She’s very old, lives in Oxford, and claims that the extradition is part of an anti-Semitic witch hunt. (photo: the only one I can find, taken back in her Stalinist heyday)
Great Britain has refused to hand over 79 year old Helena Wolinska - on ‘humanitarian grounds’ - for trial in Poland for sentencing to death, among others, the hero of the Polish Home Army during WW II, Emil August Fieldorf, who was accused and sentenced in a one-day show trial and then executed in 1953 for ‘conspiring with the Nazis’.
Even the communists, as part of the Stalinist thaw of 1956, admitted that Wolinska presided over show trials and frequently broke the constitution with her judgments.
Wolinska, an Auschwitz survivor, ironically moved to Britain after the anti-Semitic ‘partisan’ communist purges of 1968.
She has said all along that the extradition charges, made in 1999, were because she was Jewish.
The daughter of her most famous victim, Maria Fieldorf, hasn’t helped to dispel this impression, unfortunately. She is reported as saying:
"Poland has said sorry to Jews too many times. Now it is their turn to apologise to Poland"…"The sad truth is that our secret services in the 1950s were dominated by Jews. They were disposed to Communism, perhaps it is genetic. All the people connected with the arrest and prosecution of my father were Jewish, and most of them went to Israel. Nobody says sorry to us, but nowadays we have to say sorry to Jews all the time."
Since she left Poland Wolinska has been leading an uneventful life married to Oxford University economist Wlodzimierz Brus.
Is it worth dragging someone to Poland for what they did 50 years ago, even if they have a personal history they would rather forget? Her record does look bad and it looks like she was acting in revenge when she was executing Polish Home Army fighters. But isn't this fixation with the past an excuse for not confidently facing the future? Does Poland spend too much time in its painful history?
See The Three Lives of Helena Brus, by Ann Applebaum