Everybody, it seems, hates genocide. But not everybody owns up to it.
FBI Director James Comey recently found this out firsthand.
On April 16, he published an Opinion piece in the Washington Post: “Why I Require FBI Agents to Visit the Holocaust Museum.”
It was the following paragraphs that touched off an international uproar:
“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil.
“They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.”
On April 19–three days after the editorial appeared–Poland’s Foreign Ministry urgently summoned Stephen Mull, the U.S. Ambassador to Warsaw, to “protest and demand an apology.”
The reason: The FBI director had dared to say that Poles were accomplices in the Holocaust!
Poland’s ambassador to the United States said in a statement the remarks were “unacceptable.”
And he added that he had sent a letter to Comey “protesting the falsification of history, especially…accusing Poles of perpetuating crimes which not only they did not commit, but which they themselves were victims of.”
But at least one Polish citizen was not offended by Comey’s editorial.
Jan Grabowski 50, is a graduate of Warsaw University and is currently a history professor at University of Ottawa. He is also the son of a Holocaust survivor.
He has suffered death threats, is boycotted in the Canadian Polish community where he lives today, and is not always welcome even in his homeland.
But he will not be intimidated from speaking and writing the truth about those in Poland who enthusiastically collaborated with Nazis to slaughter Jews during World War II.
Over the years, he has published several books on this subject. And his latest one is certain to outrage many of his countrymen.
His new book, Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland, was published in October, 2014.
“I tried to understand how only very few of those Jews who decided to hide were able to stay alive until 1945,” said Grabowski in an interview with The Times of Israel.
“The purpose of my research was to discover the condition of the Jews who managed to avoid being sent to death camps and chose to live in hiding. My research brought me to the level of individual cases of people who chose to hide.
It took Grabowski more than three years to research and write his book. He interviewed Holocaust survivors and local residents, primarily in Poland, Israel and Germany.
“It is more complicated than just blaming the Poles for betraying their Jewish neighbors,” Grabowski.
“On the one hand there were extraordinarily brave Poles who risked their lives to save Jews, and on the other hand there was no great love between Poles and Jews before World War II.
“During the war these relationships became even more hostile. A large segment of the Polish population was displeased with their neighbors’ help to the Jews during the war, and for many it seemed even as an unpatriotic step.
“Therefore, some segments of the Polish population took an active part in the hunt for the Jews, and that is what the new book deals with.”
Ironically, even as many Poles aided the Germans in shipping Jews to extermination camps, the Nazis were turning Poland into a graveyard for non-Jewish Poles.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library:
“Of the 11 million people killed during the Holocaust, six million were Polish citizens. Three million were Polish Jews and another three million were Polish Christians.”
Many Poles still refuse to face up to the ugly truth about the collaboration of so many of their countrymen with the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
It’s a role often played by nations that don’t want to acknowledge their past criminality.
During the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Russian judges representing the Soviet Union successfully lobbied to conceal a vital historical truth.
While they readily charged Nazi Germany with aggressively invading Poland on September 1, 1939, they balked at admitting the role the Soviet Union had played in this.
In late August, 1939, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had negotiated a “non-aggression pact” with Adolf Hitler.
But a secret protocol of that agreement dictated that Germany could conquer only the western half of Poland. The eastern half of that country would be occupied by the Red Army.
Similarly, the Katyn massacre remained–until recently–one of the great mysteries of World War II.
The Nazis announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest of Poland in 1943. The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000.
Of these, about 8,000 were officers taken prisoner after the Soviet invasion. Another 6,000 were police officers, and the rest were members of the intelligentsia.
NKVD secret police
The USSR blamed the Nazis, and denied responsibility for the massacres until 1990.
The executioners belonged to the NKVD, the Soviet secret police (later renamed the KGB).
Its chief, Lavrenty Beria, urged the execution of all captive members of the Polish Officer Corps. And Stalin had approved.
As long as politicians’ fragile egos are at stake, genocide will continue to be a matter of state policy–and a disowned one.