Man’s inhumanity to man *UPDATED*

I’ve long had a conflicted emotional relationship to Poland.  I know that Poland bore the brunt of the first official Nazi invasion in WWII, back in August 1939.  I also know that the Poles suffered horribly under the Soviets.  In the modern era, it was the Poles whose bravery exposed the weaknesses in and started the destruction of the Soviet system, and the Poles have been a staunch American ally in the post-Cold War world.

All that I know, and yet I’ve never been able to forgive them for the fact that Jewish genocide in Poland worked so well because so many Poles were gleeful and enthusiastic participants in the process.  There was a reason why the most successful death camp of all (Auschwitz) was in Poland.  The Germans knew that the local population would be more amenable to its presence than would be true in other nations.  Other nations showed themselves willing to give their Jews away (the French, the Dutch, etc.), but they still might balk at mass slaughter on home ground.  The Poles wouldn’t. (One could say that the other nations were hypocritical, and the Poles were not, but that’s a post for another day.)

Of course, that held true for so many Slavic and Baltic nations — and it turns out that Yad Vashem has been paying attention to all those little, regional killing fields and death camps.  There’s a heart wrenching article in today’s New York Times about a project to document the local killings.  This is an extremely important project because it helps to explain what we still see today:  neighbor turning on neighbor, whether in Serbia or Rwanda, or somewhere else in the world.

UPDATEEric‘s fact-filled comment deserves to be up in the post:

I just had to come to the defense of Poles regarding the Holocaust.  Poles were essentially given a bad rap by the Communist.  I know this is not a prevailing wisdom, especially among my fellow Jews.  But the World War 2 history is a hobby of mine, and I am especially interested in the Jewish resistance.  So, I researched the subject.  The better known ZOB (Jewish Combat Organization) indeed did not get much support from the Polish Home Army.  The ZOB came into being only in mid-1942, and the Poles considered them a bunch of leftist demagogues.  But there was another organization, ZZW (Jewish Military Union).  That one was an integral part of the Polish Home Army, starting from late fall of 1939.  They received weapons and ammo from the Poles.  They were also as big in numbers and much better trained than ZOB.  Unfortunately most of their leaders were killed in action during the Ghetto Uprising.  And the Polish officer to whom the ZZW leader reported was jailed by the Communists after the war.  Just as a side note, his name deserves to be mentioned: Henrik Iwanski.  He lost both sons and a brother in action during the Ghetto Uprising and was heavily wounded himself.  Another interesting tidbit is that the Polish Auxiliaries were not used by the Germans against the Jews during the Ghetto Uprising.  The Germans brought in the Lithuanians.

I would recommend the book “Two Flags” by Marian Apfelbaum, the nephew of the ZZW leader.  Sorry, for the plug, but here is my review of the book:
http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/2007/10/07/two-flags-the-untold-story-of-the-warsaw-ghetto-uprising-and-its-relevance-today/

I suspect that the reason why the majority of the death camps were in Poland was the simple fact that that was where the majority of the European Jews lived.  The French were by far worse than the Poles, and the French Government has finally admitted it recently:
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/32818_France_Finally_Admits_Role_in_Holocaust

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  • suek

    >>We are trying to understand the man who played soccer with his Jewish neighbor one day and turned to kill him the next. >>

    Familiarity breeds contempt? What happened to the property – want to bet?

    Somehow, I doubt that the man “played soccer with his Jewish neighbor”…I suspect that the Jews were a fairly closed community, and became identified as “the other” – the ones that didn’t belong. Jews have always been industrious and usually successful – my guess is that envy kicked in, along the the outsider phenomenon. Still – how do you get past doing that to _any_ human? I don’t understand – and I hope I never do, because I suspect that it comes about when the circumstances are dire.

  • Deana

    I recently was talking to a leftist friend of mine who was telling me about a friend who has a lesbian daughter who married and had two children with her partner. The friend of mine commented: “If everyone just knew a lesbian couple personally, there would never be any discrimination.”

    It shocked me for a couple of reasons but primarily because there is a whole host of examples throughout history of one person REALLY knowing another person who still discriminated against that person or even murdered them.

    Knowing someone does NOT guarantee friendliness and it certainly doesn’t guarantee protection from abuse or murder.

  • SADIE

    Tuesday April 21 is Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day. I read this story yesterday and it touched my heart.

    Tattoos from Auschwitz horror reunite lost inmates
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Monday, April 20, 2009

    JERUSALEM — As terrified teenagers 65 years ago, Menachem Sholowicz and Anshel Sieradzki stood in line together in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz to have serial numbers tattooed on their arms. Sholowicz was B-14594; Sieradzki was B-14595.

    The two Polish Jews had never met, they never spoke and they were quickly separated. Each survived the camp and moved to Israel. They didn’t meet again until a few weeks ago after discovering each other through the Internet. Now, the two men speak daily, sudden partners who share dark traumas.

    “We are blood brothers,” said Sieradzki, 81. “The moment I meet someone who was there with me, who went through what I went though, who saw what I saw, who felt what I felt — at that moment, we are brothers.”

    The twist of fate doesn’t end there. Two others who were in the same tattooist’s line have made contact since hearing their story.

    One joined them for a reunion Sunday at Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum Yad Vashem. With tears in their eyes, the three embraced, speaking Hebrew and Yiddish. “This is my victory,” Sieradzki said.

    The meeting of the survivors came as Israel prepares for its annual Holocaust remembrance day, which begins tonight. The event commemorates the 6 million Jews who were killed during World War II.

    The four men with consecutive serial numbers are among the hundreds of thousands of survivors who poured into Israel after the war. An estimated 250,000 are still living there.

    “It is never forgotten, not for a moment,” Sieradzki said. “It’s like an infected sore deep inside that hurts every time it is exposed.”

    Like many survivors, Sieradzki kept silent for more than half a century. Only when he returned to Poland in the early 1990s did he open up about his experience. He founded an organization for the former residents of his hometown and resurrected the Jewish cemetery there. The group’s Web site is what drew the attention of Sholowicz’s daughter.

    “I felt like I was closing a circle,” Sieradzki said of visiting Poland. “If God kept me alive to tell of what happened, then it was worth staying alive.”

    Now that story includes a new chapter that he shares with three others, bound by the numbers inked deep into their arms.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    “Man loves, men hate. While individual men and women can sustain feelings of love over a lifetime toward a parent or through decades toward a spouse, no significant group in human history has sustained an emotion that could honestly be characerized as love. Groups hate. And they hate well…Love is an introspective emotion, while hate is easily extroverted…We refuse to believe that the “civilized peoples of the Balkans could slaughter each other over an event that occurred over six hundred years ago. But they do. Hatred does not need a reason, only an excuse.”

    –Ralph Peters

  • Larry Sheldon

    There is a lot about that that I don’t understand.

    But I think I do know that it was Poles that gave the British what they needed to get Bletchley Park going that had a lot to do with bring the Nazi’s down.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    There are ways to cause divisions within groups and to pit one group against another. Class warfare. Warfare between economic and social hierarchies. Wars between nations, tribes, and ethnicities.

    It is always about the other. It is very simple, all you have to do is to make a person fear. Fear both the punishment of the group he belongs to and to fear the groups he does not belong to. Since he will not refuse or resist his own group, because few people have the integrity to willingly take their own group’s punishments given that it is easier to blame others, he will displace his anger and resentment against his groups towards external entities. External entities that he has been taught to fear, to hate, and to wish to destroy. The path of least resistance.

    It is harder to fight against your own group, which holds power over you, then to go along with your group in eviscerating and destroying another group. After all, you may be next, so you don’t want to step out of line.

    The Left claims that they will bring people together, Obama and his supporters talk about unity and togetherness and the various other bullcroak. Remember these facets the next time. It is only unity in the sense that they will use it to control your behavior, by forcing you to attack enemies that they have designated.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Book, Poland is not defined by the actions of a few, any more than America is defined by the actions of the Dems or the Obama Administration.

    Just as America has our Bay of Pigs and out Fall of Saigon, so do we have Leyte Gulf and Iraq. Poland is the same.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    (off-topic)…Book, re the “collaborative effort” project, I was thinking about sending you something, but I can’t find your e-mail…it’s probably hidden on the page somewhere, but *very* well hidden…

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    David,

    The email is Bookwormroom at Gmail.com

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Book..thanks!

    Larry S…since you mentioned Bletchley Park, you might be interested in my post the bombe runs again.

  • Larry Sheldon

    Daughter and I were there several years ago–spent some time with Tony Sales and “Colossus”–saw the in-progress Bombe recreation.

    Thanks

  • Danny Lemieux

    To your points, Deana and Suek, the police know that the first place to look for suspects in a murder is to the victim’s family, friends and acquaintances.

  • SADIE

    Ymarsakar:

    A few thousand haggard war refugees came back to their homes, they were not welcome back. Several post-war massacres in Poland left an additional 1,000 Jews dead. The worst of these was the 1946 Kielce massacre. It was sparked by a rumor that Jews had stolen Christian children and killed them for their blood.

    Poland’s ‘few’ continued even post war. For me, a few too many.

  • http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/ eric-odessit

    Bookworm,
    I just had to come to the defense of Poles regarding the Holocaust. Poles were essentially given a bad rap by the Communist. I know this is not a prevailing wisdom, especially among my fellow Jews. But the World War 2 history is a hobby of mine, and I am especially interested in the Jewish resistance. So, I researched the subject. The better known ZOB (Jewish Combat Organization) indeed did not get much support from the Polish Home Army. The ZOB came into being only in mid-1942, and the Poles considered them a bunch of leftist demagogues. But there was another organization, ZZW (Jewish Military Union). That one was an integral part of the Polish Home Army, starting from late fall of 1939. They received weapons and ammo from the Poles. They were also as big in numbers and much better trained than ZOB. Unfortunately most of their leaders were killed in action during the Ghetto Uprising. And the Polish officer to whom the ZZW leader reported was jailed by the Communists after the war. Just as a side note, his name deserves to be mentioned: Henrik Iwanski. He lost both sons and a brother in action during the Ghetto Uprising and was heavily wounded himself. Another interesting tidbit is that the Polish Auxiliaries were not used by the Germans against the Jews during the Ghetto Uprising. The Germans brought in the Lithuanians.
    I would recommend the book “Two Flags” by Marian Apfelbaum, the nephew of the ZZW leader. Sorry, for the plug, but here is my review of the book:
    http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/2007/10/07/two-flags-the-untold-story-of-the-warsaw-ghetto-uprising-and-its-relevance-today/
    I suspect that the reason why the majority of the death camps were in Poland was the simple fact that that was where the majority of the European Jews lived. The French were by far worse than the Poles, and the French Government has finally admitted it recently:
    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/32818_France_Finally_Admits_Role_in_Holocaust

    Sadie,
    The Kielce Pogrom was a horrible thing. But it does not show the Poles as any more or less anti-Semitic than the other Europeans. At least, unlike the French, they did not round the Jews up on their own initiative.
    Eric.

  • suek

    I thought this was an interesting challenge…
    Boy! would I like to see them take it up…not that they’d even consider it….

    http://astuteblogger.blogspot.com/2009/04/cross-dressing-challenge-to-michael.html

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Sadie, it doesn’t take many to incite a mob.Once the Commies took over, there was no such thing as the social fabric and trust in each other any more. It was everyman for himself. One of the various consequences of both protracted and indecisive warfare as well as prolonged and sustained class and social strife.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    The French were by far worse than the Poles, and the French Government has finally admitted it recently:

    There was a Canadian I had some extended arguments with concerning the lead up to 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was of the opinion that France and VIchy couldn’t be blamed because they were “Forced” by the superior military strength of the Germans to do X, Y, and Z. He was against the Iraq invasion, of course.

    So, it seems the preeminence of force and the God of all Hosts only apply selectively. Some nations, like France, gets a pass because they were “weak” and then some other nations like Iraq gets a pass for being “weak”. But not America. Not when we were weak on Vietnam, not when our allies died because of our weakness, and not when Americans died because of American fecklessness and corruption.

    These people are the vanguard protecting evil by making the excuse that “evil is weak”, thus it isn’t as dangerous as good people who are more powerful.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    UPDATE: Eric’s fact-filled comment deserves to be up in the post:

    I was waiting around or somebody to do the research so I wouldn’t have to. I surmised that there was a lot more to the story than what was first appeared here.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    The friend of mine commented: “If everyone just knew a lesbian couple personally, there would never be any discrimination.”

    No, then it’d be called nepotism, calling in favors for your friends, and plain old corruption.

  • http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/ eric-odessit

    Bookworm,
    Thanks!
    Eric.

  • suek