Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reconsidering the Jewish Narrative of Poland

The Jewish narrative of Poland has historically centered on themes of anti-antisemitism, abuse and indifference to, if not support of the Holocaust. My research did encounter examples of systematic discrimination and pogroms carried out by elements of Polish society, but I did learn of the many Polish Catholics who lost their lives aiding their Jewish neighbors. In fact, Poland was the only country in Nazi Occupied Europe were execution was automatically applied to all Poles aiding Jews. Entire families and even whole villages were massacred for hiding Jews, resulting in the execution of upwards of 50,000 Polish Christians. In total 3,000,000 Polish Catholics, along with 3,000,000 Polish Jews perished during the nazi occupation. In spite of this severe decree, more Poles than any other nationality were awarded the title of "Righteous Among Nations" by the Israeli Government. One of the most awe inspiring stories is of Witold Pilecki, a member of the Polish Resistance who put together the plan to be captured by the Nazis (during a roundup) and sent to Auschwitz, for the purpose of providing a first hand account of genocide being committed against the Jews of Europe. After escaping he fought to dispel rumors among the allies that Nazi Atrocities against Jews were "exaggerations." After the war, he was arrested, tortured and executed by the puppet communist government of Poland. I encourage my fellow Jews to read up on the history of Poland and form a more complete and complex narrative on the History of Polish Jews.

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