Poland’s Anti-Semitism That Was, Hopefully No-Longer

 The ruckus regarding Poland’s new law is somewhat misunderstood. Poland’s defenders explain that it is all a matter of semantic; what are referred to as the “Polish death camps” were really Nazi German/Nazi camps. The correction is fair enough. But correcting this phrase leads so many Polish defenders to air-brush the complicity of Polish anti-Semites in aiding the Nazis in their quest to eliminate all Jews from this earth.

Oh’ yes, course there were exceptions; there were noble people who, at a great risk to their own lives, hid and helped Jews to survive. But the majority of Polish people did not. And the word ‘Żyd’-‘Jew’ in the Polish language, was a diatribe and a curse.

My late mother, born in Poland, used to tell how the neighbors called her ‘Żyd’.

My late and feisty father, born in Warsaw, could not tolerate when a non-Jew was after the ‘Żyd’. When my father heard that the non-Żyds are pestering a Żyd, he would gather all his friends – mostly non-Żyd – and bike to teach the ‘non-Żyd’ a lesson in what we call today human rights and tolerance of the other! That band of young men were what we call today ‘the neighborhood watchmen’.

In March 1946, to be my father and to be my mother and a friend (standing on left) after WWII in Czechoslovakia

My parents were Polish Jews and at a young age I spoke some Polish and understood much more. However, I prefer to focus on present antisemitism hounding the Jews throughout Europe, USA campuses and throughout the entire Arab world and many of the Moslem countries. But to call the Polish history of brutal anti-Semitism “revisionist history, plagiarism and slander” is simply outrageous.

Poland in 1930 flourished with anti-Semitism, long before the Nazi invasion of Poland.

My mother was a Zionist, a member of the Zionist movement, Hashomer HatzairOctober 11, 198 she perpetually nagged her parents to leave for Eretz Yisrael. My mother’s parents were fully aware that it was time to leave the city Vilna, where they lived. They obtained the required immigration permit and were about to emigrate to the USA. However, my grandfather’s sister fell in love with an American man so my grandfather gave her his emigration papers and off she went to marry her chosen partner to life and make life in the land of opportunities. Nazi orders threw my grandparents, my mother and her sister into the Ghetto, then murdered my grandparents and most of their family. I never knew any if anyone survived; my mother and her sister went through their own Schindler’s List story of 5 years Nazi ‘routine’. My grandfather’s sister made life good in New York. Her descendants hardy remember, if at all, to whom they owe the life lottery they received.

October 11, 1987, my mother went back to Vilna-here the  Ponary forest, where there are 5 large pits in which Jews’ bodies were burned en mass. My mother’s parents, my grandparents, among the dead.

My father’s parents were Zionists but that Zionism sentiments were not enough to get them pick up their basic belongings and leave the European anti-Semitic volcano ready to erupt all over Europe. They were thrown into Warsaw Ghetto and I have not been able to track down their fate. Of a family of father, mother, 3 brothers and one sister, only my father and his sister survived, each has his/her most precarious surviving story. The rest of the family, and by doing some investigation I discovered there were many of them, none survived.

So I never had grandparents, neither maternal nor paternal; I enjoyed having 2 aunts whom I loved dearly but had no uncles and hardly any relatives whatsoever. Almost all of my maternal and paternal family were murdered along with millions of other ‘Żyds’ in the undeniable indifference or outright collusion of the Poles with the Nazis invaders.

The grandparents I never had and other family members in a family photo I have no knowledge who they are-my-mother’s-parents-Rivka-Gurewitz-Katz-front row 1st on left (sitting) and Yoseph-Katz-2nd row standing first on left

But as usual, it is all blamed on everything else but the truth, the inexplicable hate of Jews.

The Polish stereotype is an intellectual and ethical escape. It is a way for modern, right-thinking people to distance themselves from atrocity, and to insist that only those people over there – those dirty, primitive, Polish Catholic peasants – could be so cruel to other human being. In ‘Ludzie ludziom zgotowali ten los,’ In English ‘People prepared this fate for people.’ by Zofia Nalkowska it is written: Not just Polish people. Not just Catholic people. Not just peasants. People just like us did this to other people just like us, and we must not allow any stereotype to prevent us from identifying with both victims and perpetrators.