Thursday, January 26, 2023

YIVO's Burgeoning Bieganski Industry


Elzbieta Janicka, identified by YIVO as an "historian of literature, cultural anthropologist, visual artist. M.A. at the Université Paris VII Denis Diderot; Ph.D. at Warsaw University" appears to be making a tidy living by disseminating the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype at YIVO.

A previous post mentions a course she is teaching at YIVO. That course is described in ugly, bigoted, inflammatory language. 

Jerzy sent in info about another Janicka course. This course description asserts that "antisemitism remains a community building force and one of the most powerful political tools behind the collapse of liberal democratic institutions."

I copied the above sentence from the YIVO website. I left out one CYA weasel word and I did not use ellipsis. I did that because I have contempt for YIVO and Janicka's hate-mongering project, and because I have no patience with her attempt at using weasel words to CYA. In any case, the word I left out is "non-negligible." It's such a stupid attempt at CYA. Janicka, I have never heard of you before, and I don't know you from Adam, but in using CYA weasel words, you have no intellectual class. Assert something or don't assert it. That's what real scholarship does. 

I don't live in Poland and I am in no position to assess the truth value of Janicka's assertion. I asked some folks who live in Poland for their assessment. 

One said, "I am a left-wing, liberal Pole who despises the current Polish government. Even from my point of view, what Ms Janicka says here is utter falsehood. These are obviously incorrect statements and I do not believe you could cite any factual support for them. If she is teaching about Poland based on that, she is either defrauding the students and her employer by knowingly providing them with incorrect information, or she has no idea about Poland and is grossly incompetent."

Another said, "I am a conservative leaning Pole who does not hate the current government and I agree with [the above quoted liberal Pole] 100%. I despise how Ms. Janicka is spewing hatred between Jewish people and Poles. This is evil."

Another said, that Janicka is a "charismatic figure among radical, left wing intellectuals who's personal mission is critique of Polish culture and society as 'catholic,' 'bigoted,' 'traditionally antisemitic,' 'nationalistic' etc. Unfortunately Janicka very skillfully translates her own obsessions and prejudices into fashionable humanistic discourses. It has nothing to do however with reality and basic scientific decency. It is a tragic case which illustrates a general problem of contemporary degeneration of academic standards."

Visit the YIVO site for Janicka's course here

If you'd like to contact YIVO leadership about their anti-Polish classes, contact information is here


  1. I have reviewed Elzbieta Janicka. She is a real piece of work. However, I agree with Janicka in one way: Polish-Jewish relations should not be sugarcoated. However, the blame-everything-on-Poles approach she uses so effortlessly will not do.

  2. Did you get any response to your email Danusha?

  3. YIVO once more time. Breaking the Frame: New School of Polish-Jewish Studies "New School of Polish-Jewish Studies, a direction of critical thinking in Polish-Jewish history and in Holocaust studies." Is a biased critical thinking a real critical thinking? "One of them is the framework of Polish nationalism, built around the myth of Polish innocence that either conceals or justifies centuries-old antisemitism." During about two centuries Poland did not exists or was controlled by foreign empires. 99% of readers of the text do not know these facts. "The other is the post-Cold War conviction that the history of Polish Christians’ anti-Jewish violence is an obstacle to Poland’s Western future and that the history of that structural violence should be told as the country’s harmonious and tolerant past." "History of Polish Christians' anti-Jewish violence"? One of the editors is an architect, who writes about rubble.

  4. YIVO May. Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in German Occupied Poland "The authors of the book look at eight rural counties which, in the summer of 1942, contained a population of more than 110,000 Jews. Less than 2% of them survived the war and close to 70% of those who went into hiding, either perished at the hands of their gentile neighbors, or were turned in by them to the Germans." Part of ther research is sloppy, the numbers unsourced. Once more the US reader does not know the context of the evil German terror.

  5. Janicka returns to YIVO in June. Philo-Semitic Violence: Poland’s Jewish Past in New Polish Narratives

  6. Jewish Partisans The text ignores the context of German occupation. The Germans terrorized the peasants collecting taxes, mostly food. The peasants were terrorized also by criminals and partisans - Polish, Soviet, Jewish. The story is complicated and dramatic, presented as a conflict between good partisanst and bad collaborators it becomes a propaganda. I have not watched this film, but it is probably a much more precize image of occupied Belarussia.

  7. The summary does not describe the end of Jewish community of Wilna. The Jews were murdered in Ponary by mostly Lithuanian collaborators. There exist two eyewitness acounts, one by Józef Mackiewicz, the other one by Kazimierz Sakowicz.

  8. Good point, Jerzy. The seeking of Holocaust restitution payments is usually framed in terms of the belated and urgently-needed justice to Holocaust survivors. However, few of the restitution monies actually went to Holocaust survivors, which is why 1 in 3 of them live in poverty.

  9. I live in Poland and for a long time I have noticed a trend in some circles to portray Poles, the whole nation, the whole society, as anti-Semitic, xenophobic, primitive and disgusting.
    I always ask myself then who are the people who spare no effort to constantly discredit and depreciate Polish society as a whole. What group do these people belong to, in their own opinion? What are their motivations? What do they want to achieve?
    The search for truth cannot be based on hatred, because hatred blinds. I ask if these people are looking for the truth. Because I rather have the impression that they take a club and hit with all their might to break all values. And present Polish society as mindless, primitive and aggressive - almost animals.
    For example, I recently read a review about the 2021 film "The Wedding" by Wojciech Smarzowski.
    Quote from a review on
    " Poland A.D. 2021 is therefore reviewed in Poland A.D. 1941 and - unfortunately - still has the same face. The changes are only cosmetic: the place of the Jews was taken by other "others": Ukrainians and Vietnamese, and the Germans stab the Polish ego not with a bayonet, but with capital. No need to beat around the bush: Poland in Smarzowski's lens is a pigsty full of xenophobia, philandering, drunkenness and brawling. The bride's father, of course, manages the butcher shop, and the director repeats Art Spiegelman's metaphor from "Maus", showing the Pole as a piglet. Partly as a victim in the slaughterhouse of history, and partly as a pig that does dirty things to others. Once a hero who hides Jews in a barn, once a torturer who burns them in a barn.”


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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