World War II ended  75 years ago, but Time magazine, Olivia Roache and Olivia Waxman are still attacking the Poland and the Polish victims.

World War II ended  75 years ago, but Time magazine, Olivia Roache and Olivia Waxman are still attacking the Poland and the Polish victims.

The below is a letter criticizing an article by Madeline Roache and Olivia B. Waxman that appeared in Time magazine.  The letter was sent to Ms. Waxman and the Editor.  No response, of course.

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Dear Ms. Waxman,

I am writing in response to your piece “World War II in Europe Ended 75 Years Ago—But the World Is Still Fighting Over Who Gets to Say What Happened”, which was published online by Time magazine on May 8. There are a number of deficiencies, which I outline below for your review and reply.

Your reliance on Jan Grabowski vel Abrahamer as a credible historian is misplaced as he has irreparably damaged his credibility by falsifying Szymon Datner’s work. He told Times of Israel reporter Amanda Borschel-Dan that Poles killed 200,000 Jews and cited Datner’s “Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute No. 75 (1970)” as his source. Datner actually stated the following: “I estimated the number of surviving Jews – chiefly thanks to assistance provided by the Polish population – at approximately 100,000. It may be similarly estimated that another 100,000 Jewish victims were captured by the occupying authorities and murdered.” The Times of Israel published Grabowski’s falsehood on February 8, 2018. In the March 18, 2017 issue of Haaretz, Grabowski wrote: “Emanuel Ringelblum, the founder of the Oneg Shabbat, the underground archive of the Warsaw Ghetto – estimated the number of Jewish victims of Polish policemen alone in the “hundreds of thousands.” However, Ringelblum did not make that accusation and instead cited the “uniformed police”, the largest component of which was the Jewish Ghetto Police. Moreover, Ringelblum makes it clear it was the Jewish Ghetto Police that – first and foremost – played the key role in the “resettlement operations.” As for Grabowski’s book Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland, historian Bogdan Musial identifies misrepresented events as well as omissions and minimizations of inconvenient material facts. Examples include exempting Jewish testimonies from scrutiny, ignoring Polish testimonies on the events, claiming Polish volunteer firefighters killed Gypsies, which is unsupported by the source used, and ignoring the fact that the Germans not only imposed the death penalty for Poles aiding fugitive Jews but also imposed the death penalty for failing to report them.

You also write that Grabowski claims “segments of Polish society were complicit with (sic) the Holocaust”. Unsurprisingly, he misrepresents the facts. Polish officials have publicly and repeatedly acknowledged that some individuals, rather than “societal segments”, cooperated with the Germans. Grabowski is apparently unaware that the repeated warnings issued by Polish Underground authorities on assisting the Germans, as well as the severe punishment imposed by those authorities, made it clear that such conduct was outside the acceptable norms of behavior and was so viewed by a majority of Polish society. As for his reference to Polish “complicity”, he, and you, would do well to examine the role of the Judenräte and Jewish Ghetto Police who delivered many hundreds of thousands to their German executioners. As renown Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg and acclaimed political theorist Hannah Arendt have correctly asked, why didn’t they resist and make the Germans do their own dirty work. Perhaps you could examine this question in your next piece.

Your eighth paragraph is incoherent. Communist regimes did not “rise in the wake of World War II”, they were rammed down the throats of the Soviet-occupied countries by Stalin. Gross’s statement is similarly illogical. The Polish Communist government did not formulate or espouse a post-war notion that “the Soviet Union can guarantee our safety from [the] German threat.” At the end of your piece, however, you correctly state: “Gross wrote that the Poles killed more Jews than they did Germans in a 2015 op-ed.” Such a risible assertion by Gross, who is not a trained historian and whose Polish mother hid his Jewish father during the war, confirms his lack of credibility. 

You state: “Historians say Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has pursued a nationalistic revision of history since it came into office in 2015.” You fail to name a single historian who says so. You also fail to identify a single document, press release, or other statement issued by the incumbent government containing this “revision of history”. Sadly, you are parroting a bogus meme that has gained prominence among uninformed Jewish and non-Jewish writers.

You distort the Polish antidefamation law, which is available in English, our common mother tongue. The law prohibits accusing the Polish State or Nation of responsibility or co-responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed by the Germans. It is historical fact that Poles did not commit these crimes. The law does not include your term “Polish people”. Note that it exempts academic research and artistic activities showing the actions of individuals, a fact you’ve ignored.

Also in your paragraph on the Polish antidefamation law, you state: “relatively few non-Jewish Poles tried to protect their Jewish neighbors from the Nazis.” Your knowledge of the history is woefully deficient. Poland was the only occupied country in which the Germans maintained a standing order that anyone aiding a Jew would be executed with immediate family. Poles by far outnumber all others who were honored by Yad Vashem’s Righteous award and, given the death sentence to which they were subjected, it’s remarkable that so many Poles helped. Ask yourself, if you were approached by individuals under the same circumstances, would you risk your life and your family for them? Many Poles did so because they believed it was the Christian thing to do. Note also that two Polish institutions were critically instrumental in rescuing Jews. The first, Żegota, was the only government organization in the German-occupied countries established to rescue Jews. The second was the Catholic Church, which rescued Jewish children on a massive scale by hiding them in convents, orphanages, and rectories. No German-occupied country had such an organizational infrastructure that aided tens of thousands of Jews. You are also unaware that, while virtually all of Poland’s Jews were in the German-operated ghettos, Poles were in a day-to-day struggle for survival because of the brutalities and severe conditions exacted by the Germans, which included near-starvation rations, onerous quotas on farmers, confiscation of crops and livestock, daily executions to terrorize the populace, random arrests and torture, and recurrent round-ups for deportation to concentration and labor camps. From this, it should be evident that rendering assistance was very difficult and perilous for the majority of Poles.

You refer to fugitive Jews as “neighbors”, which is factually false. You’re apparently unaware that when Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland, the destruction of Poland was their main objective. In the first two years of the war, Poles were the primary target of a coordinated German and Soviet extermination process designed to annihilate them on both sides of the Ribbentrop-Molotov line. As the Germans began executing tens of thousands of Polish intelligentsia, they rounded up Polish Jews for ghetto confinement. Polish Jewish leaders broke off all contact with Polish authorities and negotiated the conditions of collaboration with the Germans for governance of the ghettos. Jews who did not enter the ghettos or escaped from them went into hiding and became fugitives. You may wish to note that Hitler did not attack Poland to eradicate Polish Jews. He attacked Poland to annihilate the Poles, take over their land, and settle it with Germans. Additionally, ethnic Poles are “Poles”, not “non-Jewish Poles”. Moreover, requiring Poles to “protect” fugitive Jews from the Germans is naive. Sadly, the prism through which you view this complex history is notably flawed and simplistic. 

In closing, please allow me to point out that two principal tenets of journalism are pursuit of the truth and verifying the accuracy of facts. As confirmed by the examples above, your piece does neither.

Cordially,

Gene Sokolowski, PhD

Link to opinion piece by Madeline Roache and Olivia B. Waxman in 

https://time.com/5832549/world-war-ii-memory/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+time%2Ftopstories+%28TIME%3A+Top+Stories%29&fbclid=IwAR3zW8kkDdyajX20XnO49mmVg7j1Yfui2PKkmY88Vx0XHYO_qAYWDtrf470

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