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Poland Not Guilty in the Holocaust? Chutzpah! – The Tamar Yonah Show [audio] 🎧

A preliminary bill was approved by the Polish parliament making it a criminal offence -with a fine or jail time, for people who say, or blame Poland or Poles, for Nazi atrocities committed on its soil which saw the murder of up to 6 million Jews. This, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Does Poland have a right to claim innocence in the millions of Jews murdered on it’s land? Tamar says it is Chutzpah! Find out why.
-with Dr. Mordechai Ben-Menachem

The Tamar Yonah Show 28Jan2018 – PODCAST

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2 Comments on Poland Not Guilty in the Holocaust? Chutzpah! – The Tamar Yonah Show [audio] 🎧

  1. When you say Poland is responsible for the Holocaust, it sounds like you mean the country as a state. Well, the Polish state was one of few in Europe during WW2 that did both: fought against Germany and at no point collaborated with Germany. The gov was in exile in the UK for good 5 years of the war because, unlike many others, it refused to collaborate and was determined to fight the Nazis. You say the Nazis chose Poland as the main location for the death camps because some other countries (presumably societies) would not tolarate the inhumane practices. What do you think the people would do? Would they grab guns and in their masses they would go to defend the Jews the Nazis? Why didn’t it happen in Germany? Why didn’t some nations organise themselves enough to fight for their countries in the first place. It’s true that the western neighbours of Germany were perceived by them as more civilised than Slavs. One can agree with this or not, surely Hitler thought so and put it clearly in ‘Main Kampf’. He saw 3 or 4 categories of people: 1. Germans, 2. Their allies, 3. Slavs, among them Poles, as the slave nations for exploitation, 4. Those for extermination, i.e. Jews, Gipsies and other minorities. Killing on industrial scale was demoralising and the Nazis were worried how their soldiers will function after the war in their society with a luggage of attrocities. Hence the choice to locate the camps in one of the countries were it didn’t matter to them. Poland was next door, but most importantly, it had the largest Jewish population, between 3 to 3.5 million!! (It’s good to ask why so many settled there over the centuries; they were escaping antisemitism from western Europe, were some countries had discriminatory laws, whereas Poland welcomed them; it doesn’t mean there were no conflicts for almost a 1000 years). It was no brainer for the pragmatic Germans to choose Poland for logistic reasons: half of the population that was for extermination was already there. So, when an industrial infrustructure of death is being set up, of course the locals will be used. If you lived there, you would either do what you’re told or die. Many of the over 2.7 million Poles killed in the WW2 died by fighting against the Nazis or for helping the underground forces. The same punishment was for hiding and helping the Jews. Do we blame those who didn’t help the Jews for trying to save their own lives and lives of their loved ones (and often wider communities). I challenge anyone whose life hasn’t ever been at stake and who does this moral judgement. Only the bravest would do it, and there were quite a few of them in Poland. However, I join you though in the condemnation of the volunteers, who for their own antisemitism or for material gain participated in Holocaust. Those were individuals or even groups, but not representative to the whole nation or country. Poland as a state or country wasn’t involved in Holocaust. The death camps on the Polish territory was were German, not Polish. Being of this opinion is not a denying of Holocaust. It’s placing the responsibility where it should be.

  2. Hi Tamar, Fascinating listening. Here are some points I disagree with.

    When you say Poland is responsible for the Holocaust, it sounds like you mean the country as a state. Well, the Polish state was one few in Europe during WW2 that did both: fought against Germany and at no point collaborated with Germany. The gov was in exile in the UK for good 5 years of the war because, unlike many others, it refused to collaborate and was determined to fight the Nazis. You say the Nazis chose Poland as the main location for the death camps because some other countries (presumably societies) would not tolarate the inhumane practices. What do you think the people would do? Would they grab guns and in their masses they would go to defend the Jews? Why didn’t they organise themselves enough to fight for their countries in the first place. It’s true that the western neighbours of Germany were perceived by them as more civilised than Slavs. One can agree with this or not, surely Hitler thought so and put it clearly in ‘Main Kampf’. He saw 3 or 4 categories of people: 1. Germans, 2. Their allies, 3. Slavs, among them Poles, as the slave nations for exploitation, 4. Those for extermination, i.e. Jews, Gipsies and other minorities. Killing on industrial scale was demoralising and the Nazis were worried how their soldiers will function after the war in their society with a luggage of attrocities. Hence the choice to locate the camps in one of the countries were it didn’t matter to them. Poland was next door, but most importantly, it had the largest Jewish population, between 3 to 3.5 million!! (It’s good to ask why so many settled there over the centuries; they were escaping antisemitism from western Europe, were some countries had discriminatory laws, whereas Poland welcomed them; it doesn’t mean there were no conflicts for almost a 1000 years). It was no brainer for the pragmatic Germans to choose Poland for logistic reasons: half of the population that was for extermination was already there. So, when an industrial infrustructure of death is being set up, of course the locals will be used. If you lived there, you would either do what you’re told or die. Many of the 6 million Poles killed in the WW2 died by fighting against the Nazis or for helping the underground forces. The same punishment was for hiding and helping the Jews. Do we blame those who didn’t help the Jews for trying to save their own lives and lives of their loved ones (and often wider communities). I challenge anyone whose life hasn’t ever been at stake and who does this moral judgement. Only the bravest would do it, and there were quite a few of them in Poland. I join you though in condemning of the volunteers, who for their own antisemitism or for material gain participated in Holocaust. This kind of men were in every society. They should be named and blamed and sentenced when proved guilty. But do we have statistics to say that those individuals were in masses? I don’t know those stats. If there aren’t, are we morally well placed to generalise ‘Poland collaborated in Holocaust’? There were even Jews, who collaborated with the Nazi in killing fellow Jews (e.g. sic. Kapo). As ridiculous as it sounds, hopefully it shows you how wrong the logic is. Individuals collaborated, many of them, but look at the proportions when you compare Poland with other countries. Which nation faced the same test of humanity as the Poles? And after you’ve done the balance, what do you say about the states which collaborated and those who stayed neutral?

    I am a Pole myself and I feel ashamed for any Polish volunteer collaborators. They don’t deserve being part of the nation. I feel sorry for those whose choice was between their own life or fellow human’s life. I don’t know what I would choose and whatever you say now, we don’t know what you would do either. But we both know what’d be right. Most of all, I feel the deepest sorrow for every single Jew and the whole nation, who suffered from the Holocaust. I was sad for the victims but I felt pride when Polish president Kwasniewski asked the Jews in 2001 for pardon for the Polish murderers of Jews during the war. There isn’t agreement among the Poles about the numbers, but I believe that even if there was as few as one murderer, it demands apology.

    It hurts when the death camps are labelled Polish, which happens notoriously all over the world and causes damage to the process of reconciliation. Poles like me don’t ask for painting us in pink, but for a balance in judgement. Our PR in the international media is predominantly bad in reference to the war. Considering our sacrifices, total destruction of the capital and many parts of the country, 6 million killed (including 2.7 million non-Jews), territorial losses and consequent repatriations with psychological harms, surely we deserve better. Better than those who did nothing, little or even collaborated. Poland as a state and society didn’t collaborate with the Nazis. Individuals did.

    You allege the word ‘prisoners’ was used in the Museum of Auschwitz death camp instead of ‘Jews’. I was there many years ago but had no doubt after leaving it that Jews were the majority of victims. If you make the replacment of words, where does it leave the 100,000 Poles who died there as well. Should we name both? What about the Gipsies? And where does it leave a dozen of other nationalities? Having said that, it must be absolutely clear that Jews were the vast majority.

    I’d like to suggest that we are careful in judging, especially on the media, as we can hurt people. We can say with certainty which countries collaborated with the Nazis, because their states did, but let’s don’t blame the whole nations who were in the state of war against the Germans, for actions of individuals. Just as we shouldn’t say that the Poles in general were saviors of the Jews because the biggest number of the Righteous Among the Nations awards was given to the Poles.

    If antisemitism in Poland after the war was on the rise, look at the reasons – and it’s not a justification: 1. War demoralises, the society was exhausted, hungry; choices become extreme in such conditions to meet people’s immediate needs. 2. The country entered phase 2 of its struggle, this time against the USSR totalitarian regime and occupation. The Polish communist party and the security services were overrepresented by the Jews. Majority of the society was agaist the new system. 3. Some people who had overtaken the Jewish possesions or properties, were worried to lose them. Now, all three reasons are wrong to justify antisemitism. I just hope they help to see the mechanisms.

    In regards to the Kielce pogrom in 1946, it did happened. A child blamed a Jew for an attempt to murder him. It was presented to the world as a prove that Poland is antisemitic and this major pogrom served the purpose. However, I understand it is under investigation by historians. Those days the communists were still in a struggle with the underground opposition. Stalin was very much interested in showing the West that Poland is antisemitic and only his strong grasp will maintain law and order there. Hard to believe? Well, the communist ‘Milicja’ (Police) was aware but passive for too long during the pogrom. Considering that everything in Poland those days was decided in Moscow, it is not impossible that the pogrom was orchestrated. Yes, there where other pogroms. Which of them broke out spontaneously?

    The public relies on the media in forming their opinions. Huge responsibilities rest in the hands of media. I disagree with the generalization: ‘Poland participated in Holocaust, the Danish would not do it’ (how do you know? The Jews were shocked about what Germans did, despite the reputation of an advanced cultural society), ‘all prisoners of Auschwitz were Jews’. I sense this mistake is repeated over and over again by generations now in the education about Holocaust. It fuels anger among Poles. Those with tendency to generalise are prompt to become antisemitic when they hear statements like some of yours in the show. It’s important to look into details. Be open to hear the other side.

    I don’t have a view on the very bill proposed by the current main political party, because I have not seen it. I am not a fan of this government, but I know the proposal is triggered by the so called ‘Polish camps’. Nothing seems to change about the use of this term, so the self-defense instinct demands some action, perhaps not the most adequate – I don’t know. The Germans have an obvious benefit from using the term as it shifts the responsibility from them to us, so the ‘error’ will not disappear any soon. We don’t sound very credible when we defend ourselves from it, as we have the obvious interest in keeping the public aware of the Germans’ role. We need those who will be most credible to say the truth loud. That’s you, the Jews, especially Jewish media.

    This may surprise you. When I went to Auschwitz with my Gipsy Roma friends, one of the reflections I heard was ‘Little is said of the extermination of the Gipsies during WW2, but everyone knows about the Holocaust.’ This nation can’t be as vocal as you, Jews, can. Predominantly they have the most disadvantaged position in most societies. Would you devote them a show?

    Let’s be united in condemning antisemitism and any form of xenophobia.

    All the best,

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