The Other Side of the Coin: Large-Scale Jewish Crimes against Poles, February 27, 2007
By Jan Peczkis (Chicago IL, USA) - See all my reviews
This Polish-language book has the title: HUSHED-UP CRIMES: JEWS AND POLES IN THE EASTERN BORDERLANDS IN THE YEARS 1939-1941. Much press attention has been devoted to Polish crimes against Jews, such as the massacre at Jedwabne and the so-called Kielce Pogrom. Why no mention of the other side of the coin? Jerzy Robert Nowak believes that it owes to political correctness, in which the sensibilities of Jews are respected owing to their losses in the Holocaust (pp. 65-66). But Nowak points out that there is no such respect for Polish sensibilities despite Poles having experienced their own Holocaust (3 million Poles murdered by the Germans alone), least of all (in Nowak's opinion) from Jews.
Anyone who follows Jan Tomasz Gross (Jan T. Gross) in believing in the insignificance of Jewish-Communist collaboration is in for a rude awakening upon reading this book. According to cited Jewish scholars, Jews frequently constituted 75%-90% of the Soviet-serving administration in Soviet-conquered eastern Poland (p. 246, 223). In fact, no sooner had the Red Army invaded eastern Poland than her Jews began to engage in large-scale, aggressive anti-Polish actions. Jews helped disarm Polish soldiers, and humiliated them by tearing off their insignia (p. 239). Ironic to the scene in Steven Spielberg's SCHINDLER'S LIST, a mob of Jews threw mud and stones at defenseless Polish prisoners (p. 89). Jews helped the Russians round up Poles on many occasions (p. 9, 61) and played an instrumental role in identifying Poles for imprisonment or deportation to horrible deaths in Siberia (p. 112). Jews helped destroy monuments of Polish heroes (p. 148), frequently desecrated Christian churches (p. 161-on), and even produced a mock atheistic parade in which a horse was dressed up in the vestments of a Catholic priest.
Nowak elaborates on the known murders of Poles by Jews in 17 named cities and towns in Soviet-occupied eastern Poland in 1939 alone (pp. 47-on). Jews were also involved in the murder of Poles (and Ukrainians) imprisoned by the Soviets while the latter were beating a hasty retreat ahead of the unexpected German invasion of June 1941 (p. 62-on).
The fact of extensive Jewish-Communist collaboration is attested to by not only anti-Semitic Poles, but also philo-Semitic ones such as Jan Karski (p. 237) and Stanislaw Kot (p. 240). And to show that this is no Polish imagination, Jerzy Robert Nowak discusses (p. 33-on, pp. 82-83, 105, 115, 142, 220, 225) numerous Jewish authors who don't mince words about the large scale of Jewish-Soviet collaboration, including Harvey Sarner, Ben-Cion Pinchuk, Alexander Smolar, Hugon Steinhaus, Dov Levin, Abraham Sterzer, Arnold Zable, Charles Gelman, Alexander Wat, Henryk Reiss, Mark Verstandig, Yitzhak Arad, Pawel Szapiro, and Henryk Erlich. Smolar was especially candid about the murders of Poles by Jews (p. 48).
Recently (2006), Jan Thomas Gross (J. T. Gross) has written FEAR, in which he obsesses about Polish acquisitions of post-Jewish properties. But long before Poles did this, Jews were already expropriating Polish properties under Soviet rule (pp. 132-135). In fact, Jews sometimes knew which Poles were about to be deported to Siberia, and cajoled these Poles into selling them their properties for almost nothing.
Many rationalizations have been offered for the widespread Jewish-Communist collaboration (the Zydokomuna). Nowak examines these and finds them all wanting. (In a sense, it doesn't matter. Regardless of exact motives, whenever Jews choose to become Poland's enemies, they also make a deliberate choice to receive Polish enmity in return, and thereby forfeit the right to complain about such things as Polish anti-Semitism).
The most common rationalization is the one about Jews clinging to Soviets out of fear of extermination by the Nazis. In actuality, Hitler's diatribes were not taken seriously by most Polish Jews in 1939 (p. 210), who saw the Germans as a cultured people (p. 212), and for whom Nazi anti-Semitism was either unimportant (p. 211) or transient. It is a little-known fact that Polish Jews sometimes welcomed the invading Nazis (p. 213-on), and even attempted to cross from the Soviet-occupied zone of Poland to the German-occupied one (p. 210, 212). Finally, the mass shootings and mass gassings of Jews by Germans were not to begin for nearly two more years!
The Jewish collaborators were not, as sometimes claimed, just radicalized youth and the very poor (p. 223). Furthermore, they also included many big-name Jews (p. 166-on).
Nowak also rebuts Krystyna Kersten (pp. 206-208), who would have us believe that Jews showed proportionate anti-Soviet as well as pro-Soviet behavior. In fact, records show that few Jews were arrested for anti-Soviet actions (pp. 224-225) and relatively few Jews were deported to Siberia (and then primarily for trying to cross into the German-occupied zone)(p. 225-226). (In any case, it makes no difference. Jews had turned against other Jews in various other contexts).
Against the view that Jews were merely retaliating against Poles for past anti-Semitism, Nowak points out that Jewish-Soviet collaboration against Poles also took place in several towns where, according to local Jewish opinion, prewar Jewish-Polish relations had been good (pp. 218-219). (One may also ask when the Jews ever retaliated against Russian anti-Semitism, which historically had been much more severe than its Polish counterpart. And, of course, the victims of Jewish-Communist collaboration included Polish children and other Poles who could not possibly have ever wronged any Jews. Those who complain about the collective scope of the Polish reprisal against the Jews of Jedwabne must remember the earlier collective anti-Polish scope of the Jewish-Soviet collaboration).
Nowak believes that Jewish-Soviet collaboration against Poles had been driven by the fact that many eastern Polish Jews were recent descendants of Russian Jews (the Litvaks) who felt no loyalty to Poland (pp. 230-231). Against the view that the Litvaks were never made to feel welcome, Nowak provides contrary examples, including Pilsudski's favorable treatment of them. (In any case, in a non-pluralistic society such as Poland, one expects the minority to conform to the majority, not the other way around. When in Rome, do as the Romans do).