"Horrifying" "Heartwarming" Bieganski Review by Dr. Rusty Walker
Dr. Rusty Walker just posted a review of Bieganski on
Amazon. You can see his review here.
I just finished the book, "Bieganski: The Brute
Polak Stereotype in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture (Jews
of Poland)," written by Dr. Danusha Goska. The author investigates the
origin and inaccuracy of the stereotyping of Poles and Poland, and much more.
The book is an excellent read in presenting new
revelations about this complex subject. The author examines the wide-spread
stereotyping of Poles, as well as Poland, Polish Christians and Polish Jews
that will be an expansion on what the reader might presume. It is extremely
well-written and absorbing, while the facts revealed are sometimes horrifying.
The “Interview” chapters include narratives that afford
the reader insights we cannot ignore if we care about inaccurate but accepted
history of Poland, so often infused with biases derived from half-truths, myth
and folklore. The theme, the Bieganski - the image of Pole as brute – is
readily proven inaccurate and the origin of the label is explained. Dr. Goska,
in her gifted writing style, and scholarly citing of sources, proves uncomfortable
realities about both the Jews and the Polish before and after WWII in Poland
that most writers have not had the courage to divulge. She, at once, concedes
anti-Semitism of some Poles in Poland, while reminding us of many more heroic
Poles who saved Jews. We are reminded that Poles were also sent to the ovens of
Auschwitz, a fact that is resisted by many who wish to retain certain
Dr. Goska’s accounts of elite Poles antithetic to peasant
Poles, and Israeli Jews mocking Holocaust survivors are shocking to read, but
reveal her determination to root out the truth. Jews reached out to the Allies
prior to the “Final Solution” and during it, to Israel, American Jews and the
Jewish Councils who we find disbelieved it and eventually ignored it. Many knew,
but separate themselves from Jews destined for extermination as this horrific
event unfolded unimpeded. Indeed, we learn that FDR and the American government
are not blameless in allowing the Holocaust. This is but a glimpse of what is
difficult to acknowledge with regards to shared blame.
The book was not written to place blame. I find that it
is more to acknowledge the unforeseen consequences of silence and inaction, and
dangers of relying on myth and perceptions instead of insisting on factual accounts.
I recommend this book as one of the few that allows us to
discover truthful pre-WWII and Post-WWII Polish, German, and Russian
interaction and the resultant legacy. It is no wonder the book is controversial
among Jews and Poles, but also Americans, including publishers. Non-biased
truth is often hard to read, let alone accept.
There are the accounts of scapegoating, the need for
shared victimization, dropped responsibilities among U.S government leaders,
Americans, American Jews all of whom were aware of the Holocaust.
Both Jews and Poles are proven to be victims of the Nazis
at Auschwitz, but we find through Dr. Goska’s research that this presented a
diluting effect necessary for sustained victimhood resulting in the suppressing
of the role of Poles in assisting Jews.
In light of copious adversarial revelations I have
touched on above, it is heartwarming that the book ends well. There is a
touching story where the reader surely agrees that, nevertheless, there remains
an "ineluctable bond between Poles and Jews."
Dr. Rusty Walker- Collins College, Provost, retired.
It is good that someone outside of Polish circles knows what is going on, and is willing to articulate it so well in print. Well said!ReplyDelete