Much of the content of this book is by Joseph Tennenbaum, and is already found in his In Search Of A Lost People: The Old And New Poland (See my review). For this reason, I do not repeat it here.
The book begins with the various medical specialties practised by the Jewish physicians of pre-WWII Poland. This included psychiatry, which was dominated by Freudianism. (pp. 73-on). [The informed reader may recall that many Polish Catholics opposed Jewish influence through Freudianism, owing to its hostility to morality and religion, its tendency to lessen human responsibility for conduct, and for its pansexualism.]
The authors complain about the discrimination that Jewish physicians faced in prewar Poland. However, they never tell the reader that Jewish physicians were grossly over-represented in Poland, and that Poles had enacted “affirmative action” policies to create more opportunities for nascent Polish physicians. One of the Jewish physicians featured in this book is the famous Ludwig Hirszfeld, who is categorized as a microbiologist. (pp. 61-62). For his perspective on the Polish discriminatory acts against Jewish physicians, please click on, and read my detailed review, of his Ludwik Hirszfeld: The Story of One Life (Rochester Studies in Medical History).
GERMAN JEWS ON HITLER AND ZIONISM: REVEALING ATTITUDES
The most interesting part of this work is Tennenbaum’s experience with German Jews who were trying to fit Hitler into a Zionist framework. He writes, (quote) If a personal reference may be permitted, I would like to recall that at a preliminary World Jewish Conference held in Geneva in August, 1932, I, an American citizen not of German descent, prepared a paper entitled “The Menace of Hitlerism”. In it the basic idea was stressed that Hitlerism was a menace not merely to German Jews but to world Jewry as well. It appealed to the world not to lose sight of the fact that “German anti-Semitism [is] an international danger signal, a prelude to social upheaval, revolution and war,” and it called upon the whole world “to unite in defense of civilization”. The incident is mentioned not so much for its contents, but for the reaction it elicited among the Jewish delegates from Germany, two of them outstanding personalities and Zionists. First they strongly objected that a “foreigner” dared to trespass upon an area that was of purely German-Jewish concern. Unable to stop the reading of the paper, they countered with a show of confidence that even “were Hitler to succeed in government,” a thing they vehemently discounted, “Hitler in office will be quite tame in comparison with Hitler on the Party platform.” And anyhow, there were “National Socialists with whom Zionists maintain friendly relations and with whom one could come to terms, if and when the most unexpected should happen.” All this occurred (lest we forget) not years but less than six months before Hitler was summoned by the aged von Hindenburg to become chancellor of Germany, “with all the safeguards” that the wily von Papen could suggest. The rest is history. (unquote). (p. 129).
WHO WERE THE NAZIS?
The nowadays-customary de-Germanization of the Nazis, and contrived dichotomy between Germans and Nazis, is nothing new. Fifty years ago, when this book was written, Germans (and some Jews) were already treating the Nazis as if they had been, in the authors’ words, some kind of jack-booted Martians that had magically descended upon Germany, ruled for a while, and then magically departed. (p. 129).
THE JUDENRAETE AND JEWISH GHETTO POLICE
The authors implicitly reject the contention that the conduct of the Jewish ghetto police was completely excused by the extremity of the circumstances. They comment, (quote) One of the blackest taints in ghetto life was exemplified by the Jewish ghetto police…The Jewish police constituted the immediate guardians of “law and order” according to the Gestapo code. Their record is tinged with shame. Their actions in seizing Jewish victims, retrieving them form their hiding places during the so-called actions, beating and harassing them and surrendering them to the Nazi henchmen is so harrowing as to make one’s blood boil in indignation. (unquote). (p. 171).
HOW MANY FUGITIVE JEWS IN GERMAN-OCCUPIED WARSAW?
The authors claim that 20,000 to 25,000 Jews were living, in Aryan Warsaw, on “Aryan” papers. (p. 263). However, they venture no estimate on how many additional fugitive Jews were hiding in Warsaw without such fake identification as gentiles.
COMPREHENSIVE REGISTRY OF DEATHS
The heart of this book is a name-by-name catalogue of 2,500 Jewish physicians who perished at the hands of the Nazis. One striking fact is the many physicians who committed suicide once their fate became apparent. Was it because, being physicians, they had access to, and experience with the handling of, toxic substances?
The data on the fate of Jewish physicians is of uncertain credibility, and there often are contradictory versions of their deaths. For instance, consider Jecheskiel Wohl (p. 488). He is described as variously having perished in Treblinka, died in the Warsaw ghetto, and been murdered after being betrayed by a Pole, while in the Aryan sector of Warsaw. The contradictory fates of Dr. Wohl remind the reader not to believe anti-Polish tales unless their veracity is independently verified, which is rarely the case.
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