Monday, February 24, 2014

"Bieganski" Goes to Poland; High Castle Publishing to Publish "Bieganski" in Polish

Dear Polonian Friends and Colleagues,

Dumb Polacks, Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites, Polish concentration camps: what can we do about these stereotypes? Our proud immigrant ancestors, heroes like Jan Karski and Irena Sendler: how can we tell our story?

Today you don't have to wait for someone else to do something. Today you can be the someone who does something.

High Castle Publishing – Wydawnictwo Wysoki Zamek – plans to bring "Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype in American Popular Culture and Polish-Jewish Relations" to Poland.

To do so, Jacek Tokarski needs several thousand dollars to fund translation.

Mr. Tokarski is currently approaching Polish institutions in search of those funds.

It would be testimony to Polonia's dedication and vitality if average Polonians could contribute, both in terms of funds and organizing.

Individual Polonians can do three things:

1.) Donate to High Castle's translation fund. You can contact Jacek Tokarski via his company's homepage here. You can also contact him via his Facebook page here, and the Wysoki Zamek Facebook page here.

2.) Distribute this appeal. Encourage other Polonians to donate to the translation fund.

3.) If you really want to make a significant contribution, consider setting up a Kickstarter page or a YouCaring page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don't send me any money! Other than posting this announcement, I will take no part in fundraising.

The funds go directly to Jacek Tokarski at High Castle Publishing, and he will devote the funds directly to translation.

After you donate, and after you disseminate this appeal, CONGRATULATE YOURSELF ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE. You didn't stand by and wait for someone else to make the world a better place. YOU made the world a better place.

Below please find a fundraising letter. Please do disseminate it widely. Thank you.


Dear Polonian Friends and Colleagues,

Polish concentration camps, dumb Polacks, Polack jokes, Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites: these anti-Polish stereotypes anger us and break our hearts. We know about the heroism of Poles like Witold Pilecki, Jan Karski and Irena Sendler. It is our duty to ensure that our story is told in media, in classrooms, and in the political arena. We want to do something, but what?

I write today to invite you to join in the fight against the brute Polak stereotype.

My name is Jacek Tokarski and I represent Wysoki Zamek publishing. We have published a number of books about World War II and the Holocaust in Poland. Now I'm asking you to help me bring to Polish audiences a prize-winning scholarly book that fights stereotyping.

"Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype" smashes the stereotype of Poles as anti-Semitic brutes. "Bieganski" was first published in English as part of a series edited by Antony Polonsky, the world's premier scholar of Polish-Jewish relations. "Bieganski" has been endorsed by Rabbi Michael Herzbrun, Polish-American poet and professor John Guzlowski, and Prof. James P. Leary. Father John T. Pawlikowki, chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council's Subcommittee on Church Relations called "Bieganski" "An important contribution to improved Polish-Jewish understanding."

The Shofar Journal of Jewish Studies called it "Groundbreaking." American Jewish History said that Bieganski points out that the Brute Polak stereotype "gives the illusion of absolving those who failed in their own test of humanity" during the Holocaust. "Bieganski" was the subject of a cover story in Tygodnik Powszechny, and it won the PAHA Halecki Award.

Author Danusha Goska is a prize-winning writer who has been an invited speaker at Brandeis, Georgetown, Indiana University Bloomington, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Bieganski" is the only scholarly book dedicated to demolishing the stereotype of Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites.

"Bieganski" will provide Polish readers with a new perspective on their own history, a perspective that they cannot gain from any other single source. They will understand Polish-Jewish relations as they never have before.

To realize the goal of publishing "Bieganski" in Poland in Polish, Wysoki Zamek must raise approximately $4000 to fund translation.

Donors will be recognized prominently in the book itself. Major donors will be thanked in the programs of any speaking engagements.

Please donate toward this worthy cause. Any amount can help. I am also asking you for help in identifying potential donors. The sooner we put the task of fundraising behind us, the sooner a Polish-language version of this important book can contribute to the fight against stereotyping.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you. 


  1. It is a sad commentary on the world we live in that "Bieganski" is such a necessary book. Here is my experience, as told on your facebook today:

    I have just had a brief and not pleasant email correspondence with Debbie Schlussel re a phrase she used in a recent blogposting. She had said:

    "In November 1998, I went undercover to the Islamic Center of America–the largest mosque in North America–to hear the anti-Semitic speech of Nation of Islam speaker Louis Farrakhan. I felt like I was at a Nazi rally and had an inkling of how my Holocaust survivor grandparents must have felt in Nazi-infested Europe and anti-Semitic Poland before they were hauled off to the camps."

    I pointed out politely (of course) the Bieganski angle there. The only country specifically singled out is Poland - not even one member of the Axis gets so much as a mention.

    She has removed my response from the site, and would not publish my response to a response I got before it was removed (does that sentence make sense?). I emailed her personally - and politely once again - pointing out the neat and nasty little Catch 22 we are trapped in. If I protest the way Poland - a target of the Nazis, not an ally of them - is singled out as THE Nazi country then I am (I quote) "defending and promoting Polish anti-semitism". But if I don't protest it, then or course it must be right.

    Either way, I am in the wrong. I told her, truthfully, that I thought it an interesting challenge and would be prepared to tackle it, if she would let me - and assured her that I would always do my best to keep to "the law of loving-kindness".

    So the point of this long-winded anecdote is that Bieganski issues - or as I less neatly define them: Bambi's mother issues - have been on my mind today. So, yes, it has been called a necessary book. And it is.

    1. Sue, thank you for posting this here.

      That has happened to me more times than I can count.

      Yes, we acknowledge that there is and was anti-Semitism in Poland, that anti-Semitism is a terrible thing, and we want to work to eliminate it.

      We also insist that the Bieganski stereotype, that turns Poland and Polish ethnicity into a synonym for Nazism, is an ethical and intellectual crime that should concern every good person. Bieganski distorts WW II and Holocaust history.

      I hope that Polonia will step up to the plate here and that High Castle Publishing receives the funds it needs to translate Bieganski into Polish.

  2. Best wishes Danusha and Wysoki Zamek! I look forward to supporting this project.

    1. Kimberly Wachtel your willingness to take action and support this project inspires me. Thank you.

  3. Congratulations! Yes, this book is very necessary, especially in an academic context. For instance, last week I was talking with a student in a college writing class about anti-Polish stereotypes. The students in his class are working on a research paper about parody commercials, and during class we discussed the implied stereotypes of ethnic groups in some recent TV ads. During the course of the discussion, I mentioned that as an identifiable Polish American (because of my last name), I'm often struck by how people I meet want to tell me Polish jokes and then watch how I respond. The response in the classroom was interesting. One student seemed skeptical that there are enough people of Polish descent in America to make their stereotyping important enough to care about! She said, "who even knows anyone who's Polish?" I said that I generally have at least one student in every class who has a Polish name, and that would not even indicate all the people who are part Polish.

    After class, a student who is 1/4 Polish (but who has a German last name), told me that he has had the same experience any time he tells someone he is part Polish: the person starts telling him Polish jokes and he feels unsure of how to respond! This student is only about twenty years old, and he has already experienced Bieganski stereotyping.

    Linda Kornasky

    1. Yes, Linda, I didn't come across this until we became expats and lived in what was effectively small-town America. I wouldn't say that I heard these "jokes" often - but then again I am married and so my name is not Polish. But I do remember becoming friendly with a lovely American girl - an artist - we have one of her pieces in our flat now. She had married, for the second time, a Polish guy. And she told me she had got a real shock at the reaction she was getting from many of her fellow expats when she or her husband identified as Polish. She had had no idea before.

      But of course its been carefully nurtured.

      How to deal with it? Its not easy. I mention above the political Catch 22 we are in - re the second (and clashing) part of the stereotype. We are both as thick as two short planks, AND the evil geniuses behind the horrors of WW2 - the horrors that have political weight that is.

      But, and I can't find the words to say just how helpful this advice has been to me - shortly after I began to find out about all this I began a serious study of the Inspired Scriptures.

      And we have a perfect template to follow. Peter says, of Jesus: "When [Jesus] was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening".—1 Pet. 2:23.

      If we follow that, and don't retaliate in kind, it will be such a safeguard and such a help. I notice for example, that when Debbie Schlussel puts up one of her provocative posts she elicits a lot of reviling in return. When that is from Poles - or, to be fair, people who SAY they are Polish, she can then post their replies and say: See, I told you how awful these people are.

      I have often wondered if one reason for all this is to goad us into behaving badly.

  4. Congratulations!

    Once the Polish language version of BIEGANSKI comes out, and is on Amazon, I will be happy to write a Polish-language review of it.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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