Sunday, July 5, 2020

Poland Stubbornly Continues to Refuse to Accept Responsibility for Nazism: The Forward

Author Joel Swanson 
A state-run Polish television network closely linked to President Duda recently claimed that his opponent wants to provide compensation to Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants for property stolen during the war. "Experts are certain," the TV presenter warned. "The stream of money that is flowing from the state budget into the pockets of Polish families will dry up if Trzaskowski, after a potential victory in the presidential election, seeks to satisfy Jewish claims."

President Duda's refusal to acknowledge any Polish complicity in the extermination of Poland's Jews reflects a distinction historian Deborah Lipstadt draws between "hard" and "soft" Holocaust denial. If "hard" denial means openly denying the existence of the gas chambers and death camps, "soft" denial is something harder to identify and, in many ways, more pernicious.

It means blaming the Germans for the murder of every single Jew who died during the war, allowing all other nations to evade responsibility. It means claiming all Poles suffered equally during the German occupation, thereby erasing the specificity of Jewish suffering.

The German occupiers were unable to distinguish between Polish Jews and non-Jews on their own, and so turned to Polish police officers to identify the Jews in their midst. Grabowski concludes that "without the Polish police, the Germans would not have succeeded in their plan."That's the history President Duda does not want Poles to accept, because then they might have to accept responsibility for making restitution today. Far easier to portray the Poles as passive victims of the Germans.

Something similar is happening in the United States, where Vice President Mike Pence recently refused to say "Black lives matter," instead insisting, "all lives matter." Pence's refusal is not actually about affirming the universal value of human life, but about denying that the United States has a long history of anti-Blackness, institutionalized through federal government policy, which requires specifically pro-Black policies to address its effects today.let's condemn Duda's anti-Semitism, and his refusal to accept Polish responsibility for the Holocaust. 

Joel Swanson is a contributing columnist for the Forward and a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago, studying modern Jewish intellectual history and the philosophy of religions. Find him on Twitter @jh_swanson.

Read full article here. Excerpts above. 

Thanks to Hanna for sending this in. 


  1. So we have another round of accusations of Poland being "complicit in the Holocaust" (whatever that means).

    What else is new?

  2. I submitted the following comment:

    To PhD student Joel Swanson: your premises are false, your logic is contorted, and your conclusion is invalid.

    Your argument goes something like this: The Polish government has not compensated Polish Jews for private property that was confiscated by the Germans in World War II but must do so because Polish Police helped the Germans round up Jews. President Duda, by saying that Poles and Polish Jews are entitled to compensation: (1) is denying that Polish Police helped the Germans (2) is issuing an anti-Semitic statement.

    Joel Swanson, some historical facts for your information.

    Poland has already paid. The Agreement between the Government of the United State of America and the Government of the Polish People’s Republic regarding claims of nationals of the United States was signed at Washington on July 16, 1960, and registered with the United Nations by the United States of America on January 6, 1961 (“1960 Treaty”). Under the 1960 Treaty, Poland paid the United States $40 million in full settlement of claims of nationals of the United States for nationalization or other taking of property, appropriation or loss of use of their property and debt owed by enterprises taken over by the State. The $40 million paid pursuant to the 1960 Treaty represents over a billion dollars in 2017. Hence, this substantial compensation was intended to settle property claims against Poland by US nationals. In accordance with Article IV of the 1960 Treaty, the United States agreed to fully indemnify Poland for any property claims of US nationals, which occurred on or before the entry into force of the 1960 Treaty.

    As for President Duda’s statement, you ignore the fact that Polish and Polish Jewish living heirs have always been able to file restitution claims through the courts. This is historical fact; not anti-Semitism.

    As for what you write about Jan Grabowski vel Abrahamer, i.e., “The German occupiers were unable to distinguish between Polish Jews and non-Jews on their own, and so turned to Polish police officers to identify the Jews in their midst”, you have not read the history and are parroting nonsense. The Polish Jews in question were fugitives in hiding who either refused to enter the German-built ghettos or escaped from them.

    As for the Polish antidefamation law, I suggest you read the text, which is available in English, our common mother tongue. The law prohibits accusing the Polish state or Polish nation of committing the crimes against humanity that were committed by the Germans. It is historical fact that they did not. The law exempts academic research and artistic activities from this prohibition.

    Joel, I suggest you review the above facts with your Dissertation Committee Chair. Also, you may wish to consider that the lives of all Polish citizens, i.e., ethnic Poles and Polish Jews, matter, as do the lives of all American citizens, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc., matter.

    1. Gene, why do you add "vel Abrahamer" after Grabowski's name?

      Do you want to remind readers that Grabowski has some Jewish ancestry and is, as such, suspect?

  3. It is nice to realize that not only Polish universities degenrate.

  4. A rabbi explains what happened in Auschwitz - "white supremacy". Germans murdered during the WW2 at least 1.5 million white Christian Poles.

  5. Preserving Auschwitz is allegedly a 'business'.

  6. Hello everyone,

    Joel Swanson's article and Grabowski's research are fine examples of "americanisation of Poland's history".

    Unlike their American cousins, Poland's Jews were mostly unassimilated. Living in their insular, self-isolated communities.
    It means that they were visibly Jewish, Yiddish-speaking and they had no goish friends. Easy targets.

    Think of Postville, Mea Shearim or Stamford Hill. Those are modern shtetls.
    Now imagine that Nazis enter those places looking for Jews to kill.
    How hard could that be?

    Of course there were Jews who spoke Polish, had goish friends and could blend in the crowd. But that was a minority. And even they had slim chances of survival at best.
    Germans were well organized, well armed and without mercy. They didn’t need Blue Police. In fact they were quite effective in many towns and villages were no policeman was present.

    Grabowski is eager to blame Blue Police. That formation numbered 16-18 thousand men in entire occupied Poland. In Auschwitz camp alone there were 8,500 guards. And none of them was Polish.

    I think that American Jews want to identify with Holocaust victims so much that they can't see not so subtle differences between diasporas. Or between countries.
    How ignorant one has to be to think that other countries are like his own?
    Anyway, I don't think that Mr Swanson is competent to write about Poland or it's Jews.

    As for Mr Grabowski, he's simply giving his readers what they want. He can't hide behind ignorance. It's inexcusable.


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