Tag Archives: Holocaust

Historian On Polish Anti-Semitism Threatened

Historian Jan Tomasz Gross was facing possible charges by Polish prosecutors on grounds his latest book represents slander against the Polish nation. The book examines the murder of hundreds of Jews in Poland after the end of World War II. The Polish-American historian’s book, “Fear: Anti-Semitism in POland After Auschwitz” has aroused controversy with some claiming he is guilty of making generalizations about the murder of Jews by their former neighbors. His book focuses on the famous 1946 pogrom in Kielce in which 40 Jews were killed. Gross argues the murders were symptomatic of widespread lingering anti-semitic attitudes among many Poles, particularly those who had seized the property of Jews that had been sent to the death camps by the Nazis. Gross argues the pogroms were a major factor why about 200,000 Jews left Poland after the war, many going to Israel.

Prosecutors are investigating whether his book constitute a crime since Poland has a law which makes slander against a nation a possible criminal act. Some members of the Catholic church are upset because they would rather than get into the behavior of some priests during the Holocaust. A significant number of historians recognize that some Poles cooperated with the Nazis and that anti-semitism was a powerful feeling in Poland of that era. It is also baffling how anyone could be convicted of “slandering a nation.” If such a law existed in America millions would be in jail for daily insulting President Bush and his foreign policy.

Holocaust Controversy Swirls In Lithuania

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress accused Latvia and Lithuania of belittling the role of the Soviet Red Army during World War II in liberating eastern Europe from Nazi rule. He argued taking such an attitude is akin to denying the existence of the Holocaust. Lativa, Lithuania, and Estonia were taken over by the Soviet Union in 1940 creating extensive anti-Russian feeling. This anger toward the Soviet Union was exacerbated when thousands of Russians were settled in the three countries. The Nazis found many collaborators when they drove Russians out of those areas, and some, did assist in the killing of Jews. Thus, for many Baltic people, the “liberation of east Europe” by the Soviet Army marked once again being under Soviet rule. After the Baltic nations became independent, laws were passed against Russian residents even though thousands had been born in a Baltic nation. In addition, those who collaborated with the Nazis are often regarded as heroes.

President Putin expressed his nation’s anger in commenting: “We know that in several European countries laws prohibit the denial of the Holocaust, while the activities of Latvia and Estonian authorities are openly encouraging the glorification of Nazis and their collaborators. And, such facts remain unnoticed by the European Union.” It is unfortunate that Baltic leaders and educators have, on occasion, glorified those who collaborated with the Nazis. The Baltics remain a confusing area containing stories of bravery in aiding Jews and an equal number of stories depicting collaboration. President Putin has a valid point in his complaint that European nations do not acknowledge the debt they owe to the heroic Soviet troops who did more than any other armed force in defeating Germany.

The Innocence of Turkey?

It is apparent my comments concerning the Armenian resolution before Congress have aroused the ire of many readers. Most of the comments accuse Armenians of engaging in a “massacre” of Turks. One can only assume these writers refer to Armenians who served in the Russian army which fought against Turkey in World War I. There certainly is a difference between soldiers fighting against other soldiers other than soldiers shooting civilians. Certainly, for the most part, the initial years of World War I did not entail mass killing of civilians by either side despite extensive British propaganda concerning Germans killing thousands of Belgians. Belgian civilians were killed, but there was no sanction by the German government for the killings. To those who claim Armenians engaged in a “massacre” of Turks, it would be helpful if they (a) identified the Armenian government authority that authorized such killings; (b) presented evidence of any order from an Armenian military authority authorizing such killing, (c) presented information as to the dates of the alleged killings.

I still believe Germany’s method of confronting the Holocaust has value for people in Turkey. German education does not focus on “blaming” Germans of today who had nothing to do with the Holocaust. It examines the Holocaust to ensure people are sensitive to brutality and committed to ensure it never again will happen. I do not believe there is responsibility on the part of a person living in 2007 for the actions of ancestors. The House Resolution does not blame any contemporary citizen of Turkey for what happened in another country at another time. Do contemporary Turks believe nothing happened to the Armenians? Why not join with Armenian organizations to create a joint Armenian/Turkish Committee devoted to peace education? In that way, focus is away from the past and deals with the present.

Bush Confronts Congress On Armenian Resolution

The United States Congress and President Bush are on a collision course over the proposed resolution known as “Affirmation of the United States Recording the armenian Genocide” which expresses the feeling of the American people toward Turkey’s genocidal policies against Armenians at the beginning of the twentieth century. As the resolution is being discussed, relations between the United States and Turkey are tense. The Turkish government is preparing possible military action against Kurdish rebels who operate from the sanctuary of Iraq. Bush expressed his opposition to the resolution which he claimed would inflict “a great harm o our relations with a key ally in NATO in the global war on terror.” Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos who has personal connections with the Holocaust argued “this is a choice between condemning genocide and endangering our troops in Iraq.”

The Turkish government continues to fight against any mention of its historic genocidal actions against Armenians living in Turkey. Members of the so-called “Jewish Lobby” have been persuaded to fight against the resolution because of Turkish pressure. The resolution is undoubtedly a symbolic action, but it arises because the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the horror of what happened ninety years ago. President Bush is always ready to trot out the argument about this or that action which “threatens” the “war against terror.” He ignores how his own actions in the invasion of Iraq helped create the present tensions between Turkey and the United States. It is somewhat ironic the so-called powerful “Israel Lobby” is unable to persuade Congress due to pressure from the Armenian Lobby. One can only wonder how Congressman Tom Lantos would react if the resolution dealt with the Holocaust.