Friday, February 12, 2016

Poles = Pigs: Michal Karski on Art Spiegelman's Maus

By Michal Karski 
Art for the Sake of Spiegelman

by Michal Karski

Cartoonist Art Spiegelman is probably familiar with the name of Carl Barks. Barks was considered by many as the best artist who ever drew for the Walt Disney Comics and Stories series, and in particular he was the individual responsible for inventing Duckburg and for creating the character of Scrooge McDuck. The Donald Duck series of comics featured a host of characters including the irascible Donald himself, his girlfriend Daisy, his mischievous nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, the unbelievably lucky Gladstone Gander, the miserly Uncle Scrooge, the wacky inventor Gyro Gearloose (with his tiny lightbulb-headed assistant) and many others.

I came across the work of Barks in very early youth and, like many other readers, I could distinguish his artwork from that of the other illustrators working for the Disney stable. He wrote his own story lines if I remember rightly and in fact it was Barks who introduced me to the Greek myths in his Donald Duck adventures, long before I came across the Iliad and Odyssey or read any Robert Graves.

Donald’s home town Duckburg was more or less supposed to be a typical town somewhere in the USA. The residents were made up of all kinds of animals: birds like Donald of course, but also dogs, cats, non-descript mammals of various kinds and pigs, too, made an appearance. There was not, however, any attempt to identify a particular animal with any kind of human or group of humans. They were all citizens of Duckburg.

In Maus, Art Spiegelman takes a different approach. He is not the first person by any stretch of the imagination to rely on anthropomorphism - the ascribing of human traits to individual animal species. Aesop had already done so in antiquity with his fables, but Aesop’s simple tales, unlike Spiegelman’s complex, clearly autobiographical and very personal Maus, are not placed on the shelves of public libraries in the History section.

Spiegelman is perfectly entitled to his own point of view about people and nations, but whether his own very subjective viewpoint should be used as a teaching aid is another question. If his work is to be used in this way in classrooms, as a representation of life (and death) and conditions in wartime Poland, then I would suggest that the work of Carl Barks, mentioned above, deserves an equally prominent place in those same classrooms (and in the History or Sociology sections of public libraries) as an accurate representation of life in small-town America.

Unlike some Poles and Polonians, I am not necessarily saying that Maus should not be the subject of academic study. It might be studied at university level, for instance, as an example of inherited trauma but certainly not as an illustration of what really went on during the war. Although many readers find Spiegelman’s association of non-Jewish Poles with pigs extremely offensive, and I am certainly among them, nevertheless he is perfectly entitled to his opinion, if that’s how he feels about Poles.

What he is not entitled to do is to distort historical facts. For instance, in one sequence, he depicts pigs happily giving the Nazi salute and saying ‘Heil Hitler’ to each other. In which universe would this have been the norm, as Spiegelman is clearly saying? Christian and other non-Jewish Poles hated the Hitlerites as deadly enemies and the only ones who would have collaborated would have been the Volksdeutsche, Polish citizens of German ethnic origin and even then, no sane Volksdeutscher would have dared to betray his pro-Nazi sympathies to just any random Pole for fear of being exposed and subsequently executed by the Resistance as a traitor.

By rights, this sub-group of collaborators should have been drawn as a different creature altogether, but this would have complicated the cartoonist’s simplistic world view. Spiegelman makes no fine distinctions. In his world, pigs are Poles in general and Poles in general are Nazi sympathisers.

Maus is undoubtedly a heartfelt and moving story of enormous tragedy and loss and also the chronicle of one person’s attempt to reconcile his own ambiguous feelings towards his father with the knowledge of the absolute hell his parents went through. But as personal and tragic as the story of the Spiegelman family may be, it should not be taken as a serious study guide to the horrendous events of the Holocaust, coloured as it is with the cartoonist’s own prejudices and imaginings. His extremely biased and counter-factual version of history should not be imposed on very young readers, especially not as a simplified version of a subject as monumentally serious and complex as the Holocaust.

If any other cartoonist had depicted any other ethnic group as pigs, there may well have been legal action for defamation or at least for ‘hate speech’. Spiegelman himself might argue that pigs can be cute (Porky Pig, etc.) but such an argument could never be taken seriously in the context of Maus. He may even point to his drawing of a saintly pig in the concentration camp. Unfortunately, the very depiction of (Christian or otherwise non-Jewish) Poles as pigs in the first place is nothing more or less than – in the words of the editors of The Norton Anthology of American Literature* – “a calculated insult”.

Perhaps it’s not so much Art Spiegelman himself who deserves opprobrium, but the US educational system which has hyped his comic book out of all proportion and uses it as a shortcut and a substitute for the difficult process of expecting young students to deal with words and ideas rather than to absorb information simply through pictures. Spiegelman is certainly a cartoonist, but a Holocaust scholar? Well…let me put some questions to Mr Spiegelman.

Do you know anyone in the world who would take it as a compliment to be called a pig, Mr S? A generation has grown up in the shadow of Maus. Thanks in part to your cartoon, Poles are routinely labelled as ‘anti-Semitic’. The librarian who lent me your book told me he had read it and was very moved by it. I wonder if he thought, as he was checking out the book on my library ticket, that I was one of those beastly pigs since my surname is clearly Polish. Why should that have crossed my mind? I resent even having to consider anything like that.

Any regrets at all, Art? There’s always scope for a “Maus Three: The Part Where Art Admits He Was Not Always Smart”.

* quoted in “The Problems with Spiegelman’s MAUS: Why MAUS Should Not Be Taught in High Schools or Elementary Schools” – Canadian Polish Congress, June 2015 found here


  1. Very good cartoon, and very good points in this blogspot.

    There can be no scintilla of doubt about the reason that Art Spiegelman had portrayed Poles as pigs. Spiegelman finally ADMITTED that he had done so intentionally to make Poles look bad. To see this documented, please click on my name in this specific posting.

    1. Spiegelman's cartoon is effective because of the simplicity of the concept, which is also its fatal weakness, as I argue above. Your own 'Counter-Maus' idea sounds a bit too complex to be effective. Personally, I wouldn't make the Soviets bears. If anything, bears should be the Poles themselves. As we know, bears can be very cute and cuddly but they can also be dangerous and deadly.

      But I doubt very much if Art Spiegelman will ever admit he made a mistake. The best that can be hoped for is that his 'Maus' book is withdrawn from classrooms and only made available to students who have a basic grasp of the issues involved in the Holocaust.

  2. Great article and love the cartoon Michal.

  3. Yes - I can't see it as anything else but a calculated insult. And isn't it there to underline the fact that we are on the "unter" page in The Handbook of Political Correctness.

    Which surely goes to show that nothing has been learnt from the horrors of WW2 despite all the intensive, if selective, memorialising.

    Maus is also useful when talking to those who believe we are making a fuss about nothing. Maus sets it out very clearly. And to further underline it, Dr.Goska records in her book "Bieganski" how Professor Bob Lamming lost both job and career after making a polite protest about the teaching of Maus at his Catholic College.

  4. @ Otto & Sue. Thanks to both of you for the positive feedback.

    I might add that if Art Spiegelman's father was bitter about his experiences with Poles, for whatever reason, then Art has obviously inherited this bitterness and perhaps this is understandable. My mother lost both parents in the Gulag and she was always bitter about her experience in the USSR, but at the same time, even though she would shudder at the thought of Russia, she did recall the occasional decent and kind Russian or other Soviet citizen. Spiegelman may argue that not all of his pigs are evil. But a pig is a pig, which is the point that seems to elude US educators.

  5. I think that we be careful not to speak of Art Spiegelman making a mistake. It was no mistake! It was intentional, and all the worse that Spiegelman persists in his undisguised and self-admitted Polonophobia.

    Art Spiegelman's conduct is inexcusable A Jewish person (or his son), who had bad experiences with Poles, is no more excused from demonizing Poles, than a Pole who, was defrauded by a Jew, is thereby excused from publically portraying Jews collectively as fraudsters.

    As for me, I will not take the usual talk of Polish-Jewish reconciliation seriously until I see large groups of Jews, and especially influential Jews, publically denounce MAUS and call for its removal from the classroom.

    As for my proposed "counter-MAUS" cartoon, MUNGO, I had thought that the bear should be the Soviets, because the Bear was already the recognized symbol of the Soviet Union, especially during the Cold War. In no sense was the Bear innocent or cute.

    I see Michal Karski's point that my proposed "counter-MAUS" cartoon, MUNGO, could be too complex. But that is because most people are historically illiterate. Of course, this could be a accomodated by drawing a simpler version of MUNGO, wherein we only have the snakes (Nazi Germans), mongooses (Poles), and rodents (Jews). This would capture the essence of Nazi German aggression, Poland's heroic but futile combat against this aggression, and the Jews as ones specifically hunted and targeted by the Nazis.

    1. I'm sorry but I see absolutely no value in portraying Jews as "rodents" (which rodents specifically?)

      The old maxim of 'two wrongs don't make a right' comes to mind.

  6. Plus, I've just re-read your 'Counter-Maus' scenario and you propose 'clean rats' and 'dirty rats' to symbolize two sorts of Jews. Isn't that even worse than pigs? There is no such thing as a "clean rat". A rat is a rat just as a pig is a pig.

  7. My choice of two kinds of rats is explained in my description of MUNGO, the proposed “counter-MAUS” cartoon. Again, please click on my name in this specific posting, and take the time to read my review, to learn the details of my proposals and to answer your questions.

    If, however, MUNGO in its present form is too complex, as suggested by Michal Karski, then I could leave the Jews=mice equation as it now exists in MAUS.

    MAUS is an unvarnished act of aggression against Poles and Poland. It must finally be answered forcefully, and not with polite reasoning and niceties.

    My choice of Jews=rats would get Art Spiegelman hoisted on his own petard. It would call Spiegelman on his dissimulations.


    Spiegelman would have us believe that he is just copying Nazi motifs when he makes Poles into pigs. Fine then. Jews=rats is just as much a Nazi construct as is Jews=mice. Touche!

    Spiegelman would have us believe that Poles=pigs is no big deal, because all the characters are animals, and “it is all the same” whatever the choice of animal. Very good. Then Jews=rats is “all the same” as Jews=mice. Touche!

    Finally, when Art Spiegelman and his fans would holler about MUNGO, we should, quoting Spiegelman’s own words, remind him that he is now “squealing like a pig”. Touche!

    1. Good luck with finding a cartoonist who would draw your story.

    2. Yep. I would like to find a Pole with the courage to draw it and other Poles with the courage to promote it. Until they do, I am afraid that nothing will change. We will continue being dumped on by MAUS.

    3. That was supposed to be ironic. In other words, I doubt if you would find anyone willing to illustrate your ideas. I repeat: two wrongs don't make a right.

    4. Jan I agree with you in feeling that this is a deliberate and calculated insult. Pigs/swine is an insult any time anywhere. Not sure why, given that pigs are part of Jehovah's wonderful creation - but we do live in a world ruled by Satan at the moment. And Michal I agree very much with you about not retaliating in kind. I think it is of great credit to us Poles/Polonians that we don't seem to be writing the ProfessorJanGross type of book vilifying Russians or Germans, in spite of the horrors of the last century.

      Psalm 37 gives us some perfect advice. It begins this way:
      "Do not be upset because of evil men Or envious of wrongdoers.   They will quickly wither like grass And shrivel like green new grass.   Trust in Jehovah and do what is good; Reside in the earth, and act with faithfulness.   Find exquisite delight in Jehovah, And he will grant you the desires of your heart..."

      But please do read it all. It shows us that our Creator knows just how "the world" is going to make us feel, it tells us exactly the right way to deal with it, and above all it tells us what Jehovah is going to do about it.

      All we have to do is to trust Him with all our heart and do things His way. That way, we keep the high moral ground. It is not us Poles/Polonians who have written books calling other people "swine" and inciting hatred and contempt for them. Let's keep it that way.

      My parents were very good about this actually, they did teach us not to speak badly about others, and certainly never to condemn whole nations. So I can be grateful that I had good parents - and sorry for others who I have to assume from what they write did not.

      I did address this in a poem - the last poem I ever wrote - many years ago. I will post it separately, in case, Danusha, you don't want my poem in your blog.

    5. GROWN-UPS?
      by me

      Grown-ups had made us
      Bomb sites to play on
      Wasn’t that grand?
      They’d sown the sea
      With fireworks
      To explode on the sand
      Us kids played at war
      But who were the baddies?
      Now no-one was sure
      Was it the Germans?
      The big boys said No
      Baddies were Russians
      But how did they know?
      Don’t call people Enemies!
      Daddy said it with passion
      We didn’t go shopping
      We went for our rations
      Daddy went to work
      Six days of seven
      To Silverdale,
      Planning new Eden
      We always found mummy
      At home, in the kitchen
      Then Farewell Coles Corner
      Au Revoir Trams
      Goodbye Bomb Site
      Hello Building Site
      The brave new world began.
      Grown-ups soon made us
      Landmines to play on
      Sunk into sand
      Finely adjusted for leg
      Or small hand
      Us kids played at war
      But who were the baddies?
      Now no-one was sure.

  8. @Jan

    We’ve been through this before and the only reason I wouldn’t accuse you of outright anti-Semitism is that you have expressed your admiration for people like the heroic Berek Joselewicz elsewhere. It has to be said though, that skimming through your various book reviews, I do get the impression that you rarely miss an opportunity to slam Jews in general and your ‘Counter-Maus’ scenario (which I admit I did not read in detail the first time around) is quite as offensive as ‘Maus’ itself.

    Why the extremely negative attitude towards Jews? I’m not asking for a history lesson here, the post-partition allegiances etc, etc. I’m talking about personal experience. Far be it from me to want to be your shrink, but I mentioned before my mother’s experience in the USSR. Thanks mostly to Ribbentrop and Molotov, not to mention Herr Hitler and Comrade Stalin, I never knew my grandparents – (my paternal grandmother died before the war). In fact, I never even understood what was meant by the term grandparents. But I don’t hate the Russians or the Germans. What’s your beef with the Jews? Is there something in your family history you’d like to share? Otherwise you sound like some of these extremists in Poland nowadays who have never actually met a Jew in their lives, but who dislike all Jews in theory – and end up burning them in effigy.

    As hateful and offensive as Spiegelman’s cartoon is, you can’t accuse him of not being open about the source of his hatred.

  9. I think when someone as irenic as Michal Karski says that someone comes across as antisemitic, it's really time to sit up and pay attention.

    1. Interesting. My focus was exclusively on Spiegelman and MAUS, the subject of this thread, and you are the ones that brought up Jews, not I!

      But, OK. Let us stop burying our heads in the sand and face reality. Mountains and mountains of vile things about Poles and Poland have been said and written—and at least 90% of these have been written by Jews. MAUS is just the tip of the iceberg.

      The standard narrative is this: Poles are good only insofar they agree with Jews. And Jews can say anything that they want about others, but if they are criticized then, oh dear, it is anti-Semitism. Surely you know by now that I do not play these games.

      Yes, please study history—ALL of history. It does not fit the standard rewritten history taught today—the dialectic of the anti-Semitic Pole and the all-innocent, victimized Jew.

      I am a Judeo-realist. I go where the evidence leads me. I do not support positions that cannot be backed up with evidence, and that usually from Jewish sources.

      If Jews want to criticize others, then they must learn to accept valid criticism. When the Jews stop attacking Poland, then I will stop criticizing Jews and their conduct. Is that a deal?

      Above all, let us not let Jews, or anyone else for that matter, tell us what we can and cannot think and say.

      Finally, I perceive these two recent posts as decidedly non-irenic, and even a borderline attack on me personally. Let us stay focused on the subject at hand in each blog thread. In this case, it is MAUS and cartoons.

      What kind of excuse are you making for Spiegelman--in that that he is open about the source of his hatred? So what!

    2. One of the recent anti-Polish attacks was the letter in the Belfast Telegraph which was highlighted on this blog recently and that was written by an Irishman. Even the tone of the otherwise meticulously researched 'Schindler's Ark' is decidely unfavourable to Poles in general and the author, of course, is Australian. So it's you who seem to be focussing exclusively on the role of Jews.

      But you didn't actually answer my question. Is there a personal reason for your hostility or are you just a theoretician? And I'm not excusing Spiegelman, only trying to understand his motivation.

    3. Michal Karski "One of the recent anti-Polish attacks was the letter in the Belfast Telegraph which was highlighted on this blog recently and that was written by an Irishman. Even the tone of the otherwise meticulously researched 'Schindler's Ark' is decidely unfavourable to Poles in general and the author, of course, is Australian. "

      I've pointed this out to Jan and others who focus on Jews many times.

      If , God forbid, every Jew on earth were to disappear, Bieganski would live on.

      Madison Grant, Adolph Hitler, Bismarck, Catherine the Great, Voltaire ...

      Focusing on Jews as if they were the problematic other is a dead end strategy, and it is overtly antisemitic.

    4. The book Schindlers List was not anti-polish, as i remember it. But i assumed that the Hollywood version of the book - Schindlers Ark - would be, so I didn't watch it

      I try to avoid the product of Hollywood anyway.

    5. The film was actually very moving and, in spite of the famous scene in which the horrible girl shouts "Goodbye Jews", was not essentially anti-Polish. I'm not even saying the book was anti-Polish as such, just "decidedly unfavourable to Poles". There’s a marginal difference and I’ll explain why at the risk of straying too far from ‘Maus’.

      I have no reason to doubt that some anti-Semitic individuals were happy to see the Jews being removed from their homes and this is chronicled in Keneally’s book. What is not made clear is that the ones in a crowd who shout loudest are usually the only ones heard. Were there also those who were silent and terrified in the same crowd? We will never know.

      In fairness to Keneally, he does highlight the heroism of the pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz, but one phrase of his which struck me and which rather seemed to betray the author's attitude to the Poles in general was the way he described Schindler's secretary Klonowska. Whether this woman was an active German collaborator or just working for the Germans in order to ensure her own survival is not quite clear, but in any case Keneally writes this in Chapter Thirty-Three, page 331: “The racy Klonowska, that chic Polish patriot, stayed behind in Cracow...” Patriot? How is she a patriot working for the Germans? This is a touch of sarcasm on the part of Keneally which spoils an otherwise worthy book.

    6. I did not answer Michal Karski's question because I think that my personal life is irrelevant, and because I perceive a mildly condescending insinuation behind the question. But no, I do not form my opinions based on individual personal experiences. I focus on group dynamics and group trends.

      You want to focus on the 10% (if it is even that). I will focus on the 90%. Besides, where do you think that the Irish author, of the Belfast Telegraph article, learned his Polonophobia? I doubt if some demon visited him at night and put ideas into his head, and I doubt even more if it was from reading Catherine the Great, or Voltaire!

      How many Americans have Pole-hostile opinions because of reading Bismarck or Hitler, and how many have Pole-hostile opinions because of all the mountains of Holocaust-related Polonophobia?

      Back to the topic at hand. How many millions of American children and teens have had their minds poisoned against Poles by MAUS? And how many have even heard of, let alone read, Catherine the Great, Voltaire, etc.

  10. Mr Peczkis, I am not insinuating anything. I agree with you that an entire generation may well have been poisoned against Poles by 'Maus' and that is pretty much what I'm saying above. The only reason I asked about your own personal experience is to try to figure out what makes you so.....un-philo-Semitic (to coin a phrase)

  11. So now you have your answer to my question.

    And now we are talking about SCHINDLER'S LIST. It is more of the same.

    1). Was the scene, of the Polish girl cheering Jews sent to their deaths, an essential component of a work honoring the German industrialist Oskar Schindler? Hardly.

    2). Does the scene induce the American viewer to have a more positive view of Poles, or a more negative view of Poles? Silly question.

    3). Did Steven Spielberg know this? Unless he was incredibly naïve, or unless we are incredibly naïve, he surely did.

    Yet he included it.

    Let us call it what it is--an anti-Polish cheapshot that was calculated to influence the opinions of millions of viewers. And it did.

  12. The shouting girl is not a cheap shot if it was based on the truth. The cheap shot is the description of Klonowska as a "patriot".

    1. It is NOT based on the truth. According to most Jewish testimonies (I have read and reviewed quite a few), Poles usually showed sympathy to Jews, and very rarely mocked the doomed Jews. Yet the viewer of SCHINDLER"S LISTS is led to believe that it was the norm.

      In any case, the scene has NOTHING to do with the plot of the story of Oskar Schindler. It is dragged into the story.

      The cheap shot exists for one purpose only--the denigration and defamation of Poles and Poland.

    2. As I often note the facts of WW2 simply don't fit the current political agenda. Poland is being moved into the Axis, in that it is being made responsible for the crimes of its Nazi occupiers. Whereas the other countries that were in the Axis were quietly sent down the Memory Hole years ago.

      They are certainly not vilified as Poland, which fought on the Allied side, is. And its not that I am wanting them to be. What all this has helped me to see clearly is that WW2 was Hitler and Stalin going head to head and that both sides did some terrible ungodly things.

    3. Who knows what the truth is any more with so much spin? But I do not remember the cheering scene from the book, so the director must have added it.

      I note these constant drops of poison in the media. For example I was reading the biography of that amazing writer Shirley Jackson, and came across this gratuitous bit of untering:

      "Joanne was aware of disappointing Shirley on another level as well... and she was the Polack on this beautiful family tree."
      "Private Demons", by Judy Oppenheimer,Fawcett Columbine 1988,p.201

      The Polack on the beautiful family tree. A clear signal that we are on the "unter" page in The Horrid Handbook of Political Correctness.

      a la Maus, you know that the book would not have been publishable had she untered a PC-protected minority in such a way.

  13. The director did not add the scene. The film follows the book quite faithfully and presumably, since Keneally is credited with meticulous research, the scene is based on eye-witness accounts and the director probably saw no reason to doubt the book's veracity.

    I am prepared to concede Jan Peczkis's point that both director and author chose to highlight the ugly incident for reasons of their own. What I find extremely questionable about Jan's argument is that anything negative which anyone says about Poland should be ultimately derived from a Jewish source. This is bigotry. Is Thomas Keneally, therefore, unable to form his own opinions? As an Australian and, I believe, a Catholic, he is surely able to form his own judgements based on the information he has gleaned through his research. He could have chosen to present the material in any way he chose, but the Klonowska quotation, as I mentioned before, pretty much gives away his general viewpoint.

    I don't want to be monopolizing this board and end up arguing with Jan as I have done before, so I'll leave the comments section open to others. Thanks to everybody for their input.

    1. M very much appreciate what you wrote, above.

      Maybe you'd like to do a guest blog post on why it doesn't make sense to single out Jews ?

      I have already done so -- see "Stop blaming the Jews" blog posts -- but your voice is also valuable.

      And maybe you'd add one of your cool illustrations, as you have here.

    2. Here is a previous "Stop Blaming the Jews" post:

    3. Again, Michal is misrepresenting me.

      Here is what he said that I said: "What I find extremely questionable about Jan's argument is that anything negative which anyone says about Poland should be ultimately derived from a Jewish source. This is bigotry."

      It certainly is, except that it is NOT what I said. Please get your facts straight. Here is what I DID say:

      "You want to focus on the 10% (if it is even that). I will focus on the 90%."

      So, there, I am NOT saying that all Polonophobia comes from the influence of any one group. But there is no escaping the fact that the overwhelming majority of it does.

      Yes, a journalist can think for himself/herself, but few actually do. When it comes to Holocaust-related matters, the default position for a journalist to take is to repeat the standard narrative. And guess where that standard narrative comes from.

    4. I don't remember the cheering scene from the book Michal. Don't know if I can face re-reading it to find out... and I am certainly not going to watch the movie. If the director did follow the book faithfully, did he record a scene I do remember, as I was touched by the girl's bravery. The commandant - can't remember his name, but I bet he was played by an English actor in the movie - has a Jewish prisoner as his secretary. She works for him in a good deal of fear, as I remember it. The commandant picks up a Polish prostitute from the local town and tries to get her involved in tormenting the Jewish girl. She manages to distract him and get him upstairs and out of the girls way.

      And that is all i remember specifically about Poles. They seemed to be having a rotten time, and doing their best to survive just like most people caught up in it. They didn't seem to come out of it any better or worse than anybody else. Which I imagine is the truth. But this young girls bravery suddenly stood out. As did Oskar Schindler's.

      I feel sure that scene did not make the movie - being so off-message - but maybe I'm wrong?

  14. Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to post my essay, Danusha. I certainly hope to be writing again.

    1. Final comment: @ Jan- You kind of undermine your own protest with your last sentence - "guess where that standard narrative comes from"

      @ Sue - Please forgive me, but I'm not really able to hunt through the film for the scene you mention. I don't remember it off hand (and I've watched the film twice) and I don't know if I can face watching it again.

      Here's to better days ahead...

    2. definitely better days ahead Michal! The rescue we pray for when we say the Lord's prayer is so close at hand.

  15. I just came across an article that you might want to read. Here is a section of it that is very interesting.

    "Two terrifying forces emerge as motivating the Jedwabne pogrom: viral anti-Semitism inculcated in the population since the 1930s by the nationalist right and nourished to this day by a segment of the Polish Catholic Church, combining with insatiable greed, the irresistible need to get hold of Jewish property and hold on to it. The number of anti-Semites, Bikont reports, quoting a sociologist who has studied anti-Semitic attitudes, increased significantly after the “Jedwabne affair flared up. . . . Why? Jedwabne has sharpened our sense of competitive suffering.” The son of a survivor asks her: “How can a Jew live in Poland?” Bikont reports that she tried to explain, probably not very well. One could suggest some imperfect responses. Among them, love of the Polish language and culture, a job or a career one likes, a spouse or a life partner committed to living in Poland, the lack of a good alternative and, above all, fear of the unknown.

    The gloom and pessimism, the sense of physical disgust at the vile depth of Polish anti-Semitism and denial, which would otherwise engulf one as one reads Bikont’s book — and would surely have engulfed her — is relieved only by the presence in her pages of certain morally splendid and heroic Poles: Antonina Wyrzykowska, a simple peasant woman who with her husband saved seven Jedwabne Jews and kept them in safety until the end of the war; Stanislaw Ramotowski, another peasant from near Jedwabne who hid a Jewish schoolmate, married her, and was an invaluable guide for Bikont; Krzysztof Godlewski, the intrepid mayor of Jedwabne who stood up for installing a new and more honorable memorial for the victims; Jan Skrodzki, who indefatigably helped Bikont to track the murderers, among whom was his own father; and Radoslaw Ignatiew, the quiet special prosecutor whose investigation of the Jedwabne massacre laid the basis for I.P.N.’s conclusion that the perpetrators had indeed been the Polish Catholic neighbors of the slaughtered Jews."

    Chris Helinsky

    1. All Anna Bikont did was repackage and translate her long-obsolete, decades-old MY Z JEDWABNEGO, and presented it to the unsuspecting English-speaking reader as something new and dramatic.

      Not surprisingly Bikont was made into a great hero by various Jewish organizations, and given considerable coverage in the media. Not surprisingly either, the media sided completely with Bikont, and would give no attention or credence to Polish rebuttals. Instead, Poles were made into the problem for not buying into these discredited and dusted-off attacks on Poland.

      I have reviewed Bikont, several months ago, have exposed her falsehoods in detail, and have provided links to works that tell the truth about the Jedwabne massacre. To see my detailed expose of Bikont, please click on my link in this specific posting, and then follow the additional links in the comments under my review.

    2. I noticed that Ann Bikont had picked up the Professor Jan Gross torch and was running with. Will she get as much applause as he did?

      It will depend on whether the politics change, or not, I guess.

    3. I meant "running with it" - obviously.

  16. I received a series of posts to this blog that were signed only as "anonymous." Please don't post anonymous messages to this blog. Thank you.


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.
These themes include the false and damaging stereotype of Poles as brutes who are uniquely hateful and responsible for atrocity, and this stereotype's use in distorting WW II history and all accounts of atrocity.
This blog welcomes comments from readers that address those themes. Off-topic and anti-Semitic posts are likely to be deleted.
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