Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Masha Gessen, the Polish Government, the Polish-Jewish Museum and the New Yorker

The insufferable Masha Gessen has an article in the insufferable New Yorker about the Polish government and the Jewish museum. 

I can't take Gessen. I just can't. She appears frequently on WNYC, the New York area NPR affiliate, and she nauseates me. She talks down. Exclusively. Down. Because she is superior and you are inferior. Everyone in the world is less intelligent, less aware. less hip than she. And they are probably Christian peasants. 

Can I cite her ever saying anything about Christian peasants? No, I can't. 

I also get the impression that Gessen thinks that there are about five worthy people in the world, they are all her personal friends, and they all live on a coast, and are wearing all black. 

How does it feel to go through life like that? 

The New Yorker was the go-to publication when I was writing Bieganski

Grab your copy of Bieganski and check out every time I cite the New Yorker. Then get back to me. 

What, you don't have a copy of Bieganski? 

Here's one passage in Bieganski that quotes the New Yorker. There are many such passages. 

Aptly summing up Borat's distinguishing characteristics, David Edelstein wrote in the New Yorker that Borat is typified by his “minuscule IQ, cultural backwardness, rampant libido, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.” Edelstein continued:

To understand what Baron Cohen's Borat is up to in part, it helps to consider the most notorious scenes in Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half-hour Holocaust documentary, Shoah, in which the director trains his camera on Polish peasants who lived near the Nazis' most lethal concentration camps while they were in full swing. Under Lanzmann's probing, these old men and women — some of them residing on property seized from the Jews — murmur that yes, it was a terrible thing, the exterminations. Just terrible. But of course, the Jews did bring it on themselves, didn't they? I don't know whether Baron Cohen saw Shoah, but Lanzmann's gotcha journalism on untutored anti-Semites paved the way for what amounts to a (riotous) libel on Eastern Europe.

Here we see the logic, the ethic, and the anodyne of Bieganski. Eastern European peasants deserve to be mocked as people who bathe in toilet bowls. They are responsible for the Holocaust. It is their very qualities, so different from those of the modern academic, movie star, or journalist and his audience, their qualities associated with peasantry, that cause them to be monsters. Modern people are exculpated from the crime of anti-Semitism.

Anyway, if you want to read Gessen in the New Yorker writing about Polaks, go here

Here is a key excerpt: ""It meant that Poles should stop apologizing for their sins, foremost among them their coöperation with the Nazis in exterminating European Jewry."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Archival Footage of British Territory under Nazi Rule

Archival footage of the Channel Islands under Nazi rule, here

The footage shows some of the thousands of forced laborers transported to the Channel Islands to build fortifications for the Nazis. An historian points out that these forced laborers, who came from all over Europe, were slaves, kept in miserable conditions, fed very little, beaten and tortured. 

I've pointed out repeatedly on this blog how Hollywood-style products romanticize Nazis, thus reinforcing the Bieganski stereotype. You can find such criticism here. I mention "Island at War," a miniseries that depicts the wartime Nazi ruler of the Channel Islands as a desirable, romantic lead. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Talk of Stereotypes of Poles is Suspect and Only for Dumb Polaks


A conference is scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, in November 18-20. The conference announces that it will address stereotypes of Poles, inter alia. 

You can read about the conference here

A Polish American poet asked about the conference on the PAHA Facebook page, here

AL, a Facebook poster, wrote, 

"My suspicions were immediately aroused by two of the program's 5 goals: 'Overcoming false stereotypes about Poland and Poles in the US, primarily in the context of World War II and its aftermath' and 'Publication and distribution of a conference book on the history of Poland, with corrections of the most prevalent and striking falsehoods' 
Anyone familiar with the issue will recognize the wording as reflecting the views and agenda of the current "patriotic" Polish government.
I also recognized a few of the names associated with the program (including Wojciech Jesman of the Polish American Congress, an outspoken supporter--as is much of the PAC--of PiS). Further online investigation confirms that most of the Polish speakers represent the views of the current Polish government.
In summary, this ostensibly academic/historical conference appears to be aimed at promoting the conservative (and, in many circles, controversial) agenda of the Polish government.
That is not to say the program has no merit, only that its agenda and presentations must be viewed critically, if not with suspicion."

I was troubled by this post. 

I don't know AL. I don't know his agenda. I don't even know if he is Polish-American. 

What troubles me is the assumption that discussion of stereotypes of Poles, as AL wrote, "must be viewed with suspicion."

Here's what I do know. Poles are stereotyped negatively. If one is Polish, one risks being stereotyped negatively. One way to avoid that stereotyping is to put distance between oneself and Polish identity.

I've seen Poles do this. I saw Poles do this all the time on the Notes from Poland page. 

"Oh, those primitive, peasant, Catholic Polaks. I'm not like them. I like African sausage." yes, I really did see a post that said that on the Notes from Poland page. 

I don't know if AL suffers from this self-hatred. 

I invited dialogue. I said, and this is my entire post, I'm not editing anything out, 

"'Overcoming false stereotypes about Poland and Poles in the US, primarily in the context of World War II and its aftermath'
It's not at all clear to me why this sentence would raise alarms.
There are false stereotypes about Poland and Poles in the US in the context of WW II and its aftermath."

AL, in response to my post, said that, unlike another poster whom he assessed favorably,  I did not "clearly understand the underlying issues and concerns."

So. I'm a Dumb Polak. Or maybe just a dumb woman. The other poster was male, obviously superior to me in understanding. 

The man with superior understanding told me to stop posting on the page. 

Thus, I am posting about the exchange here, since I am not allowed to post on that page. 

Note: all I did was say what I said above. "There are false stereotypes about Poland and Poles in the US in the context of WW II and its aftermath."

And I was told to stop posting. And dismissed as a Dumb Polak. By Polish men. On a Polish interest Facebook page. 

AL was allowed to continue to post on the page, referring to me as "Ms," not "Dr." And he insisted that I "completely missed" his point. 

No, I clearly got his point. Any discussion of stereotypes of Poles is taboo, because it might, just might, please someone in the current, right-wing, Polish government. 

There's a great meme out there. "Hitler drank water. So do you." 

Just because the current, right-wing Polish government talks about stereotypes, doesn't mean that talk of stereotypes is right-wing. That's a basic logical concept. 

AL missed that point. But understanding me and addressing what I was saying was not on his agenda. Putting down a Polish woman in public was on his agenda. Demonizing any discussion of stereotyping as a right-wing evil was on his agenda. 

Tell me we Poles don't sabotage ourselves. 

I invite the two men who found my posts objectionable to post in the comments section here. I will not censor any civil and pertinent posts, and I will respond to any civil, pertinent posts with respect. 

About the photo illustrating this post. It's from "The Women of Polish Independence." "They were organisers of underground education, diplomats, terrorists and soldiers disguised in men’s uniforms. During the era Poland was partitioned, these forgotten heroines fought a double war: for their country’s independence and their own empancipation."

Their fight is ongoing. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Muslim Arabs Beat Jews in Warsaw; Catholic Poles are Blamed. Bieganski Lives on Facebook

On September 8, Barak Kashpizky reported on Facebook that he was beaten up in Warsaw by what he describes as attackers who were probably Muslim Arabs. Kashpizky, those commenting on his post, and various press reports blame Poles, not the attackers, for this attack. 

You can see Mr Kaspizky's post here

You can see a sample of press coverage, blaming Poles and Poland, here

From the Facebook provided English translation of this post: "If you were wondering, not one of the hundreds of polish polish who were in the place went to offer help, none of the polish invited police. Even the club security that was called for help did not reach out...reality is repeated. Polish people stand by watching, while people "not from their nation" hit until the loss of recognition of Jews ... There is not even one representative from the state of Israel that came to assist...

Lucky for him, and lucky for us, stand next to him and took care of him all along the college of director, head of delegation and his deputy. Dedication that the embassy Israel is not educated to do.

I'm telling the story because I want Israelis to know. Israelis be careful. It seems that this story doesn't interest the ministry of foreign affairs, but I'm sure you're with Israel is very interesting. My brother was lucky, who knows what will happen next."

The post is being rapidly shared on Facebook. As of this writing, it has almost two thousand shares, but that number is increasing by the minute. 

The post has been responded to over 700 times, but, again, that number is increasing. 

Sample Facebook post in response, below: 

Daniel Rosenzweig:

"I just love how all the Polacks here are acting all innocent and clueless, as if all the antisemitism in Poland started only after the Krauts invaded. My great grandmother escaped to America before the nazis came into power because of you people, and she refused to be remembered as Polish. It was an insult to her then as much as it is to my entire family today. 

Poland can suck a fat one for all I care. Also, if you weren't as antosemitic as you claim, you wouldn't have tried to cover this incident up. At least modern day Germans show some guilt and responsibility for what their ancestors did to us."

You can see Daniel Rosenzweig's Facebook page here

Again, from Facebook: "boycott Poland and do not let it earn from the Israel government "

Another post, translated by Facebook, reads, " those crab are running there. They will still throw the polish out of their country. And may they succeed. Damn Anti-Semitic."

And "With stupid we are. The Polish people were worse than the mhnʼẕym. May this country burn all the time the rest of the elite that is no longer among life today. And they were right!!!! Poland is an anti-Anti-Anti-country of generations. Stupid who his foot is walking on the ground, blood is out there. May this country burn in memory of the six million."

And "Thank God we took advantage of these injustice, maybe if we stop driving there they will understand that they are the only ones who will lose because they will not have a living from the tourists.. we have to make an end to it immediately"

And, "The land there is seen in Jewish blood. But Israelis - because it's cheap there - are ready to sell their souls to Satan and return with a reality from zara that cost them half price...Continue to support the polish people and don't be surprised by their kindness for the appearance of the lynch in the Jew."

And, "Unfortunately it is also not surprising that the mental polish bet without helping and discover to get involved in the help of the other sure it is not them, they were bad in the past and so also now, they hate everyone who is not polish see it from their government and in the residents, lucky your brother came out only with such damage"

A comment under the above-linked press article reads, "The Poles stood around and did nothing- so yeah they deserve blame. Europeans have been degrading, murdering and torturing us Jews for thousands of years. Soneday- G-d willing  someday soon- Europeans will pay big time for it."

another post mentions " the complicity of many Poles in the slaughter of defenceless Jews."

Another post reads " the ghosts of the pogroms in Poland are not very much alive and continue to flourish freely above the surface in society in Poland?

Just read the pathetic excuses from the Polish trolls here who have no reason to even comment here. I wonder how cocky they would be if they met us at the seawall in Tel Aviv..?  For them, ETZEL lives!"


Please note. I did not have to dig to find Bieganski comments. There are there, big as life, over and over and over and over. 

The Polaks are scum. We must boycott Poland. May Poland burn. Shalom. 

Now more than ever, buy, read, review, and share Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype.

In the midst of all the crazy yelling and screaming, there are more thoughtful posts, including this one:

And this one:

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Trump Skipped Poland's WW II Commemoration to Play Golf

US President Donald Trump skipped Poland's WW II 80th anniversary commemoration, as he said, to address Hurricane Dorian. Trump spent the time at a golf course. See story here

BBC Used Music to Contact Polish Underground During WW II

"A new archive has revealed the BBC's role in secret activities during World War Two, including sending coded messages to European resistance groups.

Documents and interviews, released by BBC History, include plans to replace Big Ben's chimes with a recorded version in the event of an air attack.

This would ensure the Germans did not know their planes were over Westminster.

BBC programmers would also play music to contact Polish freedom fighters.

Using the codename "Peter Peterkin", a government representative would provide staff with a particular piece that would be broadcast following the Polish news service."

See full story here

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Poland and WW II

Today is the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland. This invasion is said to have begun WW II (although the Japanese had already invaded China.)

It is difficult to communicate what WW II did to Poles and Poland. "Crucifixion" is not too strong a word.

The Nazi goal was to eliminate Poles and Poland and retain a tiny remnant population as slaves.

We were subhuman to them.

In my book "Bieganski," I try to present, in a few brief paragraphs, what WW II meant to Poland.

Note: many of the numbers I cite change. Historians continue to work on accurate estimates.

From Bieganski:

Poles and Poland were victims of the Nazis. Historian Michael C. Steinlauf, the son of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors, wrote that Poles, "after the Jews and the Gypsies [were] the most relentlessly tormented national group in Hitler's Europe" (x). Auschwitz was built in order to destroy anyone in Poland who could lead Polish people, for example, teachers and activists. For almost the first two years of its existence, most of its inmates were arrested and detained as Poles.

The best estimates of non-Jewish Poles killed by Nazis run between one and a half to two million. Approximately three million Polish Jews were murdered; their vital presence in Polish life was all but erased. One estimate of non-Jewish Poles enslaved by the Nazis puts that number at two million (Meier). Polish slave laborers in Germany had to wear a patch emblazoned with the letter "P."

By one estimate, 200,000 Polish children were taken from their parents and relocated to Germany, to be raised as Germans, because their allegedly German traits revealed German ancestry (Lukaszewski). Nazis killed almost twenty percent of Polish priests. Nazis erased Polish villages. Men were killed, leaders sent to concentration camps, houses burned. An incomplete post-war count put the number of such villages at two hundred and ninety-nine (Davies Playground II 455).

In accord with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Soviets invaded from the east as the Nazis invaded from the west. By some measures, the initial phase of the Soviet invasion was worse. "Very conservative estimates show that [between 1939 and 1941] the Soviets killed or drove to their deaths three or four times as many people as the Nazis from a population half the size of that under German jurisdiction" (Gross Revolution 229).

The Armia Krajowa or Home Army is described as the third largest underground army in Europe. The AK played a vital role in communicating to Britain and the United States the reality of the Holocaust. AK intelligence provided the Allies with the location of Nazi V-1 bomb development and V-2 rocket development.

Captured V-2 rockets were delivered to London. Poles made the first and necessary contributions to the decoding of Enigma, and the breaking of Nazi encoded messages. The Allies' ability to read Nazi messages has been cited as central to victory (Wrobel). In addition to the over six thousand Polish rescuers honored at Yad Vashem, the largest of any national group, more Poles than will ever be counted rescued Jews from Nazis, under the most challenging conditions in Europe.

In spite of the above-cited facts, in many, high-impact, folk and popular culture, Holocaust narratives, Poles and Poland are not victims of Nazi crimes, but, rather, are either their perpetrators or approving witnesses. This motif remains popular in spite of constant protest and attempts at correction by prominent historians and activists, Polish, Jewish, and other (see, e.g., National Polish American ­ Jewish American Council).

James Carroll's Constantine's Sword won the 2001 National Jewish Book Award; Beliefnet named it the best spiritual book of the year. In his back cover comments, scholar Garry Wills called the book "searingly honest;" scholar Eugene Kennedy identified it as "an astonishing work of historical research." Poland is essential to Carroll and his book; Carroll announced that he would "remain" "at the foot of the cross at Auschwitz" "throughout the telling of this story," the story of Catholic anti-Semitism.

The cross is appropriate because "Polish Catholicism is particularly inclined to define itself around the idea of its victimhood." Jews, in Carroll's text, are not "inclined to define themselves around the idea of victimhood," in Carroll's book, Jews really do suffer. In order to support his use of a cross erected at Auschwitz as central symbol for his entire book about the genuine horrors of Catholic anti-Semitism, Carroll played with the facts of Polish history, Polish self-definition – presenting a skewed reading of the Polish Messiah image (60) – and Polish suffering.

Through verbal legerdemain, Carroll lead his readers to believe that only one hundred and fifty Poles died at Auschwitz, compared to a million and a half Jews who died there (230). In fact, between 140,000 and 150,000 Poles were imprisoned in Auschwitz, of whom 70,000 to 75,000 were killed. 960,000 Jews were killed at Auschwitz.


Later in the book I include various personal stories. Here is the introduction of just one Polish American:

John Guzlowski's Polish Catholic grandmother, aunt, and cousin were murdered by Nazis and Ukrainians. They raped John's Aunt Sophie and broke her teeth; they stomped his cousin to death. With his bayonet, a Nazi sexually mutilated John's Aunt Genia. John's parents were Nazi slave laborers; his father was in Buchenwald. John was born in a displaced persons camp after World War II; his family immigrated to America.

80th Anniversary of Nazi and Soviet Invasion of Poland

note: Soviets invaded on September 17