Tuesday, August 15, 2017

You Brute Polak, Let Me Educate You!

On August 10, 2017, a beloved Facebook friend shared a story he identified as one of "Degradation, humanity, survival and reunion. Read it."

I did read it. I discovered a bogus hoax that resorted to the Bieganski, Brute Polak Stereotype – exactly as described in my book of the same title.

You can read the entire story at the link below. Here's a summary: Polish women are invited by a Nazi to despoil Jews before those Jews are murdered. While despoiling the Jews in a brutal manner, one woman discovers a baby, which she raises with love and tenderness. The baby grows up, moves to Israel, and, sixty-two years after the start of World War II, after the 2001 Sbarro terror attack, meets her real father.

This much we know: the story is false. How do we know? There are only two possible sources for the story, both of them are dead, and the story depicts them in a very negative manner. How likely is it that a woman would tell a story depicting herself as an anti-Semitic monster? Not likely.

There's more. There are no facts in this story. No names. No dates. No numbers. If this really happened, would we not have at least one such fact? The name of the village? The name of the concentration camp or death camp? The name of any of the main characters?

Nazis kept the valuable property of conquered peoples for themselves. This is a widely-known fact. We have no reason to believe that Nazis would invite Polish women to take a fur coat, "gold jewelry, silver candlesticks and other heirlooms," or that Nazi guards would stand by passively as Polish women took these items. Everything we know about the Nazis tells us that this would never happen.

You can read about the Nazi's looting of conquered peoples' money and valuables here, here, here, and here.

The few facts mentioned beggar belief. The man at the end would have to be approximately ninety years old.

The Sbarro bombing received international attention. Would such an astounding and heartwarming story, if true, not have received international attention as well? And yet the only source for this story is Heroes of Faith, which is not a high-profile book. I wasn't able to find it, but I was able to find Heroes of Spirit, which may be the book the post cites. Titling it Heroes of Faith may have been an error. You can find Heroes of Spirit on Amazon, here.

For all these reasons, I have to assume that this story is invented, and that its inventor resorted to the Bieganski, brute Polak stereotype. Poles are the real bad guys of the Holocaust, not German Nazis, who simply stand around after inviting Poles to do horrible things to Jews.

I said so in my blog post on this topic, linked below. My blog post adheres to the facts at hand, and never veers into emotionality, though this hoax certainly might inspire outrage in a Polish reader.

A beloved Facebook friend responded. I would like to protect his anonymity, so I will call him "John Smith," meant to be a neutral pseudonym.

I like John Smith very much. He is, as his photos attest, handsome. He is very well educated. He is a professional, and, as such, he has a smooth public persona.

He is not the type to resort to all-caps or multiple-exclamation-point posting styles. He posts about substantial issues. He has numerous, vocal friends of a variety of viewpoints. He encourages them to express themselves on important matters in a civil fashion. All these aspects of his online presence attract me greatly.

After I posted about the above-summarized story, John posted on my page, "Danusha, at the risk of offending you on a subject you feel passionately about: During the Holocaust, some Poles looted and despoiled the Jews."

I assessed that comment as an insult.

John rejected my assessment. He attributed the problem in the conversation to me.

I wrote to John privately. I said, paraphrase, "Do you realize why what you said to me was so offensive? And, if not, may I please explain to you why what you said was so offensive?"

Let me break down John's comment.

"Danusha, at the risk…"

John opens by describing his talking to me as risky. Talking to a Polish woman apparently presents risks of which I am unaware. What does John fear I might do to him? I can only guess.

"…of offending you…"

Right. If a Jewish person mentions a historical fact to a Polish person that Polish person may become offended.

Yes, that assumption is offensive. Poles can handle facts. Facts don't automatically offend us. We are grownups. We have ethics. We don't live in denial.

"…on a subject you feel passionately about…"

Oooo boy.

I studied Polish-Jewish relations at the Jagiellonian University, the same university attended by Copernicus, Jan Sobieski, Malinowski, and Karol Wojtyla. I have an MA from UCB and a PhD from IUB. I published a prize-winning, well-reviewed book addressing the manipulation of stereotypes of Poles and Jews in retellings of the Holocaust narrative, the only, AFAIK, scholarly book expressly focused on that question. I've spoken about this topic in the US and Poland, at several different universities, including Brandeis and Georgetown.

But, to John, I am not a scholar. I am just about "feelings." "Passionate feelings."

By the way, John has not read my book.

Which is paramount in John's brain, I wonder? That I am just about "passionate feelings" because I am a Polak, because I am Catholic, because I am of peasant-descent, or because I am a woman?

Whereas he, the Jewish, professional man, is evidently not all about "passionate feelings."

In any case, please note that my original blog post, linked below, is not about feelings. Not even "passionate feelings." It's about facts. John addressed *none* of the facts.

John couldn't – with facts – defend the obscure, mistitled, and non-scholarly book that is the source of the anecdote. He could not defend the anecdote's absence of facts, or its contradiction of known historical facts.

No. He made no attempt to use any facts. He just attacked me, as an irrational creature of "passionate feelings."

"…During the Holocaust, some Poles looted and despoiled the Jews…"

This is the topper. It's lines like this that break my heart, anew, every time, and cause me to reflect that there may never be any serious long-term hope for Polish-Jewish reconciliation.

John and I have been Facebook friends for years. I genuinely like him. I have, I hope, been on good behavior with him. And yet he still looks at me, and sees Bieganski, the Brute Polak.

I am so stupid that I don't know that Poles did horrible things during World War II. And I need to be told this.

I am so venal that I can't confront, or don't care, that Poles did horrible things during World War II.

I am nothing more than a stereotype.

And John is flabbergasted, and completely clueless, why what he said to me was so offensive.

If this were just about John, that would be one thing. But it isn't just about John.

I can't count the number of times I've had this exact same experience. Poles are scary. It is risky to talk to Poles. Poles are "passionate" and can't address facts. Poles are in denial. Poles don't care about bad things Poles have done. Jews must educate Poles, but Poles are such brutes that education is impossible. Sigh. It's just so damn hard trying to talk to Poles.

I'm a real, living, breathing, flesh-and-blood human being, and John can't see me – because it serves him better to see the stereotype.

People ask me when the Brute Polak stereotype will fade. As I describe in my book, there is no reason to hope that it will fade as long as current cultural patterns continue. We are stereotyped for a reason, and those reasons still exist.

You can read the full text of the suspect story here


  1. All this is part of a recently-concerted Polonophobic meme to defame Poles in terms of "unjust enrichment" at the expense of the defenseless Jews. We all know the agenda behind this spin on history.

    Here is some items I had reviewed to counter this new wave of anti-Polish propaganda:

    I. MYTH: Poles “got rich” from post-Jewish property: FACT: There was a desperate housing shortage in Poland caused by the devastation of WWII. Poles were in no position to allow unused post-Jewish properties to stand vacant.

    I Saw Poland Betrayed. American Opinion Reprint

    II. If Poles "inheriting" the property of murdered Jews is robbery, then Jews "inheriting" the property of earlier-murdered Jews is also robbery.

    Gone To Pitchipoi: A Boy's Desperate Fight For Survival In Wartime (Jews of Poland).

    III. Wartime Lawlessness: Poles robbed Jewish graves. Nothing unusual. Jewish grave-robbers robbed the Jewish dead:

    In the Warsaw Ghetto 1940 - 1943 an Account of a Witness the Memoirs of Stanislaw Adler.

    IV. Polish grave-robbers also robbed the Polish dead. Hilary Minc, a very high-ranking Jew in the Soviet-imposed Communist puppet government of post-WWII Poland, was the architect of the mass expropriation of both Jewish and Polish property:

    In Search Of A Lost People: The Old And New Poland.

    V. Poles looted Jews. Jewish looters commonly looted Jewish property:

    To Speak for the Silenced.

    The Jews of Bialystok During World War II and the Holocaust.

    VI. No “picking” on Jews. Polish looters also commonly looted Polish property:

    Red Shadow: A Physician's Memoir of the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland, 1944-1956.

    VII. If Poles are a nation of thieves, then so are the Jews. In the 1948 War, Jewish military and civilians systematically looted Palestinian Arabs:

    1949: The First Israelis.

    VIII. The looting of property, by both Poles and Jews, is an unremarkable outcome of the brutalities of six years of Nazi German occupation:

    I Saw The New Poland.

    IX. For more facts on looting and property acquisition, in wartime and post-war Poland, see:

    Golden Harvest or Hearts of Gold? Studies on the Wartime Fate of Poles and Jews.


    Not only Jews lost property! Did you know that 50 million people were made homeless by WWII? See my review of HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE? by Peter Hayes.

    Also read the lucid accounts of two postwar Poles who, out of desperate poverty, had engaged in “gold digging” in the ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau. See my review of Laurence Rees. 2005. AUSCHWITZ: A NEW HISTORY.

    1. A tsunami! We will have to wield our plastic teaspoons more vigorously than ever.

      As I have probably said before, its like trying to bail out The Titanic with a plastic teaspoon. But I am a little nervous about keeping on mentioning The Titanic, in case it turns out that it was us Poles/Polonians who sank it, and blamed it all on an iceberg floating innocently by minding its own business.

    2. I think that our powerlessness ("plastic spoons") should not be overstated. That is why the leftists, and certain others, are so hysterical in their attempts to de-legitimize Poland's PiS government: Unlike previous Polish "post-Communist" governments, it may actually do something substantial to uphold Poland's interests.

      As for me, I now have 35 information "bulletins", of which one had been posted above minus the links. These "bulletins" address every imaginable line of attack on Poland. They are collectively linked to hundreds of sources of information that I had compiled. Not everything is in-depth scholarship, however. Some of the bulletins contain satire stories that poke fun at certain themes directed at Poland.

      To see these 35 information "bulletins", please click on my link in this specific posting.

    3. Thanks Jan for all your hard work, in the face of such hostility. And I would never want to under-estimate just how much is being done and achieved by so many of us

      I think what I meant by The Titanic and the plastic spoon is that the politics are against us.

      But I assure you that a rescue is on the way. And i hope to be out tomorrow morning telling all who will listen about it.

      In the meantime I must fight the temptation to seize the professorjangross torch and run with by writing the script for the latest blockbuster Titanic movie - "A Night to Be Re-Remembered!!"

  2. And yet we all ride on Polish passion when it comes to our personal bandwagon - for or against.

  3. We must steer clear of the defeatism that has commonly infected the Poles in recent centuries.

    There is the "All efforts are futile" and "All efforts will backfire" defeatism.

    And then there is the "Polish activists are opportunists" cynical defeatism.

    Those who do not want to do anything for Poland should stay out of the way of those who do.

    1. "With one mighty bound, the Evil Axis Powers of Poland, Poland and Poland collided with the helpless Titanic and shattered its steel hull. An iceberg passing by looked on in horror and..."

      I thought I would just take a moment from the writing of my sure to be best selling book about The Titanic (soon to be made into a blockbusting movie starring... well whoever it is stars in these things these days) and say that I hope I haven't been too pessimistic.

      My thought is that we are doing well in getting our own story out there, in the face of it all, but that we need to be realistic about the difficulties and not be discouraged.

      I belong to a fb group that has a fairly narrow focus, tackling the constant re-defining of Nazi concentration camps as "Polish camps", and we have had a lot of success.
      And will I hope go on doing so.

      And I do try to stay out of the defensive corner, as that is where we are being pushed.

      I just keep pointing out that Poland fought on the Allied Side, not the Axis, and pointing to the double standards, which highlight the political agenda.

      And so many others - like yourself and Danusha and John the Poet - one of my sisters, Carla Banks, (in her "Forest of Souls") are telling our story and are getting it out there.

      I don't mean to be pessimistic, just realistic. And, of course, as a Christian, I know that we, the damaged children of Adam, can not put the earth to rights. It is only God's Kingdom that will do that. And already it is teaching millions - "from every tribe and nation and tongue" - to live in peace as one family and to "study war no more".

      And i do understand why some do not want to be involved, or just can't bear to be. If I were not being constantly taught by Jehovah, I would not be able to cope.

      But, as He himself tells us, his Inspired word sets everything straight. it really does. I only wish everyone would listen.

      There is more happiness ahead for us, right here on the earth, than we can now imagine.

  4. I've often said that the Bieganski stereotype is the Polish cousin of the American redneck / hillbilly / white trash stereotype.

    My Facebook friend whom I mention above posted on his page an image of Trump Tower surrounded by sanitation trucks with the ha ha funny joke caption, "Trump Tower is protected by white trash trucks."

    I said, this is a bigoted joke.

    He appeared to acknowledge as such but kept it up.

    One of his friends defended him, saying that poor white Americans are bigots.


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.
Your comment is more likely to be posted if:
Your comment includes a real first and last name.
Your comment uses Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Your comment uses I-statements rather than You-statements.
Your comment states a position based on facts, rather than on ad hominem material.
Your comment includes readily verifiable factual material, rather than speculation that veers wildly away from established facts.
T'he full meaning of your comment is clear to the comment moderator the first time he or she glances over it.
You comment is less likely to be posted if:
You do not include a first and last name.
Your comment is not in Standard English, with enough errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar to make the comment's meaning difficult to discern.
Your comment includes ad hominem statements, or You-statements.
You have previously posted, or attempted to post, in an inappropriate manner.
You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.