Letters to the editor: Shoah in Poland and Holland

November 24, 2016 20:54
3 minute read.

Envelope. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

Shoah in Poland...

In response to “Polish ambassador lauds Warsaw’s ties with Jerusalem” (November 20), we would like to clarify and stress the following:

• It has never been claimed that “high-ranking Polish officials were involved in hiding the truth” about Polish involvement in the killing of Jews. We did, however, express our concern at some current expressions of prominent Polish representatives who have questioned the responsibility of Poland, as well as the participation of Poles, in the killings of Jews in Jedwabne and Kielce.

Despite the fact that these are well researched and well documented events in which Poles murdered Jews, there has been no renunciation of these troubling expressions.

• “Jewish academics including Israelis,” as stated in the article, do not oppose the justified struggle against the misleading term “Polish death camps.” No doubt, the camps were built by Nazi Germany on occupied Polish soil and should be referred to as such. We do, however, have deep concern regarding the forthcoming law that refers to much more than this unacceptable term. The law will allow the imprisonment of those who claim that Poles as individuals or Poland as a nation had a certain responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust. Since so much is already known about Poles at all levels who took part in the murder of Jews, we see this law as a true threat to academic freedom and, in fact, freedom of thought and speech.

Tel Aviv
Prof. Porat is chief historian at Yad Vashem.
Prof. Dreifuss heads the Center for Research on the Holocaust in Poland at Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research.

...and in Holland

Reader Rubin Katz points out in “Proportionally low” (Letters, November 22) that claims of Poland’s lead in the number of those recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations (some 6,600) are “misleading.”

Unfortunately, he unwittingly makes an even more misleading comparison by writing that people from the Netherlands, whose pre-war Jewish population was less than one-twentieth of that of Poland, received nearly as many awards (some 5,400).

The widespread perception that the people of the Netherlands helped the Jews during the Holocaust is not based on fact. Dutch authorities and businesses collaborated during the war, and most of the population collaborated actively or passively.

Since the war, successive Dutch governments have used blackmail to spread a false image of a tolerant and progressive country.

No more than 27% of Dutch Jews survived the war, the lowest rate in western Europe. In no other country was it so easy for the Germans to ostracize and exterminate the Jewish minority.

The reason? The Dutch authorities (and much of the population) wanted to seize the assets of individual Jews and the Jewish community.

Since the war, the Dutch establishment has used the same tactics (blackmailing the Jewish community with its own assets) to cover up its role. Jews who survived the concentration camps were fined for not paying property taxes during the Holocaust.

Properties were seized because the community could not afford to pay municipal taxes. Only in 2016 did the Amsterdam City Council agree to repay the last of the wartime fines.

Last month, files from the war relating to the fines were “accidentally” destroyed.

The files probably contained names of Dutch officials.

The Netherlands’ financial and political relationship with the State of Israel also enters into the equation. For instance, the Netherlands is the only one of 28 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to oppose a resolution against antisemitism (to be voted on early next month).

While Poland’s image took a blow during the Holocaust, the Dutch continue as merchants of deceit.

Tel Aviv

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