Sunday, April 28, 2019

Excellent Article about the Rise of Anti-Semitic Speech in Polish Politics

An excellent article about the rise of anti-Semitic speech in Polish politics. Factors in the Pruchnik incident. In fact I came across this link on the Facebook page for Pruchnik. 

I know this blog is in English and so most readers are English speakers, but this article is worth reading, even if you have to read it in "Google translate" format. 

By the way, this article is a good example of how to criticize racist behavior. It does *not* say that "All Poles are anti-Semites and Pruchnik is just proof of that," and it also does not dehumanize the Pruchnik participants, most of whom, it behooves critics to remember, were children. It does not accuse Poles of being *essential" anti-Semites. It does not equate Poles or Catholics or peasants with Nazis and the Holocaust. 

It says what needs to be said. 

Opening paragraphs: 

"After 1989, forces using anti-Semitic language remained marginal in Polish politics. In the presidential election, open anti-Semitic candidates were able to collect 100,000 signatures required for the start - Leszek Bubel in 1995, Bohdan Pawłowski in 2000, Grzegorz Braun in 2015 - but they were usually in marginal places. Never in the Polish parliament has there been a significant political force with an openly anti-Semitic program - if such politicians were involved in it, then they remained on the margins. In the last four years, however, something begins to change in a very disturbing direction. 

Anti-Semitic language is more and more pronounced in the mainstream of public debate. It appears in the statements of politicians who have chances for seats and sit in the parliament - including in the benches of the ruling party. It penetrates into the main right-wing mainstream media. It spills on social media. Again someone released a genie of Polish anti-Semitism from the bottle."

"Greedy Scabs. A Brood of Vipers" by Jakub Majmurek in TVN24 Magazine 


  1. Dear Danusha, I would just like to add that TVN is extremely anti the current Polish government. they were even caught red-handed when they paid several thousand dollars (in zł) to a bunch of idiots to cosplay Polish "nazis" celebrating Adolfs birthday (if this is not fake news I don't know what is).

    Majmurek btw is a typical leftist claiming more or less that everyone who has Polish citizenship is a Pole like everyone else. I strongly disagree- such a view doesn't work. just look at all the young "Britons" fighting,murdering,raping ect for Isis. A Pole (not just holder of a Polish passport) is everyone who assimilates to Polish Culture,customs (you can polonize your former ones to fit in like the Tatars did, that's fine as well),identity and values and who is loyal to Poland.

    About the rise of language considered to be antisemitic (in Toto): with regards to what some Jewish organizations want from Poland (heirless inheritance) or the way some influential Jews are writing or speaking about Poles and Poland even I am hard-pressed not to think of things like greed,hate, ill will, lack of shame, extreme ethnocentrism ect. I would think the same about any other group expousing such behaviour. PIersonally I have come to think that this is done on purpose in order to discredit Poland and to make it easier to blackmail the Polish nation for "restitutions".

    1. "About the rise of language considered to be antisemitic (in Toto): with regards to what some Jewish organizations want from Poland (heirless inheritance) or the way some influential Jews are writing or speaking about Poles and Poland even I am hard-pressed not to think of things like greed,hate, ill will, lack of shame, extreme ethnocentrism ect. I would think the same about any other group expousing such behaviour. PIersonally I have come to think that this is done on purpose in order to discredit Poland and to make it easier to blackmail the Polish nation for "restitutions"."

      I am not sure to what extent this is true, if at all, but this can't be an excuse for reprehensible behavior. Just because there are people with bad intentions involved does not mean that they can be attacked. A sin committed against a sinner is still a sin.

      In any case I do not think malice is the prime motivation.

      Chris Helinsky

  2. This was a decent piece. That being said, I have a problem with it. The way the author uses the word stereotype suggests that he is trying to say that these stereotypes have no truth to them. For example, he mentions the stereotype of the Jew-stranger as if to say that no Jew lived in self-imposed isolation from Polish society. The problem is that there was a segment of Jews who did just that. Leon Weliczker Wells says as much.

    Chris Helinsky

    1. Hello Mr. Helinsky,

      A segment? More like a majority. In pre-war Poland unassimilated, orthodox Jew was a common sight. Not a stereotypical but a typical Jew. It's an old memory that's still alive. Like in Pruchnik for example.

      Unlike in the West, Jews in Poland had enough numbers to become a "dominant culture" in towns were they lived.
      Westerners are mostly unaware of that fact. And it's implications.

  3. The article states that Pascha and Ramadan are just as Polish as Easter. I assume you agree with that statement and its implications?

    1. Muslims have been in Poland since the 14th century. Jews longer.

    2. Hello Dr. Goska,

      Muslim Tatars who settled in Poland made no significant contribution to the Polish culture. In art, trade, agriculture - they sucked. They were good in chopping heads off. And they are mostly remembered for the Lipka Rebellion.

      "Reputation, you know – a lifetime to build, seconds to destroy."

      And when Poles hear the word "Tatar" they tend to think of Crimean slavers who visited the P-L Commonwealth so often.

      Jews on the other hand were peaceful (maybe too much so). And contributed much, even if sometimes unwittingly.
      Putting Jews and Muslims in the same bag doesn't seem right to me. Same goes for Pascha and Ramadan. Mr. Majmurek made a mistake in my opinion.

    3. You can't separate based on ethnic categories or you open yourself up to charges of special treatment and hypocrisy.

    4. "A "Pole" is someone whose ancestors spoke Polish and were not Jewish; a "Jew" is someone whose ancestors were Jewish."

      I am sorry but that is an offensive definition. It relegates a Pole to some sort of a scrap/remainder category.

      Is a Polish speaking Muslim then a Pole? Presumably yes.

      What about a Polish speaking German? Presumably also yes.

      What about Polish Canadians/Australians/Americans who do not speak Polish? Presumably they are not Poles.

      By your definition who is Jewish depends solely on his or her ancestors, not on the language he spoke. Needless to say this is not a parallel definition to that of a Pole.

      Also, by this definition, who is and who is not Polish becomes a function of Jewish law. I've never heard of anyone defining their nation by reference to some other nation's definition of itself.

      Bruno Szulc was not Polish by ancestry. Whether or not he was Jewish I leave to the Jews. That, of course, does not mean that Wolitz is right in condoning theft but somehow Wolitz has no problem in defining his own people and he is absolutely right that (most)Jews were always a distinct nationality in Eastern Europe. I hope you accept that.

      So why not just say that Poles are those whose ancestors were Polish? (same as you did for Jews).

    5. An important point to make. Much of the conflict in Polish-Jewish relations is generated by the use of definitions that do not distinguish appropriately between groups. This has to do with the desire to prevent a group (typically the Poles) from self-defining itself. Any discussion that is based on definitions that we do not agree on is bound to be a failure.

      This has to do with the (typically Left's) obsessive desire to construct the Other as the same as us for purposes of defining US. This desire results in a willful denial of reality which poisons the discussion afterwards.

      The Other is NOT the same as us. And, by the same courtesy, we are not the same as the Other. BUT, and this is what everyone should be taught, that does not mean that we should not respect the Others. We must understand the Others (and demand that they understand us) DESPITE our differences.

      The opposite rhetoric of denying these differences is so fraught with the fear that the moment we recognize differences we will all start killing each other that it stokes the very tensions it purports to want to prevent.

  4. That does not make them Polish and never will. I am sure you can find a Mongol who's been in Poland since at least the 13th century.

    1. Hello Mr. Bratt,

      There is no Mongol minority in Poland.
      Few years ago Polish archaeologists found a grave containing the skeleton of a woman of Mongolian origin. A stake through her heart suggests that the Mongol colonisation of Polish lands did not go as planned.
      Whatever settlement there have been, it has disappeared Roanoke-style.

    2. But suppose there were. What then? If we grant that such people would have full citizenship rights, would you also agree that they were "Poles" in the ethnic sense?

      That would effectively mean that you would deny the vast majority of people who are Poles but who are not Polish Mongos, Tatars, Germans, Jews, Muslims, etc. the right to self-define themselves. This would effectively abolish the group since one of the principal ways of defining a group is to INCLUDE some and EXCLUDE others.

      If you are forbidden from excluding others then you are not a group at all. In effect, two Martians can show up on Earth and claim that they are the same as you Earthlings. If you previously defined yourself - the Earthlings - to say, "we are two-armed, two-legged people", the Martians can now demand that the definition be changed, them having three arms, legs and all. In fact, after that, once they have became full fledged Earthlings under the new inclusive definition, they could say, Earthlings now include only three-armed & three legged people: you two-legged creatures will now be called Martians.

  5. Were you to fail to define Poles as a separate nation then you might just as well shut down the blog and have a Polish Muslim and a Polish Jew discuss all these topics. You, by definition, would have nothing special to add to it.

    1. Huh?

      You totally don't understand this blog.

  6. The Polish Constitution defines the Polish Nation as "all the citizens of the Republic" - irrespective of ethnicity or faith. Poland has always had a wide, citizenship-based idea of the political community, from the Tartars accepted into the nobility, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Germans, Jews, Armenians, foreign kings etc. "Blood and soil" is a German idea, copied by our wannabe fascists, who are in reality completely opposed to the true Polish tradition and values.

    1. Also, as a separate matter, I am not sure on what basis you get to define what is a "true Polish tradition and values"? That surely is a rather ambitious statement.

      Beyond that, I think you would agree that it was as a result of the "values" of the nobility as reflected by the gross mismanagement of the country and the complete abdication of national responsibility and interest that the commonwealth expired.

      A significant part of that expiration had to do with the way the enlightened and multicultural nobility treated the commonwealth's native population - the Polish, Lithuanian, Belarussian and Ukrainian nations who were virtual slaves. Part of the rationalization behind this was that the "open society" nobility viewed itself as "Sarmatian" - distinctly different from the rabble.

      All the while the nobility was open and tolerant. With the result that up until WWI many of the Western Polish towns were half or more German and that by the start of WWII between 85%-90% of Polish Jews could not form a sentence in Polish and of the remaining %, most still married within their secular Jewish ethnic and did not intermarry with the Poles.

      So the question I would ask, now that we know how it all ended, is whether you honestly believe all this - a result of ostensible (since often paid for) tolerance and lack of assimilation - was a good thing? For anyone.

      If so, then you will have proven that old Polish saying.

    2. @is whether you honestly believe all this - a result of ostensible (since often paid for) tolerance and lack of assimilation - was a good thing? For anyone.

      As a Pole I would like to answer that: it was not. We paid a terrible price for nothing. The same terrible price countries like France Germany and the UK will pay for their ideological multiculturalism.

      I will stress it again it's all about culture- a Pole can be black, have Indian or Far Easter ancestry, no problemo. he just can't consider himself to be part of a special group that only intermarries within its own ranks. Here she can not hold values that are not shared by the Polish nation in general (radical Islam comes to mind here).

      The effect of holding such views as the afore mentioned above is the following: the numerically small groups of people migrating to Poland will, in the long run, disappear. Through intermarriage and cultural assimilation their decendants will become unquestionably Polish. Google the story of Sam Sandi, an African whom fate brought to Poland during the first world war. His descendants still live in Poland.

    3. Sam Sandi married a Polish woman. Julian Tuwim did not. Of course, you might ask whether the same would have happened had pre-WWII Poland's percentage of Cameroonians and Jews been reversed.

      But, that, as we say, we will never know.

  7. The Polish Constitution cannot define the Polish nation as an ethnic concept because the Polish nation is not a legal or political concept. It is a blood concept.

    You are talking about a political concept of citizenship. Polish state law, including the Constitution can and does define is who is a Polish citizen as a political matter. This is an administrative concept that is - at present - obviously different from the concept of a nation.

    If that is difficult to understand, you can look at Israel. Israel is a Jewish state but there are Arab Israelis. They are citizens of the state but that does not make them Jews. Nor can become Jewish by "feeling" Jewish. Likewise, Jews can't turn into Arabs.

    If you believe Poland is merely a legal concept then presumably you believe there were no Poles between 1795-1918.

    As regards, "blood and soil", that is precisely why Poland was created in 1918 to give freedom to the ethnic Poles who were being Russified, Germanized, etc. That is the very foundation of a nation-state. That is why Poland, Israel, Italy, Germany, South Sudan, Kosovo and most countries were founded. If you don't believe in that then you don't believe in nation-states. In fact, if nation = state then might just as well say "state" rather than use too many words.

    Also, you should read up on fascism. Fascism is a political system. How you define your community has nothing to do with what kind of political system you have. The South Africans clearly excluded all non-whites. But for the whites they had a democracy.

    As for Danusha, please don't be coy. It does not behoove you. When you talk about "Polish-Jewish" relations, who is this "Polish" that you refer to? I think you know.

    1. Chris, it is not hard to understand, but it is simply wrong, as far as the mainstream Polish thinking and tradition is concerned. Poland was "created" (or rather, reborn after the period of partitions) not to give freedom to "ethnic" Poles, but to give freedom to Poles -defined as all who shared the Polish culture and chose to be members of our community. Your (and National Democracy's) idea of "ethnic Poles" would leave outside its scope Mickiewicz, Piłsudski, Tuwim and countless others. Being Polish has always been about the language and the culture, not the blood and soil.

      As to the Constitution, it was our choice to define our nation in accordance with our republican tradition. Your Israel example shows precisely why you are wrong and why the Israeli "Nation State" law is criticized - in my view, correctly. It deserves criticism because it differentiates between the nation which is the source of sovereignty and the citizens. As you say, you can be an Arab Israeli citizen and not be a member of the Jewish nation and hence have no right to national sovereignty per the Nation State Law. That would be impossible in Poland because each citizen is automatically part of the Polish nation - and it is not a legal technicality, but a fundamental choice which stems from who we are and who we choose to be.

    2. but to give freedom to Poles -defined as all who shared the Polish culture

      Yes. Unfortunately the Polish culture wasn't shared by a huge part of the Jewish population. I'm not saying this to offend, that's just a fact.likewise right now half of the muslim population of the UK thinks that homosexuals should be at least jailed for their "crime". I do not consider this people to be British. Let me rephrase this- they choose not to be british.

    3. Piotr

      Of course, I understand the reason for your statements/choices.

      But cannot agree.

      What is "Polish culture"? Presumably you do not think it is Roman Catholicism (which, in any event by definition, is a universal religion in any event). If it had been, then the Roman Catholic position should have been written into the Constitution. I assume you're opposed to that.

      Is it the "republican tradition"? But what tradition is that? The tradition of about 10% of population that lasted a few hundred years at best (from the at least 1,000 in Polish history) and which - ultimately - resulted in the downfall of the country?

      Is it the language? But that is rather a strange branch to hang your argument on. We often hear of millions Poles in the U.S. How many speak Polish? Presumably they are not Polish then?

      What of the Polish children kidnapped by the Nazis? They mostly do not speak Polish. If we say they are not Polish then we are willing to sanction the theft of our children making us no better than animals.

      As for Mickiewicz and Pilsudski, the relationship between Poles and other Slavs as well as Balts is a little bit different because, for the most part, it is still a family relationship. Also, I would not be surprised if both of these gentlemen had had a Polish ancestor in their family tree.

      As for Tuwim, I am sympathetic to him mostly because of the despicable way he was treated by portions of the - Polish - press (yes, typically associated with the National Democrats) in pre-WWII years (quite in line, incidentally, with the Weimar atmosphere across the border). (Of course, the Jewish press wanting him to fall in line did not treat him great either).

      But while I have no problem really liking Tuwim's poetry (or Brzechwa's) and writing, I can appreciate it without considering him a Pole just as I like Shakespeare's plays but do not need to "claim" him. Most Poles can appreciate Copernicus' discoveries without needing to prove he was Polish.

      Of course, you will, I hope agree that Tuwim also proves the point, since he married not a Pole but a Jew, ensuring that the next generation would also not be Polish. Presumably that was his preference. You can ask yourself why (I would start with reading about why black kids sit together in school).

      Moreover, there is something, for lack of a better term, provincial about wanting to associate yourself with a great artist or scholar just because he or she is great. It smacks of a low-esteem, frankly and, I hope you will forgive this, it looks pathetic. It reminds me of Einstein's wistful quote about how, when convenient, the Germans (and others) tried to claim him for themselves.

      Finally, and I think more importantly, if you just "borrow" other people's "greats" then you also are giving up on the responsibility to improve yourself. In a way, if you permit someone to front for you - as you - you cede the stage and give up "yourself". In which case, you should ask "why am I even here? what do I add to the mix?"

      BTW by "we" and "mainstream" I assume you mean legal scholars? Legislators? My tentative view is they had no idea what they voted for or did not care one way or another.

      As far as the Israeli law is concerned, it would be very presumptive for me to even think about criticizing it (the EU is the Mother of All Presumptions). However, I will say that I appreciate the people who pushed it through because they had the guts to finally say what everyone knew in any event was true. I wish the same courage to Polish legislators.

  8. From the introduction to Bieganski. The entire intro is accessed via a link on this very page.

    A note on terminology: as per widely followed convention, a "Pole" is someone whose ancestors spoke Polish and were not Jewish; a "Jew" is someone whose ancestors were Jewish. Dr. Roman Solecki was born in Poland, speaks Polish as a first language, and fought in the Home Army. He is an atheist. In spite of all this, he is identified as a "Jew." There is prickly debate around all methods of identification of Poles and Jews. For example, if a Pole focuses on the distinctiveness of the Jewish people in Poland, he can stand accused of not recognizing Jews as an integral part of Poland (Nosowski 162). On the other hand, Poles, with pride, tend to understand Bruno Szulc as a national author. In defending Yad Vashem's appropriation of Bruno Szulc murals from a house in Ukraine, formerly Poland, Seth Wolitz, the Gale Jewish Studies Professor at U. T. Austin, declared that it was only right for Israelis to take work created by a Jew, because "Jews in Eastern Europe were always a distinct nationality. The Schulz paintings belong to the direct inheritor: Israel" (Wolitz). In short, "Pole" and "Jew" are terms of art and convention; there are no easily accepted alternative terms.

    1. The Schulz paintings belong to the direct inheritor: Israel"

      Amazing insanity. Schulz was,of course,a Pole of Jewish ancestry. He was assimilated and that's everything that counts. Not ancestry like most Jews believe. ancestry is quite convenient because you can claim people for your own group who actually might have done everything possible to get away from the group they were born into.


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.
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