Anti-Polish ‘Golden Harvest’
Jerzy Robert Nowak
Several months before being published the libellous book by Irena Grudzinska-Gross and Jan Tomasz Gross entitled ‘Golden Harvest’ has been promoted on a large scale by the influential Polish media (TVN, public television, e.g. in the programme of Tomasz Lis, the papers Wprost and Gazeta Wyborcza, Tygodnik Powszechny). It has already been announced that the book will be translated into several languages. The wave of panegyrical excitement in the Polish media about the book written without any imaginativeness and often boring must be shocking. Journalists, out of ignorance, dullness or rooted Polish prejudices, praise the lampoon, which is full of disgraceful imputation about Poland and Poles, not containing any single positive opinion about our behaviour during the war. In the Grosses’ book the Polish people were poured over by black gunge of calumny and slander. Gross beats all his previous books in getting at Poles; now he literarily goes all the way…
Poles as ‘nation of murderers’
In ‘Golden Harvest’ Poles are accused, without any evidence besides fabricated presumptions of Gross, of murdering 100,000-200,000 Jews during the war. In the interview Gross gave in Lis’s programme on 3 January 2011 (TVP 2) it turned out that Gross forgot himself how far he went in his lies and there was real discredit. When Lis reminded him that the Grosses had written about several hundred thousand Jews allegedly killed by Poles, Gross corrected him saying that he had written about only several thousand Jews. During the discussion it was, however, proved that the book (pp. 39-40) stated that Poles allegedly murdered ‘between one hundred and two hundred Jews.’ Asked on what basis he wrote that statement Gross referred mainly to the famous chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto Emanuel Ringelblum, blaming the Polish Navy-Blue Police for the alleged killing of ‘several dozen thousand Jews.’ But the presumption of Ringelblum was based on suppositions and not concrete facts! In ‘Rzeczpospolita’ (8-9 January 2011) Piotr Gontarczyk, a historian working in the Institute of National Remembrance, wrote that Ringelblum had been hiding in Warsaw and ‘had no possibility to make research […] His book on the Polish-Jewish relationships is of little value. Since to a large extent it consists of unverified and untrue information.’ Prof. Andrzej Zbikowski, a historian from the Jewish Historical Institute, was very critical about Ringelblum’s book. In his interview for ‘Polityka’ on 22 January 2011 he said that Ringelblum’s book ‘could not be prepared on solid scientific basis for obvious reasons and one should look critically at many of its statements.’
But for Gross the statement of Ringelblum was enough to present it as the main cause of the anti-Polish slanders. One should add that Ringelblum, contrary to Gross, gave many examples of good behaviours of Poles towards Jews, examples of various reactions of the heart (cf. E. Ringelblum, ‘Kronika getta warszawskiego’ [The Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto], Warszawa 1988, pp. 227, 252, 304, 312, 479).
There are good and evil people, gentlemen and rascals in each nation. The Grosses are ‘pioneers’ of rejecting this objective view, presenting a completely dark picture of the Polish nation that embraces only criminals and the plebs… Nobody negates that the cases of Poles grabbing in the vicinity of Tremblinka, which Gross gave in his book, were true. But the Grosses constantly generalise marginal facts to form accusations against the whole Polish nation as if somebody accused the whole Jewish people of the extreme bestiality of the Jewish police, about which Ringelblum wrote, ‘The cruelty of the Jewish police was very often bigger that the cruelty of the Germans, Ukrainians and Latvians’ (op. cit, p. 427). In the Grosses’ lampoon the whole Polish nation was consistently accused, ‘And we begin to understand that the norm of behaviour in the Polish society […] was to trace and find hiding Jews […], and not carrying help to the persecuted Jews’ (p. 104 of the unpublished copy). In some other place we read, ‘The quoted relations lead to the conclusion that murdering Jews during the occupation was a public matter, a subject of interest of all people’ (p. 45). On page 108 of the Grosses’ lampoon there is no single sentence, and even a single word, about the martylology or heroism of some Poles. We keep reading about the Poles’ blood-thirst and greed and their grabbing Jewish properties, and even the post-German properties (pp. 77-78) whereas there is no single word about the Germans or Soviets grabbing Polish properties.
Slander against the Catholic Church
The authors have attacked the Catholic Church in Poland many times, writing that ‘The Catholic Church is the Great Absent of the Polish Jews’ Holocaust’ (p. 98). The Grosses quote the extreme generalisation of another author, ‘It is sad that the most important role in the plot of silence and co-participation, through consent, in these crimes sensu largo, of course, falls on the Polish Church’ (p. 98). In the relatively short book the Catholic Church was flogged fully on six pages (97-102) and partly on pages 8, 11, 49, 52, 53, 96, 103, 104, 107. And there is no single mention about the role of the Church in rescuing Jews, hiding them in numerous monasteries, about many priests murdered for helping Jews (I am going to write about it in a larger essay). It is only in two places, in half sentences, that the Grosses graciously admitted that there ‘were exceptions’ to the passive attitudes of the Polish priests towards the extermination of Jews. Writing about the alleged ‘lack of reactions of Catholic priests to the genocide that was happening exactly at the place they fulfilled their pastoral service,’ the Grosses admit, ‘naturally, there were exceptions from this rule’ (p.99). And in another fragment the Grosses, writing about ‘the unanimous silence of the Catholic clergy about the martyrdom of the Jewish nation,’ they nobly admit, ‘Naturally there were particular priests who behaved differently.’
Anti-Polish racism of the Grosses
The meanest part of the Grosses’ lampoon is the racist attacks on the Polish peasants. How vilely it was to use on the final page (108) the mean generalisation about the alleged behaviour of all Polish peasants, ‘And if one asked the question what a Swiss banker and a Polish peasant have in common – besides being human and having immortal souls – the answer, only slightly stylised, would sound: a golden tooth extracted from the jaws of some Jewish corpse.’ According to ‘Tygodnik Powszechny’ (no 1, 2011), the director of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Piotr Cywinski, recognised that as racist. Similar vile generalisations about the behaviours of the Polish villagers and peasants occur literarily everywhere in the Grosses’ lampoon. At the same time there is no single sentence about the terrible price many peasants’ families paid (taking the example of the Ulms who were murdered by the Germans). Again I will return to this matter in a separate article. However, I am curious whether the leaders of the Polish Peasants’ party will give their opinion about this unfair and vile accusation of the Polish peasants in the lampoon of the Grosses, which is to be translated into many foreign languages…
The mean comparison, made by the Grosses, of the alleged criminal behaviour of ‘all’ Polish peasants to the genocidal actions in Rwanda grows to a real dreary grotesque. Dr. Wojciech Muszynski, the editor-in-chief of the historical quarterly ‘Glaukopis’ who works in the Institute of National Remembrance, evaluated the falsity of the Grosses’ comparison in ‘Nasz Dziennik’ (no. 8-9 January 2011), ‘Comparing the Polish country to Rwanda, i.e. to genocide known very well by contemporary Polish readers, is an interesting stylistic technique. On several levels. Namely, it enables a complete blurring in the readers’ consciousness the most important matter: that the events he writes about took place during the German occupation. In Rwanda there was no occupation, it was a free country – some day neighbours killed neighbours with machetes […] Another thing is the scale: in Rwanda one million people were killed whereas in the Polish villages, as now Gross speaks himself, several thousand people. But in the readers’ sub-consciousness the Rwandan million of killed people lying in the streets will be associated with the Polish villages. It would be enough to show scenes of that African holocaust on television […] And thus the Polish peasants, who, let me remind you, in the 1940s constituted ca. 70% of all Poles, become the same primitive bandits as the Hotu armed gangs. And the information included in the subliminal message of Gross is banally simple: Poland and her inhabitants are savages, some kind of complete subpeople (bolded by J.R.N.). Considering that the book was written for English-speaking readers who do not know Poland, I highly evaluate the effectiveness of this kind of propaganda.’ We have other promoters of similar condemnations of Poles as a nation. As ‘Polish representative of US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington’ there is some Alina Skubinska (her scientific degree is unknown) who answering to the remark of the journalist P. Zychowicz that Gross’s book ‘presents Poles as a savage tribe of anti-Semitists that is co-responsible for the Holocaust,’ stated, ‘I am afraid that I must agree with Gross’ (quoted after ‘Rzeczpospolita’ issued on 12 January 2007). How can one evaluate the fact that a person having such insulting views on the Polish nation is ‘Polish representative of US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington’?…
Will ‘Znak’ draw conclusions?
I hope that reading my remarks the Publishing House ‘Znak’ will realise what risky and harmful argument they are dealing with, promoting the anti-Polish and anti-Catholic lampoon of the Grosses. The publishers still have the chance to give up this disgraceful intention or to demand the Grosses to make deep changes so that the book will be closer to the truth about the war times although it would be extremely difficult. Otherwise the Publishing House must take into account fatal consequences of their undertaking. The leadership of the Association ‘Movement of National Change’ is considering to sue the Chairman of ‘Znak’ for ‘humiliating the Polish nation’ if he decides to publish these terrible imputations and deformations included in the script of ‘Golden Harvest’ in its unchanged form.