Monday, January 14, 2008

Fear in Poland


The Polish language version of Fear: anti-Semitism in Poland, the book by Jan Gross, has just been published here, two years after the English version.

Polish historians have jumped on it, calling it ‘speculative’ and reinforcing a tired old stereotype of the anti-Semitic Pole. And a Polish prosecutor is reading the book to see if Gross has ‘slandered the Polish nation.’

The previous Kaczynski government brought in a law in 2006 that made it an offence to 'slander the Polish nation by accusing it of participating in communist or Nazi crimes.'

Gross’s publisher, Znak, is delighted, naturally. Empik, the largest book chain store, has been selling out of Fear since it was released last Friday.

I hope the prosecutor in Krakow doesn't go ahead and take Gross to court. The right way to settle a historical dispute is to debate it. Thankfully, that is what some have been doing.

Another book by an author, like Gross, who was born in Poland but since has made an academic career in the US, The Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World War II by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz seems to argue that understanding the pogrom in Kielce in 1948, and other acts of violence against Jews in the post-war period, was not connected to the Holocaust, or to a general Polish anti-Semitism, but to the situation of Jews, and Poles, in a lawless land with private property appropriated by what was, effectively, a communist occupation.

From reviews, Gross points the finger at the Catholic Church, Polish nationalism before the war, among others, which added to the ‘ideology’ of anti-Semitism which was evident, he says, at that time. The wiki entry sums Gross’s book up like this:

"Fear" undermines Poland's self-image as the heroic and the principle martyr of the war. [Gross] points to Polish "society's violently expressed desire to render the country 'Judenrein' (Jewless). For Gross, Poland's communist regime took over where the Nazis left off in the annihilation of three million of the 3,5-million Jews who lived in Poland before the war. "Poland's communist rulers fulfilled the dream of Polish nationalists by bringing into existence an ethnically pure state,"

In an interview with Polish daily Rzeczpospolita published on Friday, January 11 2008, Gross rejected charges that his book was directed against Poland. "I am convinced anti-Semitism was one of the main poisons that were injected into the Polish identity," he was quoted as saying, and he blamed nationalist and Catholic circles.

Chodakiewicz, on the other hand, puts the murders of Jews in the context of the conflict – sometimes violent on both sides - caused by concrete circumstance, he says. His argument is interesting. He told Polish Radio, in what is a very interesting piece (it sounds better than it reads):

"A free country would have taken care of all the burning issues. Number one was property restitution. Whoever has been despoiled by the Nazis and the communists should have his or her property restored. That goes both for the Christians and the Jews. That didn't happen because of the communist hostility towards private property. Therefore, there were conflicts over property which only the communists could have solved.

Also, the communists entirely destroyed the machinery of the Polish state. When the communists pushed the Nazis out of Poland they started shooting, arresting and deporting functionaries of free Poland. That also means the police and the judiciary of the underground. There was no law and order. When there's no law and order banditry is rampant.

If you add into the mixture what the Soviets were doing – raping, pillaging and killing then you have a fuller picture. The Jewish community which survived the Holocaust, individual Jews and the Jews who returned from the bowels of the Soviet Union were thrown into this mini inferno.'

The truth? Dunno. But what’s good about all this, is that Poles do not go nuts anymore when they are accused of anti-Semitism. They have debates. And if they drop the daft prosecution nonsense down in Krakow – which would be an attack on academic thought and debate - then that will be progress, I suppose. So is the fact that they are talking about something that was taboo for years. And for that they can thank Jan Gross for, as much as anyone.

More?
Historian threatens to reveal Polish atrocities against Jews if tried for slander, Haaretz, 15 Jan

113 comments:

geez said...

I really, really dislike quoting secondary sources to explain Gross's arguments.

Most of the reviews I've read of the book, by Jews of all citizenships and non-Jewish Poles, have terribly distorted his arguments.

Who will represent Gross's perspective at the Krakow debates?

Was Gross invited? If not, that stinks.

Are you sure these are debates? Or is the Krakow event something more prosecurial in-and-of itself?

beatroot said...

Geez, it is generally thought that they will not go ahead with the case. But the law does now allow such a case to go to court. So I don't think Gross is in any danger (three years in prison, tops) the issue is the Law itself.

But would any government here have the guts to change it?

geez said...

I wasn't talking about the actual legal ptroceeding.

There's spozed to be a discussion of the book somewhere soon in K-kow, I think at the Jagiellonian.

beatroot said...

On Jan 24

A said...

So is the fact that they are talking about something that was taboo for years. And for that they can thank Jan Gross for, as much as anyone.

Jan Gross provoked this conversation years ago with the publication of "Neighbors." There was massive public debate, a companion anthology, and much wringing-of-hands and even outright anger.

People seem to be more than willing to discuss anti-semitism in Poland. Just as long as we all reach the same conclusion, which is that the problem has been fixed. Even the Polish head rabbi says so.

The fact is, anti-semitism is absurdly persistent in Poland, despite the almost complete lack of actual Jews here.

geez said...

Does anyone know how the panel/discussion is going to be set up?

Again, I hope it is not just a bunch of Polish, non-Jewish historians dissecting Gross's research and conclusions. There's certainly room for that but I just hope that's not the complete focus so that it turns into an intellectual lynch mob.

But I don't think it's fair to say that the conclusion made by Poles is universally one that the problem has been fixed. Poles have indeed shown that they are willing to discuss and debate the issues involved. I just hope that the Krakow event is fair and even-handed. Positively, I do recall that the organized conversation there on Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was conducted very well.

And guess what? Anti-semitism is very prevalent in the US, too. And er, uh, Germany and France and a few Arab states and ... And maybe it's a lot worse in more than a few of these places than in Poland.

Anonymous said...

Will someone try to discuss other side of coin: the anti-polonism o Jews? Yes: he will be shouted as anti-semite and ignored.. So - there in no chance for equal, historic discussions. Only for "media facts"
:(

geez said...

Why don't you discuss it, anon?

You may get "yelled" at here but unless you're thin-skinned, try to give it a go.

geez said...

Who is the Polish prosecutor in Krakow, btw???

It's guys like him (or her?)acting in official government capacities who tarnish Poland's image internationally.

nemeczek said...

I beg to differ. Gross is not a historian in a strict sense. He is a propagandist with a personal grudge against a state that rejected him after the March Events. And he knows pretty well that controversy sells. The problem with his amateurish scientific method is that he eagerly extrapolates criminal behavior of a small group of individuals onto an entire nation. And he uses this rather original approach only when the Poles are concerned as if we were not a set individuals (as, I guess, other nations are) but a homogenous mass that thinks same thing, likes same thing, hates same thing. Obviously there is a market for this type of printed garbage in the US and elsewhere. Gross the Historian duly delivers.

geez said...

I take it you've read the book?

jannowak57 said...

Firstly lets not forget that on the book cover it says “an essay in historical interpretation”, one might suggest that every academic should have the freedom to draw his own conclusions and present them.

The Polish law on this type of thing is ridiculous and should be repealed; the courts have no place in academic debate unless the intent is to stifle debate. This law is similar to one in Turkey concerning the Armenian issue also lets not forget that debate on the history of the holocaust is regulated by laws in many well established western democracies.

I do agree that this has no place in the courts and he should be invited to Poland to debate historians on this post war portion of Polish history.

I read his book some time ago and have to say it is not without merit from my own understanding of the history of that period as far as the events he sites. His causes and conclusions are fanciful to say the least, or a good attempt to play to an audience that’s happy to have its prejudices validated.

Anonymous said...

At least we can be sure that muslem extremists do not attack the "antisemitic poles/poland".

I mean it is better if 1 million orthodox jews do not like you than 100million radical muslims... ;)

beatroot said...

Much has been made of the fact that Gross is not a historian but a ‘sociologist’. Now, as an-ex, partially reconstructed sociology lecturer and historical sociology student (there is such a discipline, and a very interesting one) I just want to clear up something.

As I have not read this book I can’t comment on the detail. But I have read Neighbors, so I know his method. Historical sociologists are not necessarily bad ‘historians’. Many use primary sources, and uncover primary sources. From what I hear of Fear, though, he has not uncovered any new primary material and has not added anything new factually.

But that is not what someone with a sociological background is usually tending to do, when they approach historical subjects. What they do is look for patterns of behaviour across time, or even across cultures.

The conclusion of the sociological method are often very valid indeed, or at least, add to an understanding of whatever it is they are studying.

Gross will have been looking at concepts such as ideology (in this case, anti-Semitism) and he would have tried to trace the development, and ingredients of that from soviet invasion, nazi invasion backwards into the Dmowski era and back from there….

Now that may have led him to ‘see’ a cultural racism in Polish society at that time. And it may even have been there, too.

What Chodakiewicz, as a maybe empirical historian, does is approach the subject from causation of historical events.

Now while I am not suggesting that the two very different conclusions are simply to do with one having a ‘sociological approach’ and other a historical approach, it might well have had something to do with those conclusions.

But even so – just because Gross was trained a sociologist does not make his conclusion automatically wrong.

Another thing: Gross has said that if the prosecution goes ahead he will bring over lots of witnesses who ‘will reveal’ new evidence of Polish anti-Semitism and ‘will create a scandal.’

Well, if he has got this evidence then he should have, as an academic, released that material already.

I find that a bit odd.

sonia said...

a,

anti-semitism is absurdly persistent in Poland, despite the almost complete lack of actual Jews here.

This is an absurd statement (like saying "fear of ghosts is absurdly persistent on England, despite the almost complete lack of actual ghosts there"). I think it's because there are few actual Jews in Poland that a stereotypical image of Jews persists (the same is true in Iran and other Muslim countries that are even more anti-semitic, and have even fewer actual Jews).

Personally, I think that books like Gross's only increase real anti-semitism. People simply give up and say, "All right, you're correct, we are anti-semitic, now what are going to do about it ?"....

Anonymous said...
it is better if 1 million orthodox jews do not like you than 100million radical muslims... ;)


It is true. Unfortunately, real anti-semites are convinced that this 1 million of orthodox Jews have much more power and influence than those 100 million radical Muslims.

Anti-semites are the stupidest people on Earth.

Freedom Fighter said...

I'd never say that the Poles were anti-Semitic as a nation, nor have I read the book..but here are a few questions for discussion I'd like to throw out:

1) Regarding the pogrom in Kielce after the war directed at Holocaust survivors trying to return to their homes, there's been a suggestion that this was merely the product of ` a lawless land'.Were any non-Jewish Poles who returned from say, forced labor in Germany and tried to reclaim their property likewise attacked by their fellow Poles?

2) I certainly don't malign Catholics, many of whom behaved heroically,(all you have to do is read or visit Yad Vashem to know that) but it is a fact that much of the pre-War Polish clergy was extremely anti-Semitic, and had prepared very fertile soil for Jew hatred. This was also true of much of the Catholic countries the Nazis ruled, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Is it a coincidence that the vast majority of the death camps ( if not all) were located there?

3)The pre-war Polish government was likewise anti-Semitic, though nowhere like Nazi Germany. Did this affect how Poles saw their Jewish neighbors? Have those attitudes carried over today? Based on a couple of comments on this board, it appears they have.

If there is a problem with anti-Semitism in Poland today, my advice is to at least discuss it openly an dexplore those deep seated attitudes.

The US did that some time ago with attitudes towards black Americans, to the point where it's almost( but not quite!) a non-issue today and I think we're a healthier country because of it.



Bottomline

beatroot said...

Sonia!
This is an absurd statement (like saying "fear of ghosts is absurdly persistent on England, despite the almost complete lack of actual ghosts there").

England is not full of ghosts or believers of ghosts any longer. That was a 'historical moment' just as the UFO momentn was in the US (to do with the Cold War, of course).

No. England is not full of ghost hunters anymore, sadly.

Freedom Fighter
I don't think Chodakiewicz is suggesting that it was only because Poland was lawless that these attacks took place. But it didn't help. At that time, there was a 'mini infurno'...So it is almost impossible for us to understand many of the motives of what happened.

I am not saying which argument is right - because I don't know - but neither can I really feel morally superior to people who were living in circumstances that I can not relate to.

Anonymous said...

go to

http://zdjecia.pap.pl

and type LELOW in the search engine.

Then you will see how the "anti semitic" poland looks like.

michael farris said...

This is one of those cases where the collective 'nation' approach just doesn't work for shit. You've got to look at individual behavior and choices.

Yes, Polish / Jewish relations were complex and frankly speaking, I don't think either side ever did much to make the other like them.

Given that complex history, it was predictable that in WWII and the aftermath the entire gamut of human responses played out.
Just looking at the Polish side, some individuals certainly acted selflessly heroically in trying to protect Jewish people, others did so for less heroic and more financial reasons and on down until you get to individuals who chose to outright cooperation with the nazis.

"Poles" on the whole were and are neither heroic defenders of freedom or vicious anti-semitic collaborators. They were human. In the confusing, deadly aftermath of the most horrible prolonged catastrophe to happen on Polish territory ever, lots of awful stuff happened. This can only be controversial to those with collective 'my side was better' agendas.

The conversation isn't worth having until the collectivist garbage is dropped.

geez said...

freedom fighter wrote: "The US did that (discussions)some time ago with attitudes towards black Americans, to the point where it's almost( but not quite!) a non-issue today".

Have you been keeping abreast of the Democratic campaign for president? The media is abuzz with practically nothing else these days what with Hillary's relative dissing of MLK and the multitude of responses from white bourgie feminists and black militant feminists and more.

About Chodakiewicz... From some of his stuff I've read, it seems like he practically discounts Polish anti-semitism as a major cause of the post WWII conflicts. Gross obviously take the diametically opposite stand, not fully considering the full historical context (although he does make some attempt but only as a means of discounting the relative importance of other factors).

And I was very surprised and dismayed to see Gross respond in a manner similarly idiotic to the threats of the K-kow prosecutor.

geez said...

Michael: Did you happen to catch my review of sorts of the book on the Mariavites I read recently?

It's tangentially enuff in the Polish NASA entry below.

sonia said...

Freedom Fighter,

1) Regarding the pogrom in Kielce after the war directed at Holocaust survivors trying to return to their homes, there's been a suggestion that this was merely the product of ` a lawless land'.Were any non-Jewish Poles who returned from say, forced labor in Germany and tried to reclaim their property likewise attacked by their fellow Poles?

Are you kidding ? Crime was rampant. But Jews were especially vulnerable because when they came back from camps to reclaim their home, other people (whose own homes were bombed or destroyed - 38% of buildings in Poland were destroyed during the war) usually lived there already. Trying to throw them out was quite dangerous. Poles returning from camps didn't have this problem. Their relatives usually took care of their property. Jews had no relatives who stayed behind.

2) I certainly don't malign Catholics, many of whom behaved heroically,(all you have to do is read or visit Yad Vashem to know that) but it is a fact that much of the pre-War Polish clergy was extremely anti-Semitic, and had prepared very fertile soil for Jew hatred. This was also true of much of the Catholic countries the Nazis ruled, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Is it a coincidence that the vast majority of the death camps ( if not all) were located there?

I bet Polish priests were as open-minded as Hassidic rabbis (i.e. not much). As for "fertile soil", And I bet an average Pole had just as much prejudice towards Jews as an average Israeli has towards Palestinians. As for location of the death camps, Hitler certainly would have prefered to build them on Madagascar, but he finally decided to build them where the overwhelming majority if European Jews actually lived.

3)The pre-war Polish government was likewise anti-Semitic, though nowhere like Nazi Germany. Did this affect how Poles saw their Jewish neighbors? Have those attitudes carried over today? Based on a couple of comments on this board, it appears they have.

Actually, it wasn't as simple as that. Until 1926, Poland had a democratically-elected government that was quite hostile to Jews. So when Pilsudski seized dictatorial power in 1926, Jews welcomed the coup, while Polish anti-semites didn't. But after Pilsudski's death in 1935, the anti-semites got their revenge, slowly infiltrating the regime and purging it from its filosemitic members (like Walery Slawek). Being associated with an anti-democratic coup d'état might have been beneficial to Jews in a short term, but in the long term it backfired badly.

roman said...

Freedom Fighter,

Were any non-Jewish Poles who returned from say, forced labor in Germany and tried to reclaim their property likewise attacked by their fellow Poles?

Like Sonia explained, unlike Jewish Poles, the ones that returned at least had someone to return home to. Many forced labor Poles, being mostly young workers, made the decision not to return to Poland after the war.
They, instead, chose to "move on", get married and settle in Western European countries where work was available. The foremost reason, as in my own parents' case, was because of the repressive Communist government in Poland at the time. Once they experienced a lifestyle that was way better than what was available back home (even before the war) it was a no-brainer to settle down elsewhere in the hopes things would change for the better in Poland. They did but way too late (after 40+years).

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello Geez,
I assume you don't live in the US. If you did,you would realize that the Obama/Hillary confab has nothing to do with race relations in America and everything to do with cynical political manipulation:J O S H U A P U N D I T: `I Have A Dream' - The Democrats Version

Hello Sonia

In answer to my first question,I take it that your obvious answer is no. I find it hard to believe that every Pole kidnapped by the Germans had relatives who took care of their property and the attitude towards the Jews as aliens and non-Poles had nothing to do with how they were treated by some of their countrymen.

As for your other remarks about hassidic Rabbis and Israel,they make it quite plain to me that certain attitudes still persist in Poland, even in the near total absence of Jews.

By making the comparison between Israelis and Poles, are you seriously suggesting that the Jews in Poland were engaged in terrorist murders of their fellow Poles an dthus deserved to be hated?

And, you've obviously never been to israel, where the Arabs vote, have full legal rights and in th ecase of the Druse and Bedouins even serve in the IDF.

And for that matter after the 1967 war, the Israelis you have such disdain for didn't throw the Arabs out of their homes, even in places like Hebron and East Jerusalem where homes were stolen after the Arabs ethnically cleansed Jews from those places in 1948 and occupied those areas illegally.

If they had, they would have far less problems now, but they opted for being humane.

And, BTW I doubt you'd ever find a hassidic rabbi making remarks anything like the anti-Semitic `Christ killer ' sermons of Cardinal Glemp, while we're on the subject.

Hello Roman, Thanks for your reply. I can appreciate that the situation was in turmoil,and thanks for giving me your personal view of it.

All Best,
ff

geez said...

Joshua Pundit: Puke. Pathetic racist drivel.

Freedom Fighter said...

Geez, I can't even imagine the mental state you must be stuck with to come up with that conclusion.

Have a nice life.

ff

beatroot said...

MF
The conversation isn't worth having until the collectivist garbage is dropped.

That is correct. 'Poles' are not anti-Semitic, Jews are not anti-Pole. Period. That doesn't mean that some POles, sometime, did bad things against Jews in that period. Others didn't. Whay they did and shy is for historical study.

So when someone says, "Yes, the pogrom in Kielce was anti-Semitic' that does not meam that Poles and Poland is anti-Semitic. OK?

geez said...

But Gross is concerned about the prevalence of anti-semitism. He is very much opposed to the type of view espousing that Poles sucked in anti-semitism with their mother's milk. A statement made by an Israeli government official by the way. Just like the lawsuit threat against Gross was made by a Polish government official.

FF: I am quite certain of your mental state if you base any of your opinions on that Joshua blog.

sonia said...

FF,

By making the comparison between Israelis and Poles, are you seriously suggesting that the Jews in Poland were engaged in terrorist murders of their fellow Poles an dthus deserved to be hated?

I am not suggesting anything. But my grandfather, who was a member of NKVD, murdered many Poles. And many of his collegues were Jews.

And, you've obviously never been to israel, where the Arabs vote, have full legal rights and in th ecase of the Druse and Bedouins even serve in the IDF.

And, you've obviously never been to pre-war Poland, where Jews voted, had full legal rights and even served in the Polish Army.

after the 1967 war, the Israelis you have such disdain for didn't throw the Arabs out of their homes, even in places like Hebron and East Jerusalem where homes were stolen after the Arabs ethnically cleansed Jews from those places in 1948 and occupied those areas illegally. If they had, they would have far less problems now, but they opted for being humane.

Well, I guess it doesn't pay to be humane. I also wonder how the Israelis would react if Martians suddenly landed in Israel and killed all the Palestinians. I rather doubt they would react differently than Poles reacted during WWII...

the anti-Semitic `Christ killer' sermons

Poles sucked in anti-semitism with their mother's milk.


Perfect mirror-images of each other. All humans, Jews and Poles, are exactly the same. Full of stupidity and prejudice.

beatroot said...

I'm not. Speak for yourself, dear.

Anonymous said...

Sonia said “But my grandfather, who was a member of NKVD, murdered many Poles. And many of his collegues were Jews.”

This is a widely suppressed fact of Polish history, that Jews staffed the communist apparatus and its murderous security services in proportions wildly greater than their proportion in the general population.

During the 1939 Soviet invasion and the 1944 to 1956 period where the PRL was established. Jews were in the vanguard of the murder and deportation apparatus.

Gross does not account for Poles murdered at the hands of Jews.

geez said...

How many of Sonia's grandpa's colleagues in what specific grouping of Polish communists were Jews? One has to be very careful about using weighted but inexact terms like "many" and "a lot."

What number and percentage of high-ranking Polish communists were Jews? And again, "high-ranking" needs to be delineated.

Actually, Gross does exactly this kind of analysis in a chapter in _Fear_ entitled, "Zydokomuna."

And if the claim that Jews were the major force behind communism in Poland is so widely and thoroughly suppressed, why do I come across it so often that it makes me want to puke?

geez said...

Oh yea, and how Jewish were these Jewish communists? Hmmn, how Polish were they?

nemeczek said...

"And if the claim that Jews were the major force behind communism in Poland is so widely and thoroughly suppressed, why do I come across it so often that it makes me want to puke?"

Ask Beatroot to pass the bucket he used while writing the Super Sarko piece. With some luck it is not brimful yet...
It does not really matter how many Polish-Jews collaborated with the Soviets in Eastern Poland between 1939 and the Barbarossa, or how many of them were a part of the political and security apparatus post-1945. What matters is perception. If the statistics match the perception, so the better.

geez said...

Why the better if the perception is flawed?

geez said...

... expecially given that the stats indeed don't back up the perception.

nemeczek said...

What I mean is that people take retaliatory actions against individuals they PERCIEVE as an enemy. Sure, the Poles of Western Ukraine in 1941 might have tried to compile statistics on how many of their Jewish compatriots collaborated with the Soviets, but it is hardly realistic. The crux was that they did not need any statistics, as the perception was strong. You cannot PERCIEVE something to be true and, at the same time, KNOW it is false. The same applies to the post-war period and the political/security apparatus. It might just happen that the statistics support the perception – who knows, maybe Gross will tackle this one next.

michael farris said...

"You cannot PERCIEVE something to be true and, at the same time, KNOW it is false"

Nonsense, we do that all the time.
I PERCEIVE the ground as stable and motionaless under my feet, on the other hand, I KNOW it (and I) are spinning around in space at tremendous speeds.

Granted, ethnic/religious tensions are another kettle of fish. I'm reminded of an author (Isikoff?) who spent time in the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 90's. The attitude he reporting coming across (again and again and again) was that "Group X is too different from us" and "Group X is too similar to us" held simultaneously (I've heard similar sentiments in explanations of Greek-Turk tensions).

I wouldn't be surprised if a similar dynamic was found in Poland between catholics and jews.



It's generally known / accepted / assumed that the early post WWII communist party in Poland was disporportionately made up of those of Jewish descent.

geez said...

Nemmy: Again, please check out Gross's chapter on Zydokomuna in Fear where he does come up with stats for the post-war period and then some. And feel free to take on his findings, methodology and conclusions.

geez said...

Nemmy: Again, please check out Gross's chapter on Zydokomuna in Fear where he does come up with stats for the post-war period and then some. And feel free to take on his findings, methodology and conclusions.

beatroot said...

What's the Iskoff book? But I am a bit confused by the bit after 'perceive' and 'know' - which is good - but after...don't get that.

ericnave said...

I’ve never seen any credible stats on the number of Jews in communist security forces in the Polish post war government. However the book ''THEM'' Stalin's Polish Puppets by Teresa Toranska touches on the issue. It is reviewed here

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE6DE133DF934A25756C0A961948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1
From the above review

“AS the party's chief of security police, Berman complains about the lack of understanding among the native Poles: as a rule, the Polish intelligentsia refused to cooperate with him, which led to ''too large a concentration of Jews'' in the security services, with all its fatal consequences for Polish-Jewish relations in the later period”

Whether “too large a concentration” means 2% or 92% I guess depends on who wants to make up the stats......

geez said...

I'm curious, ericnave. Do you find Gross's stats not credible? How so?

Them is a great book.

And it does depend on who is interpreting (although not "make up") the stats -- and how good/credible the stats being uses are.

Berman may well have thought that 2% were too many.

ericnave said...

I have never read Gross' books so maybe his stats are credible. After reading "Secret City" by Gunnar Paulsson I find some of his other generalizations about Poles hard to swallow but maybe I am misinterpreting what I have read in reviews.

michael farris said...

"What's the Iskoff book?"

Not Iskoff, I finally remembered it's Ignatieff and was stuff I came across online and can't find now.

you get one example of the mentality in the review of one of his books:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9906E0DC143BF932A35751C0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

relevant portion:

"A chapter entitled ''The Narcissism of Minor Difference'' starts in a command post in eastern Croatia, where Ignatieff tries to get a Serbian militiaman to tell him what he has against his former Croatian neighbors. The man ''looks scornful and takes a cigarette pack out of his khaki jacket. "See this? These are Serbian cigarettes. Over there," he says, gesturing out of the window, "they smoke Croatian cigarettes."
Feeling, perhaps, that this is not a large enough issue over which to kill one's neighbors, the young militiaman returns to the topic. "Look, here's how it is. Those Croats, they think they're better than us. They want to be the gentlemen. Think they're fancy Europeans." But, he continues, Serbs and Croats are all really just Balkan garbage. As Ignatieff says, this sort of incoherent wavering between thinking that our neighbors are alien and thinking that they are exactly like us is commonplace in these situations. "

geez said...

I see Secret City was published in Polish by Znak in 2007.

Originally published in 1998, Yale University Press.

I'd love to see/hear/read Gross discussing the issues with Paulsson.

Somehow Paulsson's book got past me, so I thank you for the reference.

Looks real good:
http://www.secretcitybook.com/

Some good things beside all the gonadbusting happens on the BR. Not that g-bustin' is always or necessarily bad.

ericnave said...

Not all Poles will be happy with Secret City I can assure you. But compared to Gross.....

Also had a google around for challenges to some of Paulsson's more noticeable estimates (70 to 90k Poles helping out as opposed 3 to 4k Sczmalcownik - Warsaw only estimates) and could not find any (he devotes a chapter to how he arrives at them and to be honest some of it sailed over my head so I took the easy route and looked for challenges)

Makes a good read if somewhat less headline catching than Gross' works.

batorego said...

1. Why has nobody mentioned the fact that Sonia is completely naked (can't someone offer her a coat or something?). Mind you, she has a good point; I too have never been to pre-war Poland, and I'm not entirely sure how to get there anyway.

2. As a visitor to this country I've frequently been shocked by the casual anti-semitism that I've come across. It's kind of like visiting Atlanta and finding people burning effigies of Martin Luther King. You just think 'how the hell is this possible?'

3. And I hate to bring it up in this context but:

You've been meme-tagged; make of it what you will :)

http://batorego.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/7-things-about-me-meme/

beakerkin said...

Sonia

There were plenty of non Communist Jews in Poland. My grandfather proudly fought for Poland in the 1920
war. My uncles on the other side did serve in the Polish Army.

The situation after the war was mostly about property. It certainly did have an anti-semitic element but it was about lone idividuals returning to communities seeking their property.

Poles are not anti-semitic in general. Moreover, the comments about Americans being anti-semitic is insane. The only place one encounters anti-semitism with any regularity is in higher ed or at a
so called "peace protest".

The most insane comments of all are
the comments about Jewish anti Polonism. This is quite amusing as the subject of Poland seldom if ever comes up even in families of Polish Jews.

schaden freud said...

Fun Loving Americans:

Purported Skinheads Vandalize Jewish Cemetery
Daily Herald
Published on January 12, 2008


Cook County authorities say nearly 60 tombstones were defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic phrases in a primarily Jewish cemetery in near Norridge. Sheriff Tom Dart calls the incident a hate crime.

Tombstones were spray painted in blue and white with swastikas and a phrase in German, which translates to "Jews Out." Other phrases included "Aryan Power" and "skinhead." […]

schaden freud said...

An atypical example of an American Jew showing his tolerance toward Poles ??? :


"anti-Semitism is a viral condition and those who have that condition are infected. Why don’t you sue Itzhak Shamir, the former Israeli PM, who happens to be still alive. He was born in Poland, and is obviously well aware of his Polish compatriots. “Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”

More of the same kind of not yummy tripe can be found at:

http://polishpress.wordpress.com/2007/05/11/israeli-teenagers-are-a-nuisance-in-poland/

Anybody who has been to more than a couple Polish-Jewish dialogues in the US or anywhere for that matter know that more than a few Jews find more fault with Poles than the Nazis.

Not that more than a few Americans of Polish descent find more fault with Jews than Nazis, too.

sonia said...

Beak,

Sonia

There were plenty of non Communist Jews in Poland.


I know that. I only gave this example in response to Freedom Fighter who was claiming that no Jew has ever murdered a Pole.

the subject of Poland seldom if ever comes up even in families of Polish Jews.

In my experience, few Polish families are obsessed about Jews either.

The real problem is a minority of Poles who go insane when Jews accuse them of anti-semitism, and a minority of Jews who go insane when Poles deny being anti-semitic.

If Gross wants to find out about real anti-semitism, he should just visit a Palestinian village wearing a yarmulke....

beatroot said...

enclave
“AS the party's chief of security police, Berman complains about the lack of understanding among the native Poles: as a rule, the Polish intelligentsia refused to cooperate with him, which led to ''too large a concentration of Jews'' in the security services, with all its fatal consequences for Polish-Jewish relations in the later period”

I see I have lots of books to read...but that last sentence is stange. By blaming a too high concentration of Jews in the services for all the 'fatal consequences' later...ignores the history of Jewish-POlish relations before the Sovierts turned up. Go back to the 1930s, 1920s...can;t blame the commies for that.

As for the 'casual anti-semitism' you find in Poland, well, yeah, you are right. There is, and there is no use trying to deny that. Most foreigners find that disturbing. But these are just casual prejudices and not dangerous. And that is as much to do with Poland being a monoethnic state for muchg of the last two geberations. And that is a communist, iron curtain legacy, sadly.

Mike
Ignatieff I know, of course, though I don;t know how informative the Balkans situation is for explaining what went on here, back then.

beakerkin said...

Lets see a cemetary gets vandalized
and we extrapolate the entire USA is anti semitic. There are anti semitic
freaks in the USA, Poland and elsewhere. The comments about anti semitism in the USA are absurd.

Do the critics of this author place a widely publicized linguist under similar scrutiny for his drug bong musings? Lets see the classics about Holocaust denial not being anti semitic or NYC is a Jewish run
homeland in the USA. If one wanted to find a genuine anti semite it is quite hard to top Chomsky and his protogee the Maoist.

A series of odd comments do not make a pathology. Jews from Poland seldom ever speak of Poland. The comments about anti Polonism are insane. Kindly go back to watching Cheech and Chong films or hanging with the clods at Stormfront.

michael farris said...

I'll point out again, that in Polish, IME, anti-semitism doesn't normally refer to speech but to physical violence.

This means, that saying that Jews control the world money supply or that Jews are almost entirely responsible for Catholic/Jewish ethnic tensions in Poland aren't regarded as being anti-semitic in the Polish cultural context.

I've known people who might say nasty things about Jews* but who recoil in horror at the thought of people being physically attacked for their religion*.

Many Polish people, when they hear accusations about "Polish anti-semitism" imagine that everyday Polish people are being accused of being violent thugs. Of course they react negatively to it.

Remember, the 'same' word in different languages can have subtle, but crucial differences in meaning. We ignore this at our peril.

* a strange pattern I've encountered more than once is to label Jews in general as cunning and expert in looking out after their own interests and then mention some Jewish ancestory "so it's okay for me to say this". I haven't quite figured that one out yet.

** and then you get jerks like Jankowski or Bubel, who are hardcore anti-semites in any linguistic or cultural setting.

schaden freud said...

Please show where anybody here ever wrote that all Americans are anti-semitic, Beakerkin.

The point being made is that anti-semitism is a problem in the US. Just because nobody pays much attention to you doesn't mean other people aren't affected by it.

Anti-semitism involving violent personal attacks and attacks against property may well be a bigger problem in the US than it is in Poland.

If the vandalizing of the cememtary took place in Poland, it would have recieved worldwide media attention. Yet, this kind of thing happens just about every week in the US.

Jews from Poland seldom speak of Poland? Well, you seem to speak about Poland quite a lot. But then again, it is true you are quite an oddity.

BTW, who are Screatch and Sturm? Why do you know so much about them? Is Stormfront a Nazi group? From the US?

Dave said...

geez wrote:

"How many of Sonia's grandpa's colleagues in what specific grouping of Polish communists were Jews? One has to be very careful about using weighted but inexact terms like "many" and "a lot."

What number and percentage of high-ranking Polish communists were Jews? And again, "high-ranking" needs to be delineated."

Geez, there are credible statistics available from numerous sources. Please read the findings of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) from the November 2005 issue of its Bulletin, pages 37–42: ŻYDZI W KIEROWNICTWIE UB, STEREOTYP CZY RZECZYWISTOŚĆ?

The Ministry of Public Security of Poland during postwar years in Poland murdered and tortured thousands of Catholic Poles, specifically those who were considered a threat to Communism in Poland.

Translated segment:

"The content of the MSW Informator and personnel files of 450 persons occupying managerial positions in the Ministry of Public Security, complemented by data drawn from other sources. [Source: 40] As the results show, in the period of 1944–1954 of the 450 top managers of the Ministry of Public Security (from the head of division up), 167 were of Jewish origin (37.1%). After the MBP (Ministry of Public Security) was dissolved and its place was taken by Kds.BP (Committee for Public Security) in 1954, that number dropped to 86 managerial positions (34.5%). In that period (1944-1956), among the 107 managers and deputy managers of the voivodeship offices of state security, there were 22 of Jewish origin (20.5%). After having included other high positions in the voivodeship offices of the UB/UdsBP (the heads of department and the deputy managers of department), the most persons of Jewish origin were located in the security apparatus of the voivodeships of: Szczecin (18.7%), Wrocław (18.7%), Katowice (14.6%), Łódź (14.2%), Warszawa (13.6%), [Source: 41] Gdańsk (12%), and Lublin (10.1%). In the remaining voivodeships that figure was about 7%, reaching the lowest level in Zielona Góra Voivedeship (3.5%) [Source 42]."

During this period, Jews made up less than 1% of the population in Poland.

Chodakiewicz concluded "After World War Two, the Jews were not only victims, but also aggressors. He recalls numerous cases in which Jews cooperated with the Urzad Bezpieczenstwa, denouncing Poles, members of the Home Army. According to him, some 3500 to 6500 Poles died in late 1940s because of Jewish denounciations or were killed by Jews themselves."

These numbers exceed both the the Jedwabne and Kielce incidents in which Gross alleged that Poles were the instigators.

I'd like to see a publicly broadcasted debate between Gross and Chodakiewicz on these issues.


Beatroot said:

"I see I have lots of books to read...but that last sentence is stange. By blaming a too high concentration of Jews in the services for all the 'fatal consequences' later...ignores the history of Jewish-POlish relations before the Sovierts turned up. Go back to the 1930s, 1920s...can;t blame the commies for that."

You can't ignore the fact that most of the Polish Communist Party (KPP)prior to 1939 consisted of Polish-Jews. This similar pattern was followed in post WWII Poland. From Wikipedia:

"The Polish Communist Party (KPP, 1918–1938) had a very strong power base among the Jews. In Polish court proceedings against communists between 1927 and 1936, 90% of the accused were Jews. Out of fifteen leaders of the KPP central administration in 1936, eight were Jews. Jews constituted 53% of the "active members" (aktyw) of the KPP, 75% of its "publication apparatus," 90% of the "international department for help to revolutionaries" and 100% of the "technical apparatus" of the Home Secretariat. In terms of membership, before its dissolution in 1938, 25% of KPP members were Jews; most urban KPP members were Jews[6]—a substantial number, given an 8.7% Jewish minority in prewar Poland. Nonetheless, research on voting patterns in Poland's parliamentary elections in the 1920s has shown that Jewish support for the communists was proportionally less than their representation in the total population."

Of course, this doesn't indicate that most Jews supported Communism. It does show the make up of the communist party in Poland though.

M Ferris pinpointed the entire issue correctly and is worth repeating. You cannot hold an entire nation guilty of any acts committed by individuals. Gross is wrong in doing this.

beakerkin said...

Here we go again at Beatroots where stupidity is frequently on display.
Had the vandalism in question happened in Poland it would have zero
coverage. European crime stories do
not get covered. This is true even when a French Jew gets killed.

Anti Polonism is a party gag at best.Poland is seldom a topic in the USA.

My views of Poland are more positive than the so called enlightened salon types that lecture them like children. I find it amazing that Poles put up with the arrogance of THE Beatroot.

geez said...

Interesting numbers, John.

But not all of them add up or some numbers are left out. Or maybe something got lost in the translation.

For example, it's stated that Jews comprised 34.5% of the Repression apparatus in 1954. But the number of top managerial positions for the latter period is either not stated or the percentage is way off if the base used is 450 as for the previous period. (86 of 450 is 19%, not 34.5%) But admitedly, that's quibbling and doesn't go to the crux of the issue.

I will try to get back later on this.

But I would also welcome a debate between Gross and Chodakiewicz.

peter said...

can I say that I am delighted at the level of this conversation - could have easily turned into a Simon Mol type trolling session...but we seem to kept up a very intelligent level of discourse...

Harry said...

Sonia said....
And, you've obviously never been to pre-war Poland, where Jews voted, had full legal rights and even served in the Polish Army.


As a matter of fact, Jews most certainly did not have full legal rights in pre-war Poland. One of the reasons why Jews were more numerous in the post-war Polish communist party was that so many of them had had to leave Poland before WWII to do things like study at university or be a doctor or be a lawyer. They couldn't go to Germany to do those things so they went to the USSR instead. After the war they were given the chance to go home.

schaden freud said...

Freakintwit wrote:

"Anti Polonism is a party gag at best."

"The most insane comments of all are the comments about Jewish anti Polonism. This is quite amusing as the subject of Poland seldom if ever comes up even in families of Polish Jews."

Well, Freakintwit, you should either be willing to reconsider these comments or be willing to take on the Piast Institute, the National Institute for Polish and Polish American Affairs." Quite a few distinguished scholars and some rank-and-file, ordinary, salt-of-the-earth kind of Polish and Polish-American folk. And some Polish Jews and their descendents, too, if I'm not mistaken.

Seems they wrote: "It is clear... that FEAR will have a serious and negative effect on Polish-Jewish relations in the U.S. It may well fuel a new wave of anti-Polonism."

Why do you think these folks are "inane," "absurd," and "insane"??? Do you have any inkling of how insulting your comments are???

Anonymous said...

Gross’s book in itself is not a problem, he talks factually about real events and draws conclusions, which the reader is free to reject or accept. The problem is with balance in this issue, the western world has been fed a diet of biased material depicting Poles as brutish ant-Semites nearly exceeding the Nazis.

This material is fed to people who have at best a highly superficial knowledge of Poland and it’s history. This on slot of smear ad disinformation has produced an anti-polish mind set in countless millions across the western world.

Yes Poles are upset about this kind of thing.

In a balanced view the tragedy the Polish people experienced needs to be represented properly and the perpetrators need to come clean.

It is quite possible that historians can demonstrate that Jews killed more Poles than visa versa. It would be healthy in any dialogue to have Jews accept responsibility as a first act of atonement.

Thus far we have received denial and silence topped with screams of anti-Semite whenever the issue is raised.

mao ding dong said...

Are "Jews" responsible for what was perpetrated by Communists, granted a good number of whom were Jews, but mostly only tangentially so?

Obviously, more Poles than Jews were communist party members. Even the most inflated estimates place the percentage of "Jewish-by-birth" communists way under 50%.

So shouldn't all Poles have to accept responsibility for what Polish communists did as a majority of communists in Poland to atone for their murderous transgressions if we follow your logic, anon?

geez said...

Dave wrote: "During this period, Jews made up less than 1% of the population in Poland."

So what percent of this one percent were active in the communist party in the post-war period? A small fraction of one percent, probably. Before the war, most estimates place the percentage of Jews in the KPP at around 25 percent (half of the inflated estimated in the post above). But that's still only 1/5 of 1% of the total number of Jews in Poland at the time (according to Jaff Schatz, "Jews and the Communist Movement in Interwar Poland," Studies in Contemporary Jewry, vol XX, 2004)) Hardly enough, methinks, to call upon all Polish Jews to wring their hands begging for atonement.

At the beginning of 1947, there were about 555,000 members of the PPR.

We know that in May 1947, there were about 7000 registered as Jews in a special section of the party. There were certainly more in the party, but they didn't identify themselves as Jews.

Most likely they felt as did this one Jewish Polish communist as expresssed in a letter to Jakub Berman's brother Adolf: "I do not like Jews, Specifically, I find Jewish mannerisms reprehensible. Jeish ways of behavior offend me tremendously. Often I am ashamed of Jews. Yet I am one of them!"

So counting Jews in the Communist Party seems problematic at best, and to me more than a little disquieting.

beatroot said...

There are many people who think like that here, Geez.

Me? I find it hard to judge historical events anymore. It was a disgusting time. People sometimes acted disgustingly. But generally, Poland is not a pogrom waiting to happen.

geez said...

Certainly not.

And yet just a few years back there was a tidal wave of paranoia occasioned by American historian Paula Fredrikson's (a convert to Judaism and strong supporter of the Israeli right wing as far as I can tell) prediction that Poland would erupt into pogroms once Poles saw Mel Gibson's _Passion of the Christ_.

First Things said...

Might find this English review of Fear helpful:

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5402&var_recherche=fear+gross

heat_seeker said...

The level of "casual anti-semitism" is hard to comprehend to people who are not affected by it. Similar to the undercurrent of racial prejudice in some places in the US which are not quite so obvious to the whites. If we were to assume that indeed there is no wide-spread anit-semitism in Poland, I find it curious that (a) any mentioning of the topic causes a virtual deluge of very emotionally-charged opinions, and (b) the Poles are perfectly capable of ignoring (or excusing) the historical events of Kielce, Jedwabne, purges of '68, etc. I'm not a great fan of AA, but it's true that "the first step in fixing a problem is admitting it exists."

ericnave said...

" Hardly enough, methinks, to call upon all Polish Jews to wring their hands begging for atonement."

Were there enough Poles involved in pogroms or denounciations of Jews(as opposed to just not helping Jews) to call upon all Polish Catholics to wring their hands begging for atonement???

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

And I think (Geez) Poles are getting there...listen: not only did Kwasniewski go to Jedwabe, but so did, later, Giertych. Amd that was all down to Gross's book.

A writer can only dream of having that kind of effect with a small little book.

geez said...

ericnave: Were there enough Poles involved in pogroms or denounciations of Jews(as opposed to just not helping Jews) to call upon all Polish Catholics to wring their hands begging for atonement???

>>>

Well, in a way that's what JP2 felt it was necessary to do. And as BR notes so too with Kwasniewski and even Giertych. And to the extent that a significant number of Jews denounced Polish patriots to the Communist authorities after the war, some apologies seem to be in order there too. Maybe some Rabbis in Poland have already done just this. I don't know. But I don't think so closely associating Jews and Communists is the wise way to go. Those who were Communists need to accept responsibility for all their shit and be apologetic to just about everybody. And then forgiveness and justice should follow. I think its important for forgiveness to come before the justice though. Otherwise, the justice just becomes retribution and vengeance. Something folks like Neuhauss, Nowak and Weigel would do well to consider (Hello there First Thingser!)

Anonymous said...

Israel and Jewish communities in the west do not view crimes committed by Jews against Poles as meriting prosecution thereby stating their long held opinion that Polish lives are worthless and not on an equal footing with the losses of a single Jewish life.

Look at Israel’s refusal to extradite people charged with war crimes while in PRL uniforms and the UK’s refusal to extradite a Stalinist Judge due to political pressure from an influential community.

Are we Poles the only ones interested in some sort of dialogue and reconciliation, it takes two to dance. At present I fear we remain alone on the dance floor.

Anonymous said...

Look at Israel’s refusal to extradite people charged with war crimes while in PRL uniforms

\\__^__//

Names of those charged? With what crimes? Charged by what courts? When?

Anonymous said...

The Two most publicized cases.

Salomon (Solomon or Shlomo) Morel

“Was a member of the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (State Security) and the commandant of the Stalinist-era concentration camp Zgoda.

The camp held political prisoners, German nationals and Poles from Silesia. Most of the inmates were civilians, including women and some children. Up to 1,695 people (out of 6,000 inmates who had passed through the camp during this period) died, most due to ill treatment and outright torture and murder. Morel was accused of causing these deaths by deliberately giving low food rations, systematically torturing and mistreating prisoners, and failing to take sanitary precautions. In 1992, he fled to Israel after the Polish media had begun to publicize his case. He refused to return to Poland, where he was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, for his trial which began in 1996. Israel rejected several Polish requests for extradition, the last one in July 2005.”


Helena Wolińska-Brus

“Born 1919 of Jewish parentage as Fajga Mindla Danielak) is a former military prosecutor from Poland, involved in Stalinist regime show trials of the 1950s. Since 1999, Poland has been striving for extradition of Wolińska from the United Kingdom to stand trial in Poland. The official charges against her were initiated by the IPN. Wolińska is accused of being an "accessory to a court murder," classified as a Stalinist crime and a crime of genocide, and is punishable by up to ten years in prison. Among other crimes, she is alleged of organising the unlawful arrest of, and aiding investigation and trial against, Poland's wartime hero general Emil August Fieldorf, a legendary commander of the Polish underground Polish Home Army during WW II. Emil August Fieldorf was executed on February 24, 1953. Communist authorities concluded already in a 1956 report that Wolińska had violated the rule of law by her involvement in biased investigations and trials that frequently resulted in executions. Polish prosecutors to issue an European Arrest Warrant (EAW) against Wolinska, which was duly issued on November 20, 2007 ; this will be the third attempt at her extradition from the UK.”

beatroot said...

Helena Wolińska-Brus

“Born 1919 of Jewish parentage as Fajga Mindla Danielak) is a former military prosecutor from Poland, involved in Stalinist regime show trials of the 1950s.


The fact that she was from Jewish parentage has got nothing whatsoever to do with the case at all. But it shows you regard her, not just as a Stalinist bitch, but as ‘the other’, which is a quite telling comment, really.

I know you are not going ton understand this but British governments are not going to hand over an old lady to courts anywhere in the world, let alone Poland, for a crime that allegedly happened over 50 years ago. It’s not going to happen. If you want a trial then go ahead and have one. If she is there or not in person it is not going to make any difference to the outcome.

beakerkin said...

It seems that good old Geez is back to posting as a ding dong.

Communists are not Jews, Americans, Poles and so forth. They are members of a genocidal cult whose association renders all other ties irrelevant. Any communist criminal should be treated tried and executed if their crimes warrant it. Commies when caught often resort to fake cries of anti-semitism like the Rosenberg clowns.

Funny that the same clowns hail Communists when they serve their purposes. FYI Norman Finkelstein was a Maoist and calls himself a Green to avoid the stench of Communist label. His mother was a Stalinist and that is a well known
fact.

Communists who commit crimes should
be punished to the full extent of the law. People who continue to advocate Communism should be treated by mental health experts.

Anti Polonism is stupid and this book will not get wide reading in the USA. There is no such thing as anti Polonism except in the minds of the insane.

I am still looking for the rabid types in Tin foil hats on the web
claiming their was a Polish conspiracy to blow up the WTC. I have yet to see a single comment from the folks at Counterpuch or Antiwar.com about Polonocon cabals
creating a war in Iraq to ensure the safe suppy goat skins. I am still looking for the first comments about Polocabals in the media or controlling the US Government. Most of the people saying these stupid comments are clearly on the far left.

There were clearly were crimes commited against Jews in Poland after the Holocaust. The victims of those crimes include a member of my
own family. A denial of these crimes is akin to Holocaust denial.
I do not blame Poles in general, but these crimes were 100% genuine.

I have never encountered this book in the USA and I live in the local book stores. My advice is to read the book and then decide its worth.
I plan on doing so if I ever locate
a copy in my travels.

beatroot said...

Beakomatic
His mother was a Stalinist and that is a well known
fact.


Ah...so now being a commie is down to genetic inheretence.

I wish I could say that is an interesting thing to say. I wish...

geez said...

Beak is so fucked up that he doesn't even realize that I am adamantly opposed to automatically associating Jews and Communists, despite my repeated posts to that effect. He doesn't make the effort to read, or maybe he can't read very well, so what else can be expected?

FEAR has been reviewed in every major newspaper in the US and it has been the subject of widespread scholarly debate. So his contention that it will not be read in the US is so ridiculous that I have to really admonish myself now for responding to his drivel.

My guess is that his being stuck in the 60s is the result of his parents being hippies who regularly forgot about him as an infant and left him alone and by himself in the snow one day when they were stoned our of their minds at a Jimi Hendrix concert in Minnesota.

Only sympathies are in order.

geez said...

BR: He won't even understand your purpose in repeating his claim about Finkelstein's mother.

Anonymous said...

anon, aside from "the two most publicized cases," can you name any more? If not, you seem to be mentioning rather strange exceptions to the rule.

Richard said...

How is a person defined as a Jew in Poland? Both today and in pre-WW2 and post WW2 Poland?
Did their ID papers say they were Jewish , as in Germany, or did everyone just know if they were Jewish or not.

Or did the Poles ask them to say their prayers, or recite the rosary?

How many people were mixed, ie one Catholic and one Jewish parent. What were the rates of inter-marriage in pre-War Poland.

In Germany, they needed to spell it all out in the Nuremburg Laws. How was it in Poland?

AFter all, if you want to quote stats on what percentage of the security services were Polish post-WW2, you have to define who is a Jew and who is not.

beatroot said...

dave
In Polish court proceedings against communists between 1927 and 1936, 90% of the accused were Jews.

How do you know that they were not chosen for arrest simply because they were Jews? You have no idea the circumstances of the arrest, etc. So these stats are at best dubious.

We can argue the toos about the extent of anti-Semitism in Poland after the war, but what is certainly a fact is that anti-Semitism was high before the war, especially into the 1930s...so police actions and arrests at that time will have a racist component.

Geez - I think Beakyboy is a little confused. Perhaps he thinks that it was released in Polish first - when everyone knows that it was released in English two years ago and caused quite a lot of controversy in the US and UK.

sonia said...

Richard,

How is a person defined as a Jew in Poland?

I don't know how it is defined in Poland. But I know how it is defined by Polish anti-semites: Exactly like a black person in the United States - the "one drop" rule.

beatroot said...

Explain...

michael farris said...

One drop rule:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_drop_rule

I hadn't heard of that being used in Poland about Jews though. I wouldn't be surprised if some idiots think that way but it's not the consensus AFAICT (if it were I'd say the percentage of the population that is 'Jewish' is in the doublt digits)

jannowak57 said...

Under that method of classification it is logical that the nearly thousand-year-old Jewish community in Poland has left it’s genetic imprint on the entire national population.

I would be curious at the response I would receive, if I presented myself in Israel and demanded citizenship based on these criteria.

beatroot said...

I am a little confused about this One Drop Thing.

roman said...

The one-drop thing is only a USA thing.. very popular with bean counters and census takers.
Being a kind of bookstore junkie, I've never heard of this book (FEAR) until I read this post. I will pick it up and read it if I can find it. Maybe it does'nt sell well here in the USA, I don't know. It could be that readers may have suffered a kind of over-exposure with all the excellent books, movies and other media covering the Holocaust. It is'nt the most uplifting of subjects and average folks here may feel somewhat removed from its historical significance due to its geographical separation. I just hope that the Holocaust's underlying lessons are not forgotten as its memory fades in the course of time.

heat_seeker said...

"The one-drop thing is only a USA thing.. very popular with bean counters and census takers." HUH?????
It refers to the fact that before desegregation even if you were only 1/16th black you were still considered 'colored'...

jannowak57 said: "I would be curious at the response I would receive, if I presented myself in Israel and demanded citizenship based on these criteria." Well.. Jan, I think they would look long and hard for ways not to turn you away... As someone from the Israeli immigration agency told me many years ago "we need young, light-skinned man." Look at what happened few years later after the breakup of the USSR - thousands of 'light-skinned', non-Jewish Russians were allowed to immigrate to Israel without any proof of their jewishness other than personal statements to that effect.

ericnave said...

"One drop rule:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_drop_rule

I hadn't heard of that being used in Poland about Jews though. I wouldn't be surprised if some idiots think that way but it's not the consensus AFAICT (if it were I'd say the percentage of the population that is 'Jewish' is in the doublt digits)"

To be honest I'd say that the percentage that is "Jewish" under that criteria is in the triple digits..... And similarly for the percentage of Polish Jews that are Catholic.....

beakerkin said...

Beatroot

Finkelstein presents his mothers off the wall statements as being " the views of a typical Holocaust survivor". Finkelstein leaves out the part that his mother was a dedicated
Stalinist.

The Beatroot is also well aware that Comwad Finkelstein often quotes his mother. His father was a well known fellow traveler.

beatroot said...

The Beatroot is also well aware that Comwad Finkelstein ...

I know this will come as a bit of a shock to some Americans, but I have never heard of Finklewotsit, nor am I particularly interested in what goes on in the US. There is much more interesting things going on in the world of politics than the personality contest that is US politics.

schaden freud said...

Could Beakewoot be the iwwegitimate offspwing of Finklewotsit? Is that the weason for such obsession? Mwy Gawd! Then he'd be cawwying the communist gene!

geez said...

There is much more interesting things going on in the world of politics than the personality contest that is US politics.

Yea, like if Donald Tusk is going to take his finger out of his ass.

beakerkin said...

Beatroot

Scratch an anti-semite and you will
smell the stench of Finkelstein.

Obviously, you do care about America and link it to policies in Poland you disagree with. Why not just focus on Polish issues in the context of Poland? Moreover, you should also ditch the imperial tone towards Poles.


Has the organ grinder found a job for Geez? Is this what he does between stints in the park collecting change?

geez said...

Actually, George Soros pays me quite handsomely to jerk you around, Sneakerskin.

Hey could you at least try to come up with some substantiation to your claim that Finkelstein's parents were Polish communists?

You've been asked about twenty times already, directly and indirectly. And please don't just cite some other knucklehead who says it's a well-known fact.

Too bad about Rudy.

beatroot said...

Yea, like if Donald Tusk is going to take his finger out of his ass.

Prawda!

But it is true that Civic Platform are boring. I have been watching them since the election, hoping that massive personalities would emerge, like a Kaczynski, a Giertych, a Lepper. But nothing. Blogging about Poland has got much harder. That's why I am going to be a bit more international this year.

beatroot said...

But why did you assume that Tusk's finger had to come out of his bottom? I meant his nose. Or maybe ears?

beakerkin said...

Geez

I am not your errand boy. You can find the facts about Finky's parents on the web if you look. Finky's communism is also well covered as well.

You do not have the IQ to jerk anyone around. The best you can do is serve Beatroot his Koolaide in the Salon and act as his court jester.

geez said...

Oh Beakytwit, your endless excuses are pathetic.

You cannot substantiate your claims.

Checkmate, again.

You are the biggest cyberloser I've ever come across in my cyberlife.

Tweakersneeze said...

Nine of every ten politicians keep their fingers up their asses and only take 'em out when they are taking money.

You can find the facts about politicians on the web if you look. The bit about their fingers is also well covered as well.

beakerkin said...

Geez

You have no life. You are Beatroot's cyber toady. Now serve some Koolaide
and run along. Imbeciles are meant to
be seen and not heard.

beakobonkers said...

I am not your errand boy. You can find the facts about Finky's parents on the web if you look. Finky's communism is also well covered as well.

Not very convicing, are you? I argument the burden of proof is with those who are making the argument. Loser.

beakerkin said...

Geez

Who is arguing with you? You are an imbecile who doesn't know common facts. Try reading on your own and the facts will present themselves. Go
ahead and check those facts on your own.

geez said...

You have been making the argument that Finkelstein's mother was a Polish communist, shit-for-brains. The facts do not present themselves. You need to present proof of the ridiculous statements you make. You can't. You are a jackass. Do something useful like go audition for that sequel to the movie The Thirty Year Old Virgin.

~JS said...

the biggest engine of anti-semitism is found in israel itself...the toleration of israelis of the way normal (not gun-toting, rocket launching) palestinians are being (mis)treated and dehumanized there...

Greg said...

An actual debate with Gross is not likely to happen. Gross was invited on two occasions to a debate with Chodakiewicz on "Warto Rozmawiac" during his visit to Poland to which he responded with a list of historians he would like exclusively invited. I can't say who Gross had in mind, it wasn't said.

In light of this, I don't expect any objectivity in debates involving Gross but I'm curious to see the participants.

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The Prose Pro said...

Paulsson here, the Secret City guy. First of all, this blog is the most intelligent discussion of Polish-Jewish issues I have run across, so congratulations. I'd love to have a debate with Gross, but Gross is now a celebrity and behaves like one. He has issued a list of people he's be prepared to debate with, and I'm not on it. At conferences, he avoids me. Think I may have to submit a piece to GW or Rzeczpospolita.

Criticisms of Fear: (1) he acts like he discovered all this, whereas it has all been known for a long time. His argument debunking the Zydokomuna myth recycles Krystyna Kersten's book, Polacy-Zydzi-Komunizm (1990, I think) - and he doesn't give her any credit. The part on Kielce recycles Bozena Szaynok's book (1999 I think). He gives her a nod, but that's all. Frank discussion of Polish-Jewish issues and criticisms of Polish behaviour - well, you could go back to Czeslaw Milosa's poems Campo di Fiori and Biedny Chrzescianin patrzy na ghetto, both 1944. Antisemitism in Poland is simply inherited Christian antisemitism - it was after all church dogma from ca. 590AD to 1965, so all Catholics were antisemitic. It was part of their religion. (And not a part that Orthodox Christians or most Protestants challenged, either). So antisemitism goes back as far as the Jews in Poland - and so does opposition to antisemitism. In the postwar era, dialogue became very stilted during the Communist era, but there were still some open ans strong debates. Over Lantzmann's Shoan in 1984, for example. Over Jan Blonski's article "A Poor Pole Looks at the Ghetto". Over Michal Cichy's description of the Prosta St. Massacre in 1994, in GW, Poland's biggest newspaper. Conferences have been a regular occurrence - including one at Yeshiva U in 2000, at which I presented a preliminary article for my book and Gross did likewise for Neighbors, and Israel Gutman pronounced that he now saw "no difference" between Polish and Jewish historical writing.

Gross by his own admission had never paid much attention to Jewish issues before Neighbors - and now he seems to think that he's the hero who broke the ice.

I was a strong defender of Neighbors - it was an important book, though in every sense a small one. It exposed the largest single massacre of Jews at the hands of Poles in Polish history (to my knowledge), and an event hitherto unknown. But as a history book, it is a straightforward narrative history of the events in one town over a few days, and that's it. The overall conclusions are trivial.

With Fear, Gross has gone completely overboard. Apart from stealing from colleagues without giving them due (or sometimes any) credit, he generalizes outrageously without citing much quantitative evidence. I have two basic criticisms of the book: (1) you can't draw proper conclusions about anything on the basis of only one type of evidence, and (2) although he wraps himself in the mantle of Chris Browning by describing the perpetrators in Jedwabne as "ordinary men", he actually follows in the footsteps of Goldhagen, reading them as "ordinary Poles". In other words, where Browning drew general human conclusions, Goldhagen and Gross get stuck at the national level, attributing the events they describe (in both cases outrageously selective) to national peculiarities instead of human nature. Now there is a large literature on mass violence, often involving people who know each other and have lived side by side peacefully for ages - in my book, I cite a review essay by the South African social psychologist Don Foster that gives a good overview and discusses the various theories that have been proposed. None of them involve national characteristics.

In fact, it is ridiculous to blame or defend nations, because nations - not possessing minds or wills or the capacity to make moral decisions - are not moral agents. They are more or less random collections of individuals, divided into various strata, political tendencies, etc. Now you can draw moral conclusions. on the other hand, about movements that embody some idea. They do act as moral agents: people who subscribe to them announce that they share their ideas, and thus take upon themselves responsibility for the consequences of those ideas. So in Poland, the Catholic Church, the nationalist parties, and those who disseminated and encouraged antisemitism can be blamed for Jedwabne and Kielce etc. However, similar tendencies existed everywhere; the main difference was that Poland had more Jews.

My book gets characterized as "optimistic", gets selectively quoted on right-wing Polish websites, and has had two hostile reviews accusing me of being a "Polish apologist". Baloney. If you are looking for Polish atrocities against Jews, you'll find plenty in Secret City. I estimate that 16,500 Jews died "on the Aryan side" in Warsaw - that's ten times as many as the traditional (and wrong) figure for Jedwabne that Gross took over uncritically, and 10-15 times as many as Gross claims in Fear. You will find blackmailers, denouncers, thieves, murderers, massacres, everything that Gross writes about - but placed in context and with proper statistical studies to fix the proportions. And human generalizations rather than national ones. For the sina of the Catholic Church, the right-wing parties and the antisemites, I blame the Catholic Church, the right-wing parties, and the antisemites. Not Polish society in general. But lest Poles get too chuffed about the 70-90,000 people who I estimated helped Jews in Warsaw (roughly 8% of the population), I point out that they were hardly a random cross-section of the population, but a self-selecting conspiracy consisting of people whom the Jews thought they could trust. In the Polish edition, I mention Wieslaw Kielar's book, Anus Mundi: Kielar estimates that 8% of the SS guards at Auschwitz were decent. So finding that 8% of Warsaw was involved in helping Jews is not a figure that should cause Poles any pride or Jews any surprise.

Naturally, that figure doesn't mean that only 8% of Varsovians were decent. Maybe many more were prepared to help Jews, but were shut out of the "Secret City" by the invisible walls that surround any underground movement. Naturally, there were people who lacked the means, and others who were afraid. Conversely, there were no doubt people who would gladly have killed a few Yids, but didn't know where to find any.

Much like any country, really. How many people help the homeless? You have a range from a tiny minority who run shelters, to a larger group who will give a beggar a dollar, to those who will tell them to get lost, to those who think it's fun to pour gas on them and set them on fire (a New York fad a few years ago).

Gross's central contentions in Fear - that Poles were plagued with guilt over having taken over "ex-Jewish" property and feared reprisals, and that in taking over Jewish property they were being complicit with the Nazis, I think are more baloney. Poles also came into "ex-German" property in the West after the war, and Ukrainians came into "ex-Polish" property. For that matter, Israelis came into "ex-Arab" property in 1948 (and Arabs in cities from which Jewish refugees had fled also came into "ex-Jewish" property. When the Germans had emptied a Shtetl and hauled away all the Jews, the Polish population descended on the Jewish property like vultures - perfectly true. Not nice, not pleasant. But whom were they actually robbing? Jews working in the Werterfassung in the Warsaw ghetto, reclaiming Jewish property for the Reich, engaged in "szaber", which Ringleblum translated as "robbing the robbers". My mother survived Auschwitz by working in the "Canada" commando at Birkenau, sorting the property of the Hungarian Jews, and "organizing" whatever she could. So as far as the Poles were concerned, it was the Germans, not the Jews, whom they were relieving of "ex-Jewish" property.

Now things could get ugly if a Jew miraculously survived and turned up at his home wanting it back. A few hundred maybe were killed. You can't write off the post-war violence as just part of a civil war, either, as Chodakiewicz does (Chodakiewicz and Gontarczyk are apologists for the extreme right). The Jewish death rate - maybe 500 per 100,000 - was far higher than the Polish rate, somewhere around 100 per 100,000. So the antisemites and the people Chodakiewicz defends don't get off the hook, civil war or no civil war. There was specifically antisemitic violence, no way around it. But does complicity of the Polish nation in the Holocaust follow from that? I don't think so.

Goldhagen was deservedly sent packing (Hilberg said about him, charitably, something like "nice kid, someday he'll write a good book". Gross on the other hand gets to be a celebrity. Howcum? Well, actually, Goldhagen was something of a celebrity in Germany as well, and won some national prize for his book - because politically, it was hard for German intellectuals to criticize him without sounding like German apologists. Especially after the Historikerstreit. So predictably, German historians split on left-right lines and the left defended Goldhagen. Same in Poland. It was the non-German historians, like Browning and Hilberg, who told Goldhagen to take a hike. And it will have to be the non-Polish historians - like me - who do the same to Gross.

If I have time, which is doubtful.

ericnave said...

Gunnar,

Firstly congratulations on your book. A fine achievement.

Not too sure how anyone who has read your book could class you as a “Polish apologist”. I tried to find the relevant reviews but couldn’t.

Nevertheless your book provides a lot of facts that can be used to argue against the more startling claims about Polish complicity in the holocaust. It also provides evidence against those who claim total innocence of the Polish nation but web sites making those sorts of claims are far less common (and the majority are probably written in Polish) than sites exaggerating Polish complicity. So your book is more likely to be referenced by those defending Poles.

Anyway on another note your final sentence “If I have time, which is doubtful” can be interpreted in a number of different ways. I trust you are well?

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