In support of the Polish people against the slander of which they are victim
The Polish Parliament has approved a reform that penalizes the attribution to the Polish Nation of the crimes committed by the Third Reich in its territory during the Second World War.
Warsaw 1944: The Day that Polish Catholics Began the Biggest Uprising Against the Nazis
Armia Krajowa: 75 years ago was founded the largest resistance movement of the WW2
An Israeli parliamentarian accuses Poland of being an accomplice of the Holocaust
The reform, approved on January 27, coinciding with the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, includes prison sentences for those who impute to Poland the crimes committed by Nazi Germany. This has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel, a country with which Poland maintains a great friendship. On Friday, Yair Lapid, an Israeli deputy of the secularist party Yesh Atid, published a comment on Twitter with this statement: “I utterly condemn the new Polish law which tries to deny Polish complicity in the Holocaust. It was conceived in Germany but hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered without ever meeting a German soldier. There were Polish death camps and no law can ever change that.” This slander was answered by the Polish Embassy in Israel with the following message: “Your unsupportable claims show how badly Holocaust education is needed, even here in Israel.” The Embassy also noted that the intention of the Polish draft law “is not to ‘whitewash’ the past, but to protect the truth against such slander.”
The Prime Minister of Israel insinuates that Poland wants to “deny the Holocaust”
A few hours later, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Twitter account published the following statement by Benjamin Netanyahu on the Polish legal reform: “The law has no basis, I strongly oppose it, it is impossible to change history and it should not be denied the Holocaust.“ Despite the fact that he has one of the best intelligence services in the world, the Israeli Prime Minister seems to ignore the fact that the law does not deny the Holocaust, of which many Poles were victims -in fact-, it is slandered to Poland blaming her for Nazi crimes.
Unas horas más tarde, la cuenta de Twitter del Primer Ministro de Israel publicaba la siguiente declaración de Benjamin Netanyahu sobre la reforma legal polaca: “La ley no tiene fundamento, me opongo firmemente a ella, es imposible cambiar la historia y no se debe negar el Holocausto.“. A pesar de que dispone de uno de los mejores servicios de inteligencia del mundo, el Primer Ministro de Israel parece ignorar el hecho de que dicha ley no niega el Holocausto, del que fueron víctimas -de hecho- muchos polacos-, but to slander Poland by blaming it for Nazi crimes.
The facts that these Israeli politicians forget about Poland and the Holocaust
This diplomatic conflict grieves me, certainly, because I admire Poland and I admire Israel, they are two countries that I have defended many times. You can discuss how appropriate it is that a topic related to history is penalized with jail, I agree with that, but I am outraged to see Israeli politicians forgetting that many Jews survived nazism precisely thanks to the help of many Poles. Israel is not a country that is overrun with friends, and I am saddened to see it mistreat one of its main European allies. But my sadness turns into something deeper reviewing some facts that seem to forget the aforementioned Israeli politicians:
- Poland was the only country occupied by the nazis in which hiding Jews was punished with the immediate execution of all the inhabitants of the house. Despite this, many Polish Catholics hid Jews. In some cases Polish families hid Jewish children among their own children, risking the lives of the whole family. The first execution to protect Jews took place on September 7, 1939, a few days after the German invasion began, in Limanowa, near Krakow: the nazis executed nine Jews together with a Polish Catholic postman, Jan Semik, who tried protect them. On January 14, 1940, the Germans found broken shackles of a Jewish prisoner escaped in the apartment of Maria Brodacka, a Polish Catholic, in Warsaw. Maria was executed. Between July 1 and 12, 1940, the Germans arrested and deported Auschwitz to the entire leadership of the Polish Association of Lawyers in Warsaw, 80 lawyers in total, for refusing to prohibit the practice of law for their Jewish colleagues. Almost all those arrested died in that extermination camp. In October, 1940 the Polish Catholic Aniela Kozioł was executed in Łańcut with the family of Jews she hid in her home. On February 17, 1941 the Gestapo arrested the Catholic priest Maximilian Kolbe, for hiding 2,000 Jews at his convent in Niepokalanów, near Warsaw: he died on August 14 in that camp. In total, Catholic religious orders saved more than 5,000 Jewish children, according to historian Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski in his book “Jews in Poland.” About the hiding of Jews by Poles, many more cases can be found in that book and in the work “Poland’s Holocaust” by Tadeusz Piotrowski.
- Despite the above, according to the American historian Richard C. Lukas, some 450,000 Poles hid Jews, and 1.2 million Poles participated in actions to hide or rescue Jews, as noted by Professor Hans G. Furth in the Journal of Genocide Research. Beside these figures, the number of Poles who collaborated with the Nazis or denounced Jews was negligible. To this day, Israel has recognized 6,706 Poles as “Righteous Among the Nations”, being Poland the Nation with the most recognized people.
- The only resistance movement of the Second World War that created a special section to help Jews was the Polish Armia Krajowa, loyal to the Government of Poland in exile. The Jewish section of the AK, called Żegota, was founded by the Catholic writer Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, developed its activity between 1942 and 1945 and saved half of the 50,000 Polish Jews who survived the war. Among his actions, moreover, he was launching 5,000 copies of a manifesto in Warsaw (a huge figure, considering that it was an occupied city) in August 1942, summoning his compatriots to help the Jews persecuted by the nazis. It should also be noted that three members of the AK high command were Jews: Marceli Handelsman, Jerzy Makowiecki and Ludwik Widerszal.
- The Polish Armia Krajowa was also the only resistance movement that managed to liberate a concentration camp in the occupied area without the support of regular forces. It happened on August 5, 1944 in Warsaw, during the Uprising started four days earlier by the Polish resistance. AK forces attacked the Gęsiówka concentration camp, freeing the 360 Jews confined to it. Another similar attack by the AK failed in order to free the prisoners from the Pawiak camp.
- The Polish resistance not only helped rescue Jews, but also provided them with military aid. The Jewish resistance movement of the Warsaw Ghetto received from Armia Krajowa 2 heavy machine guns, 4 light guns, 21 submachine guns, 50 pistols and more than 400 hand grenades. During the uprising of the ghetto in the spring of 1943 the Armia Krajowa supported the rebels with attacks on the Germans outside the ghetto, with two attempts to blow up its walls and also supporting the Jewish resistance in the fighting that took place in the interior. In October, the AK also provided explosives to the Sonderkommandos who rose unsuccessfully in the Auschwitz extermination camp.
- The only person voluntarily confined in a nazi extermination camp was the Polish officer Witold Pilecki. He was Catholic and belonged to Armia Krajowa and infiltrated Auschwitz to report what was happening there. He spent 949 days locked there, helping to consolidate a Polish resistance group, the Związek Organizacji Wojskowych (ZOW) in Auschwitz, which also spread to Birkenau. When he finally escaped he wrote a report, the Raport Witolda, detailing what was happening in the camp: the British considered it “exaggerated”, and ignored the requests of the Polish Government in exile to launch an air attack on Auschwitz to facilitate a prisoner escape.
- On June 29, 2017, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – an intergovernmental organization of which Israel and Poland are part – published the following statement: “In recognition of the Stockholm Declaration (2000) commitment to ‘uphold the terrible truth of the Holocaust’ (defined as the mass murder of Jewry by the Nazis and their allies) against denial and distortion, and in acknowledgement of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) wishes to state that it shares the Polish government’s opposition to the historically unsupportable use of the terms “Polish Death Camps” or “Polish Camps” to refer to the camps and sites of persecution and murder established by Nazi Germany on invaded and occupied Polish soil. We strongly urge our members to stop using this term in discourse and in publications, and we encourage others to stop using it as well.” Has Benjamin Netanyahu forgotten that his country was one of the signatories of this declaration?
- Last Friday, the Yad Vashem, World Center for the Memory of the Holocaust, published a statement in which it shows its opposition to the aforementioned Polish law, but at the same time states: “There is no doubt that the term ‘Polish death camps’ is a historical misrepresentation! The extermination camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland in order to murder the Jewish people within the framework of the ‘Final Solution.'” Has Yair Lapid read this statement?
- To all the above we must add that 2.7 million Polish Catholics were killed by the nazis, a figure that exceeds the sum of gypsies, homosexuals and political dissidents exterminated by the Third Reich (the highest estimates are 800,000 gypsies, 1.5 million political dissidents and 250,000 homosexuals murdered by the nazis). Some Israeli politicians talk about the Holocaust as if it had only affected the Jewish population of Poland, but it was not. Many Poles were deported by the Nazis to concentration camps, often to put in their place German settlers, as happened in the county of Zamość, where the Nazis evicted 300 villages – with mass executions in many of them – and deported 116,000 Poles from that area, sending many of them to the concentration camps of Zwierzyniec, Auschwitz, Majdanek and others. Of that population, 50,000 were taken to work as slaves to Germany, and more than 30,000 children were taken from their families. After the war, only 800 were located and returned to Poland. Undoubtedly, the Jewish people were the main victims of the Holocaust, but it was not the only one, and it is unfair for Israeli politicians to speak of Poland as an executioner, when it was also a victim of nazism.
Bearing these facts in mind, I can not help but express my support for the people of Poland in the face of the slander they suffer today, after having to endure the horrors of nazism. No other country occupied by the nazis has been so maligned and slandered as the Polish Nation, and this despite the fact that no other people victim of the occupation behaved like the Polish: Poland never surrendered to the Germans, its resistance movement was launched before the invasion of the country was completed and in 1944 the Poles the largest popular uprising against the nazis, which resulted in the death of 16,000 AK fighters and between 150,000 and 200,000 Varsovian civilians, in addition to the practice of destruction of the city by the Germans. Qualifying these Polish patriots as accomplices of Nazism is an intolerable insult, and that this is written by a Spaniard, son of Spaniards and grandson of Spaniards.