Sunday, November 30, 2014

THANK YOU! Dziekuje!

Thank you to James Conroyd Martin, author of Push Not the River, Karen A. Wyle, author of Twin Bred, Pani F, who chooses to remain anonymous, and Eugene Sokolowski.

These kind and generous souls donated the $150 necessary to update Bieganski's cover. 


Buy Push Not the River at Amazon
Buy Twin-Bred at Amazon

The Statute of Kalisz in First Things by Filip Mazurczak

First Things published an article by Filip Mazurczak about the Statute of Kalisz. You can read it here.

Filip Mazurczak Interviews Halina Szpilman, Widow of Wladyslaw Szpilman

Filip Mazurczak interviews Halina Szpilman, widow of Wladyslaw Szpilman, subject of the Roman Polanski film "The Pianist" here.

Excerpt: Szpilman, who was of course Jewish, was very attached to Poland, his fatherland. 

"He was very attached to Poland and could not imagine life elsewhere. My husband always sat on the chair where you are sitting right now and got very upset when a guest sat there, because he believed that was his place. This was his place, and Władysław believed that he lived there and he was born there. He spent his whole life in Poland, including the worst period, that of German occupation. Some people found it strange that he could have lived in the same place where he lost his family. In any case, he was very strongly connected to his fatherland."

Filip Mazurczak Interviews Antony Polonsky on Several Key Questions

An interview between Filip Mazurczak and Antony Polonsky covers several key questions in Polish Jewish Relations. Full text here.


"There is now a clearer understanding that the mass murder of the Jews during the Second World War was initiated and for the most part carried out by the Nazi regime in Germany and by the German people who largely followed its lead. It is also understood that the reason for siting death camps on Polish soil is that this was where most of European Jewry was to be found. In addition, it was far from the front and also away from Germany and Western Europe."

Karen Armstrong Is Not a Scholar and She Should Not Be Allowed to Prostitute the Holocaust

Recently Karen Armstrong, a faux scholar beloved of the left, accused Bill Maher and Sam Harris of paving the way for another Holocaust. I was very troubled by this and American Thinker published my piece today expressing that offense. You can read the piece at American Thinker here or at my other blog here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Student Handout: "A Relatively Large Number of Poles Collaborated with the Nazis."

A document identified at the top of the page as a "student handout." Milaca, Minnesota. K-12, that is kindergarten through 12th grade. 

"A relatively large number of Poles collaborated with the Nazis." 

Not so in France. "Many French citizens found it difficult to accept that Jews were being deported and began helping Jews...Germans realized they couldn't rely on the French."

"Most Dutch were reluctant to cooperate" with the Nazis...The German occupation of the Netherlands is considered the most ruthless in Western Europe" [emphasis added -- the Nazi occupation of Poland was the most ruthless, but Poland is not in Western Europe.]

"Many Italians assisted Jews." 

Pope Pius XII is seen as a silent collaborator. 

Entire document here

Friday, November 28, 2014

"I Would Curse This Miserable Country..."

It's always hard for me to explain to people what "Bieganski" is about. It's not a nationalistic rah rah Poland book. It's a book about stereotypes. 

People sometimes then ask, "Oh, so you are saying that there are no Polish anti-Semites or antisemitism?" 

And the answer is "No, of course not. Of course there are Polish anti-Semites and there is Polish antisemitism. Rather 'Bieganski' points out that stereotypes are used in discussions of Polish anti-Semites and Polish antisemitism in a way that is not helpful." 

I just stumbled across a fairly typical example on the web.

In May, 2014, the Jewish week published an article about someone who "scrawled" a swastika on a transformer in Bialystok. You can read the article here.

Such an event calls for rational discussion on how to combat antisemitism. 

In the comments section, one finds this: "I would curse this miserable country, but it already is. It is filled with Poles." And this, "Our only defense, our only solution....a strong and united Israel to serve as warning to anti-semitic people the world over that their time will not come again." And this "When will we Jews finally turn our backs on this poisonous little land?"

There's a degree of hate there that needs to be understood before we can move forward. Reports False History of Polak Jokes

You can find all sorts of weird things on the web ... including's made-up version of where the Dumb Polak stereotype comes from. 

Where do people come up with this stuff? And why do they pretend that they know something when they don't? 

Luckily many people are aware enough not to believe everything they read on the web. 

You can read the full invented history of Polak jokes here.

Here is an excerpt:

"The phrase 'dumb Polack' generated after WWII. When Hitler's army invaded Poland, the Nazi soldiers were ordered to hunt down and kill any person of intelligence in the country. This included: authors, painters, teachers, and any other person with a high level of education. With all the intelligent people of Poland murdered, the phrase came to be because the "dumb" citizens were left to pass on their genes to future generations. Sad but true."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Jewish Holocaust Survivor Mira Wexler and Polish Rescuer Helena Weglowska Reunite After SeventyYears

Jewish Holocaust survivor Mira Wexler and Polish rescuer Helena Weglowska reunited today after seventy years. One of many news accounts can be seen here.

"The Proud and the Profane" And the Polak. William Holden, Deborah Kerr, Thelma Ritter, 1956

The other night I re-watched "The Proud and the Profane," a big, blowsy, fun, old-fashioned, bodice-ripper melodrama from 1956 starring William Holden, Deborah Kerr, Thelma Ritter and Dewey Martin. William Holden is Colin Black, a "half-breed" – what an ugly word – lieutenant colonel. Deborah Kerr is Lee Ashley, a war widow and Red Cross worker. They meet in New Caledonia in 1943, during World War II.

"The Proud and the Profane" is like a Douglas Sirk movie, although it was not directed by Sirk, but by George Seaton, more famous for lighter fare like "Miracle on 34th Street." In Douglas Sirk movies, passion wrestles with social convention. Just so here. Lee is all but virginal and Colin pursues her like a panting hound after a scared bunny. There is an unintentionally hilarious sequence where Lee and Colin begin a conversation in street clothes, continue in more casual attire, and finally conclude their conversation while wearing bathing suits. This is no doubt meant to symbolize their letting their guard down.

Another symbolic gesture is Colin's stick. He carries a stick that may be a riding crop, though he's never seen on a horse, or an arrow, symbolizing his Indian ancestry – I'm not sure. He beats the stick against his palm a lot. Okay, maybe it's just a phallic symbol.

Though it is not an artistically or intellectually ambitious film, it features one of the most arresting, provocative, and squirm-inducing scenes I've ever seen in any movie.

Lee is Little Miss Perfect: gorgeous, spotless, polite, above-it-all. You assume that her marriage to her late husband Howard Ashley, who died in the Battle of Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal, was a perfect marriage.

Towards the end of the film Lee goes to visit the cemetery for American soldiers who died fighting the Japanese. The cemetery is heartbreaking – it's a vast expanse of white crosses and stars of David under the tropical sun. You can't help but think of, shed a tear for, and be grateful to all the American GIs who sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy all we do.

There is a solider hanging around the cemetery. His entire unit was killed at Bloody Ridge. He spends his days tending their graves and talking to them. He points to two graves. He says something like "There's Martini. There's Goldberg. They didn't like each other. They're getting along fine, now." As he speaks of these traumatic events, this soldier maintains a smile. It's eerie.

He doesn't know who Lee is. He thinks she's just a Red Cross worker. He speaks freely about Lee's late husband, Howard. He reveals that Howard was miserable in his marriage to Lee. Finally after he has said enough to completely turn Lee's life, heart, and guts upside down, he asks her name. She says, "Mrs. Howard Ashley." The soldier is gobsmacked. It's an amazing scene.

There's another surprisingly relevant aspect to this movie. "The Proud and the Profane" is based on a novel, "Magnificent Bastards." That title alludes to a thrust of the plot. Colin Black is not just a horndog chasing after super-pure Lee Ashley. He is a soldier, with all that that implies. He is passionate, brutal, direct. He reminds Lee that one has to express one's dark side to do what war demands: kill people and break things. The movie's job is to make virginal Lee appreciate earthy Colin, and vice versa.

In addition to these big themes, you get to watch two beautiful people chase each other around swaying palms and across sandy beaches. In fact Kerr lolls lustfully on a beach in a bathing suit in this film, just as she does in "From Here to Eternity." Holden's great beauty is marred by the heavy makeup he wears in order to look Indian. For me, a Golden Age film buff, the heavy makeup just adds to the film's corny appeal.

Dewey Martin plays the minor character Eddie Wodcik. Wodcik is a ghetto kid. He is impulsive, not very bright, not in control of his feelings, violent, ineffectual, tragic, and doomed. Eddie had grown up in a ghetto. He was an orphan. His sister died in a tenement fire. Lee looks like his sister so he becomes irresistibly drawn to her. He follows her around like a puppy and beats up anyone who insults her. When he sees that Colin has hurt Lee, he tries to stab Colin. He fails. Colin is the hero, after all. Colin hears Eddie sneaking up on him and trips him. Eddie later dies in combat.

Eddie had to be a Polak. The characteristics that the filmmaker wanted for this character mesh perfectly with the Polak stereotype. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bieganski in Poland in Polish. March, 2015

Jacek Tokarski of Wydawnictwo Wysoki Zamek writes to report that "Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture" will appear in Polish in Poland in March, 2015.

"Bieganski" is being translated by Katarzyna Szuster. Katarzyna has previously translated "A Broken Childhood" by Martyna Gradzka and "Secession in Lviv" and the work of the poet Justyna Bargielska.

I have chatted with Katarzyna via email and I am very encouraged by her attention to detail. I wrote "Bieganski" while treading a razor's edge. I strove to tell even controversial truths in a way that might be heard over the din of competing victimologies and prejudices. I prayed that Jacek would find a translator who would walk that same tightrope in the Polish language translation.

I asked Katarzyna her feelings about the charged topic of the book. She wrote back, "I enjoy translating your book, partly because it reflects my feelings about Polish-Jewish relations. I feel that Poland hasn't been given a voice or attention that isn't negative in some way, but at the same time, we're not blameless." I very much appreciate her reply.

I wrote to Kira Nemirovsky of Academic Studies Press, the publisher of the English language version of the book, to discuss the Polish language version. I mentioned to her that some have objected to the cover as it exists now. In fact it was I who had originally suggested the current cover, as I felt it encapsulated both of the stereotypes the book describes: the lumpen Polak Bieganski and the crafty Jewish Shylock. Unfortunately some readers interpreted the cover as an endorsement of those stereotypes. For that reason, I think another cover might be in order. Some possibilities are below. If you care to, please express a preference in the comments section. Thank you.

March 27, 2015. Jacek Tokarski of Wydawnictwo Wysoki Zamek has given me a new date for the publication of "Bieganski" in Poland in Polish. The new date is also in 2015. I hope it comes together this time! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Anna: A Possible Life. By Michal Karski

Source: Wikipedia 

Anna: A Possible Life

By Michal Karski

Can a person's character ever be guessed at from a single photograph? I am probably by no means unique when I say that I have always found faces fascinating and am invariably drawn to the portraits in any art gallery. I don't think I'd be re-discovering the wheel if I said that people tend to subconsciously make snap judgements about others based solely on their looks and in fact I have no doubt that scholarly volumes have been written on this very subject. So when we do discover biographical information about the person depicted in a portrait, for instance, it can sometimes be very surprising.

If I say that the girl in the photo above was born in 1925, would it be possible to match her image to any of the following scenarios, on the basis of what little information is available in a single picture?

Scenario 1: Anna is from a Polish-Jewish musical family, born and raised in Krakow. She survived the first part of the war in hiding with her mother at the home of a Catholic widow, but was later captured by the Germans and sent for labour to Bavaria. After the war, she became well-known as a pianist and accompanist among the Polish emigracja in London and is now in her 89th year, loved and respected by all who know her.

Scenario 2: Anna was from a Catholic Kresy family from eastern Poland, in what is now Ukraine. After the Soviet invasion, she was transported to the Gulag with her parents and sisters for years of hard labour. Her parents did not survive. After the Sikorski-Maisky Pact, she joined the Anders Army, went through the Middle East, Egypt, Palestine and Italy before arriving in Liverpool, England. She then married and emigrated to Canada, where she raised a family and pursued her first love of photography, exhibiting her work at many Canadian and American art galleries. Her eyesight failed her in later years and she turned to writing poetry. She died in 2013.

Scenario 3: Anna, originally from Cremona in Italy had a Polish father (a former Hallerczyk) and French mother. She was a brilliant student, spoke five languages fluently and studied psychology in Bologna. She worked undercover for British Intelligence during the war, joining the resistance in Holland. In 1947 she emigrated to Brazil, where she gained recognition for her work in the field of clinical psychology. She gave her name to an institute in Sao Paolo. She died in 2006.

Scenario 4: Anna is an Anglo-Irish actress and poet who starred in many English and American film and TV productions, most famously as Madame Paderewska in "Upstairs, Downstairs". The real Polish connection in her own life was that her first husband was a minister in the Polish wartime government-in-exile. It was recently revealed that she was one of the code breakers at Bletchley Park. She lives in an actors' retirement home in Hampshire where she is visited by her many grandchildren.

Anyone who recognizes Anna Zakrzewska from the photograph will know that none of the above scenarios apply to her. I came across her name in a list of notable members of the Armia Krajowa when I happened to be reading about the liberation in August 1944 of the Gęsiówka concentration camp which the Germans had built in Warsaw.

This episode gets scant attention in the mainstream English-speaking media, although most Poles will know that it was the AK, the Polish resistance army, which carried out the attack on the camp, freeing over three hundred prisoners – most of them Jewish – in the process.

The particular unit responsible for this action was the famous Zośka Battalion of which Anna Zakrzewska was a member. Reading about her, I couldn't tell whether she was actually involved in the attack on the camp at Gęsiówka or not. Her face had caught my attention perhaps for the simple reason that she bore a passing resemblance to someone I used to know many years ago or perhaps she just had the kind of looks which would have graced magazine covers in any other age. What was she like in the days before war broke out? What were her hopes and dreams?

Wikipedia lists some notable members of the Zośka Battalion. A very few did survive the Warsaw Uprising and lived on into old age but I was struck by the number of them who were killed. All of them died at the time of life at which many young people would have been enjoying a peaceful life of study at some college or university instead of being involved in the horrors of urban warfare. The sequel to the actual insurrection, as we know, was the crushing of Warsaw and its citizens with unexampled brutality.

The little information there is available about Anna Zakrzewska tells us she was cut down by German gunfire during the uprising in August 1944.

She was just eighteen years old when, as happened with so many others of her generation, the possibility of any kind of life was taken from her.

Link to the Wikipedia article on Anna Zakrzewska here.

Source: Wikipedia 

About the Author

Danusha asked me to write a few words about myself. I suppose I would describe myself as a Brit of Polish descent. I was born in Worcester in 1949 and now live in London. My mother was painter Halina Karska and my father military historian Tadeusz Kryska-Karski. They both found themselves in England after the war, having followed the convoluted route taken by many Polish citizens whose lives were thrown into turmoil by the events of 1939. My grandfather Franciszek Karski was reportedly killed at Katyn, although I have had conflicting information about a Franciszek Karski who did, indeed, perish in the USSR, except not at Katyn but Uzbekistan, having already enlisted in the Anders Army.

For myself, I lived in Munich, Germany from 1957 to 1966, where my parents – primarily my father – worked for Radio Free Europe. Returning to England, I studied for a German and English degree at the University of London (Queen Mary College) and after a fairly hectic and varied working life am now retired and catching up on films and books and writing the occasional essay and radio drama. I am married and we have one son.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jerusalem Synagogue Attack

Source: Heavy
"Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by terror (in the hearts of enemies): spoils have been made lawful to me: the earth has been made for me clean and a place of worship; I have been sent to all mankind and the line of prophets is closed with me. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1062, 1063, 1066, 1067)"

Source: Answering Islam

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Addressing Antisemitism Today; Some Thoughts

I just received an email from a fellow scholar who is working on antisemitism. He asked for my thoughts. I typed up the post, below, very quickly.

Anyone concerned about antisemitism needs to realize that the world is changing rapidly on this topic.

Many of my students are black, Hispanic, first generation, and not at all acculturated into mainstream American life. They know hip-hop and they have street smarts but they don't know who John Adams was. They haven't been socialized with the kind of shame that was widespread in American culture after cultural leaders like Hollywood director George Stevens witnessed and filmed the liberation of concentration camps. Many of my students don't know, and more importantly don't feel the words "Never again."

Many of my students are often openly and unashamedly anti-Semitic. They take it for granted that Jews blew up the World Trade Center. They say so without any shame or hesitance. They aren't aware that there is any reason to feel shame or hesitance for saying such a thing.

The antisemitism they pick up often comes from inner city sources like the Nation of Islam and Muslims who inhabit the inner city alongside them. It is my subjective impression that antisemitism is stronger among African Americans, even those not affiliated with the Nation of Islam.

Anyone working on antisemitism right now needs to know that antisemitism is rife in current Muslim American culture.

This is my subjective impression. I was born in, and currently live in, Passaic County, which, I have read, has the second highest Muslim population in the US. I do not know if that statistic is accurate. I do know many Muslims.

Very nice Muslims have looked me right in the eye and told me that Jews are responsible for the majority of the world's ills. Have told me that Jews are responsible for everything that goes wrong in the Muslim world. Jews are behind ISIS. Jews were behind Mubarak. Very nice Muslims, people I consider friends, have looked me right in the eye and told me that when Muslims are ready, someday, they will kill entire populations of Jews. All the Jews in Israel, or maybe in the world.

I emphasize that nice people have said these things to me because no one should be so naïve as to assume that genocidal hatred of Jews and utterly irrational Jewish conspiracy theories are limited to screaming extremists. They are part of everyday life among many nice Muslims.

How many? I don't know. I haven't done the research. I just did a quick Google search and found a web page that includes the following quote:

"From the study, it became clear that the Muslims interviewed were more anti-Semitic than Christians in the United States and Canada. The average or mean test scores endorsing negative Jewish stereotypes – after statistically separating out anti-Israel sentiment items – were more than double those of North American Christians. When separating culture from religion, Arab Muslims came out as the most anti-Semitic. Arab Christians and Non-Arab Muslims from Bosnia and Pakistan were less so, yet still anti-Semitic. Mainstream North American Christians were not very anti-Semitic at all."

I can't vouch for this study or this page. It's just something I found doing a Google search. Here is a link.

I strongly recommend Neil J Kressel's book "The Sons of Pigs and Apes" review here.

I also recommend Andrew Bostom's "The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism" review here.

Anyone who really wants to address antisemitism needs to also address anti-Christian prejudice amongst Jews.

I am a non-Jew who is horrified by antisemitism. I am supportive of Israel – see my essay "Coming Out As Pro-Israel on Facebook" here. Many Jewish authors and speakers lose me – lose my support, my attention, and my interest, lose me as an ally – as soon as they open their mouths. Why? Because they are not so much about fighting antisemitism as about bashing and smearing Christianity.

This is a huge mistake on a factual level and a tactical level.

Jews make a mistake when they conflate antisemitism and Christianity. And Jews do it a lot. They do it because doing so is an identity-firming aid. As a minority in a largely Christian world, many Jews decide, "We are the folks who don't celebrate Christmas, and, further, the folks who celebrate Christmas are inferior, and are out to get us."

Melanie Philips lost me with her June, 2014 article in Commentary entitled "Jesus was a Palestinian: The Return of Christian Antisemitism." I knew she was trying to say something important, something I care about. I could not grok her message because I was so turned off by her gratuitous and false anti-Christian prejudice.

A very good Facebook friend lost me when she posted a web page that claimed that Catholics in Poland used to use Christmas as an excuse to murder Jews. The web page tried to look authentic. It purported to be recounting genuine history. It was a Jewish cultural website. I sent the link to Antony Polonsky, himself Jewish and the premier historian of Polish Jews. He said that the page was false.

My friend who posted the link to this bogus page is herself a highly educated woman. She's a physician. Yet she uncritically assumed that a made up story about evil Polish Catholics was true, without any evidence to back it up.

Those concerned about antisemitism should educate themselves about Christianity. There are verses in the New Testament that are critical of Jews; these verses are comparable to verses critical of Jews in the Old Testament. In fact the Old Testament verses are harsher. This makes sense; the authors of the New Testament were Jews themselves, with the possible exception of Luke, who may or may not have been Jewish. There are other verses interpreted to mean that the chosen-ness of Jews is unchanging (Romans 11:29). There is much discussion of these matters; the discussion means that disagreement is possible.

There are no verses in the New Testament that call on Christians to murder Jews, and Christians who have done so have done so in contradiction to the New Testament. Popes, bishops, and local priests have repeatedly commanded those Christians who were killing Jews to stop doing so.

Christian crimes against Jews have always been specific to a given set of geographic, historic, and economic circumstances. At the same time that Spain was a bad place for Jews, equally Catholic Poland was a good place for Jews.

European Christians who harmed Jews did so not in obedience to the New Testament, which counsels love, but rather more typically in response to an economic caste system. I hope anyone interested in antisemitism will read my own book, "Bieganski."

I think that those who want to fight antisemitism should educate themselves about Christianity and Christian antisemitism to better prepare themselves for the fight. I also think they should do so in order better to understand Muslim antisemitism.

Compare and contrast the Koran, hadith, and the example of Mohammed with the New Testament and the example of Jesus. Jesus never killed a Jew. Mohammed killed, tortured, raped, and enslaved Jews. Mohammed is Islam's "perfect example, worthy of emulation." The Koran describes Allah turning Jews into monkeys and pigs. A famous hadith, or saying of Mohammed, reports that the time will come when stones and trees will order Muslims to kill Jews hiding behind them.

There is no analog to the Good Samaritan story in the Koran. The Good Samaritan story, of course, demonstrates the Christian concept of universal brotherhood and love.

As for the myth that Islam was a tolerant place for Jews, quoting Wikipedia "Mark Cohen, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, in his Under Crescent and Cross, calls the idealized interfaith utopia a 'myth' that was first promulgated by Jewish historians such as Heinrich Graetz in the 19th century as a rebuke to Christian countries for their treatment of Jews."

I mention these facts for this reason: If you think battling Christian antisemitism prepares you for battling Islamic antisemitism, you are naïve. Christendom has had leaders who preached against antisemitism. Christendom upholds scripture that counsels love. Christianity's founder was a Jew who killed no one. You confront a different reality in the Muslim world.

Some people conflate Christianity with Nazism. There is more about that in "Bieganski." The conflation of Christianity with Nazism is a big lie that distorts history. And it's more than that. It's a tactical error for those who want to fight antisemitism. People are amazed that antisemitism is rife on college campuses and among the Politically Correct, atheist left. They should not be amazed. If you say "Antisemitism equals Christianity," all atheists are absolved. I know people who are self-righteous, anti-fascist leftists who hate Jews and want Israel to be destroyed. They don't see themselves as anti-Semitic at all, because they equate antisemitism with Christianity, and they are atheists.

One last thing. We tend to be blinded by the concept of universal human progress. There is this idea that things are always getting better. This process is inevitable. This idea is so pervasive people don't even realize that they are subject to it. It is ingrained in language, eg, "That was then; this is now."

Bibi Netanyahu revealed that he is subject to the fantasy of universal human progress. In a September, 2012 UN speech, he contrasted the medieval – bad – with the modern – good. I wish I could grab Netanyahu by the lapels and remind him that there was nothing more medieval than the university, and nothing more modern than Nazism.

Universal human progress is a chimera. In fact the very worst things that we could imagine could happen tomorrow; they could happen right now. As many Jews as were murdered by the Nazis could be murdered again. There is a critical mass of hate in the world right now. We trivialize it at our peril.

I wish I could end on a more positive note.

Oh, let me add this positive Bible verse, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."