Wednesday, December 14, 2022

"Antisemitism is Rampant in Poland": Algemeiner Perpetuates the Brute Polak Stereotype


Luiz Gandelman, a 17-year-old, who knows what most 17-year-olds know, that is, everything, reports that anti-Semitism is "rampant" in Poland.
He visited Poland with is father. Before his trip, he "began to self study and learn Polish on the internet."


Polish is a diabolically difficult language. It is often ranked one of the most difficult languages for an English speaker to learn. This point will be significant in Gandelman's account.


In Lodz, Gandelman saw "two buildings from the ghetto time period" being taken down. "History was being destroyed before my very eyes." The implication is that Poles are erasing the Holocaust.


Poles, he says, are similarly ignorant and unaware of the significance of the Warsaw Ghetto.


"The remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto were not very different. Save for a few fragments of the ghetto wall (hidden inside a school, apartment building, and near an electrical closet), there were close to no remnants of the once expansive ghetto. Polish people walked to and fro as if nothing ever existed there, and besides the occasional Israeli tour group, no one acknowledged the history, behind the spaces we were in."


Gandelman recounts an anecdote about an encounter in a coin store.


I walked into the store, eager to buy, and greeted the owner with "Dzien dobry" (good morning in Polish). His eyes widened and he immediately yelled out "nie Żydów" ("No Jew"). I was stunned. My dad kept asking me to translate, but I was too stunned to process it. Simply because of my kippah, this man refused to sell to me. Once I translated, my dad immediately grabbed me and we walked out of the store. We walked to the hotel in silence. It hurt to know that even through everything the Jewish people suffered through in Poland, there is still antisemitism rampant there today.


Gandelman does not name the store. There is no way of checking on this anecdote with the store owner.


Responses to Gandelman's article include the following:


Comments from Algemeiner:


"Antisemitism and lack of consideration for human feelings and hurts is at a pre-1939 level. Jews should stop going to Poland."


"Every other week, there is a story about the vibrant anti-Semitism in Poland, Germany, and Ukraine. And all this is true."


From Facebook:


"Poland is a rather insane country … antisemitism is still widely present."


"The Poles are born with Jew hatred in their DNA."


"Poland has been antisemitic forever. The Polish underground stood by and watched the Warsaw Ghetto burn and didn't lift a finger. Poles are still living in Jewish owned homes with Jewish owned furniture. When the few survivors of the death camps returned to their homes their lives were threatened, some were killed."


"he had a very authentic polish experience."


Poles did push back. Here are comments from Algemeiner:


"It's highly unlikely a Pole would say something as odd as "nie Żydów". It makes no sense linguistically. It would be strange even if he was panicking or drunk. It could be something along the lines of "nie dla Żydów", "nie obsługujemy Żydów", or "nie chcemy tu Żydów."


Another poster wrote,


"No Polish person would ever say "nie Żydów", as this is not in Polish. I agree with Ignazio's suggestion that it looks like a poor attempt at using Google translate. It doesn't look good for the credibility of your report. Yes, there are cases of antisemitism in Poland, same as in the US. You will mostly find those with poor and uneducated people. As for the lack of remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto - if you knew anything about the history of the second world war, not related to Holocaust, you would have known that there was a Warsaw Uprising in 1944 (from August to October), and that after it failed Germans destroyed the remnants of buildings - over 94 % of my city was a pile of rubble. I would strongly suggest to first ask questions and learn, before making a judgement."


I posted the following:


Luiz Gandelman, like you, I visited Poland in November, 2022. As you can see from the photos on my Facebook page, I visited many Jewish sites. My visit was very short and very demanding. I was in Poland to attend a conference and there were extensive demands on my time. Even so, I used what free time I had to visit Jewish sites, photograph them, and post those photos on Facebook to educate my friends.


I am not Jewish. I am Polish Catholic.


Luiz, you chide Poles for, as you say, " walking to and fro as if nothing ever existed there" and for demolishing buildings that can't be saved.


Luiz, you missed a few things in your visit to Poland. You "walked to and fro" without awareness, it seems.


You appear to be unaware of the fact that Auschwitz was initially built to torture and murder Poles. That for almost the first two years of its existence, the camp was mostly a Polish camp. (I use Pole as a term of art, as is customary. Scholars use it to be mean Polish and not Jewish)


You went to Lodz. You do not mention the Nazi concentration camp for Polish children in Lodz. (Polen-Jugendverwahrlager der Sicherheitspolizei in Litzmannstadt)


You do not mention the Warsaw uprising. You do not mention the Nazi's genocidal, total destruction of Warsaw, beginning in 1939, with the inhuman blitzkrieg, ending in 1944. You do not mention Communist occupation and hegemony.


I, as an American Catholic of Polish descent, made it a point to revisit (this was not my first visit to Poland) sites of Jewish culture and Jewish martyrdom, and to share that information with my friends via social media.


I look forward to the day when you make yourself aware of what happened to non-Jewish Poles in Poland and when you mention those sufferings in any account of WW II in Poland and how Poles today deal with the overwhelmingly vast number of horrors committed on their soil by Nazis and Communists for many, many years.


Thank you.


You can read Gandelman's full article, "What I Saw as a Jewish Teen Visiting Poland," here.


You can see the Facebook discussion of Gandelman's piece here.




  1.,0 informs about the Litzmannstadt ghetto. Radegast train station is a monument. No country preserves whole ghettos. Czech Theresienstadt is a fortress, not a city center.

  2. Jews who visit Cracow remeber Nazi Schindler. They do not remeber Tadeusz Pankiewicz (not my family) and his Eagle Pharmacy. "The pharmacy was featured in the film Schindler's List."

  3. This is all too common. Once again, there is some sort of unspoken "obligation" for Poles to remember the Jews. No such obligation exists for others (least of all the Jews) to remember Polish suffering.

  4. I posted my comment on it:

    "His eyes widened and he immediately yelled out “nie Żydów”"? ... Are you sure? If I don't know exactly what someone said because I don't know their language, then I shouldn't publish my guesses in the press.

    Does it make sense to comment? Could this have any effect?

    I live in Poland and I don't know what the atmosphere is like in the United States or in Israel. But what Danusha says and writes is really scary. Something has to be done about it, but how?


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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