17 October 2015

Jedwabne – The Polish Village Where Up to 900 Jews Were Burnt Alive by Fellow Poles

Michal Kaminski the Polish Zionist & anti-Semite that Jewish Chronicle Editor Stephen Pollard Just Loves

Pollard – Upset by Corbyn’s ‘anti-Semitism’ but a devotee of the anti-Semitic Michael Kaminski.
The ECR Group Chairman Michał Kamiński speaking to the Global Counter-Terrorism Conference in Herzliya, Israel, September 2009.

Michal Kaminski is ardently pro-Israeli.  In 2009 he was a guest speaker at the World Summit on Counter Terrorism:Terrorism's Global Impact - ICT's 9th International Conference at Herzliya in Israel.     Kaminski did the usual rounds in Israel, including paying homage to the dead of the holocaust at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Propaganda Museum in Jerusalem.  Yad Vashem seems, over the years, to have been host to a number of anti-Semites, former Nazis and assorted racists.  John Vorster,  former Prime Minister of Apartheid South Africa, was another visitor to Yad Vashem when visiting Israel in April 1976. 
Michal Kaminski talks to Israeli ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor during the Conservative Friends of Israel lunch at the Tory Party Conference 2009

Other keen visitors included a group of Russian neo-Nazis, who were the guests of Aryeh Eldad and Ayoob Kara, two Likud MKs.  Then there was the lovely story of a group of Israeli children who were on a visit to Yad Vashem when they spotted a group of Arab women there.  They promptly started abusing them.  Clearly the children understood the message of Yad Vashem very well.  Zionism’s use of the holocaust is not to warn against the dangers of racism but to render Israel’s use of racism immune to criticism.  Yad Vashem - Israeli Jewish Teenagers AbuseVisiting Arab Women as Whores and Sluts
ECR Group Chairman Michał Kamiński does what all anti-Semites do:  he visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel, September 2009

However, when a Yad Vashem guide, Itamar Shapira, pointed out that Yad Vashem was established near the site of the massacre of the Palestinian village Deir Yassin (now Givat Shaul), he was immediately fired.  Clearly he didn’t understand that empathy with the Palestinians was not the message that Yad Vashem wanted to convey.  As their spokesman explained:‘The institution's position is that the Holocaust cannot be politicized or equated with any other event.’ Yad Vashem Fires Employee Who Compared Holocaust toNakba

In an article Does supporting Israel make you a friend of the Jews? Mehdi Hassan pointed out that Stephen Pollard had a strange piece in the Daily Telegraph: ‘In a surprising and misconceived attempt to defend (!) Polish MEP Michal Kaminski from accusations of anti-Semitism, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle ends up making this rather bizarre point’ that "Far from being an anti-Semite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israeli an MEP as exists."
The ECR Group Chairman Michał Kamiński with Dr Oded Eran, director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, Israel, September 2009.

As we all know, being an anti-Semite hardly disqualifies you as a Zionist.  On the contrary it is a positive boon.  As Israeli novellist and ideologue, A B Yehoshua pointed out, in a talk to the Union of Jewish Students ‘
"Anti-Zionism is not the product of the non-Jews. On the contrary, the Gentiles have always encouraged Zionism, hoping that it would help to rid them of the Jews in their midst. Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist. "  [Jewish Chronicle 22.1.82.] 
Kaminski is a far- Right Polish MEP who opposed a national apology for the massacre of Jews by Poles at Jedwabne, in his constituency, in 1941.  The massacre in Jedwabne was the subject of a book by Polish-Jewish historian Jan Tomasz Gross.[Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, May 2000]  It led to a national apology in 2001, which Kaminski – an anti-Semite who is ardently pro-Zionist opposed.  Stephen Pollard, ex-editor of Richard Desmond’s Daily Express (a paper with a record second only to the Daily Mail in its hostility to Jewish refugees from Nazism) and now editor of the fast fading Jewish Chronicle leapt to Kaminski’s defence.

In a bizarre op-Ed piece ‘David Miliband's insult to Michal Kaminski is contemptible Pollard defended Kaminski in the Jewish Chronicle (1.10.09.) denying that he had said that he would apologise only if someone “from the Jewish side” apologises for what “the Jews” did during the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland from 1939 to 1941. Mr Kaminski flatly denies this, and no one has yet produced a shred of serious evidence to contradict him.”  

Nine days later Pollard had to eat humble pie.  In a comment piece for the Guardian, Pollard explained that Kaminski, in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, that ‘there were acts of collaboration by Jewish people with the Soviet army when the Soviet army came to Poland … If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would have to require the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish communists did in Eastern Poland." Poland's Kaminski is not an antisemite: he's a friend to Jews 1.10.09. 

Anti-Semitic?  Perish the thought.  Of course the Polish Jews, 90% of whom were exterminated and who, if they collaborated with the Soviet Union did so because of Poland's pre-existing anti-Semitism and fears for their lives, should have apologised.  Then and only then would Kaminski consider the question of an apology for burning the Jewish residents of Jedwabne alive in a barn.  Such is the company that Pollard keeps.  Of course Pollard was keen to sniff out any hint of holocaust denial in Jeremy Corbyn.  Even if it meant accepting the word of a holocaust denier, Paul Eisen.  Allegations of being seen in the company of a holocaust denier is one thing, justifying the holocaust is entirely different!  Such is the torturous logic of Pollard.

Of course what happened is that Pollard, being a devoted Tory and free-marketeer, a member of the cold-war Henry Jackson Society, was happy to ride to the rescue of the Tory's new alliance with the far-Right European and Conservative Reform Group in the European Parliament.  Anti-semitism was and is of no concern to him compared to defend his conservative friends.

None of which prevented Pollard claiming in a Guardian CIF piece (9.10.09.) that ‘Poland's Kaminski is not an antisemite: he's a friend to Jews’.    Indeed Kaminski is ‘one of the greatest friends to the Jews in a town [Brussels] where antisemitism and a visceral loathing of Israel are rife.’ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/oct/09/michal-kaminski-antisemitism

I have recently become aware of a Anna Bikont’s book ‘The Crime and the Silence’ which was originally published in 2004 and won the European Book Prize in 2011.  It has only recently been published in English.  In an article in The Times of Israel, Anna suggests that Gross’s estimate of 300 dead may be an understimate and that as many as 900 Jews perished in the flames.

Bikont concludes that Thomasz Gross’s belief that the murders were carried out by the poor and working-class are wrong.  ‘“There is a mythology out there that the people who committed these crimes in Jedwabne were the poor and the marginalized. Sure, there were also some people who were criminals who joined in on the pogroms. But it was not organized by them. It was organized by the local nationalistic Polish elites.”  That ties in with the fact that the main anti-Semitic groups in pre-war Polish were groups like the Endeks and middle-class Polish university students.  The Polish working-class voted for the Polish Socialist Party which allied with the anti-Zionist Bund in the local authority elections in 1938 and jointly fought against the pogromists.

However to Pollard, what matters is whether you support Israel not whether you hate Jews.
Author Anna Bikont (Marcel Lozinski)
Polish author reopens minefield of who killed Jedwabne’s Jews

In an English translation of her book ‘The Crime and the Silence,’ journalist Anna Bikont sheds more light on the WWII massacre of hundreds of Jews in occupied Poland

By JP O’ Malley October 15, 2015, 4:15 am 9

LONDON — In 2001, American historian Jan T. Gross set off a maelstrom of passionate historical debate upon the publication of his book about the massacre of hundreds of Jews during World War II, “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland.” There were already numerous history books about WWII’s brutal atrocities, but what set Gross’s book apart was its revelation that these murders were not committed by the Nazis, but by the Poles themselves.
While this came as a shock to the world at large, years prior to “Neighbors” publication, Polish-Jewish journalist Anna Bikont had been eager to report on the crimes of Jedwabne. But her editor, Adam Michnik — one of Poland’s most prominent Jewish writers and public intellectuals — didn’t want her to write the story.

“At the time he was afraid because Poland was coming into the European Union and NATO,” says Bikont, who helped found the left-wing newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza in 1989. “He thought this could promote an anti-Polish feeling with our European neighbors, and that it was better not to write about it.”

“Michnik also told me he didn’t believe so many people could be burnt in a barn, that it simply wasn’t possible,” she tells The Times of Israel.

‘Many Jews were burned. But also many were shot one-by-one when they tried to hide. So it’s very difficult to give an exact figure’

Based on Bikont’s extensive research, on July 10, 1941, the Jews of Jedwabne, a town in northeast Poland, were herded into a barn and burned alive by their Christian neighbors. The numbers of Jews murdered in the massacre has been widely contested over the last few decades, but Bikont believes it’s likely to be between 600 and 900.

“Many Jews were burned. But also many were shot one-by-one when they tried to hide. So it’s very difficult to give an exact figure,” she says.
As part of her research surrounding that fateful day, Bikont interviewed the few survivors from Europe, the United States, South America and Israel, and scoured museums and national archives for written testimonies from people who survived the war.

Published in Polish in 2004, “The Crime and The Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne” is a mixture of journalistic memoir and historical analyses. It includes in-depth interviews from both the victims and those who carried out the crimes.

The book was re-published in French as “Le Crime et le Silence” in 2011 and won the European Book Prize. It has recently become available in English for the first time.

Bikont tells The Times of Israel that to properly understand how hatred against the Jews manifested so intensely before the war and the Nazi occupation, one must understand the connections between anti-Semitism and the Catholic Church.

“Poland is a very Catholic country, so the Catholic Church has had a huge impact on the anti-Semitism that happened before the war, especially in east Poland in places like Jedwabne,” she says.
In the 1930s, with anti-Semitism raging across Europe, Bikont claims Polish Catholics organized their entire social fabric around a deep mistrust and hatred for the Jews.

“Even children at the time would play anti-Semitic games such as the ‘Jew is the thief,’” she explains. “So the Church taught Poles to have hostility and contempt for Jews from early childhood.”

Soviet occupation of Poland’s mixed ‘blessing’

Bikont documents in her book how the Soviet occupation of wartime Poland also played an important role in stirring up a strong anti-Semitic feeling, especially in Jedwabne.

The ‘Road of Bones’ constructed by inmates of the Soviet Gulag prison camps, including those of Polish citizenship. (public domain, via wikipedia)

In 1939, both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia invaded Poland, carving up the country between them. The two occupying armies coordinated their efforts against Poland until 1941’s Operation Barbarossa in which Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, causing a complete shift in their relationships.

Called “the reign of terror,” the Soviet occupation destroyed the entire fabric of social life built up by the Jewish community for centuries — the Jewish municipal government was liquidated, Hebrew schools were closed, Yom Kippur became a normal work day, political parties were dissolved and Zionist activists were put on deportation lists.

But the occupation was beneficial for Jews too, says Bikont. Many began to experience equal rights for the first time in their lives and were given the right to attend public school, to study, or to pursue professional careers in medicine or education.

“Many young Jews were particularly happy about the Soviets coming into Poland,” says Bikont. “But when the Poles saw these Jews who had a normal life, that was not full of humiliation, they really resented that. So hatred for Jews from the Poles became far greater in the Soviet times.”

During this time, many Poles were involved in the Soviet underground, where Poles often betrayed other Poles. But, Bikont says, it was easier for many to say that it was the Jews who denounced the Poles, so it didn’t look like Poles were betraying each other.

“Jews were given the blame for a lot of things in these paranoid and suspicious times,” she says.
This helps to explain why the Jews, who were systematically rounded up to be torched alive in the barn on July 10, 1941, were paraded around the marketplace in Jedwabne beforehand. Crucially, though, they were made to carry a statue of Bolshevik Revolution leader Vladimir Lenin, just before they perished. This was seen both as a sign of humiliation, and to indicate Jewish-Soviet collaboration.
Memorial in Jedwabne, dedicated to murdered Jews: ‘In remembrance of the Jews from Jedwabne and surrounding areas, men, women, children, co-habitants of this earth, murdered, burned alive here on July 10, 1941.’ (Fczarnowski, CC-BY-SA, via wikipedia)
The Soviet iconography was extremely significant in representing feelings of far-right Polish nationalism at the time, says Bikont.

“All of the propaganda was anti-Bolshevik propaganda. So the Polish nationalists wanted to associate Jews with this statue of Lenin and to make these links between Jews and communists,” she says.  

In all of the accounts that Bikont heard — both directly from her own research and from secondary sources about the Jedwabne massacre — the names of Zygmunt Laudański and Jerzy Laudański were always mentioned as the most active participants in the crime.

Both brothers were sentenced to prison for the massacre. Zygmunt was sentenced to 12 years, but served just six, while Jerzy served just eight of a 15-year sentence.

As part of her research Bikont interviewed both brothers.

“It was the most horrible thing I have ever had to do in my career,” she says, looking extremely distressed as she thinks back to the interviews.

Meet the murderers

“Both brothers seemed very content in what they saw as achievements in their lives,” Bikont tells The Times of Israel. “I saw that they were happy remembering how they raped and killed Jewish women. They showed no remorse in these interviews and they were completely cynical.”

Even though both brothers served time in a communist prison, Bikont says after their release they were greeted as heroes in their local community.

‘This is very difficult to think about for a Polish person, to be both a victim and a perpetrator at the same time’

“The Laudański brothers were liberated because most people who were in the prison were involved in anti-communist activities. It’s very difficult for Polish people to admit to any of these things, because all the time during the war the narrative was the same: that it was the Germans who committed the crimes, and not the Poles, who were always seen as the victims.”

Many people in Jedwabne think that the Germans ordered the Polish to carry out these crimes, Bikont notes. But she says it’s untrue.

“This is very difficult to think about for a Polish person, to be both a victim and a perpetrator at the same time. In Poland especially because we are used to thinking about ourselves as a nation of victims throughout history. This is why I think it’s so difficult for Poles to admit what happened in Jedwabne.”

In Jan Gross’s book, “Neighbors,” the historian writes that the murderers of the Jedwabne massacre were ordinary people. But Bikont believes that such a description has led to many academics and journalists claiming, falsely, that it was the Polish working class who predominately carried out the murders.

‘We are used to thinking about ourselves as a nation of victims throughout history’

In her book Biknot quotes a prominent Polish sociologist, Antoni Selek, who wrote on this period of history that “the most active participants in the atrocity were from the lower rungs of the social hierarchy, unsettled, unfettered by bonds of family.”

“This is simply not true,” says Bikont. “There is a mythology out there that the people who committed these crimes in Jedwabne were the poor and the marginalized. Sure, there were also some people who were criminals who joined in on the pogroms. But it was not organized by them. It was organized by the local nationalistic Polish elites.”

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