Wednesday, February 7, 2018

On Being Compared to Hitler

I got compared to Hitler today on the internet. And someone I thought of as a "friend" "liked" the "you are like Hitler" post. And I was blamed for various massacres of Jews.

Many Holocaust historians have written that only in Poland did occupying Nazis institute a public policy that it would be standard operating procedure that any aid to any Jew would be punished with death to the entire family.

I've heard that in lectures from reputable Holocaust scholars.

I've read that in books from reputable Holocaust scholars.

A retired professor, Jewish American, said that that is not true.

I said, I'm not a historian. I can't say that it's true. All I can say is that canonical scholars in canonical books have made this claim.

I linked three books by received, celebrated scholars: Norman Davies, Lucy Dawidowicz, and Gunnar S. Paulsson. Published by Harvard UP, Yale UP, and Penguin.

In response, the retired professor shouted at me, "Jedwabne! Kielce!" referring to a horrific massacre of Jews by Poles, and a horrific pogrom of Jews by Poles.

Neither one of us had mentioned Jedwabne or Kielce in the conversation. These references had nothing to do with anything anyone had said. It boggles my mind to think that a *professor* would respond to citations from scholarly books on a different topic with such a racist and inflammatory comment.

Then a woman, also Jewish, who had not participated in the conversation up to that point, threw in the Hitler comparison. Then my Facebook friend, also Jewish, liked her comment.

I contacted my Facebook friend privately. I said, why did you "like" a comment that compares me to Hitler for citing three scholarly books?

He wrote back, "I think that conversations about historical events as entangled & multisided as the Shoah can't be entirely free of biases held, consciously or unconsciously, by participants in the debate. This thread, though an important & consequential one among the multitude of threads in the Facebook universe,& though more immediate & edgy than many, is not unique & will not avoid tensions & wounded feelings. Whether or not we agree, I will continue to call you my friend & will not cease to admire your writing."

I don't know what that means. I wish he had just said, "I don't think it is Hitler like to cite scholarly books to try to find out whether or not a statement is true."

I think there is anti Polish sentiment at work here. In my experience, Polish anti-Semites are street rabble and fringe figures. But there are plenty of people who are professors in universities who really don't like Polish people.


  1. Regarding your last paragraph, I agree. Prof. Alan Dershowitz of Harvard jumped on the “complicitous Poland” bandwagon with a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
    Although he feels that the Polish law and Holocaust denial laws aren’t needed, he nonetheless parrots some of the hearsay history that is often echoed. Some examples include: “But the Germans could not have murdered the Polish Jews, and millions of other Europeans imported to death camps in Poland, without the active assistance of many Poles in identifying and rounding up victims. This complicity was incited by generations of anti-Semitic church sermons.”
    Dershowitz also uses twisted logic in claiming that, because it was logistically impossible for the Germans to destroy European Jewry by themselves, “many” Poles had to have “actively assisted” not only in “murdering the Polish Jews” but also in murdering “millions of other Europeans imported to death camps in Poland.” Additionally, these “many” Poles were eager to do so because of “generations of anti-Semitic church sermons.”

    1. Hello Mr. Sokołowski,

      Dr Goska wrote:
      "In my experience, Polish anti-Semites are street rabble and fringe figures. But there are plenty of people who are professors in universities who really don't like Polish people."

      And Hannah Arendt once wrote:
      "Collaborators among Poles originated from the social margin, scum, while among Jews it was Jewish elites that became collaborators".

      It would seem that Jewish traitors from the Holocaust era and modern polonophobes like prof. Dershowitz have something in common: they are cowards with false sense of superiority, either moral or intelectual.

    2. Lukasz in my experience that are plenty of non Jews who don't like Poles. Like James Carroll, a former Catholic priest who made a million bucks attacking us.

    3. Hello Dr Goska,

      I care what Jews say about Poles, because I care about Jews. And when they slander my nation, it hurts. It really does.
      That is why I focus on them.
      I live in Poland, so I don't meet polonophobes like this failed priest. But I understand that he and others like him might affect our image in America.

    4. Gene I sent Prof Dershowitz this link

  2. This is never pleasant to anyone experiencing it, but it is such old hat. In fact, it has a formal name--REDUCTIO AD HITLERUM.

    It is also called playing the Nazi card.

  3. Karczewski, speaker of the Senate (marszałek) asks Polonia for help
    PiS has created the problem, now they cry "Mother, help us". PiS doesn't have any Shoah historian who would guide them through the maze.

  4. Its hard not to believe that anti-Polonism is not only acceptable in Academe, but de rigeur.

    Of course Academic fashion could change overnight, and we could find ourselves raised from our lowly position on the "unter" page, to the soaring "uber" heights, where, presumably all our critics live.

    Its a bit of a depressing prospect either way, and I find myself more than happy to continue trying to be no part of the world.

    But I think we have to brace ourselves for a larger than usual torrent of hatred and scorn in the wake of this new law.

    I'm not a fan of it myself, but do understand what a difficult area this is for any Polish government to tackle.

    The important thing - the only thing - that matters is not to let "the world" shape us into its image. May I once again recommend the perfect advice in Psalm 37

  5. Jan you submitted a comment blaming Jews for Poles' problems. I won't post that. Please stop submitting material like that. If you continue, I'll have to ban your posts.

    Again, I believe in free speech, but I'm tired of policing your posts.

  6. This may seem like a stupid question, but given the circumstances I feel I should ask it. Is a good relationship with Jews important for Poles? A lot of people are writing rather bigoted things about Poles and I get the feeling that even if Poles acquiesced to the demands of the most vocal that nothing would change. A relationship of mutual respect would not be the result. All that would remain is a one way relationship for which only Jews would benefit. The bigotry would remain or might intensify because the conciliatory attitude would be interpreted as a welcome mat for abuse. Would it be better if Poles and Jews just parted ways?

    Chris Helinsky

    1. Chris, first, may I copy and paste your comment on Facebook?I won't include your name if you don't want me to. I think you say something important.

      Also, can I copy and paste your post as a stand alone post on this blog?

      And, forgive me for asking. You may have mentioned before and I may have forgotten.

      Have you read Bieganski? Because my answer is within the pages of the book.

    2. Chris Helinsky wrote:

      "All that would remain is a one way relationship for which only Jews would benefit. The bigotry would remain or might intensify because the conciliatory attitude would be interpreted as a welcome mat for abuse."

      You said it very well. That is exactly how I feel, and have felt for a very long time.

  7. Yes, you may post my comment elsewhere.

    Chris Helinsky

  8. Yesterday I joined a conversation on BuzzFeed that ensued in response to an article on the proposed law that would criminalize blaming the Polish state and nation for the Holocaust. The comments that followed were quite typical of the anti-Polish comments that I find pretty much everywhere where Jews make comments about Poles and Poland: 1) Nazis wouldn’t have been able to kill 3 million Jewish Poles without the help of Christian Poles, 2) Extermination camps couldn’t have been built in any other country because no one else would have tolerated them, 3) Christian Poles didn’t save enough Jewish Poles, the Dutch and Danish and even the French had a much better record of saving Jews, 4) When Jewish Poles were coming back after the war, Christian Poles killed them “to finish what Hitler didn’t finish”, etc.

    The Poles who participated in the conversation, many of them presumably living in Poland, were outperforming one another introducing previously unmentioned facts that directly challenged the claims or at least threw more light on the events. I pointed out that historically Polish serfs suffered greater oppression than Jews and that Jewish bailiffs, overseers, etc., hired by the Polish nobles, were the peasants’ most direct oppressors and that this created long-lasting resentment. I also mentioned the anti-Gentile laws in the Talmud and that Polish serfs were their most obvious victims—and that both arguments could be found in Israel Shahak’s book “Jewish History, Jewish Religion”. I also said that fewer Jews would have perished in the Holocaust if the Judenrat hadn't cooperated with the Germans—and that both Hannah Arendt and Raul Hilberg came to this conclusion. To avoid being accused of justifying or excusing anything, I emphasized that the anti-Semitism of some Poles cannot be justified or excused and that my intention was just to better understand it and shine more light on the issues.

    These are some of the comments that a Jewish American writer wrote in response to my posts before they disappeared: “shut up and go away”, “let go of your ancient hatred that literally lead to the murder of a million Jewish children”, “moronic, brainless Jew hater”, “NEVER WRITE ABOUT THE TALMUD AGAIN. You literally sound like an ignorant moron when you do. […] I assure [you] that, outside of your circle of fellow Polish morons, no one takes your drivel for anything but drivel”, etc.

    All of my comments vaporized shortly after I submitted them. When I emailed BuzzFeed, I was informed that “There's a chance that your comments were reported to Facebook – unfortunately, that's under Facebook's guidelines and rules”. This is a telling example of how “oppressors” are silenced by their “eternal victims”.

    Chris asked, “Is a good relationship with Jews important for Poles?” A good relationship—at least now— is impossible. It is not in the interest of Jews. They need to play the “eternal victim” role because it’s a powerful weapon against all criticism (Israel’s occupation of Palestine, its war crimes, and domestically the fact that 40% of billionaires in the US are Jewish and that Jews are the most successful ethnic/religious group) and they need the Poles for the role of the “moronic, brainless Jew hater”. The theatrical performance wouldn’t be very convincing without the oppressors.

    What should the Poles do? They shouldn’t resist oppressive labels, including “anti-Semite” and “Jew hater”. Oppressive language/labels have to be reclaimed. “Reclaiming words, when done effectively, is all about power […] ‘Reappropriation of ethnic […] slurs starts as an act of bravado by a few of the oppressed, then may become an empowering mechanism for a much wider community. It’s pleasingly ironic that those discriminated against have learned the Orwellian trick employed by the state and the establishment of hijacking everyday language (as in ‘doublespeak’) for their own nefarious purposes. Alternative discourse ousts and replaces the discourses of power’” (Tony Thorne).

    1. All very good points, Ane Brody.

      I have experienced everything that you describe more than once. I have also built on many of the themes, that you mention, in my Amazon reviews.

      Good work!

  9. Facing Today (an educational and professional development organization) just introduced a lesson on "Why Poland's New Holocaust Law Matters."


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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