Wednesday, February 21, 2018

On the Polish Question

The Holocaust was a German campaign, planned and committed by Germans.

See important update at end

There were no "Polish concentration camps".

Poles did help, assist and hide Jews, thus saving them.

But that isn't the full picture.

If we want to understand Poland and its Jews, we need to know more which means reading more.

Below are selections I made from history volumes*, all dealing with the period between the World Wars.  Without this background, not the Jews nor the Poles can understand the situation today because the selections do not deal with the Holocaust. They describe the pre-Holocaust atmosphere in Poland, the actions of the Polish governments, the anti-Jewish campaigns - all of which facilitated any later anti-Jewish actions between 1939-1946.

P. S.   Another issue is the Polish underground resistance groups and their relationship with the Jews.  There's a book out and it points to several exacerbating points, foremost the negative stereotype of Judeo-Communism (Żydokomuna) which carried over from the pre-war period into the rivalry between the nationalist and communist groups that were operating (see this review).  The result was that "in northeastern Poland (Lublin, Białystok, Nowogródek, and Wilno), where fighting with Soviet partisans was much higher, the Home Army “increasingly identified local Jews as hostile, pro-Soviet elements” or “Bolshevik-Jewish bands.” It is in these areas that anti-Jewish actions can be traced to the district command. By contrast, cases examined in central Poland (Kielce, Radom) show that violence toward Jews, often tied to robbery, was initiated by local command without approval on the district level." 

He notes on the positive side "two failed attempts, led by Capt. Józef Pszenny – one of the first armed actions of the Home Army – to blow up a section of the ghetto wall, which would allow Jews to flee, followed by seven documented “solidarity actions” by other units against German and Ukrainian auxiliary forces guarding the ghetto walls."  And there was, for example, "a Jewish platoon under the command of Lt. Kazimierz Wojtowicz in the village of Hanaczów (Lwów district), that protected some 250 Jews."

He also points to the "hostility toward Jews under Gen. Komorowski, a sympathizer of the antisemitic National Party" in the period after the summer of 1943.

The reviewer notes:

The underground resistance movement that produced noble figures such as Jadwiga Deneko of the Children’s Section of Żegota, but also coexisted with armed units that killed Jews like that of Marian Sołtysiak “Barabasz,” has puzzled historians for decades. Zimmerman’s framing offers the first comprehensive attempt at synthesizing these seemingly contradictory phenomena.
The books:

Legacy of Polish Jewry

Anti-Semitism and its Opponents in Modern Poland

Social and Political History of the Jews in Poland 1919-1939 

Fear I could not find in time.



From Yehuda Bauer's: My Brother's Keeper: A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939, The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974
Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007) 

Chapter 5. Prelude of the Holocaust 
[A. Destruction of the Jewish existence in Poland 1929-1939]
[5.2. Discrimination and murderous pogroms in anti-Semitic Poland 1935-1939]

(End note 3: Jewish Chronicle, 3/22/35 [22 March 1935], p.22)

[Years 1935-1937: Discrimination of Jewish students from universities enforced]
Late in 1935 the long-standing Endek demand to separate Jewish university students from their non-Jewish colleagues was put into operation in Lwów; the Warsaw Polytechnic followed suit in October 1937, as did the universities of Vilna, Cracow, and Poznan. 

[Since early 1935: Boycotts and pogroms against Jews with stones, fire and many murders]

Starting in early 1935, boycotts of Jews spread all through the Polish countryside. These were followed by pogroms: window-smashing, the overturning of Jewish market stalls, beatings, arson, and finally murder. The details of these brutalities are repetitive and terrible. 

In 1935 pogroms took place at Radomsko in April, at Radosc (near Warsaw) and Grochow in May, at Grodno in May. In December [1935] these isolated occurrences began to harden into a campaign: disturbances in Klwow, Lodz, Katowice, Kielce, and Hrubieszow were followed in January 1936 by attacks on Jews in Cracow and Warsaw, among other places.

On March 9, 1936, a terrible pogrom occurred at Przytyk, where two Jews were killed and many houses burned: Bombs were thrown in those same months in 13 more towns, including Minsk Mazowiecki; there a second pogrom occurred in early June and, after four Jews had been killed, most of the Jewish population left for Warsaw. 

During 1936 and early 1937 the pogroms became a daily occurrence in Poland, and clearly indicated increasingly better oganization. In Czestochowa riots started in June 1937 (p.183)
with a fight between two porters; a well-organized boycott movement against the Jews prolonged the unrest there for months. 
Kahn discerned "carefully planned activities of anti-Semitic elements, in which high government officials participated." In the course of the Czestochowa pogrom, the Endek paper Ganiec Czestochowski gave lists of streets on which Jews had not as yet been robbed. 

75 Jews were wounded in this particular outbreak. 

In May 1937 another outbreak occurred at Brest Litovsk, where a number of Jews were killed and some 200 wounded.

Between May 1935 and January 1937, 118 Jews were killed and 1,350 wounded; 137 Jewish stores were destroyed. A total of 348 separate violent mass assaults on Jews were counted during the period, and the compilation was termed both "unofficial" and "incomplete". Another compilation showed that between the end of 1935 and March 1939, 350 Jews had been killed and 500 wounded.

(End note 7: -- New York Times, 2/7/37 [7 Feb 1937]; 

The wave of pogroms did not abate throughout 1937 and 1938. In August 1937 five severe outbreaks occurred in central Poland, and anti-Jewish demonstrations occurred in seven towns, including the capital.

One result of these events was an increased movement of the Jews from smaller places, where they felt themselves exposed, to the larger towns, where  they thought they would be safer. 
But in early 1938 the riots spread to Warsaw, and from then on attacks on Jews in the larger cities became a normal occurrence. 

Several times the Jews reacted by demonstrations and general strikes (March 1936, May and June 1937). In Warsaw and Lodz the Bund tried to create Jewish self-defense units. These were supported by PPS as well, but police intervention in favor of the pogromists neutralized Jewish opposition.

In 1938 and 1939 the anti-Jewish boycott movement became more and more effective. Again, it was mainly the small Jewish communities that were hit, and in this a parallel to the experience in Germany can clearly be discerned. These boycott actions were usually organized by the Endeks, but by early 1939 the government OZN group also supported them. 

In February 1939 an OZN-inspired boycott in the Lublin area caused Jewish economic life to be "practically ruined".

(End note 11: R61, February 1939)

The number of Jewish stores in town after town decreased, while the Polish stores grew in number, despite the continued economic crisis.

(End note 12: 
-- JDC, 45-publicity, Warszawski Dziennik Narodowy, 4/14/38; 
-- R28-Fortnightly Digest, no. 14 (5/1/38 [1 May 1938], et seq.)

[Early 1939: Poland: Deportations of Jews from the frontier towns]

In early 1939 Jews were forced to leave certain frontier towns because they were considered to be unreliable elements

[1939: Anti-Semitism also in Western and Northwestern Poland]
Riots, pogroms, and boycotts now spread to areas in western and northwestern Poland, where the number of Jews was very small; up till then these areas had been spared from excesses.

(End note 14: 45-publicity, bulletin, 3/10/30 [10 March 1930]; thus a bloody pogrom in Dobrzyn caused "many Jews to be wounded", etc.; at the same time the pogroms did not cease elsewhere).

[April 1936: Poland: Law against ritual slaughter]
Jews, especially observant Jews, who formed the majority of Polish Jewry, were hard hit by Polish laws against ritual slaughter (shehita) enacted in April 1936 and, in a final and drastic form, in March 1939. Not only was religious freedom sharply diminished, but a large number of Jewish butchers and supervisors of ritual slaughter were threatened with economic ruin...

Here too.

Newspaper clippings:


All of the above was avoided now by Poland's Deputy FM.



1946 report basically confirms all of the above.

As noted:

since the early nineteenth century, life for the Polish Jewish community — the largest in Western Europe — was made difficult by anti-Semitism.
“Religious and economic in its origins, Polish anti-Semitism was preached by political parties and church heads and practiced by officials high and low,” according to the report. By 1939, on the eve of the Nazi occupation of Poland, “it was one of the distinguishing factors of the country’s political, social and economic life.”
“Because anti-Semitism had already become so ingrained in Polish thought, it is not altogether surprising that it still manifests itself in post-war Poland, although common suffering at the hand of the Germans might have been expected to bring the Poles and the Jews closer together.”



Anonymous said...

what you've left unexamined is - whether the jewish-heavy (and please remember that I am an IDF veteran) Polish Communists ==actually did== commit treason and/or sedition against Poland, because they estimated that the russkies would succeed to do in Poland what they later ==did== do in (e.g) Latvia & Lithuania, and would personally benefit. The same way that Loretta Lynch thought that secretly meeting Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac would help herself in a bit of time.

This Haganah guy Eli Golomb (spelling?) killed PLENTY of Yishuv Jews during "the season". Funny, you're too scared to talk about THAT.

YMedad said...

A. I love people who comment but totally ignore my information or the conclusions from such.

B. Yes, there were Polish Jewish Communists. Were Hasidim communists? No, so why make pogroms against them? Or restrict shechitah? Is that logical or are
Poles not logical?

C. Exactly how many Jews did Golomb kill? Do you know? Or maybe he didn't? And what about his attempt in 1939 talking with Jabotinsky to reunify the Hagana?