Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath

By Joshua D. Zimmerman | Go to book overview
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During Communist rule in Poland, the government censor allowed only publications highlighting Polish aid to Jews, works that, notwithstanding the intentions of the authors, conveniently fit into the official narrative of Polish wartime heroism and resistance. The first work, by T. Berenstein and A. Rutkowski of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, appeared in 1963. In the late 1960s, four works documenting Polish aid to Jews were published. See Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, 2 vols. (Cracow: Znak, 1966 and 1969), by W. Bartoszewski and S. Lewin, which appeared in English as Righteous among Nations: How Poles Helped the Jews, 1939–1945 (London: Earlscourt Publications, 1969); and The Samaritans: Heroes of the Holocaust (New York: Twayne Publisher, 1970). Also see Szymon Datner's Las sprawiedliwych (Warsaw: KsiąŻka i Wiedza, 1968); and Kto ratuje jedno Życie—Polacy i Żydzi, 1939– 1945 (London: Orbis, 1968), by the Polish military historian Kazimierz IranekOsmiecki, which appeared in English as He Who Saves One Life (New York, Crown Publishers 1971).
CzesŁaw Łuczak, Polityka ludnościowa i ekonomiczna hitlerowskich Niemiec w okupowanej Polsce (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 1979), 257, cited in Shmuel Krakowski, “Relations between Jews and Poles during the Holocaust: New and Old Approaches in Polish Historiography,” in Holocaust Literature, ed. Saul S. Friedman (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993), 205.
Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 2: 263.
Israel Gutman and Shmuel Krakowski, Unequal Victims: Poles and Jews during the Second World War (New York: Holocaust Publications, 1986), 246.
Helen Fein, Accounting for Genocide: National Responses and Jewish Victimization during the Holocaust (New York: Free Press, 1979).
Shmuel Krakowski, “The Slaughter of Polish Jewry—a Polish ‘Reassessment,’” Wiener Library Bulletin 28/29 (1972–1973): 13–14.
Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust (Danbury, Conn.: Franklin Watts, 1982), 284.
Elie Wiesel, “Eichmann's Victims and the Unheard Testimony,” Commentary 32 (December 1961): 511.
Rafael Scharf, “Janusz Korczak and His Time,” Jewish Quarterly (summer 1977), reprinted in R. Scharf, Poland, What Have I to Do with Thee …: Essays without Prejudice (London and Portland, Oreg.: Vallentine Mitchell, 1998), 128–129, italics added.
Lucy Dawidowicz, The Holocaust and the Historians (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), 92–93.
Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, 200–201.
Cited in Antony Polonsky, ed., “My Brother's Keeper?” Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust (London and New York: Routledge, 1990), 202.
It should be noted, however, that in the first years after the war, when Poles enjoyed relative freedom of expression, as well as during the period of the post-Stalinist thaw in the late 1950s, a few Polish intellectuals produced self-critical accounts of wartime Polish behavior. These included the works of Jerzy Andrzejewski, Zofia NaŁkowska, and Kazimierz Wyka.
Jerzy Turowicz, editor of the progressive Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, wrote in the 1950s: “In a very large part of Polish society [during the Second World War],


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Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath
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