Poles more vilified over Holocaust than German Nazis: opinion
PR dla Zagranicy
Blame for the Holocaust is often pinned on stereotypically “staunchly Catholic, simple-minded and chauvinistic” Poles rather than on Nazi Germans, author Danusha Goska has said in an opinion piece in Israel's Haaretz daily, published amid a Polish-Israeli diplomatic crisis.
A picture of the main gate to the German Nazi Auschwitz death camp, made with some of the names of the Holocaust victims who died there. Image: Dzeni/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Goska is the author of Bieganski, the Brute Polak Stereotype, which explores how Poles are portrayed as strong, stupid and anti-Semitic, how this portrayal is promoted in popular culture, and how it affects Polish-Jewish ties.
Tensions between Poland and Israel ignited after the Polish parliament passed a new anti-defamation law which could impose a jail term on anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes. The law was signed by President Andrzej Duda, who also sent it to the constitutional court for clarification.
Goska said Polish-Jewish relations and World War II history had been boiled down to a calculation in which bad, anti-Semitic Poles far outnumbered good, righteous Poles.
But she said such a calculation prevented “historical clarity and ethical responsibility”, was “intellectually and ethically bankrupt" and "distorts beyond recognition a thousand years of Polish-Jewish interaction and the unique horror of 1939-1945”.
Goska said: “With increasing frequency, Polish, Catholic peasants, not German Nazis, are positioned as the quintessential Holocaust criminal. It is easier for clean, well-educated, progressive audiences to accept dirty, backward, superstitious peasants as the perpetrators of the twentieth century's most notorious crime. German Nazis are too much like modern audiences."
She warned that "Poles will recognize their demonization, and flock to ever-more nationalist champions."
She added that “the monolithic stereotyping of Poles actually damages our understanding of complicity and responsibility for the Holocaust”.
Goska said: "I support free speech and I oppose this new Polish law. But the tumult that prompted the law will not die down till the false stereotypical calculus... is smashed."