Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Politicians: Do Not Tear Poles and Jews Apart. Sign the Petition

Sign the petition here. And thanks to Lukasz for mentioning this. 


  1. Folks, please use a real name when posting and please don't send messages that consist only of links. I often delete such messages.

  2. Which politicians is this petition supposed to be addressed to? Polish politicians? Israeli politicians?

    My response. You can't tear apart that which was never together in the first place.

    Chris Helinsky

    1. I wasn't going to say anything about this specific petition, but you, Chris, said it well and said it all.

    2. And how do you come to this conclusion?

    3. Reading the material that I could access and my own interactions with Jews. It is my understanding that most Jews did not speak Polish as a first language if they spoke it all. One thousand years and Polish was at best a second language. The fact that Yiddish survived in Poland is an embarrassment.

      There are a lot of Jews who hold Poland dear, but many more who hold nothing but contempt.

      Chris Helinsky.

    4. You're correct Mr. Helinsky. According to the 1931 census, 79% of Jews declared Yiddish as their first language, and only 12% listed Polish, with the remaining 9% being Hebrew.
      61 % of Poland's Jews were very religious, which made their assimilation unlikely.
      The fact that Yiddish survived so long is an embarrassement but it was a result of historical, social and cultural factors.
      In shtetls Jews were a "dominant culture" thanks to their numbers. Majority, even a local one, doesn't usually adapt to it's host country. Take muslims or Amish for example.
      Jewish assimilation is a relatively new idea. When other countries were assimilating their Jews, Poles lost their country. Without "stick and carrot" we couldn't assimilate any minority. To become a Pole in those times meant to side with underdog.
      As a result, when Poland was reborn, it had the largest and the most unassimilated Jewish minority in Europe.
      Economically backward. Socially handicapped. Self-alienated from the polish culture.

  3. Poles and Jews are together and have been for a thousand years.

    Those doubting this need only read this series of blog posts:


  4. Unrelated but interesting. A manga series was published in Japan that takes place in the 18th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It is called 'Ten no Hate Made-Poland Hishi.

    Chris Helinsky

    1. Hello Mr Helinsky,

      In Polish this manga was entitled "Aż do nieba. Tajemnicza historia Polski".
      A friend of mine showed me one tome of this manga. Years ago, in high school. We had fun looking for mistakes that author made.
      But we weren't just amused. We were also flattered. Japan is so far away. And yet someone in that distant country knew that we exist. And found our history inspiring.

      Can You imagine how we felt? We, poor Poles who were living in a former satellite state.
      Honored. Proud. Worthy.
      Maybe we have suffered from an inferiority complex typical for members of many post-colonial societies.

      I will address the "Yiddish question" soon. From my polish perspective. Please have patience. English is not my first language.

    2. I understand. The term Central Europe was created to avoid being called Eastern.

      Chris Helinsky

  5. Chris, re: Yiddish in Poland. What do you think of the phrase "Wisła Szepcze po Żydowsku"

    1. The Vistula speaks to me in Yiddish? I think it is embarrassing. Yiddish isn't Hebrew, so I fail to see why it should have existed in Poland. It is not a language of religion and it is a Germanic language. Its connection with Jews is that it is what they were speaking when they migrated to Poland. Why insist on speaking it?

      Chris Helinsky

  6. Good point, Chris. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, with the decline of Jewish religion, Yiddish itself assumed the role of central identity among most of Poland's Jews, and became the new-fashioned form of Jewish separatism among Jews living on Polish lands. In fact, this was called the Yiddishist movement. Politically, this overlapped Bundism--a then-new form of home-grown Jewish nationalism that was centered on Yiddish, which was strongly leftist-secularist, and which was an alternative to both Jewish religion and to Zionism.

  7. "The Wisla whispers to me in Yiddish" is a poetic way of saying that Jews, speaking Yiddish, are just as much a part of the landscape as Polish Catholics, speaking Polish.

    Those of us who are not ethno nationalists believe this. We believe that Jews, speaking Yiddish, are an inextricable part of Poland, the Polish population, Polish history and Polish culture.

    And that is just a fact. Again, I refer to the below linked series of blog posts.


    1. You do not have to be an ethno nationalist to believe that Yiddish should have been discarded. I would interpret the desire to keep speaking Yiddish as a sign of profound disrespect. You are living in a land with a language and culture of its own and you refuse to adjust to that fact. You need not abandon your religion, but you should make certain that you respect your neighbors. Doing so would require speaking the native language most of the time.

      Chris Helinsky

  8. Chris, remember that back in the day, under empires, various groups speaking various languages in one geographic location was *not* a sign of "disrespect" of one's neighbors.

    Think of Jesus. There were Jews, speaking Aramaic, Romans, speaking Greek, Greeks, also speaking Greek, etc.

    People in the Romanov, Hapsburg, or Prussian empires might live in towns with three or more languages: Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian, German, Rom, Yiddish ...

    Yes, some Jews did not hold Poland dear. Others did. Some were indifferent.

    But just speaking Yiddish alone is not a measure of disrespect of Poland.

    And I still maintain that Jews, living in Poland, and speaking Yiddish, were part of Poland, and Poland was part of them, and that is supported by the facts adduced in the above-linked series of blog posts. As yet, neither you nor Mr P has addressed any of those facts.

    1. Poles, Slovaks, and Ukrainians found themselves in the empires of others while not leaving their own land. The same cannot be said of Jews.

      Alright, let me address the issue. Yes, Jews were a part of Poland. Was that good, bad, or some mixture of the two? There was a quote about Poland being a part of Israel that God had hid away and that would be returned and made whole with Israel again. Where are the Poles in this scenario? My problem is that it appear that many Jews liked Poland but held Poles in contempt. What is more is that this appears to alright to many people.

      Chris Helinsky

    2. Chris I think many Jews did hold Poles in contempt. Some liked Poles. Some were indifferent.

      Not all Poles loved Poland. Plenty of Poles betrayed Poland. Plenty of Poles left Poland and taught their kids nothing about Poland and their children and grandchildren in the US today have zero interest in their ancestry.

      I have students with Polish last names who are "wiggers," as the saying goes. That is, they are rich white kids from suburbs who pretend to be inner city blacks because that is the only identity that appeals to them.

    3. Humans are individuals. I did not imply otherwise. I only made note of what appears to be the hegemonic opinion among Jews.

      You can count me among those who were taught nothing, but that is largely a consequence of my family being here since 1868. As for the ghetto imitation of some kids of Polish background, I really do not know what to think. I tend to understand other people through my own experience, so this is entirely alien to me.

      Chris Helinsky

    4. Mr. Helinsky, You wrote: "My problem is that it appear that many Jews liked Poland but held Poles in contempt. What is more is that this appears to alright to many people."
      I had the same feeling. Seems to me that some Jews loved the land but not it's people. And Americans tend to treat Poles like some kind of "redskins".
      We should save the Jews and kindly die out.

      Also any suggestion that Jews should have assimilated in Poland results in furious attacks from American Jews. Which is ironic, since American Jewry is a gold standard of assimilation. They defend what they rejected.

  9. Several members of my family lived the vast majority of their lives in the US, and never spoke English. They spoke only Slovak or Polish.

  10. And it can be argued that Poland encouraged Jewish separatism, for example in the Council of Four Lands


    1. Statute of Kalisz and Council of Four Lands were born out of tolerance and humanity. Polish rulers couldn't possibly predict the long term consequences. If they had wanted Jews to be separated from the rest of society, a ghetto here and there would have sufficed.
      Just becouse one can be "more Jewish than Moses" it doesn't mean that one should be.

    2. "Statute of Kalisz and Council of Four Lands were born out of tolerance and humanity."

      No one said otherwise. You really don't have to argue that point here.

    3. Lukasz Klimek thank you for your sweet note. Let's hug across the miles. I won't publish your note because it is private.

      David B just left a cranky note on the blog post linked below. Did you see his article? I link to it.

      You are a polite and persistent public educator. Perhaps go invite David B to reconsider some of his assumptions about Poles.

      here is the blog post he commented on : http://bieganski-the-blog.blogspot.com/2018/02/bieganski-brute-polak-and-polands-new.html

    4. Hello again,

      Yes, I have read his article. And his note.
      He seems emotional. And cranky (just learned a new word!).
      Maybe I will write to him.

  11. Prime Minister Morawiecki is in trouble now. There is a security conference going on in Munich right now. An Israeli journalist decided to ask if under the new law if he would be charged with relating family experiences with anti-Semitism in Poland during the war. The Prime minister responded that of course there were Polish perpetrator just as there were Jewish perpetrators.

    Chris Helinsky

    1. " just as there were Jewish perpetrators."

      That is a VERBOTEN topic.

  12. I will post one more point in this dialogue of the deaf, in which statistics about how many Jews spoke Yiddish is somehow proof that Jews and Poles were never connected, and any proof of connection between Poles and Jews can just be ignored because that connection does not serve the needs or desires of the reader.

    Between 1880 and 1924, a mass immigration entered the United States.

    "Between 1880 and the onset of restrictive immigration quotas in 1924, over 2 million Jews from Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Romania came to America."

    In some cases, within a few years, and on the outside, within a few decades, those Jews and their descendants could not be distinguished from other Americans on the basis of their appearance, their names, or their speech.

    They spoke English

    They wore American clothes

    They gave their children Anglo Saxon names

    They lived in the same neighborhood with non Jews

    They opened businesses that served all Americans.

    In Poland, during the same decades, anti-Semites were identifying Jews as "unassimilable."

    And in America Jews were assimilating like mad.

    The difference?

    America *invited Jews into mainstream society.* America rewarded Jews for assimilating. Jews were able to have non Jewish friends, business partners, clients, and spouses.

    Yes, there was anti-Semitism in America, too, but not as much as in Poland.

    In Poland, even Jews who converted to Christianity were dogged by anti-Semitism. No, not all Poles were anti-Semites. But enough were.

    Poland made the choices that resulted in that statistic about the number of Jews who claimed Yiddish as their first language.

    In some cases, Poland made those choices out of benign or neutral motives. For example the Council of the Four Lands, which kept Jews separate, could be interpreted as benign. Poles allowed Jews to be their own "state within a state," governed by their own laws.

    Poland made other choices, not so benign. Some Poles, followers of Dmowski, for example, decided that Jews were an alien element and they could never be embraced in the wider society.

    Does a stat about who spoke Yiddish prove that Poles and Jews were never connected?

    No, it does not.

    Does the assimilation of Jews in Poland in 1939 speak only about Jews, and not about Poles?


    And, yes, Poles and Jews have been connected for a thousand years. And there is no denying that.

    1. Jew also didn't consider Americans racial inferiors.

      Chris Helinsky

    2. Hello,

      America had always a lot of carrots, but also carried "a big stick".
      Tolerance comes from Latin word that means to endure, or to suffer. Americans know little about either.
      Just read Mr. Helinsky's post. He's not a brute Pollack. He's a nice, intelligent guy. But he won't endure contempt.
      Just like the people of Postville.
      Just like Polish-American soldiers of the Blue Army who were cutting the beards of Orthodox Jews in Poland.
      They couldn't endure this.
      My peasant ancestors could. Because they endured worse.

      There is a movie titled "The Frisco Kid". I have watched this movie a few times. It's about a rabbi from "Poland" (there was no Poland on the maps then) who comes to America. And gets a hard lesson about cultural assimilation.

  13. Lukasz Klimek, I really dislike being directly insulted. I moderate this blog so I have to at least skim every post, if not read every word of every post. A lot of nastiness crosses my desk and I get tired of it and I want nothing to do with it. I don't want to spend time arguing with myself about whether I should post it or not. I just delete it.

    You just submitted a post. The very first sentence is an insult directed at me. I will not post it.

    I'm not going to scour the post to see if there is anything salvageable there.

    If you have something of note to add, please add it courteously, or at the very least, refrain from insulting your hostess.

    Thank you.

  14. Chris Helinsky, you submitted a post that put words in my mouth that I never said. You make two incorrect assertions about my posts.

    I will not post those messages.

    Please do not put words in my, or anyone else's mouth.

    If you want to add something, add something, but don't say, "You just said ..." if the person didn't say that.

    Thank you.

    1. This will be my last post on your blog.

      First, I am sorry. I had a lapse in judgement and behaved improperly. I should not have said what I said.

      Second, this past month has convinced me that nothing will change and that nothing can change. If the only group being asked to do anything is Poles, then good relations between Poles and Jews is impossible. I have come to believe that most Jews need someone to hate and are unwilling to do without hatred. Leaders on both sides believe otherwise. Gross believes that dealing with history will lead to, and has led to, changed opinions. I believe they are either extremely dishonest or unbelievably naïve. Deal with the negative aspects of history, by all means, but let us not be deluded. Before you try to ascribe emotions to me, I will go ahead and do so. The two emotions that I feel in regards to this topic is anger and frustration. I do not hate Jews, but I am unwilling to accept my role as the monster under the bed. The Polish Nation is composed of people, not props to placed and used as one sees fit. I do believe that cutting ties is the only path to mutual peace. I wish you well.

      Chris Helinsky

    2. Chris, what you wrote does not reflect my real life.

      My mother always had Jewish friends. Her Jewish friends came to the house. They were an integral part of my life growing up. My life, my mother's life, simply would not have been the same without Jewish friends.

      I have *always* had Jewish friends, bosses, students, coworkers, boyfriends, doctors.

      My closest friends right now include Jewish people.

      You talk about separation. For my life? Not possible.

    3. Further, Chris, separation between Poles and Jews makes no sense when it comes to *this very issue.*

      Chris, forgive me if I have forgotten, but did you read Bieganski? Did you like it?

      I was inspired to write it by a Jewish man, Arno Lowi. I was mentored by a Jewish scholar, Alan Dundes. One of my biggest supporters was a Jewish scholar, Antony Polonsky. My publisher is Jewish.

      Did I approach Polish scholars? Yes, I did. I called, wrote, and approached Polish scholars in person. Much of the time, they treated me like dirt beneath their feet. One yelled at me over the phone. One never returned my calls, though we had studied together in Poland.

      Polish publishers wouldn't touch the book. Polish "readers" wouldn't endorse it. Too controversial.

      That's not true of all Polish Americans. As you know John Guzlowski has been a big support to me.

      Chris, did you like my essay on the new speech law? It was published by a publication overseen by an American Jew, David Horowitz. David has been very supportive of me. I regard him as a true friend, support, and mentor.

      And, of course, I've also been attacked by Jews. Some nutcase in the Polish Jewish Matters and the Holocaust Facebook group has posted something like 50 attack posts against me.

      Guess what? Not a single one of the Poles in that group has had the courage to tell that crazy wicked person to back off.

      who did? A Jew. A Jew stood up for me when I was being attacked by another Jew. While Poles stood there silently, allowing the bullying to take place.

      Sorry. I just don't live on the planet where the nice people are Poles and the bad people are Jews (and I know that's not what you described.)

      I live on the planet where decency and honesty and honor and truth and integrity are sometimes hard to find, but when you find them, they are as likely to be found in a Jewish person as in a Polish person.

  15. Jan I am happy to post your posts but not with links, as previously discussed. Thanks.


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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