The Polish Underground and the Jews, 1939-1945 by Joshua D. Zimmerman
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis. My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Still Very Much the Standard Pole-Blaming Judeocentric Narrative.
Effectively a Censorship By Making Orwellian Unpersons Out of Unwelcome Scholars and Their Findings
The sophisticated reader who is looking for something new–a book that candidly addresses both sides of Polish-Jewish antagonisms–can stop right here. It does not. It retains the standard Jewish wrongdoing-denialism format.
To address and correct all the issues raised in this book would require its own book. I focus on a few of them.
The author provides more details on Polish suffering under German Nazi occupation than do many Jewish authors. However, Zimmerman fails to internalize the implications of Polish suffering. He does not appreciate the crushing poverty and degrading circumstances faced by Poles, which, for example, drove some of them to hanker after post-Jewish property or to denounce fugitive Jews for a reward. Furthermore, Zimmerman’s “fishing expedition”, in Polish Underground documents, tendentiously culls certain “fish”. Pole-against-Jew conduct is “caught” and highlighted, while Poleagainst-Pole, Jew-against-Jew, and Jew-against-Pole conduct is “thrown back into the water”.
Author Zimmerman, to his credit, distances himself from the most egregious Polonophobic accusations of some previous Jewish authors. He recognizes both positive and negative Polish attitudes towards Jews—for example in the many Polish Underground reports he cites. However, his over-800 pages of text are scrupulously sanitized of recognition of the fact that Jewish conduct played a role in Polish indifference and hostility against Jews. Worse yet, he shows open disregard—even contempt—for scholars whose views do not fit the “Jews can do no wrong” standard narrative. This, in my opinion, borders on intellectual dishonesty.
DELEGITIMIZING SCHOLARS WHO PRESENT UNWELCOME EVIDENCE
Instead of intelligently telling the reader why he disagrees with their research findings, Zimmerman summarily dismisses historians Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Marek Wierzbicki, and the late Tomasz Strzembosz, as “nationalist historians” or of the “nationalist school”. (p. 39, 661). Evidently, to Zimmerman, this leftist and Holocaustspeak buzzword is supposed to make them, and their unwanted facts, smell bad and disappear down an Orwellian memory hole. [BTW, Chodakiewicz unambiguously repudiates the nationalist characterization.] Clearly, the author is engaging in poisoning-the-well tactics. And if Zimmerman must resort to characterizations, then why doesn’t he identify himself for what he is—a Judeocentric scholar of the Holocaust Establishment? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
But, wait. It is actually worse. Zimmerman relies uncritically on the assertions of Joanna Beata Michlic on these scholars. (p. 39). To begin with, what makes Zimmerman think that Michlic, in ANY case, is some kind of authority on—much less the final word on–this subject? As it turns out, Joanna
B. Michlic presents no evidence in support of her flippant opinions of historians not to her liking. See her rather superficial THE THREATENING OTHER.
Not surprisingly, Zimmerman sings an entirely different tune about those Polish (and half-Polish) authors who agree with him, and who support Jewish attacks on Poland. (e. g., Jan T. Gross, Jan Grabowski). He lauds them for being “path-breaking” (p. 177) and exhibiting “critical scholarship” (p. 39). Yeah, right.
Having reviewed a number of earlier works by Zimmerman, I had thought better of him. Instead, his willful abandonment the most elementary canons of objectivity can only cause the informed reader to reasonably question Zimmerman’s credibility. However, for purposes of this review, I assume that Zimmerman accurately quotes from works that I have not checked myself, and that he does not omit material facts from them.
PRE-WWII POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS: EVERYTHING IS THE POLES’ FAULT
The author consistently tells half the story. He repeats the endless complaint that Poles commonly did not see Jews as fellow Poles, or as part of the Polish nation. He avoids the fact that most Polish Jews didn’t EITHER. For centuries, the Jews had lived in religious-based self-imposed apartheid. In time, Jewish religious-based separatism gave way to an even more aggressive and politicized self-imposed apartheid—based on the Yiddishist movement. When Poland was about to be resurrected (1918), Jews clamored, through the so-called Minorities Treaty, for the expansive special rights of a separate nation on Polish soil, complete with government-funded Yiddish-language Jewish schools, their own courts, their own representation in the Sejm (Polish parliament) as a bloc, etc. Other Jews became Zionists which—by definition—meant their loyalties were to another nation rather than Poland. The relatively few assimilated Jews had done so less in order to “become Poles”, in some way, than in order to advance themselves in society by escaping the enclave mentalities of traditional Judaism and the “new ghetto” Yiddishist movement. In any case, few of Poland’s Jews considered themselves Poles first and Jews second.
The author selectively mentions Endek calls for most Polish Jews to emigrate, leaving behind as little as 50,000 Jews in Poland. (p. 54). What he omits is the fact that many Jews ALSO thought that Poland had a “Jewish problem”—that Poland was vastly overcrowded with Jews, that the Polish economy could never support so many entrepreneur-minded Jews, that Polish and Jewish ways were fundamentally and eternally incompatible with each other, and that the only lasting solution was for nearly all of Poland’s Jews to emigrate. This included, but was hardly limited to, Zionists such as Vladimir Jabotinsky and Alfred Nossig.
Economic rivalry also had two sides, but the reader would never guess it by reading Zimmerman. As Poles began to encroach on the centuries-old Jewish economic privileges, Jews banded together to drive Polish newcomers out of business. The Poles then retaliated with boycotts, discriminatory policies (nowadays called affirmative action) against Jews, and sometimes violence.
Zimmerman exaggerates, and recycles old information about, violent anti-Jewish acts in pre-WWII Poland. (pp. 63-on). He is silent about the violence, by the militantly-Zionist Betar, against Poleconciliatory Jews. More glaringly, Zimmerman omits the fact that, according to police reports, violent incidents by the ONR were dwarfed by violent incidents by Communists. See: 8376292838]. Evidently, to Zimmerman, Polish ONR violence against Jews was a horrible thing, but Jewish
Communist violence against Poles (and anti-Communist Jews), which was much more common, was no big deal.
POLISH GUERRILAS AND THE JEWS
The selective attention to facts, exhibited so consistently by Zimmerman, extends to wartime situations. The author elaborates on the generally good relations between Jews and the ARMIA KRAJOWA (A. K.), in most regions of German-occupied Poland, with the glaring exception of the Nowogrodek area. Again, the author omits essential facts. Apart from animosities resulting from recent events surrounding Communism, there were older, deep-seated antagonisms going back many decades—to the time that the Nowogrodek area of Poland had been part of the Pale of Jewish Settlement in tsarist Russia. These Jews were Litvaks (Litwaks) and their descendants, and had a long history of extreme separatism, frequent Russophilia, and strong anti-Polonism.
Zimmerman uncritically brings up Michal Cichy, and his accusations of the A. K. killing Jews during the Warsaw Uprising. He is silent on contrary evidence. Please see PASZWIL WYBORCZEJ by historian Leszek Zebrowski.
The author dusts off, and presents as gospel truth, the decades-old Communist propaganda about the
NSZ being a Jew-hating and Jew-killing guerilla organization. For corrective, please read the Sebastian Bojemski research article in GOLDEN HARVEST OR HEARTS OF GOLD.
ELECTION RESULTS, JEWS, AND COMMUNISM
Zimmerman cites a study (which I have read) on Jewish voting patterns in some 1920’s Polish elections. These indicate that 7% of Jews voted for the Communists (p. 421). From this, Zimmerman draws the completely non sequitur conclusion that Jewish support for Communism was minimal. To begin with, Jewish support for Communism was hardly limited to electoral support for, or open identification with, overtly Communist movements—far from it! Various mainstream Jewish political parties and movements were ALSO infected with Communism to varying degrees, usually in muted or disguised ways. These included Jewish socialist parties, the Hashomer Hatzair, the Poalei Zion, and the Bund.
In addition, Jews commonly switched loyalties to whoever coincided with their immediate interests, or whoever was the stronger. After Poland was Partitioned, Poland’s Jews generally supported the empires that ruled over Poland, and few Jews supported Polish national aspirations. By the 1920’s, with the resurrected Polish state a fait accompli, and Poland having recently (1920) defeated the Soviet Union, the Polish nation had unambiguously emerged as the stronger. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that relatively few Jews openly supported Communism in the 1920’s. In 1939, with Poland on the ropes and the USSR the stronger, it was a different story.
Finally, why waste one’s vote on a party that had no chance of winning? Surely the Jews knew that Communists hardly ever come to power through free elections, least of all likely in Poland. They come to power by force. To make Poland Communist, wait for renewed Soviet aggression, and then come out of the woodwork. That is exactly what happened.
JEWS AS VICTIMS, NEVER VICTIMIZERS
Zimmerman glosses over the Jewish fifth-column activity on behalf of the Soviet invaders of eastern Poland in 1939. (e. g, p. 150, 165). These did not exclude murderous acts against Poles.
Do you need still more evidence? Then read the detailed, free, online book: “A TANGLED WEB: POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS” by Mark Paul.
Although Zimmerman repeatedly tries to pooh-pooh the fact of Jewish banditry against Polish villagers, done by Jews independently and as part of the intentional terror-causing policy of banditry conducted by the Communist GL-AL bands, it was very real. Apropos to this, the author mentions the TAJNE OBLICZE book for a trivial reason (p. 661), but chooses to run away from it, completely ignoring its detailed archive-based findings on the magnitude of Jewish banditry and collaboration with the GL-AL.
Not surprisingly, Zimmerman is silent about the large-scale Jewish-Soviet collaboration in the massacres of Polish civilians in villages such as Naliboki and Koniuchy. For the truth, see
INTERMARIUM by Chodakiewicz.
Let us put all this in broader context. Consider the Zydokomuna (Judeo-Bolshevism), a term which Zimmerman regularly brings up, but would prefer that the reader not think about. The considerable extent of Jewish complicity in the murderous Soviet Communist apparatus is an inescapable fact. The extensive Jewish involvement, in all phases of the Soviet subjugation of Poland, is also undeniable. For details, see the first comment. And let us hear no silly exculpations about Jewish Communists not being real Jews, or Jews not knowing what Communism really was. They most certainly were, and they most certainly did.
We also keep hearing that, in terms of absolute numbers, few Jews were Communists. This is a facile argument, as it goes both ways. No doubt, in absolute terms, few Poles were involved in the denunciation or murder of fugitive Jews, but this does not prevent Zimmerman, and innumerable other Jewish authors, from making an issue of them. So let’s hold Jews to the same standard.
What about innocent Jews being blamed for Communism? Innocent victims fell on both sides. During the Holocaust itself, millions of Jews, most of whom had nothing to do with Communism, were being put to death. Earlier, however, millions of non-Jews, most of whom had never done anything to Jews, had been put to death, in large part thanks to the deliberate acts of Jewish Communists. This included children, who least of all could be suspected of anti-Jewish acts that deserved punishment.
WAS GENERAL ZYGMUNT BERLING JEWISH? WHO CARES
The author tries to make something of the fact that some Poles had reckoned Berling a Jew, and that historian Marek Jan Chodakiewicz allegedly does also. (p. 636, 662). [Chodakiewicz (personal communication) told me that he was merely informing the reader that some Poles had pointed to Berling’s Jewish roots.]
Zimmerman does not tell his readers that there are different opinions about Berling’s practice of Judaism, notwithstanding his baptism. Pointedly, however, the issue is more basic. Jews have no problem identifying baptized Jews, as Jews, if it serves their purposes. For example, think of Heinrich Heine and Karl Marx. In fact, Jewish authors commonly write of Karl Marx—alongside Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein—as the three most influential 19th- and 20th-century Jewish thinkers. Now, if Jews can recognize baptized Jews, as Jews, as they see fit, then surely Poles can do likewise!
Published with the author’s permission.