This controversial article attempts to address the term "Holocaust Denial" and how it is manipulated. Instead of being used for what it should be used for, the denial that the Germans intentionally eradicated Jews during the Holocaust (estimated 6 million victims), the term now encompasses other areas. The one area that is explicitly wrong and undeniably historically inaccurate is the Jewish cooperation with the Germans.
So, when assessing the definition of "Holocaust Denial" on the list of offenses, there is now: "attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide." This is a broad issue, and in many ways, this can be abused simply for even mentioning that Jews collaborated with Germans in any form; believe me, I have faced this insult more than enough times.
Sadly, this is being propagated, though, so how can I blame people when I tell them about Chaim Rumchowski or the Ghetto Police, and I am labeled a "Holocaust denier"? Do we now have to avoid certain parts of history so that we are not deemed a "Holocaust Denier" and end up on some list of radicals for the ADL?
This article also includes some of my personal experiences with dialogue and seeking to have intellectual conversations. I have been researching Polish history as an American to collect more of the Polish experience. It is virtually impossible to locate objective stories from the Polish where they can share openly because of this political climate.
We should never forget there are two sides to the story, but this is not true in terms of Polish Jewish history, at least in the public arena. You can seek this out for yourself on the internet, and you will find it almost impossible to find an honest assessment of how Jews felt about the Polish. You will only find implications or assumptions about how the Poles thought about the Jews.
In my research and digging deeper, you will find that there was a great dislike and almost racist feeling for the Polish. Unlike what you hear about Jews being forced into ghettoes, Jews chose to live separately, and for many, they did not even know the Polish language. They had their own institutions and schools.
Indeed marrying a Pole could cause banishment, and the family would consider you dead. Contact would be broken off; they would be embarrassed and even go into grieving. Spitting at the church or priests was common; Jesus was cursed. "Jesus, the bastard son of the whore Mary." This is just one of the many customs within the Jewish community.
So the term "Holocaust Denial" is strong, effective, and can be reliant to silence people. Many people, especially historians, would be petrified and sickened to be named this as I have. It is a primary offense, but what can someone do with people who shame anyone that brings up legitimate and factual history? Not much can be done, and my name was slandered when I brought up that uncomfortable topic of collaboration.
The quote, "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act," is attributed to George Orwell. More than just telling the truth, I believe sharing this past that tells the story of millions of victims and those who were part of their demise. Should not the whole story be told? Who was involved regardless of who they were and even the so-called circumstances as to why they were a part of this crime?
We are taught from a young age to do the right thing. To speak up when we see a wrong. I saw something I considered highly manipulative and devious, so I decided to say something. Isn't silence complicity? As I get further into the article, you may understand why it is even more imperative to say something. What would people like Martin Luther King Jr. say if they saw injustice?
Jewish diaries are full of clear testimonies about the cruelty and sinister nature of other Jews in their behavior toward fellow Jews. It is apparent to read, but this is not what the public reads today; a new narrative is written. The focus on Jews collaborators is often removed. Instead, modern historians are focusing on Poles as collaborators.
This is not entirely factual because they are using small fractions of accounts instead of what happened historically, so the reality is that they are deceiving readers. In a sense, they are shifting the blame to avoid accountability for the Jews. It seems there needs to be someone held accountable, and the Polish are convenient scapegoats.
Poles had nothing to do with the deportation of the Jews to the death camps; that was the Jews themselves. In our world today, the renowned philosopher Hannah Arendt would be considered a Holocaust Denier. She could be charged and face a prison term for her opinion in some countries.
She wrote that Jews were sent to their death "like sheep to the slaughter," her moral indictment was of the leadership-particularly those who served on the Jewish councils. Arendt's charges were manifold, but they boiled down to one accusation: the Jewish leaders more than complied with Nazi orders leading to their destruction; they cooperated with their enemies. Moreover, as Eichmann testified in Jerusalem, Jewish collaboration was "the very cornerstone" of everything he did. Without the cooperation of the victims, argued Arendt, "it would hardly have been possible for a few thousand people, most of whom, moreover, worked in offices, to liquidate many hundreds of thousands of other people."
Jews who lived from that period and experienced the genocide could now be termed Holocaust deniers for what they stated after witnessing history? Even the respected Emanuel Ringelblum is now disregarded for Neo-Stalinist revisionist historians like Jan Gross? Add Ringelblum to the list of Holocaust deniers.
"Someday the role played by the officials of the Jewish Council—spooning everything of value their own way—will be exposed in the harshest light. These were the corrupt civil servants who would obtain an exemption from forced labor for anyone who had enough hard cash, leaving those without any money to be deported in their place. When everything comes to light, it will also be impossible to hide the shameful role played by the Jewish Police, which up until now has been completely silenced." Peretz Opoczynski, resident of the Warsaw ghetto
Holocaust survivor Marcus David Leuchter recalls that "the brutality of the Jewish police force was unexpected; in the number of people they caught, they even exceeded the demands of the Germans."
"One of the most important historians of the Warsaw ghetto," says Haim Breseeth, "[was] Emmanuel Ringelblum. Writing about the Warsaw ghetto Judenrat, criticized the co-opted leadership with the seminal words: 'We are going like lambs to the slaughter." Most Jewish leaders kept the horrible truth of what was in store for their people hidden from them, either for "humanitarian" reasons or fear of resultant panic and chaos. Arendt notes that Leo Baeck, for instance, the head rabbi of Berlin, "believed Jewish policemen would be 'more gentle and helpful' and would 'make the ordeal easier (whereas they were, of course, more brutal and corruptible, since so much more was at stake for them.”)
"The uniformed police has had a deplorable role in the 'resettlement actions.' The blood of hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews caught and driven to the 'death vans' will be on their hands. The Germans' tactics were usually as follows: in the first "resettlement action" they utilized the Jewish Order Service …" Emanuel Ringelblum.
"Everywhere," notes Anthony Heilbut, "Amsterdam, Warsaw, Berlin, Budapest — it was the same. Jewish leaders compiled lists of persons and property, 'secured money from the deportees to defray the expenses of their deportation and extermination,' and organized the efficient evacuation of whole communities. On occasion, the leaders even selected a few people to be saved — and those tended to be 'prominent Jews' and functionaries."
Earlier, complained Chaim Kaplan in 1939, "the Joint's [a Jewish help organization] official representatives have all left us. The leaders of Polish Jewry pushed themselves to the fore in peaceful days when a monthly salary of 1200 zloty, equivalent to that of a senator or a deputy, attracted them; but in time of danger to us — and to them as well, if the truth be told — they fled for their lives. Will their sin be remembered on the Day of Reckoning? I doubt it."
Among the most notorious so-called "elders" of the Jewish community, appointed by the Germans, was Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a child molester at a Jewish orphanage before the war. Besides Rumkowsi, there were also people like Symcha Spira, a sadistic psychopath chief of 200 strong Kraków ghetto Jewish Police – Ordnungdienst (OD). OD was extremely unpopular under Spira's leadership. In part because of Spira's psychopathic qualities, the Kraków OD collaborated with German officials and Police to a greater degree than other ghettos. The Civil Division of the OD, in particular, worked closely with Gestapo.
Spira spoke German and Polish poorly. Before the war, he worked as a glazier, making very little money. He was chosen for the position for his extreme loyalty to the Germans and his derision of his fellow Jews. Spira was known to wear outlandish, tailored uniforms while patrolling the ghetto. He beat and extorted the ghetto's inhabitants, becoming very wealthy under German occupation.
Symcha Spira sought to convince Gestapo agents of his superior power and influence over fellow Jews. This included carrying out orders the Judenrat would not. He and other OD men passed bribes to the Gestapo, winning favors and privileges in return. During ghetto liquidation, OD was initially exempted from deportation. After the liquidation of the ghetto, the Jewish Police assisted in cleanup and the processing of items left behind by those deported.
They also assisted in moving the bodies of those murdered in the ghetto. Many, including Spira, believed Germans' promises that they would be given their freedom and allowed to travel to America or another country after the war. Not long after the liquidation of the ghetto, the OD and all remaining Jews were deported to KL Plaszow and murdered by the Germans.
As long as such people in the Jewish leadership, its sycophants, and Jewish prisoners were cooperative with the Germans in helping to exploit and kill other Jews, there was always hope, rarely realized that the betrayers might come out of it all alive. But just on this count alone that the Germans might kill anyone for as little as a sidewise glance, why should Poles, who had been in competitive conflict with Jews for centuries (while Jews maintained themselves as essentially a separate country in Poland), and who were actively fighting the Germans while the Jews did virtually nothing be held to a higher moral standard than Jews? Mainly when some Jews themselves sold off their people with little or no moral compulsion and despised Poles?
So, of course, times have changed, and things are recontextualized. Such stories I shared are a grotesque embarrassment to the myths of the Holocaust, they are only rarely addressed in obscure academic corners, and few people today are aware of them. And while angry Jewish scholarship fingers Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and other German collaborators as moral beasts to be hunted down still throughout the world, parallel Jewish criminals are never mentioned.
How far will we go to avoid uncomfortable history? It is taboo, believe me because I have broken this taboo. After all, I believe in the fallibility and equality of humankind. All people should be held accountable regardless of who they are and even under what supposed circumstances they are under, which for the Jews, they are excused, but for others, not so, I will explain.
There is a moral double standard being used regarding Jews and non-Jews. We must remember that during the invasion of Poland, Jews were not even the first victims. The German policy for elimination and punishment was for the Poles, not the Jews. Most people do not even know that Auschwitz was explicitly built for Polish prisoners and not even entirely for the intelligentsia. The first inmates were from a round-up in Tarnow, not expressly chosen for some position or reason.
The mass elimination of Jews, the Final Solution, did not even begin until late 1941; the war started in September 1939, so the Jews were not forced in some way to be criminals. Many Jews volunteered to work with the Germans. For the Jewish Police, it was often to join, and one would pay a bribe to be on the force. Some Jews even greeted the Germans; imagine how the Polish felt?
Little is said about the many Jews that also greeted the Soviets in the east. This event turned into a bloodbath for the Poles; many were tortured and murdered by their Jewish neighbors. These are the unknown pogroms in eastern Poland that began on September 17th, 1939. The invasion also became part of mass deportations of Poles into Siberia, an estimated 1.5 million, another forgotten crime in the annals of history. Many did not survive this brutal trek.
These atrocities and many more crimes fester in the Polish psyche and should be openly addressed. An open and but alas, I don't think they will, just like Jewish collaboration with the Germans.
The Jewish Police are a stark contrast to the Polish Blue Police, who are convicted of significant crimes today, which is outrageous when there were only over 8,700. They were forced to join under the threat of death, and well over 200 were executed for not collaborating. Indeed, estimates of up to fifty percent were working with the underground.
Popular Jewish convention demands collective Jewish innocence and a correspondingly collective Gentile evil. Period. In this context, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski addresses this chronic double standard held for Jews and Poles in the World War II situation: "While the Polish masses are criticized or condemned for their reluctance to help the Jews … a double standard is applied towards those members of the Jewish community who worked in Jewish Councils … [They] are excused, on the grounds that they had little choice, much more willingly than those Gentiles whose caution or fear prevented them from offering help to Jews … Most Poles particularly resent this application of a double standard to those Jewish individuals who were active in, and high-ranking members of the Communist Party, and especially the security police … No one … can claim that he or (very often) she had to be a member of the Stalinist political force or judiciary and, for one reason or another, had no choice but to torture and kill their innocent political opponents."
On the other hand, few Jews want to hear about Christians who saved Jewish lives. Rabbi Harold Schulweiss, who has lectured on the subject to many Jewish audiences, notes that: "By and large, in most audiences, I found resistance to my message. What was my obsession with 'them' [Poles] they seemed to ask." (Even Liwa Gomulka, a Jew and eventual wife of post-World War II Polish communist head Wladyslaw Gomulka, "refused to see an old Polish woman who had hidden her during the German occupation and had come to her for some small favor.”)
As for Jews saving non-Jews lives, there should be no judgment. The Israeli social critic Israel Shahak — who spent his own childhood in a Nazi German concentration camp — notes with cynical irony the fact that so many Jews today express outrage that, as they see it, "the whole world stood by", (well except for the Polish who are always ignored) as the Jews sunk into the Holocaust.
Shahak severely points out that according to the double standard moral dictates of Orthodox Judaism, Jews are, incredibly, themselves forbidden from saving non-Jewish lives. Citing Talmudic references, current rabbinical writings in modern Israel, and the great Jewish religious philosopher Maimonides, Shahak writes that "the basic Talmudic principle is that (non-Jewish) lives must not be saved.",
"As for Gentiles," wrote Maimonides, "with whom we are not at war, their death must not be caused, but it is forbidden to save them if they are at the point of death; for example, one of them is seen falling into the sea, he should not be rescued."
Imagine that and think about the number of times judgment has been passed on people shaming them that they did not do more to save Jews, while Jews would not even save non-Jews. How ironic. In my dialogue, I hear this all the time about passivity, not to mention in Poland that even giving a Jew water could pass the death penalty on the whole family. Still, estimates on Polish rescuers are as high as 200,000, and estimates for those giving some form of aid go as high as one million.
Poland warned the world of the Jewish genocide, no one else, and no one listened or cared. Including many of the world's Jewish. The Polish government-in-exile pleaded with the world and even allotted money to try and intervene. Jan Karski snuck into the ghetto and then even spoke to Roosevelt. The president blew him off in favor of talking about horses.
Szmul Zygielbojm was a Jewish member of the National Council of the Polish government-in-exile and would commit suicide over the world's inaction. He wrote:
"I must mention here that the Polish population gives all possible help and sympathy to the Jews. The solidarity of the population in Poland has two aspects: first it is expressed in the common suffering and secondly in the continued joint struggle against the inhuman occupying Power. The fight with the oppressors goes on steadily, stubbornly, secretly, even in the ghetto, under conditions so terrible and inhuman that they are hard to describe or imagine.... The Polish and Jewish population keep in constant touch, exchanging newspapers, views and instructions. The walls of the ghetto have not really separated the Jewish population from the Poles. The Polish and the Jewish masses continue to fight together for common aims, just as they have fought for so many years in the past."
The Poles even created Zegota to save their Jewish citizens, an organization to save Jews. There was nothing like this in all occupied Germany. All with Poles being murdered for doing this. Because of Zegota, 40,000 to 50,000 Jews were saved. Can you imagine this, and many Jews are not even interested in learning about the Polish?
Regarding how prominent Jewish historians view Poles, here is what Barbara Engelking says "This Jewish death was the result of the absolute impossibility to reach an agreement. For Poles, it was simply a biological, natural question–just death, nothing more, whereas for Jews was a tragedy, a dramatic experience, metaphysics, the encounter with the highest."
If this doesn't send shivers up your back, I don't know what would? A statement like this with such a determined racist proclamation, if stated by a Pole, would be news across the world, but when stated by a Jew, silence. Indeed, moral double standard? You be the judge.
Well, this is how it is and quite worse as you have just read. So this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the unknown and distorted history of Polish-Jewish history. This paper could go on and on documenting both Polish and Jewish accounts regarding this tainted and manipulated history, but how much more do you need to read to comprehend this problem?
I believe I presented enough evidence to prove that "Holocaust Denial" should mean Holocaust Denial. I think all people should be held accountable for their crimes, regardless of who they are. I also believe that I provided enough information to show that unlike what is used by many as a justification that Jews were exceptional for collaboration is false. There is a moral double standard applied to non-Jews, and if we want to be "moral," we have to drop that standard.