Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Revolution in Poland as Nation Confronts Priestly Sex Abuse: AP

Henryk Jankowski, Solidarity Priest, alleged sexual abuser, statue toppled. Source

Revolution in Poland as Nation Confronts Priestly Sex Abuse 


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — One victim spoke out, and then another, and another. A statue of a pedophile priest was toppled in Gdansk, put back by his supporters, and finally dismantled for good. A feature film about clerical abuse was a box office hit.

Poland thought it had started confronting the problem of clerical abuse and its cover-up by church authorities. Then a bombshell came: A documentary with victim testimony so harrowing it has forced an unprecedented reckoning with pedophile priests in one of Europe’s most deeply Catholic societies.

Poland’s bishops acknowledged this week they face a crisis and made a rare admission that they have failed to protect the young. It’s also a crisis for the country’s conservative government, which is closely aligned with the Catholic Church, putting the ruling Law and Justice party on the defensive before Sunday’s European Parliament vote in Poland.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Nazi Experimentation on Polish Women Covered in Haaretz

Krystyna Czyz source

The Brilliant Code Used by Concentration Camp Inmates to Tell the World About Nazi Experiments

'As a sign that you have read this, send me a blue thread in a parcel': The heroic tale of young Ravensbrück inmates whose coded messages to their families were no less than genius

in Haaretz 


Tens of thousands of women – Germans, Jews, members of the resistance, Gypsies – were incarcerated in the camp, situated north of Berlin. Most of them were ultimately murdered. In the summer of 1942, SS physicians began to conduct medical experiments on them under the direction of Karl Gebhardt, who had the distinction of being the personal physician of SS head Heinrich Himmler. The victims included at least 74 young Polish women, most of them members of the underground. Their legs were gashed with pieces of glass and wood, and bacteria were introduced into the wounds. The ostensible aim of the experiments was to test potential infection-fighting medications. The Germans termed the victims “rabbits.” Czyz and her friends Wanda Wijtasik, Janina Iwaska and Janina’s little sister Krystyna were among them. The physical damage inflicted on them made even the thought of escape pointless.

In January 1943, after months of brutal experiments, Czyz, now 20, and her friends decided to rebel – by reporting secretly about the experiments to the Polish underground. By this means, they thought, the reports would be conveyed to the Polish government in exile, the International Red Cross and foreign governments, and the horrific crimes being committed by the doctors in the camp would be revealed to the world.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

New Book Addresses Ukrainian Massacres of Poles

Maksymilian Rigamonti

"Recovering the Memories of a 1943 Massacre in Eastern Europe
Maksymilian and Magdalena Rigamonti provide an overdue memorial for those who perished in the Volhynia massacre during World War II" in the New York Times here

An Excellent Experience with a Great Audience

This past weekend, Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, at a church in Massachusetts, I had one of my very best experiences ever as a writer.

Saturday night I spoke about Bieganski. Sunday morning I spoke about God through Binoculars.

The audience was beautiful. Very intelligent, thoughtful, curious, feeling, aware, and gracious.

Both Bieganski and God through Binoculars are potentially controversial books. One is about Polish-Jewish relations, ethnic strife, and stereotyping. One is about despair and "the dark night of the soul."

The audiences at both events listened carefully and asked questions that showed that they were engaged. I brought some copies of two of my books and sold out both.

At both events delicious homemade food was served, including smoked kielbasa and pierogis at the Bieganski event.

I met many of the audience members and they were some of the nicest people I've talked to in a while. I received very kind and supportive feedback for my work.

Most of my talks about Bieganski have been to academic audiences, and all too many members of academic audiences don't hear anything I say. As soon as question time comes, they just beat their own favorite drum.

This event was a healing balm. People really listened, and they said encouraging things. This rarely happens.

I cannot thank enough the gracious church members of Massachusetts who allowed me to talk about my work.

If you want to support the work that I do, please invite me to speak.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Bahlsen Cookie Heiress: "We Treated Forced Laborers Well." Under Nazi Occupation

Verena Bahlsen says that her family used forced labourers under Nazi occupation and "We treated them well." She has been criticized for this and has apologized. See here

Monday, May 13, 2019

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Gets a "Calming Feeling" from Thinking about the Holocaust; Washington Post Defends Her

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who has made clear that she is a Muslim Arab and that she represents Muslim Arabs, though she ostensibly serves in the US Congress, stated publicly that thinking about the Holocaust gives her a "calming feeling." You can hear the audio here

The Washington Post, which recently, in the person of German-born Rick Noack, blamed Poles, Poland, and the Catholic Church for the Holocaust (see here) ran defense for Tlaib, see here.

Map from Rashida Tlaib's office. Tlaib celebrating her victory draped in an Arab, Muslim flag.
Evidence of a double standard as to who gets criticized and why. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Jews Feel Safer in Eastern Europe than Western Europe: Commentary Magazine, November 2018

Jews Feel Safer in Europe’s Conservative East Than Its Liberal West
A pervasive false impression.

The Joint Distribution Committee’s International Center for Community Development surveyed 893 Jewish leaders and professionals from throughout Europe and found that in general, Jews felt safe everywhere. Nevertheless, there was a stark difference between Eastern and Western Europe.

In the east, a whopping 96 percent of respondents felt safe, while only four percent felt unsafe. In the West, 76 percent felt safe, and 24 percent felt unsafe. Respondents from places like Poland, Hungary, and Romania—countries routinely accused of having anti-Semitic, borderline fascist governments—felt safer than Jews in liberal countries like France and Germany by a 20-point margin.

Moreover, “Western European respondents were more likely to consider antisemitism as a threat than were Eastern Europeans, and to report deterioration in the situation from earlier surveys,” the JDC’s report said. Nor is this mere subjective perception: Other studies have found that Jews are much more likely to experience physical violence in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe. In 2017, for instance, Hungary’s 100,000 Jews didn’t report a single physical attack, while Britain’s 250,000 Jews reported 145.

Read full article here

Thanks to Lukasz for this

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Muslim Children in Philadelphia, PA, Sing About Chopping Off Heads. Media is Silent

Recently Muslim children in Philadelphia were filmed chanting and singing about chopping off infidels' heads and subjective infidels to eternal torture. They were pledging themselves to a life of murder in service of global jihad. Behind them was a map of the world in the shape of a hand pointing upward. The upward-pointing hand is an ISIS sign. 

The media has remained relatively silent. Compare this to coverage of the Covington Catholic schoolboys on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or the coverage of Pruchnik. 

See more here

Glenn Beck, whom I do not endorse, talks about paucity of media coverage, below. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Judas Beating in Pruchnik, Poland

The Accusation by James Huntley Source

Judas Beating in Pruchnik, Poland, April 19, 2019

Years ago I read an article about mixed marriages between black and white Americans. The article was published in the 1960s, when such marriages were rare and risky. The spouses were a testament to the triumph of love. They also testified to a less savory human quality. Spouses reported, "When things get really tense, that moment comes, when he (or she) calls me a n - - - - r" – or "cracker" or some other racist slur. Yes, you can love someone so much that you defy custom or even the law. But when push comes to shove, your ancient training in hate surfaces.

Poles engaged in Polish-Jewish dialogue are like those spouses. We struggle for decades to progress past fear, hate, and stereotyping. But when tension arises, we are shoved right back into the stereotype box. We become, again, "medieval" "dumb Polak" "Nazi scum."

On April 21, 2019, a beloved Facebook friend posted a link to a World Israel News article entitled "WATCH: Polish townsfolk beat, burn Jewish effigy for 'betraying Jesus.'" In the ensuing discussion with several Jewish Facebook users, our friendships frayed to near non-existence. My friends presented me with a litmus test. I could publicly announce that I am ashamed to be Polish, or I could lose our connection.

On Friday, April 19, in Pruchnik, Poland, children beat an effigy meant to represent Judas. The effigy appeared to be made of burlap. "Judas 2019 traitor" was written on its chest. The effigy had a long nose, black side curls, and a small black hat. Eventually men sliced the effigy open and set alight the straw contents. This six-minute video was covered, and condemned, by the Washington Post, the Times of Israel, The Forward, Haaretz, The BBC, Newsweek, Reuters, U. S. News and World Report, ABC News, The Times (London), and too many others to list.

Make no mistake. None of this was ethical journalism covering a real rural village, population 3,500 in the Carpathian mountains. In fact, the World Israel News didn't even bother to spell the town's name correctly, dubbing it "Parchnik." No journalists covering this event traveled to Pruchnik or interviewed the villagers and asked them what this custom means to them.

No. This coverage was all about reinforcing the Brute Polak stereotype. As described in my book, "Poles possess the qualities of animals. They are strong, stupid, violent, fecund, anarchic, dirty, and especially hateful in a way that more evolved humans are not … The special hatefulness of the Brute Polak is epitomized by his Polish anti-Semitism."

The Brute Polak serves many purposes. One reason it exists is to shift blame for the Holocaust away from German Nazis and onto Polish Catholic peasants. Further, the Brute Polak stereotype is used to discredit all Christians and Christianity itself. Ultimately, the Brute Polak stereotype is exploited by those invested in discrediting Western Civilization and its Judeo-Christian roots. Christianity is one foundation of Western Civilization. Poland is noted as a Catholic country. Slipping Poland into the historical slot earned by Nazi Germany is an aid in discrediting Western Civilization.

Comments, below, are cut and pasted from social media and news sites covering Pruchnik. I did not edit these comments and they contain their original errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Many of these comments were signed with first and last names.

Poles "always were and always will be virulently antisemitic . Its in their genes"

"Ahh the Polacks they never disappoint , stupid then , stupid now, stupid forever !!"

"It's time to put an end to their very lucrative Holocaust tourism industry--by which they profit from murdering their Jewish citizens twice over!"

"If there was any doubt that many Poles are anti-semitic to the core, this should dash those doubts … Catholicism who keeps them in this darkness is a crime."

"Roman Catholicism that is the Satanic strategy against the Jewish people."

"The sages tell us that Poland is doomed. They will never amount to much due to their perpetual antisemitism."

"Hitler used Christianity to support his extermination of the Jews."

"I shed no tear over Notre Dame. But Poland and the Catholic Church there are notorious for their anti-semitisn. The Crusades, Inquisition, and The Holocaust were Catholic led and inspired."

"The Poles are still filthy Nazi scum. They deny complicity with the Germans, but they were eager to participate in the murder of Jews. What was then is still true now. Never forget. Never forgive."

"That is why Hitler put all his big camps there. He knew no Poles would mount any raids on them. Think about it! Did the polish underground lift a finger in 1943? Nope!!"

"It is a matter of common knowledge that the Polish govt was in league with the Nazi hierarchy."

"The Germans didn't murder all 3 million Polish Jews without a lot of help from the local Polish anti-Semites. I'm so glad the Soviets occupied Poland and made their lives miserable."

"Don't ask America to come and save you when Russian rolls it's tanks and army into your pathetic country."

"bunch of little paganists. Many Poles have Jewish ancestry. There are some decendants of intermarriages here too besides regular Poles. Show this to dumb intermarrying Jews in US, EU etc. Shey should see what kind imbeciles can be their offsprings"

"The christian community can not keep its hate focused on Judas only. The effigy … was to evoke hate toward present day Jews, to get kids accustom to physically attacking modern Jews, to propagate christian hate to a new generation. It is not hard to recognize that christians are gearing up for a new spasm of genocidal wars … Europe's Christian identity is historically based on the genocide of all other life on the earth … It is not coincidence that both world wars were started by Europe's Christian identity. Nor is it a coincidence that the rampage of genocide across all the inhabited continents is based on Europe's Christian identity … One can add the global slave trade."

"Religious inspired violence proves that civilization resting on technology, science, legislation, and rational discourse has so fragile links to one generation to the next that blind abstract hate will find real victims, again and again, if the links to history are not sustained in public education. Given Poland's role in the Holocaust, there ought to be no symbolic violence but only expressions of Christan nonviolence on Easter."

The Brute Polak stereotype is not limited to comments sections. The Washington Post coverage, titled "Children beat effigy of Judas in Poland, amid persistence of 'medieval anti-Semitism'" was written by Rick Noack. On April 22, Noack had published "Christianity Under Attack? Sri Lanka Church Bombings Stoke Far Right Anger in the West." That article began by calling the murder of Christians by jihadis a "theme." Noack was widely criticized for trivializing the murder of Christians attending Easter services in Sri Lanka. Noack also criticized fundraising for Notre Dame cathedral, "Notre Dame may have too much money after billionaires and others rushed to pledge." Pruchnik was a gift to Christophobic, German-born Noack.

Noack uses the word "medieval." The World Jewish Congress also used the word "medieval," and linked "medieval" with the Holocaust. "Jews are deeply disturbed by this ghastly revival of medieval antisemitism that led to unimaginable violence and suffering."

"Medieval" is a dog whistle for the Brute Polak stereotype. Nazism was an entirely modern phenomenon. Associating genocide with the word "medieval" is a way to link mass murder with the Catholic Church. Catholicism had a monopoly in the West before the Reformation, which began in 1517, 25 years after one commonly accepted end of the medieval era. Using the word "medieval" further links genocide with rural people living what are described as "backward" lives. If only these folks would "evolve," would "progress" into a "modern, progressive" form, there would be no more violence.

The Brute Polak stereotype is historically revisionist. Nazism was opposed to Christianity, especially Catholicism. See "Against Identifying Nazism with Christianity." Nazis were educated, urban, and in their own minds quite "evolved." No top Nazis were uneducated, or were peasants. As Steven Zipperstein, Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University wrote, Nazi Germany was "Europe's most cultivated, certainly its best-educated country. Germany had the world's finest elementary school system, the highest literacy rate and the best universities; by 1913 more books were published annually in Germany than in any country in the world. Its technical skill, its industry, its relentless business savvy … marked it off as among modernity's singular successes."

In a fascinating rhetorical pirouette, that appeared to go unnoticed by those in the comments section, Noack wrote, "With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise across Europe," conflating Pruchnik villagers with assaults on Jews in Paris and London. Who is beating those Jews? Not Poles. "Anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer" The Washington Post reported in 2019. "European Jews … cannot avoid the issue of Muslim antisemitism. Not only have many of the bloodiest attacks on European Jews in recent times been carried out by Muslims, surveys – including the Institute for Jewish Policy Research's 2017 antisemitism survey – do show distinctly higher levels of antisemitic attitudes amongst Muslims," The Jewish Chronicle reported on May 24, 2018.

Noack wrote, "The Catholic Church taught for much of the past century that the death of Jesus was to be blamed on Jews." The Catholic Church rejected the deicide charge against Jews in the sixteenth century Council of Trent, in 1965's Nostra Aetate, and in other documents. I was raised Catholic and was never taught that Jews were responsible for Jesus' death. Yes, some Catholics believe in deicide. But that's not what Noack wrote. He wrote it was church teaching.

"World War II and the Holocaust triggered a rethink and the abandonment of that interpretation within the church. But not all communities changed course." German Noack makes clear: The Catholic Church is responsible for WW II and the Holocaust, and Poland clings to that guilt-ridden stance. That children beat a Judas effigy in Pruchnik is proof.

Haters never get the facts right. Beating Judas effigies is not particularly "Polish." One respondent to the Washington Post's coverage wrote, "I grew up in Poland and have never seen or heard of this hateful practice. On top of it both Church and politicians condemned this practice." Same here. I've celebrated dozens of Polish-themed Easters, in the US and Poland, and I am unfamiliar with beating Judas as well.

No one traveled to Pruchnik to interview the villagers. Were the Washington Post discussing any other custom in any other remote, maligned corner of the world, you can bet that that depth of investigation is what they would demand. No liberal discusses even a custom as heinous as Muslim female genital mutilation without treating the practitioners with kid-glove respect. I have received graduate training in anthropology at one of the best universities in the world and I can testify that we never talked about any custom except with respect for the practitioners. Even if you want to change a custom, you have to first respect those who practice is. Unless they are rural Polish villagers.

Beating Judas has been practiced in Greece, the Philippines, and Latin America, as well as Liverpool, England. Of course majority Protestant England also burns the Catholic Guy Fawkes in effigy annually. UNESCO's World Heritage List includes mention of the Czech version of the Judas custom. No one is accusing any Mexicans, who have been enthusiastic practitioners of the beating-of-Judas custom, of being responsible for the Holocaust. The exclusive focus on Poland for an international custom that never reached its height in Poland again reveals that this panic is all about revivifying the Brute Polak stereotype in order that it can continue to perform its historically revisionist task of rewriting WW II history.

That those condemning Poles and Poland are not interested in changing or eliminating the beating of Judas custom in Pruchnik is revealed by their very lack of respect. Now that a town of 3,500 rural people, utterly powerless to change the international opprobrium heaped upon them, have been verbally pilloried around the world, how likely do you think those villagers will be to listen to any suggestions for change? Of course they are not likely to listen. Those condemning this custom don't want it to disappear; they want to milk it for all it is worth. If you want the custom to change, you go to Pruchnik, you address the villagers as your equals, and you work with them for a better world.

In response to being demonized, Poles on social media asked Jews to consider their fellow Jews who have hung highly inflammatory Purim effigies. In some photos, Orthodox Jews hang effigies made to look like Israeli soldiers. In others, Jews hang effigies that are obviously African American themed. Poles pleaded, can't you see how wrong it would be to label all Jews as racist or anti-Israel on the basis of an inflammatory Purim effigy?

I want to ask my Jewish brothers and sisters to consider another analogy. The international panic over Pruchnik, a town no one has heard of before this, is itself an act of beating and burning a hated stereotypical figure. The world is invited to hate Polaks and blame them for the Holocaust, because a handful of people no one actually talked to engaged in a custom that is both ambiguous and international.

Nor is Pruchnik the only time some Jews created an effigy of a hated, stereotypical version of Polish identity. In considering Pruchnik, I cannot help but think of Isaac Bashevis Singer, H. N. Bialik, Philip Roth, Art Spiegelman, Lenny Bruce, and many others. Singer won a Nobel Prize in literature. He described Poles as "beasts" who urinate, defecate and copulate publicly, expose themselves, never bathe, eat rats, grunt like animals, scream and laugh madly, and have six fingers and toes. All this ugliness comes from just one paragraph from just one of Singer's novels. Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-Prize-winning comic book Maus is required reading in the Holocaust canon. In Spiegelman's book, Poles are quite literally pigs. Thanks to Spiegelman, generations of American school children have been taught to regard Poles as pigs. H. N. Bialik, Israel's national poet, also called Poles pigs. "A sty of pig-men" was how Bialik characterized a tavern in a Polish village. Philip Roth, winner of the National Book Award, the Man Booker Prize, and awarded, by President Obama, a National Humanities Medal, described Poles as "big, dumb … dumb, blonde … direct descendants of the ox." Lenny Bruce, hailed as a cultural icon, imagined a world where all ethnicities could unite in brotherhood. Multicultural humanity would then turn on the real enemy: Poles. "It won't matter, it won't matter anymore even if you are colored and I'm Jewish, and even if Fritz is Japanese, and Wong is Greek, because then…we're all gonna stick together – and beat up the Polacks!" If Poles flew into a tizzy every time they were stereotyped by a movie, newspaper article, or March of the Living tour, they wouldn't have time for anything else. Clearly, to stereotype is very much not the same things as to commit genocide. Were it, Jews would be guilty of genocides of Poles. In fact every one of us who ever stereotyped our ethnic others would be guilty of genocide, and there would be no one left on earth. I will not present my Jewish friends with any litmus test. I will not demand that they pillory Singer or Bruce or Spiegelman. I ask only, when they speak about Pruchnik, that they factor in to their understanding the effigies hanging in their own closets.

In current, high stakes culture wars, that will determine the fates not just of individuals but of civilizations, Catholics and Jews are natural allies. Historically there is no Poland without Jews. There is no modern Jewish identity without Poland. The brute stereotype serves the propaganda purposes of the enemies of Western Civilization to discredit both Christianity and Judaism.

As a Catholic, I believe that Jews are my older brothers in the faith, as my Polish pope and peasant-stock parents taught me. I revere Genesis 12:1-3. I stand with Jews against BDS and the Ilhan Omars of this world. I ask my Jewish brothers and sisters to stand with me against the Brute Polak stereotype. I ask Jews to stand with me and all Poles not just when it is easy to do so, but also when it is hard. I ask Jews to stand with us not just to honor one-of-a-kind celebrity heroes like Jan Karski. Stand with us also when it comes to difficult moments, like when one of your number hangs an offensive Purim effigy, and when some of us Poles do the wrong thing. I'm not asking you to close your eyes. I'm not asking you to approve. I'm asking you to extend to us, as the best of us extend to you, patience, respect, dialogue, and a refusal to revert to stereotypes that harm us all.

Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery and Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype available in English and Polish

This piece appeared in Polish in Dziennik Zwiazkowy

Saturday, May 4, 2019

No. 4 Street of Our Lady: Watch Amazing Documentary of Hidden Courage

No. 4 Street of Our Lady is an amazing 2009 documentary By Richie Sherman that everyone should watch. It chronicles the unknown heroism of Franciszka Halamajowa, a simple Polish woman in her fifties who sheltered sixteen Jews and one escaped Nazi soldier during World War II.

I just watched the documentary and took notes while watching. My notes are below. I reveal key plot points. Please do watch the documentary. You won't regret it, I promise you. It's a portrait of heartwarming heroism such as you have not seen before.

You can watch the documentary on Vimeo here

The documentary begins with the question of why this story has not been told before. An Israeli survivor says that when he arrived in Israel, no one wanted to hear it. The Holocaust was something no one wanted to talk about.

Another survivor, living in America, says that he wanted to forget this horrible chapter of his life. He wanted to be as American as possible.

Jolanta Staron, born in Poland, granddaughter of rescuer Franciszka Halamajowa, says that her grandmother didn't want to talk about her rescue activities because there are anti-Semites in Poland who would punish her for rescuing Jews during  the war.

There is a very poignant scene where the daughter of one of the murdered Jews visits a brick factory where Nazis forced her father and other Jews to dig their own graves before shooting them. The daughter weeps. She knows her father's remains lie somewhere under the earth of the brick factory, but she doesn't know where.

Moshe Maltz, one of the rescued Jews, kept a diary. He reports that Franciszka was married to a Ukrainian, whom she threw out of her house after he joined the Nazis.

Holocaust historian Omer Bartov says that Franciszka's story is unusual because she sheltered so many Jews and for so long. Bartov emphasizes how poor Galicia was at this time, and how resourceful Franciszka must have been to survive and to keep her charges alive.

Franciszka managed to give her charges pierogies, sauerkraut, and sour cream on Christmas. One survivor says he can still taste it.

The Jews had very little light. They passed time by playing chess, telling stories, and catching lice.

Fay, one of the saved children, cried. A sound could give the entire set-up away. So the Jews decided to poison Fay. After the poison was administered, and they were ready to hand the child's corpse over to Franciszka, they felt a pulse. Fay survived, and she talks on the documentary about what it was like to be poisoned by her fellow Jews.

One day Helen, Franciszka's daughter, who brought toys and treats to the children, reported that an entire family that helped Jews in Lwow was forced to march around town with a sign reading "traitor," and then hanged.

Further, anyone who handed a Jew over received five liters of whiskey plus cash.

The village of Sokal was handed over to the USSR after the war. It is now in Ukraine. Few Poles remain. One elderly Polish woman who still lives there reports remembering seeing the Jews rounded up and shot. She cries. She describes one of the survivor's father to his son. "He was a very good doctor!" she says, through tears.

The elderly woman says that she was aware of health problems one of the hidden Jews had. "How did you know this?" the survivor asks.

"Everyone knew everything but we kept quiet," she says. This anecdote underscores what is frequently said: it took many non-Jews to keep one Jew safe. It took only one non-Jew to betray Jews to the Nazis. "Everyone knew everything but we kept quiet," she says, suggesting that many villagers knew that Franciszka was hiding Jews, but these people protected her secret.

One of the rescued Jews died of tuberculosis. Franciszka buried her at night, under her apple tree.

A neighbor heard suspicious sounds from the hayloft. Franciszka was distraught. She told this neighbor that she was hiding Dr Kindler. The neighbor demanded to see him. After that, the neighbor backed off. Dr. Kindler was respected and loved.

Ukrainians put signs on Franciszka's door. "Get out. You don't belong here." Franciszka said to her Jewish charges, "Whatever happens to you will happen to me."

Seeking protection, Franciszka offered the German commander the chance to host parties in her home. And indeed Germans partied there. Franciszka's daughter Helena worked in the post office and brought home German friends "so as not to arouse suspicions."

One German said he didn't want to fight any more. Franciszka hid him in her attic.

Germans parked a tank near the pigsty Franciszka had to trick the Germans into moving it.

At about the hour point,  the survivors from the pigsty reminisce about discovering, only at the end of the war, that this whole time Franciszka has been hiding a Jewish family in a hole underneath her kitchen table.

After the war, Franciszka told her charges that they should not let others know that she had rescued them. Too many Poles punished other Poles who saved Jews.

Franciszka refused to hand over the German soldier she was sheltering. She was arrested. The Jews she saved begged for her life. She was released. Franciszka "lifted her skirts" and escaped through the Bug River to Polish territory. The German soldier was shot.

In Poland, Franciszka learned that her son was shot while smuggling supplies to Jews.

One of the rescued Jews says that Franciszka was an angel, and beyond human comprehension. Once Franciszka asked one of her charges if he would have taken her in if the situation were reversed. He acknowledged that he did not have a ready answer for that.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Tarnow Bishop Andrzej Jez Delivers Anti-Semitic Sermon.

One must hope that Jez will be rebuked and he will recant. See here and here and here and much other coverage that will only, in the end, hurt Poland and poison minds on all sides. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

... and others

Source: USHMM 
I found this chart on Wikipedia here. I cannot vouch for its accuracy 

I was just listening to the Ben Shapiro radio show, which I like a lot, even though I disagree with him about much, esp Trump. Shapiro is intelligent and there is not enough intelligent radio out there. 

Today Shapiro's guest was Robert Rozett, identified as chief historian at Yad Vashem. 

Shapiro presented Rozett with a daunting task: nowadays too many people, including young Americans, don't know much of anything about the Holocaust. What are the basic facts they need to know? 

Rozett said, and I'm attempting to paraphrase from memory, that people needed to know that the Nazis murdered six million Jews. Not only the Nazis carried out these murders. The Nazis had accomplices in local, occupied populations. This was all about anti-Semitism, and to prevent such events in the future we need to educate people about Jews. 

I understand that Rozett was under pressure on a live radio show to summarize cataclysmic, and very painful, history in a few minutes. 

At the same time his assessment could be improved. I note that Dr. Rozett was emphatic in emphasizing that people who were not German or Nazis participated in mass killing. There is another emphasis that Dr. Rozett could have chosen. He could have mentioned what are frequently referred to as "...and others." 

The Nazis mass murdered, gassed, tortured, deported, planned genocides of and experimented on  members of other groups, including Gypsies, aka Rom, Poles, Serbs, handicapped people, homosexuals, Polish priests, communists, "...and others." 

Yes, we must always cede the dubious distinction to Jews of being the population most victimized by percentage, and we must acknowledge the disproportionate attention Nazis placed on demonizing Jews. Yes. 

At the same time, unless I am reading the above charts incorrectly, in terms of raw numbers, Nazis killed more Slavs than Jews. I'm not competing here. I'm mentioning a pertinent historical fact. 

I remember when Polish-American poet John Guzlowski appeared on Leonard Lopate's NPR radio show. Guzlowski was there to discuss his poems about his parents, who had been victimized by the Nazis. John's father was in Buchenwald. John's mother was a slave laborer whose family members were raped, tortured, and murdered by Nazis and Ukrainian collaborators. 

Lopate is a 78-year-old man, educated, and a radio host for 42 years. Authors and statesmen appear on his show. 

Lopate's first question to Guzlowski, iirc, was, "Polish Catholics were victimized by the Nazis? Really???" 

 Dr. Rozette's summary, one all too often fallen back on, distorts history, distorts Nazism, and does not help us to live up to "Never again." The Rwandan genocide, said to be the world's fastest, had nothing to do with anti-Semitism. 

I say this again and again. Every semester, I ask new students, what was the first and last group the Nazis murdered as part of an organized program? A group Nazis continued to murder even after the Nazi surrender? 

My students *never know the answer.* They haven't a clue. And yes they've all received state-mandated Holocaust education.

The answer is handicapped people. 

And my students are flabbergasted, utterly confused. That Nazis would murder their own fellow citizens because they were handicapped is incomprehensible to them. They have been taught that Nazism began and ended with anti-Semitism. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Czech Coin Commemorating Burning Judas Custom


"Beating Judas" and Good Friday

I'm  not  one to jump on bandwagons. My Polish father taught me to look both ways. We would debate, and he would always choose the opposite point of view to whatever I was arguing. This was perverse and annoying, but it was one way for him to  insist that ultimate truths of right and wrong are found outside the box, and to teach me the same. 

I am reminded that Poland has been invaded from the north -- Sweden, from the south, Turkey, from the West, Germany, from the east. Russia. From the right, Nazism, from the left, communism. 

So no I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon of beating up on Pruchnik villagers, most of them children, for beating Judas on Good Friday. There are enough people condemning these villagers to non-person status. 

I've celebrated many a Polish-themed Easter, in the US and once in Poland, and I have never come in contact with this custom. I was vaguely aware of the drowning of Marzanna, a Pagan custom that involved drowning an image meant to suggest winter, but I know of that only from reading, not from real life experience. Beating Judas? Maybe I read of it, maybe not. It's embarrassing to admit that I'm not intimately familiar with a custom that is now playing such an outsize role in Polish-Jewish relations. 

But this *just* occurred to me. The villagers, news reports say, carried out this custom on Good Friday

Secular culture thinks that Christmas is the biggest day of the year for Christians. If you are really a devout Christian, Christmas is of course lovely but Easter is the  more important day. 

Good Friday can never be a happy day to me. It's ground into me. Good Friday is the day that Jesus died. For me. And died horribly. 

Darkness fell over the earth. The veil was torn in two. 

Three pm. Good Friday. Always conscious of it. 

It's a day of fasting and church attendance. A day of reflection. 

I can't listen to rock music on Good Friday. I don't go to the movies on Good Friday. I make sure that no matter what, I do something formal related to my faith, for example saying the Stations of the Cross, that walk you through Jesus' final hours on earth. 

Churches often cover statues with purple cloth on Good Friday. Lights are dimmed. There is no mass or Eucharist on Good Friday. This is a big deal. Really hardcore Catholics will attend mass every day. That mass is celebrated every day is a big deal for Catholics.  That there is no mass on Good Friday is similarly a big deal. 

"All celebration of the sacraments on this day is strictly prohibited, except for the sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick.
Funerals are to be celebrated without singing, music, or the tolling of bells.
Baptism in danger of death is also permitted." Paschales Solemnitatis 

Catholics venerate the cross on Good Friday. You approach the cross, you kneel, and you kiss the foot of the cross. This is a very solemn, humbling practice. 

Finally, you cry on Good Friday. You cry because a good man was tortured to death in unspeakable ways. Stripped. Spat upon. His beard yanked. Forced to wear a crown of thorns. Whipped with weighted leather strips till, as eyewitnesses reported, bones and bodily organs were exposed. Crucified. 

You *think* about this on Good Friday. And you cry. 

I feel this *every* Good Friday. I have felt this weight, this darkness, this stark view of the world, every Good Friday I have lived, here, in Africa, Nepal, sunny California. I cannot hang with friends and joke and laugh on Good Friday. It's Good Friday. 

And on *this* day some chucklehead in Pruchnik decided to resurrect an obscure custom that involves violence, bigotry, and hilarity? 

Shaking my head. 

Yes, yes, yes, I hear what a secular person might say. "Well, all that heaviness and pain. The people need someone to blame all that pain on. So they blame Jews." 

That's what a secular person would say. 

Me, I am not secular. And I was never taught that the "Jews killed Jesus." In fact I had to learn about this belief late in life, from non-Catholics. 

Rather I was taught, as the Council of Trent insisted, that *we* killed Jesus. In fact in the Palm Sunday service that precedes Good Friday, we -- the congregation -- play that very part. We hold up palm branches, as the priest, the stand-in for Jesus, enters the church. we celebrate Jesus with those palms. And then we turn, just as the crowd turned. We literally shout, during mass, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

Deep, heavy truths about how fickle humans are. And how blind.

That some have turned those truths into the beating Judas custom, on Good Friday of all days, is many things, but it is most certainly, as Sue has insisted in the comments section, not Christian at all. 

The Times Cartoons Were *Not* Anti-Semitic: Reader Assessment

Anyone addressing stereotyping must be able to say, in concrete, objective language, why a given joke or movie or song or dance or other cultural product is objectionable. Because plenty of viewers will not see what you see, and will say, "Hey, that's not racist at all." 

The consensus of NYT readers in response to Bret Stephens' column appeared to be "The cartoon was not anti-Semitic."

And of course many have insisted to me that nobody stereotypes Poles.