March 6, 2018: Poland's revisionism

Our readers weigh in.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Poland’s revisionism
Apropos “Polish lawmaker: Germany owes us $850b. in reparations” (March 4), the article adds: “German parliamentary legal experts said last year that Warsaw had no right to demand reparations.”
Which side is right?
Lawmaker Arkadiusz Mularczyk’s claim that Poland never received war reparations from Germany is no more than a “double-dipping” expedition. Fact: On October 30, 1956, Communist boss Wladysaw Gomulka – infamous for his 1968 purge of Zionist elements and removing Jews from Poland – decided to present the Soviet Union with “a bill for a fair share of the German reparations payments made to Russia.” This means the USSR helped itself to Poland’s share!
Nowhere in his lengthy, tendentious apologia – as opposed to apology – does W. Julian Korab- Karpowicz (“The Jews and the Poles – a few facts about Poland’s WWII history,” Comment & Features, March 4) once mention the many murders of Jews returning to their hometowns by Polish neighbors after the war, nor the antisemitic laws passed in Poland before the war – with not a German soldier in sight.
I and other children of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors have heard these accounts our whole lives, first-hand from parents and friends who lived with them.
It ill serves the “good understanding of history” that Mr. Korab-Karpowicz professes and dishonors real Polish heroes like Jan Karski, Irena Sendler and the many Poles who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis and even their Polish neighbors, by citing Hannah Arendt’s widely read Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil for the proposition that “so many Jews” cooperated with the Germans in the destruction of their brethren. Doubling down, he even charges Jews with “willingly” cooperating with the Germans in the murder of the Jews, in contrast to the Poles, who allegedly did so unwillingly.
Let readers of this newspaper not be deceived. Let them read the unvarnished, variegated history, starting with historian Saul Friedlander’s excellent two-volume Holocaust history.
As so eloquently stated by the late US academic, envoy and senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” The descendants of Polish Jews know the facts and will not hesitate to speak out against those, like Mr. Korab-Karpowicz, who seek to rewrite – and whitewash – their bloodstained history.
W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz’s spurious apologia for the widespread appalling conduct by many Poles toward their Jewish neighbors during the war smacks of contemporary revisionism. It is a blatant attempt to make the much-maligned Polish Holocaust Law more palatable to the Israeli public, and to Jews generally.
Mr. Korab-Karpowicz does admit that there were some weak characters among Poles during the war and some antisemites before the war, and then goes on to say that “this feeling disappeared during the war because of the prevailing attitude and the awareness of the Jewish genocide and of the common suffering.”
This is far from the truth, and the assertion flies in the face of everything that has ever been written about the Holocaust in Poland and the many thousands of personal testimonies by survivors.
Mr. Korab-Karpowicz criticizes the Judenrat and the unarmed Jewish Order Police, who never killed anyone. The Nazis were good at deceiving the ghetto population, who at first believed they would be helping their families and the community at large; when they discovered the truth, it was too late – they would be shot on the spot or made to join the transports to the death camps.
As for me, a Jewish policeman saved me from a Ukrainian firing squad when I was discovered hiding in a brickyard. Poles killed many thousands of Jews in the countryside, but in the towns and cities, they handed them over to the Gestapo, like they did my sister, Fela Katz, who was passing for a non-Jew under the name Valerja Matera.
Furthermore, Mr. Korab-Karpowicz draws an analogy between Jews and Poles in the hierarchy of suffering. He says that if Jews and Poles were equal targets of Nazi German extermination, why were there Poles who cooperated? Why did Jedwabne happen? Any Poles, if they chose to keep their head down and nose clean, could and would survive the war. Jews had no such choice. There was no Final Solution for Poles.
Herzliya Pituah
Feeding the hand
With regard to Yaakov Katz’s “Fighting Iran and highlighting tikkun olam” (Editor’s Notes, March 2), the notion of feeding the hand that bites us is beautifully expressed by the second part of his column. But he apparently did not speak to zookeepers.
Zookeepers would have told him that not for one second dare you turn your back or trust wild carnivorous animals that for some reason you have undertaken to feed. They have no interest in our welfare and are just waiting to bite because that is their raison d’etre, which is fueled by our belief that appeasing them – keeping them warm and fed – will lead to mutual respect.
The Arab world laughs at us every day for our humanitarian behavior toward those whose declared aim is our total destruction. (As my late father would say, don’t make a fool of me – I am doing it nicely myself!) Yes, we are destroying ourselves. Look at Caroline B. Glick’s “There is no there here” (Column One) on the same page, telling us more sad tales about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Do our media maestros and word wizards not look at history and see that all democratically elected leaders have a sell-by date because they themselves do not realize that the fingers they tread on as they climb the ladder to yet another term in office belong to the hands that can pull them down faster? Israel is quickly becoming the country that has ruined more leaders than any other democracy. Now is the time to stop destroying ourselves. The destruction of Syria just passes while we waste our time attacking yet another politician who helped us survive. Please stop and think before it is too late!
Torah scholarship
Reader Yossi Schwartz (“Supreme value?” Letters, March 2) disparages Torah studies. Unfortunately, he overlooks Jewish civil law.
True, the Torah proscribed the death penalty for a plethora of transgressions, but the severe limitations placed on the court were such that if a Sanhedrin passed a death sentence once in 70 years, it was called a “murderous Sanhedrin.”
In the 70 years of its own existence, Israel has carried out but two death sentences; in one, the person executed was subsequently found to be innocent. Perhaps the times we live in are not as enlightened as Mr. Schwartz would have us believe, nor is Jewish civil law as backward.
Petah Tikva
Are Torah scholars more valuable to Israel than other scholars, such as students of, say, Persian history or math? If so, then by all means – let’s not recruit them for the IDF, but enlist all other students. If not, force them to serve in the army or make them do some sort of national service. Apply the same criteria to secular scholars.
The problem is in assessing the value of Torah scholarship, which in Israel is dictated by politics.