Monday, 16 November 2015

Polish Anti-Refugee Demonstrator Burns an Effigy of an "EU Jew" at Wroclaw Protest

© Agencja Gazeta / Wojciech Nekanda Trepka
 I do not expect many people would expect to see signs of intelligence exhibited by anyone who today belongs to a neo-fascist or extremist nationalist group. There is no reason to expect anything different from the nationalists who marched in Wrocław Poland on November 18, 2015. Worried by the number of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa flowing into the EU and moving across unguarded borders,  they were protesting about stopping it. These people obviously feel that their national culture (and thus their own identity) would in some way be threatened with imminent "Islamistion" if Moslems were allowed to live on Poland's sacred soil. The protest was organised by the National Radical Camp (ONR) and All-Polish Youth (MWP), participants shouted out chants such as "Not Islamic, not secular, but Polish Catholic!", "Poland free from Islam" and "Islam out of the Polish party ". A big banner was displayed: "Idą tu by zmienić nasz świat, zniszczyć, spalić i gwałcić to co nasze" ("They are coming here to change our world, destroy, burn and rape that which is ours").

ONR Flags with symbolism recalling fascist emblems
Part of these demonstrators believe in a conspiracy theory that a Zionist plot has been hatched to send refugees to Europe as part of a plan for a greater Israel. This is the reason why in the market place an effigy of a Jewish man carrying an EU flag was set ablaze at the demonstration ('Polish Anti-Refugee Demonstrators Burn Effigies of Orthodox Jews at Wroclaw Protest (VIDEO)'). The effigy was intended to represent the group's opposition to the actions of the "European elites" currently trying to destroy Poland through eroding its culture.
Dozens of demonstrators in the western Polish city of Wroclaw participated in burning effigies of Jews fully equipped with peot (side-curls) and black hats, Polish newspaper  Gazeta Wyborcza reported on Wednesday. The demonstration was part of a larger protest against admitting refugees of the civil war in Syria into Poland. Demonstrators were protesting that many of the refugees were actually economic migrants and terrorists, according to the report. The demonstration took place on a portable stage in front of the Wroclaw city hall. Police contained the demonstration but allowed it to happen, with no formal complaints. Many in Europe are concerned with the influx of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives over the past nearly five years and caused widespread devastation.
As reported by Grzegorz Gowans, after the manifestation many people, including Wroclaw President Rafal Dutkiewicz, filed a complaint to the city prosecutor. To aid with the investigation, Wroclaw magistrates also gave the police a recording of the CCTV footage that captured the event.

UPDATE Feb 25th 2016

The incident was the subject of a police investigation and this has resulted in charges being brought (Gregor Gowans, 'Man Who Burned Jewish Effigy Facing Charges' Wrocław Uncut, February 25, 2016)
The man who burned an effigy of a Jew during an anti-islamification protest in November is now facing charges. If proven guilty, he could spend up to 2 years in prison. Referred to as Piotr R. in the local press (presumably due to legal reasons), the suspect is being charged under article 256 paragraph 1 of the criminal code, which relates to the public incitement of hatred based on national, ethnic, racial and religious differences. The possible punishments for such a crime range from a financial penalty to up to two years in prison. During the 3 month investigation it is believed that Piotr. R, who has pleaded not guilty,  remained silent and refused to answer questions. He did however release a statement that claimed "he had no intention of offending anyone".
As I said, intelligence is not a feature I would look for in somebody holding such beliefs as exhibited by this crowd. I guess burning effigies is seen as some form of gift-giving maybe? Bonkers. This individual is not the only person present at the protest under investigation, several others who took part are expected to be charged too.

Art. 256
§ 1. Kto publicznie propaguje faszystowski lub inny totalitarny ustrój państwa lub nawołuje do nienawiści na tle różnic narodowościowych, etnicznych, rasowych, wyznaniowych albo ze względu na bezwyznaniowość, podlega grzywnie, karze ograniczenia wolności albo pozbawienia wolności do lat 2.
§ 2. Tej samej karze podlega, kto w celu rozpowszechniania produkuje, utrwala lub sprowadza, nabywa, przechowuje, posiada, prezentuje, przewozi lub przesyła druk, nagranie lub inny przedmiot, zawierające treść określoną w § 1 albo będące nośnikiem symboliki faszystowskiej, komunistycznej lub innej totalitarnej. (utracił moc, w części obejmującej wyrazy "albo będące nośnikiem symboliki faszystowskiej, komunistycznej lub innej totalitarnej).
§ 3. Nie popełnia przestępstwa sprawca czynu zabronionego określonego w § 2, jeżeli dopuścił się tego czynu w ramach działalności artystycznej, edukacyjnej, kolekcjonerskiej lub naukowej.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Memorialisation at Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki

Memorial wall

Lara Ehrlich, 'Saving an Ancestral Cemetery' BU alum 10.26.2015
Hoping to evoke the life the Nazis had ripped from him 46 years earlier, Icek brought his son four hours north to his ancestral hometown, Nowy Dwór [Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki], Poland. He wanted to show David where he came from: his house, his father’s blacksmith shop, the synagogue, and the cemetery where his father was buried. But the Nazis had purged every trace of the 4,000 Jews who once lived in Nowy Dwór. Even the cemetery was gone. The Nazis had used the caskets, sand, and bones for concrete and the matzevot (headstones) to fortify the roads for their tanks. “There’s no sign that it ever was a cemetery,” says David Wluka. “It was just a big vacant field with holes.” Squatters had taken up residence on the land that “belonged to no one. There was no place to go back to, where our roots were, and see the house or go to the cemetery. We had no history we could put our hands on.” There, the father and son said the Mourner’s Kaddish for the Jews who had been exhumed from this sacred ground, and Wluka was swept with emotion, watching his father praying in the barren field. When they left Poland, David and Icek were determined to save the cemetery, but life intervened, and it would be more than 20 years before David could revive the lost history of the town where his father was born. In 2010, to honor Icek, establish a site of remembrance, and give his own children and grandchildren a link to their heritage, Wluka, together with Ze’ev Shaked, the son of Icek’s father’s partner in the blacksmith shop, established the Nowy Dwór Jewish Memorial, a nonprofit foundation devoted to restoring the cemetery and the Jewish heritage of Nowy Dwór. In collaboration with the city’s mayor and citizens, the Jewish Community of Warsaw, and the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Wluka and Shaked secured the cemetery property. They evicted the squatters, filled in the empty graves, and put up a fence to protect the land. 
But more tangible relics were soon found:
Just before the groundbreaking ceremony, a municipal utility crew made a poignant discovery: 12 headstones buried beneath a nearby road. “Now that we know roughly where the headstones are, we will be careful with future work, but we can’t dig up good streets looking for them,” the mayor told Shaked. But when the groundbreaking ceremony garnered attention from the local press and Polish national television, that’s exactly what the city did. To date, they have unearthed 125 of the estimated 800 matzevot. Because there is no record of the original burial plots, the foundation commissioned a memorial wall to mount the stones on. They are “works of art,” Wluka says, inscribed with biblical passages, poetry, and songs in Hebrew. “To think that they had been buried six to eight feet underground since 1942… When I touched the headstones at the dedication ceremony, I just lost it. I broke down completely.”
A modern memorial was also built:
Wluka and Shaked have since expanded their undertaking to honor all 4,000 of the city’s Jewish residents who perished in the concentration camps, none of whom have graves. They established a 100-foot memorial wall of black granite inscribed with the names of the dead. The wall has reunited families separated by the war—as have the foundation’s efforts to publish the Jewish records from the local archives. “I’ve seen the handwritten record of my father’s birth. I’ve seen the handwritten record of my grandfather’s marriage,” says Wluka, who so far has traced his own family back to 1832. “It gives us a sense of history and who we are. It is that sense of who you are, where you came from, who you were, that helps you go forward.” The foundation is translating the records and posting scans on the project’s website to help other Jewish families trace their roots to Nowy Dwór.
This is only part of a wider action:
Wluka’s work figures into a widespread movement to reestablish the Jewish culture stripped from Poland during the Holocaust. Polish Jews, with assistance from the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, are restoring synagogues and other monuments in towns and cities throughout the country. Thanks to a 1997 law granting Jews the right to reclaim communal property, they are repossessing more than 1,400 cemeteries, many plundered by the Nazis. Nowy Dwór has embraced the effort: the Taxi Drivers Association has commissioned a four-foot stainless steel Star of David for the cemetery fence, and the mayor has spearheaded a Jewish walking tour of the town. The tour booklet illustrates the locations of former Jewish landmarks—the synagogue, the literary presses, the rabbi’s house—even Icek’s father’s blacksmith shop. Wluka and Shaked also established an annual tolerance essay contest at the local high schools, as well as collaborated with Wluka’s cousin in Gedera, Israel, to bring 120 children from Gedera to Nowy Dwór for a three-day conference on tolerance with their Polish counterparts. The Nazis so eradicated the Jewish culture from Poland that before this conference, “the Polish kids had never seen Jews before,” Wluka says, a fact echoed by 15-year-old Bartosz Cheda in his award-winning essay: “I don’t know any Jewish citizen personally, but I know one important thing—I belong to the generation brought up in a free, democratic country….We must know that xenophobia, bigotry, nationalism, and hostility toward all the ‘others’ are actions which sooner or later will lead every society to nothing.”

Monday, 31 August 2015

Nazi Gold Train Jewish Claims

The possible discovery of a Nazi train filled with Holocaust- era plunder is only a drop in the bucket compared to the vast amounts of art, money and jewels still missing 70 years after the end of the war, Israel historian Dr. Gideon Greif told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday (Sam Sokol, 'Lost Nazi train is merely a sliver of theft ‘beyond imagination,’ says historian' Jerusalem Post 31st August 2015).
Polish authorities last week all but confirmed the discovery of the train, which has long been believed to contain millions of dollars worth of Nazi loot. On Friday, Polish Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski announced he has seen a ground-penetrating radar image indicating that the train, which two unidentified individuals claimed to locate earlier this month, likely exists. The train is believed to be one that reportedly disappeared in 1945 loaded with gold, gems, art and guns bound for Berlin, one of several trains the Nazis used in an attempt to save their war plunder from the advancing Allies. According to local lore, the train vanished after entering a network of tunnels under the Owl Mountains. Almost immediately the World Jewish Congress issued a statement calling on Poland to restitute any stolen property discovered aboard the train. “To the extent that any items now being discovered in Poland may have been stolen from Jews before they were sent to death, concentration or forced labor camps, it is essential that every measure is taken to return the property to its rightful owners or to their heirs. We very much hope that the Polish authorities will take the appropriate action in that respect,” WJC CEO Robert Singer said Friday.
Hmmm. Firstly, the Conservator General had no right to make such an announcement [UPDATE he soon after lost his post], secondly the train is a myth, and thirdly - what does Mr Singer thinks entitles him to address the Poles in such tones before the train is even uncovered? He even has demands for what should happen to items which do not have an identifiable owner (so, in which case how is it established they were stolen in the first place? It is not as if the Nazis stole only from Jews)
“If no such survivors or heirs can be found, any gold or other property that is found to have belonged to Jewish families or businesses must now inure to the benefit of Polish Jewish survivors who unfortunately have never been adequately compensated by Poland for the unspeakable suffering they endured and their catastrophic economic losses in the Holocaust.” 
But Mr Singer it was the GERMAN OCCUPIER (umm, there was a War on, you know?) of Poland that caused this, not the current Polish government or people, for goodness' sake. Who should pay the compensation for events that happened when the country was under German administration? 
Speaking to the Post, Greif said [...] he was almost one hundred percent positive that the train was carrying plunder rather than ammunition and that by hiding it in an underground tunnel, the Nazis were engaged in a “very desperate attempt to save all this looted property at the last minute.” “It’s a part of the big issue of the wealth that Nazi Germany looted and which is in still in hands which it shouldn’t be in,” he continued, calling the train a good example of the vast amounts of property, including art, still waiting to be returned to their rightful owners. “It’s billions of billions of billions,” he said. “It’s beyond any imagination.”
Well, the historian may tax his imagination, but the story of the "Nazi gold trains" has it that the valuables on board of this trasport at the very end of the War were the reserves of the Wrocław (Breslau) Bank and the wealth of the local townspeople deposited there for safe keeping. Items seized from Jews between 1933-1942 were probably not on that train. Mr Singer, keep your loud demands for when the material turns up and then provide your documentation like everybody else.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Polish President Refusess To Accept Law Limiting Warsaw Restitution Claims

'WJRO Welcomes Polish President’s Refusal To Sign Law Limiting Warsaw Restitution Claims' August 4, 2015
The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) welcomed the decision last night by President Bronisław Komorowski of Poland not to sign legislation that would limit the ability of Holocaust survivors, their families, and other rightful owners to recover property in Warsaw they claimed after the Second World War. President Komorowski referred the legislation to the Constitutional Tribunal to review whether the provisions limiting restitution violate the Constitution. “We welcome the decision of the president to refer this unjust legislation to the Constitutional Court,” said Gideon Taylor, WJRO chair of operations. “This legislation restricts claimants – whether Jewish or not – from recovering property that was wrongly taken from them.”
Two days later (6 August 2015) Andrzej Duda, an ally of Jarosław Kaczyński\s PiS party, replaced Komorowski and quickly became involved in the 2015 Polish constitutional crisis which froze the Constitutional Tribunal making it possible to pass whatever laws the PiS government pleases. Duda's wife is from a Jewish family.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Władysław Bartoszewski (19 Feb 1922 - 24 April 2015)

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski (19 Feb 1922 - 24 April 2015) passed away today at the age of 93. He was a writer, journalist, historian, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, soldier of the Home Army, former prisoner of Auschwitz, Warsaw Uprising fighter, member of anti-communist resistance, member of Solidarity, honorary citizen of Israel and Righteous Among the Nations. He is chiefly remembered for being one of the co-founders of ZEGOTA, the one-of-a-kind (in German-occupied Europe) organization devoted to the systematic rescue of Jews.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Dr. Neil J. Kressel on US sterteotypes of "Polish Anti-Semitism"

Dr. Neil J. Kressel on US sterteotypes of "Polish Anti-Semitism":
A common attitude Jews have is “Thank God we got away from that place; our ancestors always were second-class citizens and half the time lived in fear. Thank God we are in America.” Having said this, I also think that many Jews do not adequately separate crimes committed by German Nazis in Poland from Poland itself. They also may lack perspective on the pre-Nazi period. Many think of the Nazi death camps in Poland as the worst places on earth – without realizing that people now live near these places who played no part in the genocide and may themselves be the descendants of victims. (I think this point needs to be made to Jewish youth groups; I do not know whether it is but I will try to find out.) I also agree that there is considerable anti-Polish stereotyping in America – including among some American Jews – and that this type of bigotry (like a number of other types) seems to have escaped the attention of the anti-racist community.

Full text here.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

James Comey, US FBI director: "Poles are more or less the same as Nazis"

James Comey, US FBI director has said publicly that Poles are more or less the same as Nazis.
Comey said in the article: "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." [...]
Poland's ambassador to the United States said in a statement the remarks were "unacceptable", adding 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."
Here is a comment from Yahoo coverage of the story which brings out the full extent of bigotry about these issues
"Poland has been the most anti-Semitic country, after Germany and Hungary. Poles are Catholics. The Catholic Church helped Hitler murder Jews, Gypsies, gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled, the homeless and "subversives." "
Here is another comment from Yahoo:
"While it is true that there were righteous Poles who aided Jews and fought the #$%$; they were a tiny minority. Even in the resistance, Jews were not accepted or sheltered (there were Jewish resistance groups, however, they operated independently and had to fight both the germans, poles, Slovaks, etc on both sides). Some Soviet units accepted Jewish individuals with necessary skills, but they didn't assist Jews running from death. And when you look at what happened AFTER Germany was defeated, you see the hate of Jews, who were killed on returning home. Poles let the Jewish communities in their midst be taken out to the killing fields, took over their property, and killed any Jews coming back who might have asked them to give them their homes and possessions the Poles stole after the communities were murdered. The Poles still have a problem with giving back Torah scrolls (right now there are 35 scrolls that need to be returned and the gov't is fighting it). They have never faced the fact that the majority of Poles did nothing and even helped the murders or benefitted from the murders."
You can read more comments like this here.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Expecting to Find Death in Poland, and Finding Life

From the Bieganski blog: (Expecting to Find Death in Poland, and Finding Life )
Jewish American doctor Hugh Pollack expected to find death in Poland, and he did. But he also found life, "Death and Life in Poland Today by Dr. Hugh Pollack"
"There were so many preconceived notions and conventional wisdoms which I brought with me - that there was no Jewish life in Poland today, that the Poles were the worst of the anti-Semites. But what I saw, what I heard, challenged many of those beliefs. Suddenly Poland and the Jewish issues involved were not as black and white as I had previously believed. The history we learned challenged my understanding of Jewish Poland - how Jews for centuries from the Middle Ages until the 1800s were protected by the kings of Poland. They were actively welcomed and so Jewish life thrived, and grew. It was no coincidence that Poland for so long was THE center of world Jewry both in terms of the largest numbers, the high levels of Jewish literacy and knowledge and the intensity and vibrancy of Jewish life. Sounds a lot like American Jewry of the past 50 years."

Read the full article here