How does Mr Gross slander the Poles

Jerzy Robert Nowak

It is 25 years ago that Jan Tomasz Gross initiated his activities to slander Poland’s history. It was exactly in the year 1979 that he showed his tendency to expose above all the martylology of the Jews at the cost of the simultaneous maximum reduction of the Polish martylology and Polish heroism. He did it in his book entitled ‘Polish Society Under German Occupation: the Generalgouvernement, 1939-1944’, published in Princeton, USA, in 1979. Gross wrote his book for American readers who generally do not know the Polish history of World War II. Knowing that Gross made more efforts to convince Americans that the activities of the Polish conspiracy were not risky at all, on the contrary that their activities were conducted in the conditions of amazing freedom. The climax of those lies was Gross’s statement that paradoxically Poles enjoyed greater freedom in the period of 1939-1944 than throughout the whole century. Gross thought that it could be righted assumed that the multiplication of underground organizations and abundance of conspiracy initiatives were due to, to a considerable extent, the political freedom in the Generalgouvenment during the war. He continued that it was hard to assume that the underground organizations could have originated and existed in such quantities if it had been otherwise (Cf. J. Gross, ‘Polish Society Under German Occupation: the Generalgouvernement, 1939-1944’, Princeton 1979, p. 240).

Cynical impostor

Consequently, one can describe Poland during the war as ‘a real idyll under the reign of Hans Frank.’ It happened so that thanks to that German freedom my father was killed like several million Poles. Reading such statements of Gross I had to admit that we did not deal with a true scientist but with a cynical impostor and forger of history. Stefan Korbonski, one of the commanders of the Polish Underground State (the Government Delegate at Home), was the first who exposed the anti-Polish meaning of the above-mentioned book. In his article published in ‘Zeszyty Historyczne’ connected with ‘Kultura’ in Paris, Korbonski stigmatised Gross for his various lies. He polemicized against Gross’s accusing the entire Polish society of anti-Semitism and indifference towards the extermination of Jews. Summering his critical remarks Korbonski wrote that Professor Gross ‘joined the circle of the American authors who thought that their main duty was to blame the American nation for what it did not do.’ Korbonski also criticised the ‘writing’ of Gross in his book ‘The Jews and Poles in World War II’, published in New York in 1989. Korbonski counted Gross among those Polish immigrants in the USA who concluded that accusing Poles of anti-Semitism, and even of collaboration with the Nazis, would ‘bring them personal benefits.’ (Based on the Polish edition of the above-mentioned book by S. Korbonski ‘Polacy, Zydzi i Holocaust’, Warszawa-Komorow 1999, pp. 105-106 and 111). It is worth adding that nobody has spoken about that before me. Namely, one of the first people who quickly and thoroughly ‘got to know’ Gross was Jerzy Giedroyc, the editor-in-chief of ‘Kultura’, the man whom nobody could suspect of anti-Jewish prejudices. On 3 April 1981, Giedroys wrote in his letter to Jan Nowak-Jezioranski that Gross and his wife were people ‘stuffed with complexes’ and their ‘university’ lectures were met with the most critical opinions in the homeland (outside the circle of their friends) (cf. J. Nowak-Jezioranski, J. Giedroyc, Listy 1952-1998, [Letters 1952-1998], Wroclaw 2001, p. 566).

Anti-Polish intentions

When ‘Upiorna dekada’ (1998) and ‘Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland’ (2000) were published a considerable part of the critics of Gross’s writings focused on his extreme partiality, obvious falsifications and fatal gaps in his scientific technique. We can quote the reviews of many significant authors, commencing with the famous scientists of the Polish immigrants’ community I.C. Pogonowski and Professor M. K. Dziewanowski as well as the most outstanding American researcher of Polish history Professor R. C. Lukas and Professor T. Strzembosz, Rev. Professor W. Chrostowski, Dr D. Kacnelson, and the German scientist Dr B. Musial. One of the first people who perfectly revealed the anti-Polish intentions of Gross was the eminent Polish American scientist Professor Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski who writing in the renown Krakow’s ‘Arcany’ (issue 5, 1998) showed clearly, calling a spade a spade, that ‘the real aim of Gross is to create myths about the participation of the Polish nation in the Jewish Holocaust.’ ‘It is easier to claim damages from the guilty than from the co-victims ... Gross’s propaganda helps the extreme Jewish groups in their attempts to force the Polish government to pay exorbitant sums to them for the crimes the Germans, the Soviets and ordinary criminals had committed in Poland.’ It is worth reminding that even in ‘Tygodnik Powszechny’, which Gross had praised for years, there were true and very critical opinions concerning Gross in the interview given by Professor Tomasz Szarota. Among other things he said, ‘Gross ... has no professional preparation to write a historical work that will fulfil the requirements of this discipline. He is a sociologist and he has never learnt the technique of a historian; he has not learnt to look for the sources and to evaluate them. But he interprets our, i.e. historians’, accusations and critical remarks as an expression of anti-Semitism that has been rooted in Poland’ (Tygodnik Powszechny, 28 April 2002). I revealed in detail Gross’s lies in a series of articles on the pages of ‘Niedziela’ in 2001 and then in my book entitled ‘Sto klamstw Grossa’ [The Hundred Lies of Gross].
The famous feature-writer of the Polish immigrants’ community Karol Zbyszewski wrote, ‘the more stupid some Jew is the more anti-Semitist signs he sees everywhere.’ In the case of Gross who writes so many nonsenses about ‘Polish anti-Semitism’ we do not deal with stupidity. We simply deal with a cynical impostor who has realized that he can earn much by attacking Poles in the name of ‘the Holocaust industry’ and he uses occasions in a cynical way. In the year 2001 the famous Jewish American scientist Professor Norman Finkelstein unmasked those tendencies of Gross in his book ‘The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering’ (Polish translation, Warsaw 2001, p. 198), ‘With Gross’s blessing ‘Neighbours’ became another weapon of the Holocaust industry’ of his intention to plunder Poland.’

Gross’s new lies

A specific top ‘achievement’ of Gross, concerning publicising his phobias that prey on Poles, was his book ‘Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz’, published in New York in 2006. I wrote about the various numerous slanders included in Gross’s book in a series of 21 articles on the pages of ‘Nasz Dziennik’ and in my over 300-page book ‘Nowe klamstwa Grossa’ (Warszawa, 2006). In his lampoon ‘Fear’ Gross accused a big part of the Polish nation of evil behaviour during the war. He accused Poles of being generally – because of their alleged ‘anti-Semitism’ – completely unable to show any compassion for the Jews who were killed and unable to rescue them, and he even accused them of zealously participating in their massacre together with the Nazi Germans. He accused Poles of mass murders of the Jews during the war in order to seize their properties. And after the war, according to Gross, Poles continued the German massacre of the Jews, the main reason being that they did not want to give the Jewish possessions back. Gross went the whole way in his anti-Polish generalisations. In the American edition of ‘Fear’ (p. 256) he wrote about the murderous inclinations of Poles as a nation, inclinations to which no Pole became resistant. Gross wrote that the Polish Jews scared people very much and were dangerous not because of what they did and could do for Poles but because of what Poles did for the Jews – common involvement in killing and robbing the Jews revealed in every society, where attacks and robberies took place, an inclination to murderous violence to which as a rule nobody was immune. In his book ‘Fear’ (p. 252) Gross wrote that pillaging the Jews was a socially accepted norm in Poland. Gross repeated several times his slanders about the alleged widely spread plot of Poles that was connected with the plunder and eventual massacre of the Jews made by the Nazis (cf. ‘Fear’, p. XVI, p. 14). Gross also wrote that the Polish society was as if completely unable to mourn over the deaths of their Jewish neighbours (pp. 247-248). Such slanderous generalizations were accompanied by conscious falsification of concrete facts, for example Gross presented Poles as truly ‘moral monsters’, multiplying lies about their alleged extremely negative attitude towards the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto (pp. 171-173). Gross showed that Poles enjoyed the tragedy of the Jews who died in the burning Ghetto, shouting that ‘cutlets made of Jews are fried’. I criticized the disgusting lies of the picture Gross depicted, showing in ‘Nowe klamstwa Grossa’ (pp. 51-55) very important Jewish testimonies (including the chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto Ludwik Landau), which prove that in spite of Gross’s lies a majority of Poles showed sympathy for the Jews fighting in the Ghetto. Gross focused on the picture of the pogrom against the Polish Jews in Kielce in July of 1946. In many parts of his book he tried to blur the truth about the character and doers of that crime – the Soviet and Polish secret police that prepared the murderous attack against the Jews in Kielce in order to turn the attention of the world from the terrible falsification of the results of the referendum that had taken place in Poland several days before. On the wrapper of the American edition of ‘Fear’ Gross wrote one of his most impudent lies: the claim that the ‘pogrom’ in Kielce was the bloodiest European pogrom in the time of peace in the 20th century. Gross repeated that horrible falsification on p. 156 of his book. But during the four-day pogrom in Odessa, Russia, in 1905 over 400 Jews were murdered, so it was over 10 times more. In the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, 45 Jews were killed, 600 were wounded and 1,500 Jewish houses were plundered. During the pogrom in 1938, the Crystal Night, the Germans killed 91 Jews. In order to emphasize the character of the Kielce massacre in 1946 as an alleged spontaneous outburst of wide Polish anti-Semitism Gross blames the alleged ‘pogrom’ accompanied by several thousand people for that crime. In fact, as it was proved in the research conducted by the Institute of National Remembrance, the crowd that gathered before the building where the Jews were attacked did not count more than 500 people.

Paradise for Jews

Among the most horrible lies in ‘Fear’ one should mention the slanderous generalisation on page 164, that the Jews were allegedly oppressed by their Polish neighbours throughout ages but especially during the Nazi occupation. That calumny of Gross is especially outrageous in the light of the fact that throughout centuries Poland was the only shelter for the Jews who had persecuted and expelled from other European countries. It is no by accident that in the nineteenth century Great French Encyclopaedia Poland was called ‘paradicus Judeorum’ (paradise for the Jews). We ‘oppressed the Jews’ so much that the famous Jewish thinker Rabbi Moses Isserless from Krakow wrote in the 16th century, ‘If God did not give us this country as shelter Jews’ fate would be unbearable.’ We ‘persecuted the Jews’ so much that in the 19th century four fifths of the total Jewish population lived in the territory of the Commonwealth of Both Nations (based on ‘God’s Playground’ by Professor Norman Davis). It would have appeared that the Jews had been special masochists if so many of them found shelter in the territory of the Commonwealth of Both Nations where they were allegedly persecuted. Let us add that the contemporary Jewish historian Barnett Litvinoff evaluated in his monumental work ‘The Burning Bush. Anti-Semitism and World History’ (London 1988, p. 90) that presumably Poland saved Jews from total extermination (in the period of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance). In this background one must regard the slander about the Poles ‘oppressing the Jews throughout ages’, which Gross told Americans who do not know Europe’s history completely, as an example of extraordinary wickedness of the impostor from America.

"Niedziela" 5/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • Translation: Aneta Amrozik • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl