Friday, August 15, 2008

Polish Investigators Tie Partisans to Massacre

My Comments on an article by Marisa Brostoff in the Forward

A movie is coming out in December called Deliverance. It is about the Bielski partisans. They are a group of Jews in Poland who fought the Nazis. Jewish Partisans in Poland did not fight on an equal basis with their Polish counterparts. Poles could choose to go with the flow or to take up arms. Jews could fight or die. And Jews were not only hiding from the Germans. They were hiding from the Poles. Even Polish partisans turned in Jews for the rewards offered by the Germans. It is not an accident that the biggest concentration camps were in Poland.
There is a new sickness sweeping Poland and Lithuania, both countries that killed over 90% of their Jews with a bloodlust that disgusted even the Germans. Lithuania is a country in which not one Lithuanian murderer of Jews has sat a day in jail. Lithuania is looking for Jews who are guilty of war crimes against Lithuanians. And the Poles, who so eagerly availed themselves of German "tech support" in solving their "Jewish Question" are doing the same thing. A Polish rightist party,"Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc" has hijacked the Institute of National Remembrance" or IPN for their own agenda.
Poland has always seen itself as an occupied nation. The disgusting pogroms across Poland, the concentration camps enthusiastically built with Polish labour and staffed by Poles afterward get little publicity. In the Final Solution, the Germans were aided by hundreds of thousands of willing collaborators. In Kielce, on July 4, 1946, 37 Jews returning from concentration camps to their homes in that accursed town were murdered by Poles who wanted to keep the homes they had stolen from Jews.
So I want to know, if you are going to investigate Jewish partisans, tell me about the Polish villages. How many lovely Polish maids led the Germans to the basement of the home in which they worked and handed over the Jews living there? How many farm hands turned on their Jewish employers or simply coveted the house of a Jewish neighbour? There are many such stories. I have heard them and if your investigators have not, it is because you have not sought them In many villages, the demise of the Jews was greeted with joy and taunting. So dear investigators from the abomination called IPN, please let me know what your findings are, and if you have compiled lists of Polish villages and cities that collaborated in the Final Solution. If you can find a Jew with the blood of these filthy collaborators on his hands, please let me know. Many of these old Jewish heroes are close to death, and I want to shake the hands of those who have avenged the blood of the innocent. I have, thank G-d met such avengers. I have had the merit of shaking hands that have avenged Jewish blood.
Your "Institute for National Remembrance " is a filthy sham. The survivors of the slaughter in which you so eagerly participated are elderly and dying by the day.You await their deaths like vultures so you can fill your history books with lies. Our partisans lived in fear not only of Germans but of Poles as well. We took in children who would be murdered if left unprotected. You went home to your families. Our partisans lived in the woods like animals. You insult our partisans? I spit on you. You would need a cherry picker to tie their shoelaces. You hope that the Polish earth will swallow the truth just like it did the rivers of Jewish blood you let loose upon it.
There were many Poles who risked their lives to hide and to help Jews. Poland is not bereft of merit. There are living survivors who owe their survival to the instincts of decency that were not totally extinguished. Now in assembling the fragments of history, nothing must be discarded if justice is to be done to the entire picture. During that dark chapter in European history, those who saved innocent lives also salvaged national honour. Writing Poland's history presents another such opportunity. To edit the truth is to falsify it. Tell the whole story.

*********************** *************************** ************************

As Paramount Pictures gears up its ad campaign for a new movie about a band of Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis, some in Poland are suggesting that the partisans in question may also have been murderers.

In anticipation of the December release of “Defiance,” — starring Daniel Craig, the actor best-known as the latest incarnation of James Bond — the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza ran an article headlined, “A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?” The article contrasts the film’s portrayal of Tuvia Bielski as a Moses figure leading frightened women and children through the forest with a recently released report from a Polish government investigative body. The government report suggests that Bielski and his followers may have participated in a massacre of civilians in the eastern Polish town of Naliboki.

The tarnishing of the Bielski partisans has infuriated a number of people close to the memory of the group. Some of those people have also been involved with the production of the movie, directed by Ed Zwick (“Legends of the Fall,” “The Last Samurai”). Nechama Tec, who wrote the historical account of the Bielski partisans on which the film is based, told the Forward that allegations connecting the partisans to the massacre were “total lies.”

Those allegations “underline the antisemitic tendencies of the writers and the distortion of history,” Tec said.

The controversy comes on the heels of a Lithuanian government investigation into allegations that Jewish partisans committed war crimes during World War II. That investigation has been met with dismay on the part of Jewish communal leaders inside and outside Lithuania, who note that only three Lithuanians have ever been prosecuted for wartime crimes against Jews.

The reinvestigation — or, as some former partisans and historians claim, the revision — of what happened in the town of Naliboki in May 1943 began in 2001, when the massacre was first being studied by the Institute of National Remembrance, a Polish government agency known as IPN, that is devoted to prosecuting “crimes against the Polish nation.” The agency’s report, which has thus far been limited to a short brief released this year, claims that on the morning of March 8, 1943, Soviet partisans shot 128 civilians outside their homes.

About two-thirds of the way in, the report brings up the Jewish partisans affiliated with Bielski and his three brothers, noting that though some accounts by witnesses and historians place the group at the scene of the attack, these accounts have not been verified.

“Therefore the fact of participation of partisan soldiers of the Bielski Unit in the attack on Naliboki village is merely one of the versions of the investigated case,” the report concludes.

Robert Bielski, Tuvia Bielski’s son, said that his problem with the IPN report and the subsequent Gazeta Wyborcza article was twofold.

“The Bielskis were not in Naliboki in May of ’43,” he said, echoing historians who believe that the partisans did not arrive in the area until August of that year.

“But,” he added, “even if it were true, which I know it’s not, the 128 people are in no way close to the millions of people that the Polish people herded towards the Germans so they could be extinguished. I believe it’s just a consistent Polish antisemitism and the Poles are sloughing off their own crimes of being an enemy of the Jews during World War II.”

The IPN declined to comment on the controversy, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation. But Piotr Gluchowski, the Gazeta Wyborcza reporter who co-wrote the article on the IPN report — as well as a longer feature story about the Bielski brothers, published several days later — was more forthcoming. Gluchowski wrote in an e-mail that he was sure the Bielski partisans were not involved in the massacre, but that, on the other hand, the IPN “are no amateurs. This is a government organization, very serious thing.”

Gluchowski and his co-writer, Marcin Kowalski, are authoring a book about the Bielski partisans. Gluchowski said it will be published in December to coincide with the release of the film. (A publicist representing the film said she had no knowledge of the book project.)

“The Bielskis… are completely unknown in Poland,” Gluchowski said in the email. “But — I think — it will be hot in December, when ‘Defiance’ goes to the theaters.”

According to both Gluchowski and the detractors who found his article unsympathetic, the Bielskis are known in Poland only to the extent that some Polish nationalists have seized upon the idea that a Jewish partisan group collaborated with the Soviets to kill Polish civilians. The IPN itself is currently dominated by members of Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, a rightist party, Gluchowski said.

Whether the debate over the Bielski partisans will seep into the reception of “Defiance” remains to be seen. The Variety story appeared briefly on the magazine’s Web site, is no longer accessible because, according to the publication’s editor, Dana Harris, it had not been properly edited.

As for the movie itself, shooting was completed last year, before the IPN released its report. Judging from the film’s trailer, there was no question in the minds of the filmmakers that Tuvia Bielski and his followers deserve to be celebrated.

hPoles Tie Jewish Partisans to Massacre(From The Forward)


Anonymous said...


From this Pole: it is a bit weird when your last two sentences are "To edit the truth is to falsify it. Tell the whole story." and, at the same time (a) your post essentially defending a movie promoting edited or, in your words, falsified version of history and (b) your version of Polish history basically amounts to a bunch of insults.

As for the rest of your post: yes, there were all too many Polish schmaltzovnicks, informing Gestapo on hiding Jews and on Polish underground (just as, btw, there were all too many Jewish informers in the Russian-occupied half who assisted Soviets in the genocide of Poles). And yes, the Kielce murderers were ethnic Poles. (just as, sorry, many of Naliboki and Koniuchy murderers were ethnic Jews).

BUT, those were the only true statements about Poland and Poles in your catalogue of alleged Polish sins. The rest, you pretty much--putting it on level with the language of your post--took out of your ass.

Some other words come to my mind in languange similar to yours so I better stop now...

Magdeburger Joe said...

If you are expecting a retraction of my angry posting, rest assured that you will wait a very long time.I wish that there were only a few incidents of Polish collaboration to highlight. Instead, one need only list the villages that were wiped out with the gleeful and sadistic cooperation of the Poles.
I have heard of revenge attacks on Poles identified as collaborators. For legal reasons, I would never publicise these beautiful acts of vengeance.
My fondness for European nationalities is calculated by a mathematical formula. This formula is simply the percentage of Jews who survived the war in a given country. On a scale of one to a hundred, Finland scores a perfect 100. Italy scores about a 70. Poland scores about a 7.
If you look at the history of Poland between the wars, there was a national boycott of Jewish businesses even before the Nazi occupation (See "A Vanished World by Roman Vishniac" There was ample incentive for a foolish Jew to want to believe communist promises of equality. This was a pity, because the communists were the same garbage as the nazis. I despise both ideologies with equal passion. But I can imagine what Jews were up against even before 1939. I will not even hint at any sort of profane tirade at you. I am interested in the Polish take on that period in history. Your position is familiar to me.
For me, my anger at the perpetrators of genocide will burn eternally. Sadly, our generation has new victims in need of defense from the Balkans to Rwanda and many other places. I thank you for your comments I stand by mine

Anonymous said...

I just coincidentally came across your post and am simply appalled at the level of hatred towards Poles and Lithuanians - it makes me wonder why... Since it is clear that you're not a historian, I suggest you do at least some research before you write another post. I would start with the Yad Vashem website, which is a great source of information (e.g. statistics for the Righteous by nation). Hatred and even your own admission of "angry posting" are shameful.