors, including Pepo and Costa Recanati. Among the few Salonikans arrested were Danny Bennahmias and his family.” (p. xiii).


In his SHOAH, Claude Lanzmann shows a Polish peasant performing a cut-throat gesture, and the audience is led to believe that the peasant was mocking the Jews and their fate. In actuality, the cut-throat gesture is fairly standard, has no connotations of mockery, and is a warning gesture.

When starting his gruesome job of disposing bodies at Auschwitz as a sonderkommando, Daniel Bennahmias had this experience with a Polish Jew who was also a sonderkommando, “Only this much is clear: he [Danny] touched the first body with his bare hands, and then he collapsed. When he came to, it was to the discovery that someone had slapped him into consciousness. This kind soul was a Polish Jew–Koczak–and he took Danny aside, backtracking into the changing room and from there into a little room where minor things were incinerated. ‘Listen, you,’ he said. ‘You have to work, or the Germans will kill you.’ ‘But I want to work,’ Danny cried. In quarantine, he had acquired the rudiments of German, but Koczak would not risk a misunderstanding. He ran his finger decisively across his throat from ear to ear and warned emphatically, ”Kaput! You’re gone!’ On that day, Danny fainted four times–and each of those four times, the Polish Jew revived him…” (pp. 40-41).


The question of prejudice involving Jews is almost always framed in terms of Poles accused of being the prejudiced ones (antisemitism). However, no nationality has a monopoly on either virtue or vice. Prejudices were very much in evidence between Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardic Jews. Fromer comments, “The Greek prisoners were in a special situation, denigrated by the Polish and other northern Ashkenazi Jews, who called them ”cholera’ and ‘korva’ (whores). When Cohen complained to Koczak, the latter replied that the Ashkenazim were churls and boors who looked down on the Sephardim, avoiding them except when they wanted gold to trade. This animosity of Ashkenazim toward the Sephardim runs like a refrain through nearly all of the Greek memoirs, and it is certainly suggested by Danny.” (p. xxi)


Author Rebecca Fromer comments, “The Polish Gentiles, who were the first prisoners in Auschwitz, were able to set up a sophisticated network that was able to smuggle individuals and information in and out of the camps; in addition, they were able to protect various persons deemed important to their mission of chronicling the atrocities and in preparing for the revenge they hoped to take when the Germans lost the war.” (p. xx)

The author then repeats the canned complaint that the Auschwitz Poles found it worthwhile to fight back for the Poles, but not for the Jews. What she forgets is that the Auschwitz Poles also did not resist the murders of hundreds of thousands of Poles at Auschwitz!

Jan Peczkis

Published with the author’s permission.

Source: Jews & Poles DATEBASE.

The title image: The arrival of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in German-occupied Poland, June 1944. (Credit: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images). Source: / Selected by wg.pco

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