ABOUT FALSIFYING HISTORY
FR. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We are outraged with the words of the FBI director James Comey who, in his speech on the occasion of the Remembrance Day about Holocaust, stated that crimes towards Jews during the Second World War are allegedly responsibility of the Germans, Poles and the Hungarians. The ambassador of the USA Stephen Mull was asked to arrive in the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw, to whom a protest against this slanderous statement of the politician was submitted. The ambassador stated definitely that Comey’s statement was not an attitude of the American government. The Polish party demanded apology with a clear definition of real culprits of Holocaust.
We must not allow for falsifying history
In relation to it there appears a question: does the Polish party care about our good name sufficiently? We still remember such native films, as ‘The aftermath’ or ‘Ida’ – recently awarded by the American Movie Academy as the best non-English movie. They falsify the image of Poles, showing us as anti-Semites. Our allegations meet the same answer all the time: we must not restrict the freedom of creators, that these are works of art, not historical documents. And what to say about the German film ‘Our mothers, our fathers’ recently broadcast on TV, which deliberately blurs the historical truth? What is interesting, is the fact that in the USA there is quite an explicit opinion about Polish anti-Semitism and we must still demand correcting the opinion and apologies. St. John Paul II somehow solved this situation, whose friendship with Jews was and is known all over the world, and thanks to whom slanders aimed against Poles were somehow reduced.
The problem of the ‘Polish anti-Semitism’ is the so-called a substitute problem. As we know from history, the purpose of the Third Reich was mainly destroying the Jewish nation. The thought about the extermination appeared in the bosom of National-Socialist Labour German Party, the heart of the German regime. The fact is that the area of Poland was inhabited by Jews who were an enormous percentage of the population in our cities. Normal, friendly relations were disturbed by conflicts which were caused on the basis of commercial competition. There was no chauvinist look at Jews among us, it was an ordinary human rivalry on the ground of goods trade. Among Jews there were sometimes some abnormalities, among the others, when Soviet armies were entering Poland, Jews showed their national difference from us in an unpleasant way for us. Poles had a lot of grudge because of such a behavior, but when there were persecutions, Poles took the Jews’ side. Here there were a great role of the Polish Church – priests, monks and nuns who were fervent defenders of the Jewish nation. And we must know that there were the most cruel punishments from the invader, for helping Jews in Poland - whole families were murdered for it. A symbolic example is the family of the Ulmy from Markowa near Łańcut: for hiding two Jewish families, the Ulmy couple were murdered (the woman was in a advanced pregnancy) as well as their six children. There were a lot of such situations, and it is best proven by the garden Yad Vash in Jerusalem where among many nationalities, there are most Polish surnames of Poles saving Jews’ lives.
Let’s save a good remembrance about us
Recently I have looked at a rich documentation prepared by a group of Fr. Prof. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik and his brother Artur, the chairperson of the Foundation the Just People for the World. It includes hundreds of Poles’ surnames who gave their surnames to the foundation, responding to the appeal of Radio Maryja and are ready to give a testimony how Poles gave help to persecuted Jews. The works undertaken by the brothers Rytel-Andrianik are extremely important for the issue of understanding in Polish-Jewish relations. This documentation is an evidence how the Polish-Jewish thread really looked like during the war. People bringing help are elderly people today, and the foundation often received a phone call that somebody who was to give a testimony had died. The foundation registers all testimonies and its actions deserve our attention and help. This enormous work of many people, demanding also financial means: it is necessary to go to indicated addresses, meet with witnesses, make photographic-film documentation, make recordings, which requires time, intellectual effort and devotion. Therefore I admire this work for the foundation and I consider it as a work of great significance for history. Undoubtedly, the Radio Maryja contributed to the raising interest in this matter, which has made its time and programmes available for it. The surnames of the Just People are going to be in the Chapel of Remembrance in the Church of Mary the Star of New Evangelization and St. John Paul II, being built in Toruń.
We are joined together by our common fate
The issues which we have been registering recently, and which has shocked the Polish public opinion, tells us to undertake definite efforts for a proper opinion about the Polish nation, the strongly undermined opinion, especially in America but also in many other countries of the world. We must make not only a protest but even a cry against harm done to the good name of Poles. Because, to the irony, we are a nation, which used to be friendly to Jews – therefore there were so many of them in our country. Certainly, in every nation there were and are traitors but, indeed, these are very few exceptions towards those who brought help to Jews when exposing their and their families’ lives. Similarly, we also should do everything in order to clear the image of pope Pius XII who saved many Jews through his diplomatic actions and who deserves respect for it from the whole world.
And, returning to the last event – it is good that the governing party in Poland has reacted definitely in defence of our good name. It is unimaginable what history lessons about the Second World War would look like, if there had not been such protests…
And one more word about this issue from autopsy. A few years ago, Arturo Dreifinger, a Polish Jew, arrived in Częstochowa from Argentina, in order to thank Fr. Antoni Marchewka, who had used to be a journalist for ‘Niedziela’, that he had saved him life during the war occupation. He reminisced the time with tears, when he had been taken as a little boy under the care of Fr. Marchewka. He admitted that he had not arrived earlier because his Jewish parents had not wished to reminisce that time and persecutions. Only after their death did he feel obliged to give a testimony about Poles, that they are not anti-Semites, that the Polish priest in Częstochowa had saved his life. The talk with Arturo Dreifinger was registered on pages of ‘Niedziela’. (no 46/2006).