Monday, September 3, 2012

Bieganski in the Jewish Journal: A Polish Jew is Shocked, Shocked! to Discover Stereotyping of Poles

Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault in the 1942 film, Casablanca.
Renault is "shocked, shocked" to discover gambling in Rick's Cafe. In fact, he's known this all along. 
To "reinvent the wheel" is an English expression. 

On July 25th, 2012, the online Jewish Journal published an article by a self-identified Polish Jew, Klaudia Klimek. Klimek is shocked, shocked to discover negative stereotypes of Poles.

The article states many points with which I partially or wholly agree.

I should rejoice for the article then, no?


It's just more reinvention of the wheel.

It's just more "shocked, shocked."

"To reinvent the wheel" is an English expression. Wikipedia defines it thus, "To reinvent the wheel is to duplicate a basic method that has already previously been created or optimized by others."

"Shocked, shocked" is a phrase from the 1942 Hollywood film "Casablanca." We use the expression to describe moments when someone "discovers" something that has been very obvious for some time.

Poland is stereotyped as the world's worst anti-Semitic nation. Blame for the Holocaust, which properly belongs to Nazism, is placed on Poles and Poland.

This has all been said already. Thousands of times.

It's been said in a prize-winning, scholarly book, "Bieganski."

On this blog, we've argued for action in the face of this stereotype, most specifically in this three-part blog post on the Crisis in Polonian Leadership, Organization, and Vision.

Poles, Polonians, and others who are concerned about the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype need to get past the "shocked, shocked" phase. We need to get past the reinvention of the wheel phase.

We need to move on to significant action.

We need to unite, support each other, organize, and act strategically.

More on that, here.


Excerpts from Klaudia Klimek's "shocked, shocked" article:

Among Jews, Poland is stereotyped as "the most anti-Semitic country in Europe − the Jewish cemetery, the place of bad memories. That was, unfortunately, the attitude of many conference participants from all over the world. Their negative feelings towards Poland are born out of bad memories of their grandparents or parents. All that, additionally seasoned with a visit to Auschwitz, colored almost every conversation and discussion."

Klimek is incorrect, here. The Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype predates the Holocaust, and those who deploy it often have no parents or grandparents with bad memories.

"As a Jew from Poland or a Polish woman of Jewish origin (anyway they classify me) I do not have such an attitude towards Poland and the Poles."

"The Poles are, were and will be evil. What is more, characterised by innate stupidity, they would never invent Holocaust. Nevertheless, they are extremely grateful to the Germans that they liberated them from the Jews. And they, of course, helped them willingly! The Pole had to wait over seven hundred years for a charismatic leader in the person of Hitler who would help them murder almost one third of their own citizens."

"Bieganski" makes clear that the dumb Polak stereotype is an inextricable part of the anti-Semitic Polak stereotype. This stereotype is used to rewrite history and to distort the twentieth century's most profound ethical questions. Everyone should care about this stereotype, not just Poles.

Klimek continues, "Heroes like Irena Sendlerowa should be remembered and praised, and the youth should be educated to never forget about them."

Poles and Polonians have not been the first, nor the most effective, in communicating Irena Sendler's value to the world. Others have.

Sendler was more or less forgotten by the world until a group of Kansas students brought her story to wider attention in 1999. Yad Vashem honored Sendler in 1965, long before organized Polish groups honored her.

Only when Poles and Polonians begin to organize will we be able to have any impact on whether or not people remember Irena Sendler. Meanwhile, it's not justifiable for us to complain about others not effectively honoring our heroes and heroines when we don't do it ourselves, and others do it for us, but not to the degree that we demand.

Klimek writes, "I am angry with Poland that She does so little to publicise the good deeds of the Poles, their participation in combat missions, the help during the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto or in Auschwitz. Instead, She stands open to the Jewish trips like a forgotten cemetery. She does not add to their education anything from herself, not changing, thus, the discourse and accepting the current status quo."

Well, yeah. That's what this blog has been saying since day one. Hmm. Hmm. Maybe we should … I don't know … unite? Support each other? Organize? Act strategically?

"The Jew won’t spend the Jewish money in Poland. Full stop. The Pole did not deserve, what is more they still earn much on other tourist visiting the death camps. Camps such as Auschwitz seem to be bonanzas for Poland."

"The problem, however, disappears when the Jew goes to Berlin, Hamburg or Munich. One can relax there well, enjoy civilisation and top level art… How did it happen that the Jew does not burn with hatred towards the Germans?"

Yup. "Bieganski," a book Klimek has never heard of and will probably never read – addresses this matter of Germans being cleared of guilt by the Bieganski stereotype.

The full text of Klimek's article can be found here.


  1. Yes, I agree that you have addressed this in "Bieganski". I am still (genuinely!) shocked shocked that you did finally manage to get it published.

    Re: "The problem, however, disappears when the Jew goes to Berlin, Hamburg or Munich. One can relax there well, enjoy civilisation and top level art… How did it happen that the Jew does not burn with hatred towards the Germans?"

    Well, for one thing, if you wish to "burn with hatred" towards people, then i think it would be much safer, and clearly much more PC, to "burn with hatred" towards Poles.

    As a Polonian, there are plenty of peoples/things I could "burn with hatred" about - but I don't want to.

    It is a choice.

  2. Dear Danusha, this might be of interest to You:

    with regards to Germany, I am starting to suspect that there is considerable interest to paint Poland as untermenschen-land. of course, not in a racist way (that would be sooooo 19/20th century and ones has to keep up with the times) but culturally.To be honest,in a strange way-I like German nationalists more than the general public.Why? At least they voice their hatred open, not in a backstabbing way-you get what you see....

  3. Why should Jews hate Germans? For one thing,You have explainted it thoroughly in Your book.Also, because life has made me a cynic, I would offer some more speculations.

    1.Stockholm Syndrome (plz read "The Lucifer Effect" a great book with great insights into this phenomenon: how and why victimes might identify with those who wronged them)

    2.Step 2. of the Stockholm Syndrome: I want to be as powerfull as they were.What did f.e Christians do after they had gained power? be compassionate with their ideological enemies?well, not reaaaallly.....

    3. They,the Germans, have given us money,are valuable (and I really mean "value" in a materialistic sense!) allies,they are "modern","cultured" (Germany was rebuild by the glorious allies has LOTS of money to spend on PR and patriotic companies (in the documentary: The greatest movie ever made" by Matt Spurlock he shows the conditions on which Mini will sponsor him:he is NOT allowed to criticize the country of Germany!!!)
    ,after WW2 its murderous,but highly trained and nationalistic "elites"
    worked for their country, Poland could only dream of,thus they did everything that served Germany well.Use Google translate,copy "Poland" in Hebrew and "Germany". Than use "search pictures" for both. What you will find: Germany-culture,industry,Merkel and the likes. Poland: mostly Auschwitz.

    4. POLAND DID NOTHING TO SAVE US FROM THE "nazis", they should at least give us money (there are,of course,legitimate claims,but-groups such as (this is not a joke! seriously) "lesbian daughters of Holocaust survivors, children of Holocaust survivors anonymous and what not),because we are "second-generation survivors" (great.I am a third/X-generation survior of several wars and the Black Death then...)-they are anti-Semites,thats why they dont want to pay up.

    5. WE NEED TO HATE SOMEONE.IT MUST ALL BE SOMEONES FAULT ("its Poland").How funny.Before that it was "it MUST be the Jews".I have mentioned it already in 2.- lets do onto others what has been done to us

    I see only ONE solution.We need to stand up and speak up.Loudly about how Poles have become the new Jews.Provocatively? YES-there is just no other way.

  4. Also, about the German death camps build on Polish soil: There are some people,including me, that would want to see them gone.Not as a place of rememberance,of course. No,they are not neo-nazis or Holocaust negators,not at all.One of them is a German/Polish Jew called Henry Broder who has lately written a book called "vergesst Auschwitz"(forget Auschwitz!) in which he,a polemicist,observes that Auschwitz is a "Disneyland of death", a scene for a "ritual of mourning without substance" (Id like to add-when German! officials were lieing about Serbia wanting to murder Kosovo Albanians Fischer yelled-"never again Auschwitz",so even worse,it is USED for power politics.By the Germans.Irony?!). Hes in favour of making it disappear.BTW, 20% of young Germans seem to not know what Auschwitz means:
    Another similar opinion can be found here:

    I agree.Why? Well,for one thing-I believe there is a better way to teach about these horrors. Why not f.e make a 3D computer game situated in Poland where your character starts out as a business wo/man,fights in the Polish army,works for the conspiracy (with missions such as killing a traitor,helping smuggle out kids from the getto ect.)is arrested,brought to Auschwitz and has to flee ect.And survive,first-by making tough moral decisions? it would be entertaining,educating,depressing,shocking...and also appealing to the young generation.

    Also-I am SO VERY MUCH FED up with people wanting to visit Auschitz as if nothing else would exist in Poland.

    I would also like everyone not to think of themselves as victims but survivors (like the one Holocaust survivor who has uploaded a video on several portals where he,and his nephews and nieces,are dancing to the tunes of "I will survive" front of German death camps),make places such as Auschwitz rather a place of life and a future.Otherwise,I feel that the nazis will have won...

    1. I found another article. Maybe a little bit old (several months), but it shows that the difference between Poland and Western "tolerant" Europe is becoming more and more clear. I mean especially part "Victims rebel against victimhood".

      P.S. I hope that Miss Klimek gave permission to use parts of her text. She had good intentions while writing it and for that alone she deserves respect and gratitude.

  5. Great post and insightful comments. I agree with Hanna that the Stockholm Syndrome seems to be at play in the identification with the true persecutors.

  6. Yes I too am fed up with the "Polish History begins and ends with Auschwitz" agenda.

    But I certainly believe that we can tackle it, even now.

    If you like - and if Dr.G would like? - I could post a letter I sent re an extraordinary article, almost unbelievable, that appeared in an America University magazine. Many of us wrote, and the article was removed. I can post the letter, as I kept a copy.

    Its is the "Black Squirrel's Burden" affair. You may remember it Danusha?

  7. This is the letter i sent. I see I dont have a date on the copy, but there is a date for the article.

    Dr. Thomas R. Tritton
    Haverford College
    370 Lancaster Avenue
    Haverford, PA 19041-1392

    Dear Dr.Tritton,

    I am writing to draw your attention to an article in the Autumn 2006
    Issue of the Haverford Alumni Magazine.

    It is entitled: "The Black Squirrel's Burden" and is by one David
    Langleib. Alarmingly, he identifies himself as a Project Manager
    for the New Yorks City Parks Department, as well as (I must assume)
    one of your alumni.

    He says (in part):

    "While the community has several problems, most of them come
    back to the high density of Polish people infesting its rowhouses.
    Mocking Poles for being stupid is perhaps the last form of
    correct prejudice, as well as the most accurate. The other day I
    asked a
    local Polak shopkeeper if heard the one about the Polish guy who
    tried to fill up his gas tank by driving the car in reverse. The
    shopkeeper didn't respond because hed accidentally put his pants on
    his head that morning and the waistband was cutting off his hearing."

    That is extraordinary language. The Polish community is said
    to "infest" the neighbourhood in which it lives.

    What do you do with an infestation? Don't you bring in the

    Isn't that something that could have come right out of a speech by

    How could such Nazi language be allowed in a University publication?

    yours etc

    I didn't get a reply of course. But the article was later removed.

    However the point is that it was printed in the first place. I am trying to imagine what other ethnic group could safely be described - in a Uni publication - as "infesting" the neighbourhood in which it lives?

    As the young lad says, it is a "politically correct" prejudice.

    So much for "the wisdom of the world".

    And if I had let myself "burn with hatred" here, I would have written both to this employers and perhaps to the local congressman.

    I did, and do, wonder though what sort of home and family this young man comes from.

    The point is that the double standards are not meant to be as blatant as that - and so its always worth pointing them out. And I did so, I believe, both politely and firmly. As did others.

    1. This is clearly a joke. You took it too far literally, and the writer was not mocking Poles but people who make Polish jokes.

  8. Łukasz,great post :-D

    about: Good luck, France (hosts of the European Championship in 2016)....

    Just imagine would happen-several Jews have already been beaten up (and I mean-very badly) in broad daylight in "tolerant" France.There is,I have come to believe from personal talks with people and from eaves-dropping at cafes,also in France, a lot of anti-Semitism in "civilized,enlightend,modern" (in contrast to "backward" tribal states such as f.e Poland) countries-in a specific form, the form of criticism against Israel (f.e when the Zahal,one of the arguably most ethical army in the world (dont believe it? read the book: Son of Hamas) is compared to...the SS! Or Israel to the 3. Reich).Im proud that,apart from some,mostly! leftists,no one in Poland cheers for Hamas (but a lot do cheer for the West.In Britain,"protesters" were caught on tape yelling: Hamas,Hamas,Jews to the gas! This,of course, is NOT anti-Semitism.Real anti-Semitism and hatred is the fact, that Cracovia fans are called/call themselves "Jews"). Oh, and I also have one hope-that Poland (and the Ukraine,Hungary,Latvia,Romania ect.) will be spared the bigotry of political correctness and state-sanctioned anti-rascism.We have our own perfectly working cultural traditions of inclusion of foreigners (Godson is a black MP in a country where there are very few blacks),and dont need the "white",eh,"Western European" man to teach us things that does not work at his home,either.(the track record of state-imposed multi-culturalism,speech-codes,anti-rascism are a laughting stock)

    1. Hanna, Peter Rechniowski responded to a post of yours under the crypto Jews post. I'm just informing you in case you want to see it. No obligation.

  9. Hello Hanna, yes, we are being pushed into the defensive corner - not because of anything Poland has done - Poles fought on the Allied side during WW2 after all.

    Its politics. And you can see it is because those countries that fought on the Axis side get a free pass.

    Its not that I'm wanting them to be vilified, by the way. Both sides did ungodly things and shed innocent blood during WW2 and I don't see that one side has any right to judge the other.

    I don't discuss Polish-Jewish issues - though I admire the bravery and perserverance of those like you and Dr.G who do. But given that the playing field has been completely tilted against me, I feel that life is too short. I didn't create the politics here - I don't even vote. And if those who did create them want me in the discussion, they can kindly untilt the playing field and make a discussion possible.

    Though that does not mean I don't or can't do anything. I posted the Black Squirrel letter to show what I mean. I feel I can still make an effective protest and show up the double standards without entering into an area that has deliberately been made impossible for me.

    And the most powerful and effective thing of all is to go door to door preaching the good news of the incoming Kingdom of God. And I am hoping to get back on my feet soon and be able to get out much more than I have been able to.

    I agree with you about the ThoughtCrime world in which we live. For one thing, it is like living in the Big Brother world that George Orwell saw coming in his 1984 - and also, my experience as a Polonian, has made me feel that Political Correctness divides people into "uber" and "unter" - those who are above criticism, and those who can safely be vilified.

  10. Wow, I am shocked shocked that my article made some waves :P Dear Danusha first of all I am not shocked about this all situation, I would say I got used to it. I wrote this article in 20 minutes after I came back from seminar. This is the way I write, more based on emotions than on thesis- I am writing to average reader. Even if I don't like the way Jews from Israel and America feel toward Poles I understand that not because there is a book about it but just because I am human. Nevertheless I believe in the old marketing rules that if you repeat sth. many many times people will believe in it. If you repeat it as a polish Jew it might even be more persuasive. I am very glad that you described this problem in innovative way in your book but one book/ voice is not enough, we have to repeat it constantly and having a lot of understanding toward people we meet. At the end of the they they/me lost their families during Holocaust. Second problem is polish government and the way it acts, promotes and just do or not do a good PR....Klaudia Klimek

    1. Klaudia, thank you for reading and commenting. Perhaps we can work together on a project someday.

    2. Klaudia, would you like to write a guest blog entry for this blog? I would be very grateful. Unfortunately, few people will see your post here, as not many people read comments on older posts. I hope you will consider it. 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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