Saturday, December 18, 2010

March of the Living Responds

The November 16, 2010 post, "March of the Living: A Rabbinical Student's Sermon," was critical of March of the Living, a yearly pilgrimage of Jewish students to concentration camps in Poland.

Too, "Bieganski" includes transcripts of interviews with MOL participants who expressed a conviction that Poles are inveterate anti-Semites. These MOL participants evidenced a complete lack of awareness that Poles were interned in concentration camps like Auschwitz and Majdanek, or that Poles had resisted the Nazis and helped Jews. One MOL participant, a self-identified educator, boasted a "comprehensive" knowledge of the Holocaust, but had never heard of Jan Karski.

"Bieganski" is not alone. For example, in the 2007 scholarly book, "Rethinking Poles and Jews: Troubled Past, Brighter Future," Carolyn Slutsky offers tough criticism of MOL.

MOL has changed, though, Jeremy Simons, author of the above-linked sermon, insisted to me. MOL has, he says, in recent years, improved relations with Poles.

After posting Jeremy's sermon, I wrote to March of the Living and asked for comment, and for permission to post that comment.

I've now received both. Please find March of the Living's full and unedited response to me, below.


The following items demonstrate our strong, positive involvement with the Polish community:

• We work very closely with numerous Ministries in Poland as we implement our annual program.

• Last year we happened to be in Poland during the very tragic plane crash which killed the President and other key members of the Polish government. We observed a moment of silence during the March of the Living a few days later, and tied black ribbons to our flags. Some of the students also went to visit the memorial sights that were set up at the Presidential palace in Warsaw and in Krakow.

• Every year a senior member of the Polish Government participates in our program.

• Many of our groups meet annually with their high school counterparts in Poland.

• We have large groups of Polish students and Polish religious organizations on the March. In 2010, we had close to 1,500 Polish participants. We have developed a working relationship with the Polish Ministry of Education, the Shalom Ministry Association in Oswiecim (headed by Roman Gawel) and with the Olive Tree Foundation, an entity that provides educational instruction throughout Poland on the Holocaust and the State of Israel.

• Our groups have developed a warm relationship with the new generation of Polish guides and these guides, with their enhanced education, have played a meaningful/valuable role in the implementation of our mission in Poland.


  1. Looks promising. I wonder whether there is a parallel effort to the "teach Poles about the Holocaust" in Israel to teach objectively about the history of Poland.

  2. Andy, that's a really good question. Whom should we ask?

  3. woop de doo. This exercise in apologetics doesn't address any of the anti-Polonism of the March.

    About the conversation above between Andy and Danusha: do you really think that Israel teaches anything about the rest of the world? Every Israeli Jewish student gets taught, beginning from "we are the victims 101" to "victimization and sadomasochism" all the way through "advanced victimization" to "graduate victimization" to "revenge through victimizing others". The History of Poland in Israel!! Are you kidding?

    ok. If you really have to you can remove this posting. I get it.

  4. Arno,

    I would (maybe) only advocate removing your post if you cannot prove what you've written.

    Please tell us the basis for your claims. Have you lived in Israel ? Do you have course syllabi or written educational policies to back up what you claim ?

    Whoever we are, we should aim at the truth.


  5. Danusha,
    I'm sure the Israeli Embassy could help.

  6. Response here:


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.
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