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

By Joshua D. Zimmerman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
The Attitude of the Polish
Underground to the Jewish Question
during the Second World War
SHMUEL KRAKOWSKI

In the following essay I shall not repeat what I have myself written on more than several occasions. 1 Nor do I think the time is ripe for presenting final conclusions. I shall rather limit myself to presenting general features concerning the subject and devote somewhat more space to one specific problem, which has been, in my opinion, neglected by most historians: the attitude of the Polish underground toward the fugitives from the ghettos and camps.

The attitude of the Polish underground to the Jewish population exterminated by the Nazis on Polish soil is a very complicated Holocaust subject. We have to consider here the multiform structure of the Polish underground during the Second World War. The main Polish underground political movements were those subordinated to the Polish government-in-exile in London and to the body acting in the occupied country, the Delegatura. The Delegatura was composed of different parties, the biggest and most important being the Peasant Party (Stronnictwo Ludowe), the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), the right-wing National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe), and the Labor Party (Stronnictwo Pracy). Their armed organization was the Home Army.

In opposition to the Delegatura were the extreme right-wing organizations connected to the National Armed Forces, part of which eventually joined the Home Army. The left opposition consisted mainly of the Polish Worker's Party (Polska Partia Robotnicza). The attitude of those different parties and movements toward the Jewish population was largely influenced by prewar ideologies and opinions and habits of leading personalities, which seldom changed under the impact of events.

-97-

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