Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Poland Warns about the Holocaust. Another Heartbreaking Historical Document.

General Władysław Eugeniusz Sikorski and Winston Churchill
Migration Museum Project
Michal Karski writes:

"The Polish wartime government in exile has recently come in for the kind of attack which was common currency in the days when Stalin was doing his utmost to discredit the Poles, in other words, it is being described as essentially a clique of reactionaries and anti-Semites. A British historian who shall remain nameless - (I don’t particularly want to publicize the book he is promoting for him) - has chosen to paint General Sikorski and co in the most negative colours in a few British publications.

"Critics might like to note that this same Polish government was responsible for trying to bring to the attention of the world the plight of Polish Jews and others from all parts of Europe. A booklet was issued and publicized in which Nazi atrocities taking place on Polish soil were described. The date of publication is notable since the information was made public far earlier than is commonly supposed in the Western World: December 1942. Why was so little done in response?  Perhaps the historians who are so quick to criticise the Polish government might like to offer some explanations of their own."

Michal is too courteous to name the offending publication that is slandering General Sikorski, but it is The Scotsman. Its slanders, AFAIK, have not made an impression outside of the UK; if I am wrong, please correct me.

If you want to read The Scotsman's slanders, or if you want to read attempts to correct them, you can read more here and here.

And of course you should read "Bieganski," here.

Below please find the historical document Michal refers to, above. This is just one of many attempts by Poles to alert the Allies to what was transpiring in Poland.

Click on the image for a larger version, or view the document on the web here. Thanks to Otto for help with this blog.


  1. Thanks for that, Danusha & Otto. The web link goes blank, so maybe try this:


    1. M, thank you very much.

      I don't know why, but it took me a long time to get this post up.

      There is something in the text you send me that totally screws up the formatting on the blog. I cannot find it and eliminate it.

    2. So I fixed the blog and the link should work now.

    3. Just tried it and it's fine. Thanks again.

  2. It's interesting that in 1942 there are references in newspapers to Germans gassing Jews but no follow up. The subject isn't touched again until the liberation of the camps when it is treated as a surprising confirmation of the worst things that people thought or suspected about the Nazis.

    There was a massive will to disbelieve - perhaps an inability to comprehend - these reports.

  3. Here is an interesting story by a Jewish witness to the Holocaust.

    Frankfurter lingered after the other guests left the embassy. Adjourning the gathering to a quiet ballroom, Ciechanowski took a seat to Karski's left. The Supreme Court justice sat opposite Karski, looking into his eyes.
    "Mr. Karski," Frankfurter asked, "do you know that I am a Jew?"
    Karski nodded.
    "There are so many conflicting reports about what is happening to the Jews in your country," Frankfurter said. "Please tell me exactly what you have seen."
    Jan spent half an hour patiently explaining how his missions to the Ghetto and the camp had come about and precisely, in gruesome detail, what he had witnessed. When Karski finished, he waited for the visitor to make the next move.
    Frankfurter silently got up from his chair. For a few moments, he paced back and forth in front of Karski and the ambassador, who looked on in puzzlement. Then, just as quietly, he took his seat again.
    "Mr. Karski," Frankfurter said after a further pause, "a man like me talking to a man like you must be totally frank. So I must say: I am unable to believe you."
    Ciechanowski flew from his seat. "Felix, you don't mean it!" he cried. "How can you call him a liar to his face! The authority of my government is behind him. You know who he is!"
    Frankfurter replied, in a soft voice filled with resignation, "Mr. Ambassador, I did not say this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe him. There is a difference."
    After a forced exchange of pleasantries, Frankfurter left the room in the company of Ciechanowski. Jan sat alone in the vast room as their footsteps echoed away.

    1. The same Felix Frankfurter vehemently accused Poles of exterminating Jews in 1918. Maybe that will to disbelieve was connected to the nationality of the perpetrators?
      After all, Germans are civilised Western Europeans.


    2. Two very interesting posts Peter and Lukasz - Could it be that Karski could not be listened to - would not be listened to - as he was identifying the"wrong" villians? Germans being "uber" in Politically Correct terms, and us Poles being "unter.

      ... who knows? Certainly not me.

      But the other possibility, given what a PC swamp this is, is that Jan Karski was - shock horror - a "premature anti-fascist".

      Either way I have a gloomy feeling that Professor Jan Gross might get another trilogy out of this

  4. For Polish readers - a speech given by Sikorski at London's Royal Albert Hall protesting about the persecution of the Jews dated even earlier - October 1941.


    The general perception in the West about the Polish role in all of this, so it seems to me, is that the news of the Holocaust was brought to world leaders by one solitary and heroic individual who was disbelieved. This originated of course with Lanzmann's 'Shoah' of 1985 which featured the unbelievably heroic and truly noble Jan Karski (no relation, BTW) who was contrasted with the unsympathetic peasants who all gave the impression of being backward, in thrall to a primitive Catholic Church and incorrigibly anti-Semitic.

    The efforts of the government in exile who were actually the people who sent Karski on his mission were not credited anywhere. This was probably for the simple reason that the post-1945 Polish government did not really acknowledge their existence in the first place and if they did, then Sikorski and his successors were relegated to the role of heirs to the pre-war Polish leadership all of whom, regardless of political persuasions, even the socialists, were deemed essentially fascist and enemies of the people.

    The current Polish government seems to be intent on dismantling years of Communist propaganda but they might do worse than remember the Polish government in exile.

    1. Well, the current government is quite active when it comes to history.
      Victims of communist regime are exhumed, identified and properly buried (with military honors).
      Streets named after criminals and traitors are renamed.
      Soviet monuments are removed.
      In addition, a movie about 303 squadron is in the making.

  5. The date given on Sikorski's speech must be a misprint, since the text talks about "three years of methodical destruction", which would place it in October of 1942 rather than 41 (and probably also based on the reports of Jan Karski). Still early in the course of the war, though. There is a recent study by Professor Michael Fleming which deals with the entire subject entitled "Auschwitz, the Allies and Censorship of the Holocaust"

  6. A clip about Prof Fleming's book, featuring a contribution from the late, brilliant and much-missed David Cesarani.


  7. The conduct of the Polish Government-in-Exile, regarding the fate of Poland's Jews in Nazi German-occupied Poland, is the subject of much insinuation and innuendo.

    I have reviewed a series of books on this subject, and the interested reader can click on my name, in this specific posting, to see one of these reviews. Within that review are links to two other reviewed items on the Polish Government-in-Exile and the Jews.


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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