Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A controversial matter

An email correspondent has sent in a couple of potentially controversial observations. I don't know if he wants to be named so I won't name him, but if he wants to name himself in the comments section that's fine with me. 

He says that he has found a couple of references to Jewish Poles welcoming invading German Nazis during WW II, or at least not appearing to be as aware as they should have been of how thoroughly and irredeemably evil the Nazis were. 

One such reference is here.

Another is here.

Of course many people thought that a civilized people like the Germans could never commit any crime so horrible as genocide, but It seems to me that by the time the Nazis invaded Poland their anti-Semitism was abundantly clear. 

Of course there would have been isolated individuals who were naive or otherwise unwise when it came to assessing the Nazi threat. 

I'm not sure of any larger meaning to these anecdotes. 


  1. Actually, it was not rare for Poland's Jews to welcome the invading Germans, and I have come across several additional examples in my readings. (For instance, click on my name in this specific posting.)

    This stemmed from a number of reasons. Poland's Jews long held to a Germanophilia, and it took a long time for even Nazi actions to disabuse them of this long-entrenched mindset.

    More fundamentally, Jews generally followed the Talmudic dictum that whoever is in authority is the law. It had thus been common for Poland's Jews to switch their loyalties to whoever was ruling over Poland, and 1939 had been just the most recent example up to that time.

  2. Hello,
    I just want to point out a few things.
    1. It's easy to idolize something you don't know. In Poland many people adore Americans, although few have actually met one of them.
    2. Polish Jewry was very diverse. It included Jewish Poles, Polish Jews and Jews currently living in Poland. Different upbringing - different behaviour. We could find vehement patriots among them. And the opposite type of people too, sadly.
    3. In the first days of war anti-jewish pogroms were spontaneous acts of hatred, mostly commited in small towns like Końskie or Kolbuszowa. It makes such crimes less known (few eyewitnesses). In wartime conditions news spread verbally. Not everyone belives in rumors. Some people didin't want do belive in German atrocities. At least in the beginning.
    Some link below. Just something to think about.

  3. Jewish sources do not confirm any pogroms perpetrated by Poles in Konskie or Kolbuszowa in the first days of the war even though eyewitnesses would have abounded:

    There are many credible, documented reports of Jewish delegations greeting and even erecting triumphal arches for the German invaders in September 1939. They are mentioned at the end of the following scholarly article:

    The following - little known - events that occurred in September 1939 are also well documented. In Luboml, Volhynia, where the Germans entered first and then retreated a few days later, some Jews collaborated with both the Germans and Soviets in rounding up Polish soldiers. In Kobryn, Polesia, the Germans armed Jewish Communists who then carried out diversionary attacks on Polish troops. The most egregious event was the pogrom in Brzostowica Mala, near Grodno, where a Jewish-led band of Jews and Belorussians butchered most of the popoulation of this small hamlet of around fifty people before the arrival of the Red Army.

    1. Hello Anonymous,
      Pogroms in Końskie and Kolbuszowa were perpetrated by Germans not Poles. It seemed obvious to me, so I didin't mentioned nationality of perpetrators.
      In Końskie 22 Jews were killed on 12 September 1939.
      In Kolbuszowa over 300 houses were set ablaze on 9 September 1939. Number of victims is unknown, but most likely considerable.
      I will read those glaukopis articles that You have mentioned and answer later.

    2. Hello,
      I have read articles from glaukopis site. Mark Paul did some impressive research. But reading it was quite depressing.
      I will try to share my thoughts. It will be hard thing to do with my basic English. I hope we can start a discussion. Here it goes.
      Jews were not the enemies of Poland. Not as a whole. Individual Jews could have been anti-polish bigots, or communists or scoundrels. They could have been self-hating Jews even. Problem is that many of them were not truly Polish Jews.
      Mr. Peczkis used wright term: Poland's Jews.
      When other countries started to emancipate their Jews, Poland lost it's independence. During the partition period Poles were subjugated. We could offer nothing to the Jews. And we couldn't force them to do anything. No carrot, and no stick. Partitioning powers had both.
      As a result, when Poland was liberated, we have entered 20th century with large and diverse Jewish minority. Germanised Jews, rusified Jews, polonised Jews and hassidic Jews. We had just 20 years of freedom. It was not enought.
      When Germans and Russians invaded Poland they found a divided society. Members of minorities are always more willing to collaborate. Grudges, disappointments, ambitions. Human nature.
      Bielorussians, Ukrainians, Germans, Lithuanians- it's easy to understand them. They had their own countries. Or hoped to have their own countries. And Jews?
      Jews had shtetls. Their little pocket universes.
      They had Yiddish. Languague can separate people better than the walls of ghetto.
      Ludwik Zamenhof understood that.
      Shtetls and Yiddish are gone. I don't like the way they disappeared, but I won't shed a tear.
      I only grieve for the people.


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.
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