Jerzy Robert Nowak
Long ago among the Polish patriotic circles Jan Tomasz Gross earned the deserved name of an untiring enemy of Poland and Poles, a swindler and cheat. Few people know that many years ago the anti-Polish falsifications made by Gross began provoking strong ripostes of eminent Poles, especially those meritorious for building bridges between Poles and Jews.
The first person that saw through Gross was Stefan Korbonski, one of the commanders of the Polish Underground State (former Government Delegate at Home), who received the Righteous Among the Nations medal from the Yad Vashem in 1980. As early as in 1981 Korbonski branded very severely Gross’s various lies on the pages of ‘Zeszyty Historyczne’ [Historical Journals] (issue 59), connected with ‘Kultura’ in Paris. Korbonski focused his polemic on Gross’s accusation of the whole Polish nation of anti-Semitism and indifference towards the Jewish Holocaust. Summing up his critical remarks Korbonski wrote that Prof. Gross joined the circle of those American authors ‘who regard the accusation of the Polish nation of the deeds it did not commit as their holy obligation’ (the underline is mine). Korbonski also criticised the ‘writings’ of Gross in his book entitled ‘The Jews and Poles in World War II,’ published in 1989 in New York. Korbonski counted Gross among those immigrants from Poland to the USA that recognised that accusing Poles of anti-Semitism and even collaboration with the Germans ‘will bring them personal benefits’ (according to the Polish edition of Korbonski’s book ‘Polacy, Zydzi I Holocaust’, Warszawa-Komorow 1999, pp. 105, 106, 111).
It is worth adding what, as far as I know, nobody has mentioned so far. Namely, it was the editor of ‘Kultura’ in Paris, Jerzy Giedroyc, the intellectual who was so much involved in the Polish-Jewish dialogue, that saw through Gross. On 3 April 1981 Giedroyc wrote in his letter to Jan Nowak-Jezioranski that ‘J. T. Gross and his wife are people stuffed with complexes and their ‘academic’ lectures enjoy in the country (apart from their friends’ circle) the worst opinion (the underline is mine). In 1987 it was the historian Wladyslaw Teofil Bartoszewski, the son of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a lecturer at Oxford University, that criticised Gross’s text. In his article published in the annual ‘Polin,’ dedicated to the Polish-Jewish relationships (Oxford 1987, vol. II, pp. 399-403) W. T. Bartoszewski accused Gross of conscious distortions of texts aiming at smearing Poles and presenting them as anti-Semites.
Gross as a weapon ‘to rob Poles’
In 1998 there was the first attempt to publicly unmask Gross’s intentions in his anti-Polish publications. It was done on the pages of the Krakow ‘Arcany’ (No. 5/1998) by the famous Polish scientist from the USA Prof. Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski. He stressed clearly and straightforwardly that the real aim of Gross was ‘to create myths about the participation of the Polish nation in the Jewish Holocaust. It is easier to get reparations from the guilty than from co-victims […] Gross’s propaganda helps extreme Jewish groups in their attempts to force the Polish government to pay tribute for the crimes committed in Poland by the Germans, Soviets and ordinary criminals (underline is mine).
Another fierce and unequivocal exposure of Gross’s real intentions was presented by the outstanding Jewish scholar from the United States Prof. Norman Finkelstein. In his book ‘The Holocaust Industry’ (Polish translation, Warsaw 2001, by M. Szymanski, pp. 193, 198, 200, 201). Prof. Finkelstein wrote, […] ‘I would like to look at Gross’s observations on Holocaust reparations to show that his false views support plundering intentions of «the Holocaust industry» towards Poland […] With Gross’s blessing ‘Neighbours’ became another weapon of «the Holocaust industry» in his desire to rob Poland […] But actually we are dealing with ordinary hooliganism of «the Holocaust industry» […] Gross tries to convince that «we must be prepared to give back the properties», that «we will have to pay for the moral fall of the generation of our ancestors», etc. «We»? For thirty years Gross has lived in the United States. He has the American citizenship and lectures at the prestigious American university. What sacrifices will he make when «the Holocaust industry» leads Poland to bankruptcy?’ According to Prof. Finkelstein the demands of American Jews towards Poland amount to 65 billion dollars. Trifle. However, some of the rich American Jews soothe us not to fear such a large sum because they will nobly divide it into instalments (!).
It is worth adding another important fact to these remarks of Prof. Finkelstein. In order to fulfil better his task of forcing Poland to pay huge tribute, Gross has kept speaking in public as a Pole who has humbly flogged himself for the alleged Polish crimes. And it is worth knowing that in the early 1990s Gross stressed his Jewish nationality. For example, in May 1990 he was a signatory of the declaration of ‘the group of Jewish intellectuals from nine countries’, the so-called declaration from Yarnton (cf. the text of this declaration and the list of its signatories with Gross as the fourth – J. R. Nowak’s book ‘Sto klamstw J.T. Grossa,’ Warszawa 2001, p. 299). I am curious how many times Gross will change his nationality depending on the need of the moment. He was a Jew, now he is a Pole, then he will be an Eskimo, a Japanese, etc.
Gradually more and more critics of Gross stress his extreme bias, obvious falsification and fatal lacks of scientific methods. One can list many important authors, commencing with Rev. Prof. W. Chrostowski, Prof. T. Strzembosz, Prof. M. K. Dziewanowski, Prof. I. C. Pogonowski, Prof. A. Nowak, Prof. J. Radzilowski, Prof. R. C. Lukas, Prof. B. Wolniewicz, Prof. K. Kawalec, Prof. T. Szarota, Prof. R. Dybczynski, Prof. R. Bender, Prof. Z. Musial and the famous Polish patriot of Jewish background D. Kacnelson, Dr. B. Musiol from Germany and lawyer R. Tyndorf from Canada. I want to remind you that even in ‘Tygodnik Powszechny,’ which praises Gross so shamefully, there were two critical statements about Gross in the interview given by Prof. Tomasz Szarota. Among other things he said, ‘Gross […] has no professional preparation to write historical works, fulfilling the methodological requirements of this discipline. He is a sociologist and has never learnt the historian’s methods: seeking sources, their evaluations. And he interprets our (historians’) reservations and critical remarks as expressions of anti-Semitism rooted in Poles.’ Well, the famous essayist in immigration Karol Zbyszewski wrote once, ‘The more stupid Jew the more anti-Semitism he can see everywhere.’
It is worth reminding us of the accurate summary of Gross’s ‘scientific achievements’ written by the deputy chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews Rev. Prof. Waldemar Chrostowski in 2009, ‘Using the word «truth» referring to Gross is offensive for the conception of truth (the underline is mine). The horrifying thing is that what Gross writes about was published by the publisher that declares to be Polish and Catholic […], I have no desire to engage myself in polemics with Gross and his supporters. They propose a level on which I cannot move since it is a task for a psychologist and not for a theologian or historian. It is the psychologist that should examine the inducements and motives of such strong hypocrisy as well as so strong anti-Polish phobias (the underline is mine). […] Today, unfortunately, many mass media play the role of bad trainers of dogs. Gross would not have spread the sails if he had not been cuddled, awarded in the light of spotlights’ (quoted from ‘Kosciol, Zydzi, Polska’ [The Church, Jews and Poland], conversation of G. Gorny and R. Tichy with Rev. W. Chrostowski, Warszawa 2009, pp. 104, 106).
How valid are the words of Rev. Prof. Chrostowski today when another promotion campaign of Gross’s new, disgusting, anti-Polish lampoon ‘Golden Harvest’, to be published by ‘Znak’ in a few months, has started in the media.
Gross’s latest lampoon
In 2001 I wrote many articles for ‘Niedziela’ about these one hundred lies of Gross in his lampoon ‘Neighbours.’ In turn, in 2006 I revealed Gross’s numerous lies in his anti-Polish and anti-Catholic book ‘Fear.’ Discussing the latter as one of the Polish critics of Gross I stressed his extreme type of coarse manipulation. The Polish translation of Gross’s book differed from the original on as many as 100 pages! In the Polish version the author omitted the most compromising anti-Polish and anti-Catholic lies which he used without any embarrassment for ignorant American readers who had no idea what had happened in Poland during World War II and the first post-war years. For example, on p. 162 of the American edition of ‘Fear’ (New York, 2006) Gross accused the Polish Catholic clergy of ‘ritual murder’ of Polish children during the war («ritual murder» of Jewish children by Catholic clergy). Gross wrote, ‘In the matter of accusations of ritual murder we can clearly discern a different practice, which has never been discussed as a controversial problem of the Catholic-Jewish relationships. I mean «ritual murder» of Jewish children by Catholic clergy, conducted in a way every time a Jewish child was baptised without a clear demand or authorisation of his or her parents.’ Let us recollect here that many Jewish children were planted at the gates of Polish monasteries in the night and the Polish monks who took and sheltered them faced the threat of immediate death from the Nazis when they found any of the Jewish children the monks had hidden. Is it not an expression of extreme anti-Catholic fanaticism to make such idiotic accusations of the clergymen who risking their lives saved Jewish children’s lives?! No wonder, Gross preferred to omit such nonsense, and many others, in the Polish edition of the book.
I am warning against the threat of similar falsifications in the American and Polish editions of the book ‘Golden Harvest.’ What is included in the unpublished copy surpasses with its nonsense all the anti-Polish and anti-Catholic calumnies included in all previous Gross’s books written in Polish. Suffice to remind you that Gross resorted to the completely groundless calumny, based on no factographic data, obviously fabricated, that Poles murdered from one to two hundred thousand Jews during the war. A considerable part of the book is slanders concerning the Polish Catholic clergy. For example, Gross repeats the lie, which I have already refuted, that allegedly Archbishop Adam Sapieha never intervened with Governor-General Hans Frank on the Jews. I am curious whether the Catholic editors of ‘Znak,’ which Cardinal Sapieha supported, at least will have the courage to remove this fragment slandering the great protector of the publishing house. The next unprecedented scandal, included in Gross’s book, is the clear racist attacks against the Polish peasants. Gross’s scandalous generalisations about Polish peasants go together with the complete omission of the fact that so many peasants’ families lost their lives to rescue Jewish families. I am going to discuss all these matters separately in my next critical texts on the falsifications of Gross’s lampoon.