Sower of hatred towards the Church
Jerzy Robert Nowak
Recently Rev. Prof. Waldemar Chrostowski wrote very accurate words about the attitudes of some Jewish environments that hampered the real dialogue between Jews and Christians (‘Ateneum’, issue 1/2011, p. 40). He meant some Jewish environments presenting ‘a pure political strategy supported by economic demands aiming at concrete benefits. Since these benefits can be bigger when the image of the Church and Christians become darker and dreary, so the demand of forgiveness transforms into yet another opportunity to disown Christianity and anyway, to convince all Jews that it is worth, and one should, entering in contacts with the Catholic Church only when it confirms the moral superiority of Jewishness and ensure Jews measurable profits.’ An especially aggressive and cynical representative of this strategy of some Jewish environments is Jan Tomasz Gross whom ten years ago the famous Jewish professor Norman Finkelstein called ‘a tool of the Holocaust industry’ aiming at conning a tribute amounting to 65 billion dollars out of Poland. Gross is a hardened, extremely fierce enemy of the Church and Christianity, a sower of hatred towards them. His attitude is clearly expressed in his last three most famous books entitled: Neighbours, Fear and Golden Harvest. In the first book Gross cynically slandered, falsifying the facts, the attitude of the Catholic clergy in Lomza, including Bishop Stanislaw Lukomski. In ‘Fear’ he shamelessly slandered all Polish clergy, going as far as to formulate the statement about ‘cannibalistic theology which controlled the minds of Polish clergy.’ In the English version of ‘Fear’ Gross wrote that actually the Church became a co-partner in the murderous attacks of Catholics against their Jewish neighbours.
Slandering the Metropolitan of Krakow Adam Sapieha
The slanderous attack on the Metropolitan of Krakow, Archbishop and then Cardinal Adam Sapieha, was especially vile. In ‘Fear’ Gross accused him of not intervening for the Jews. In spite of my refutation of this slander in the book ‘Nowe klamstwa Grossa’ [Gross’s New Lies] (Warsaw 2006, pp. 23-25), Gross cynically repeats his lie in his latest book entitled ‘Golden Harvest.’ On pp. 99-100 he writes, ‘Even Archbishop Adam Sapieha, especially respected for his proud attitude towards the occupant did not lodge any protest to Governor-General Hans Frank against the Nazi action of murdering Jews.’ Despite Gross’s slander Archbishop Sapieha openly pleaded with Governor Frank, which we know from some Jewish source. In 1940, in his book ‘Zaglada Zydow w Krakowie’ [The Jewish Holocaust in Krakow] (Krakow 1985, p. 38) the Jewish doctor, director of the Jewish infectious diseases ward in the Krakow Ghetto, Aleksander Biberstein wrote about Adam Sapieha’s intervention with the German authorities in favour of Jews. Unfortunately, the only reaction for this intervention was, as Biberstein writes (op. cit., p. 223), the arrest of three rabbis, who dared to ask the Metropolitan of Krakow for intervention, in the camp in Auschwitz. Seeing that his direct interventions with Hans Frank were completely unsuccessful Archbishop Sapieha focused on organising secret help for Jews in the region of Malopolska during the war and became its main organiser. Jerzy Slaski wrote about the significance of help organised by the Metropolitan of Krakow, ‘The example for clergy in this respect (help for Jews) was also the Metropolitan of Krakow Archbishop Adam Sapieha who appealed to Frank many times to stop terror against the Jewish people and when his appeals were in vain, he personally directed rescue actions. He provided Jews with certificates, entrusting this task to the diocesan clergy, opened the gates of monasteries for them, placed Jewish children in boarding schools and orphanages run by religious congregations. The right hand of the Archbishop was the known social activist and preacher Rev. Dr. Franciszek Machay […] in the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Krakow district of Zwierzyniec.’ Moreover, other authors including Prof. Jan Zaryn in his article published in the book ‘Wokol pogromu kieleckiego’ [Around the Kielce Pogrom] (Warszawa 2006, s. 82), write about the importance of help organised by Archbishop Adam Sapieha for the persecuted Jews. Another author is Tomasz Pawlikowski who wrote the book ‘Kardynal Sapieha’ [Cardinal Sapieha] (Warszawa 2004, pp. 82-86). How can we then explain Gross’s repetition of the above-mentioned vile slander concerning the behaviour of Archbishop Sapieha towards the Jews in ‘Golden Harvest’? Why is this slander against the Catholic hierarch supported by the Catholic Publishing House ‘Znak’ that Cardinal Sapieha himself had sponsored? In ‘Golden Harvest’ we have a large one-sided, distorted picture of the Catholic Church as allegedly guilty of abandoning help for the persecuted Jews (cf. pp. 52, 53, 96-102, 104, 105). The Grosses love placing the words ‘Churches’ and ‘Catholics’ only in negative contexts. On p. 11 of the script of ‘Golden Harvest’ the Grosses write about ‘obscurant anti-Semitism of Christian Churches’. On p. 52 we can read, ‘when the local fathers of families and pious Catholics satisfied themselves by raping women, when they plundered everything…’ On p. 96 we can read, ‘The murderers of the Jews in Jedwabne were their Polish neighbours, Catholics.’ It is not known where from Gross takes the alleged relationships between catholicity and murderers of Jews in Jedwabne. In ‘Najwyzszy czas’ of 22 January 2011, the historian Tadeusz M. Pluzanski writes about numerous witnesses stressing ‘German perpetration’ and ‘responsibility’ for the massacre in Jedwabne. Rabin Jacon Baker, who had lived in Jedwabne before the war, and then moved to the USA, spoke about the massacre, ‘Most citizens of Jedwabne did not participate in this. Only a group of degenerates and hooligans from the neighbouring villages…’ Why does Gross expose this ‘group of degenerates’ as Catholics? Why did Gross omit the testimony of Rabbi Baker as it did not suit the theses of his books? Let me remind you here that the person who saved the biggest number of Jews from Jedwabne (seven) ‘was motivated by his deep Catholic faith’ (see the text of Prof. Michal Głowinski, Wprost, 16 January 2011). Prof. Glowinski, as a Jewish child rescued by Poles during the war, strongly opposed Gross’s statement that ‘the most important role in the plot of silence and co-participation through consent in the crimes of the Holocaust falls on the Polish Church.’ He said, ‘I would never agree to that. […] There was a beautiful chapter of the Polish Church, especially nuns who decided for humanitarian actions risking everything. Irena Sendlerowa, whom I knew very well, very often spoke about her perfect collaboration with numerous religious people…’ The generalisations of the Gross’s lampoon slandering all Polish Catholics, and first of all those priests and laymen who were murdered for their help for Jews, were especially outrageous. The Grosses wrote (p. 105), ‘During the occupation an accidentally encountered Pole-Catholic could pass by, not paying any attention to a Jew; could signal his readiness to help in some form; or on the contrary, could manifest some form of aggression towards a Jew. The recollections of the Jews who survived show that the range of behaviours in this situation oscillated between indifference and aggression and not between indifference and readiness to help.’
Texts of honest Jews refute Gross’s lies
The honest Jewish authors evaluated the behaviours of Poles-Catholics very differently. I want to mention the research of the Jewish scientist, sociologist living in the USA, Prof. Nechama Tec. Analysing the psychological picture of people who rescued Jews in Poland during the occupation Nechama Tec concluded that they were mainly people from Christian circles, known for their good deeds (quoted from A. Zieba, Wizerunek [Image] in Przeglad Tygodniowy of 12 December 1993). We could mention many testimonies of honest Jews, showing the meaning of true, strong Christian faith and the commandment of love of neighbour fulfilled by those – so numerous – Polish Catholics who risking their lives saved Jews. For example, it is worth recommending the wonderful and moving recollections of the outstanding mathematician of Jewish background Stefan Chaskielewicz, ‘Ukrywalem sie w Warszawie. Styczen 1943 – styczen 1945’ [I was hiding in Warsaw. January 1943 – January 1945], (Krakow 1988). On page 171 of his memoirs Chaskielewicz wrote, ‘Hiding I understood how deeply humanitarian the role of religion is, how much the teachings of the Catholic Church influence the formation of what is most beautiful and noblest in believers. Like in critical moments even most non-believers ask fervently God for help, like the thought of God dictates them the need to help their neighbours who are in danger.’ In another fragment (p. 186) Chaskielewicz wrote, ‘A separate chapter, in general relatively better known, was the beautiful attitude of the Catholic clergy, especially religious sisters who saved a considerable number of Jewish children.’ Let me remind you what was written on the topic of help offered to Jews by religious congregations in the source book entitled ‘Ten jest z Ojczyzny mojej’ [The One Is from My Homeland] (pp. 64 and 139) by Wladyslaw Bartoszewski and Zofia Lewinowna, ‘In the territory of Poland there was hardly a religious congregation during the occupation that did not offer some form of help to hiding Jews, mainly women and children although the pressure of the Gestapo and surveillance of monasteries were very strong, and the obligatory resettlement of religious houses, arrests and transports to concentration camps seriously hampered the underground activities […]. In his diary, on 31 December 1940 – 5 January 1941 Emanuel Ringelblum noted that in all churches in Warsaw priests admonished the faithful to forget about their prejudices towards Jews and avoid the poison of hatred that the common enemy – Germans – was dripping.
Gross – continuator of the ‘tradition’ of Bolshevik ‘Bezboznik’
Gross’s book, so scrupulously slandering the Catholic Church, does not mention anything about the help of the clergy for Jews or their clergymen’s compassion for the Jewish fate. And such distortion of the truth does not bother the publisher of ‘Golden Harvest’ the Catholic Publishing House ‘Znak.’ But Gross uses every occasion, whenever he can, to slug with fury Poles-Catholics, like in his interview given to Waldemar Piasecki from Radio RMF FM, saying, ‘Poles and Catholics murdered Jews universally in the territory of the whole country.’
It is hard to reject the opinion of the researcher from the Institute of National Remembrance, the editor-in-chief of the historical quarterly ‘Glaukopis,’ Dr. Wojciech Muszynski who in his interview for ‘Nasz Dziennik’ of 8-9 January 2011 said, ‘The Catholic Church constitutes for Gross a kind of obsessive personification of evil. He projects priests according to the best traditions of the Bolshevik paper «Bezboznik» [Atheist]. One can naturally mention here a long list of merits of priests and orders in the action of rescuing Jews, which is rather known in Poland but obviously not known in the West […]. One can only wonder why publishers agree to publish these kinds of contents in the book issued by a publishing house having the term ‘Catholic’ in its name.’ And naturally, one can understand in no way why ‘Znak’ decided to publish the book that slanders the Church and Poles on such a monstrous scale.
British columnist about the extraordinary courage of the Catholic Church
It is a pity that the editors of ‘Znak’ cannot appreciate in the history of the Church in Poland what the reliable foreigners could, I mean the excellent British expert in Polish issues, Stewart Steven who in his famous book ‘The Poles’ (New York 1982) wrote on pp 318-319, ‘The Church behaved with extraordinary courage despite the fact that nuns and priests were not free from persecutions by the authorities. It was established that every monastery in Poland tended to the Jews in their surroundings, hiding thousands of people, mainly women and children […]. Individual acts of heroism of the Polish clergy are too many to be enumerated here. Fr Andrzej Gdowski from Vilnius did not only hide Jews in his church but also made his room, properly secretive, available for them to be used as their synagogue. Fr Urbanowicz from Brzesc on the Bug River was shot in 1953 by the Germans for helping Jews. The rector of the Theological Academy in Warsaw was sent for the same «crime» to the concentration camp to Majdanek where he died under torture in October 1943. The dean of the parish in Grodno and the prior of the Franciscan order were shot for helping Jews.’