Statement concerning the anti-Polish book by Jan T. Gross, directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Anna Fotyga
We have already spoken about the vitriolic J. T. Gross's book 'Fear. Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz', which was published in the U.S.A. Like in his previous book 'Neighbours' the author unacceptably generalizes the single cases of violent incidents or hooliganism, creating a picture of Poles who are full of hatred towards the Jewish nation. 'Poland suffered an exceedingly brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Close to five million Poles were killed. Of these, more than half were Jews killed in the Holocaust. Ninety percent of the world's second largest Jewish community was annihilated. But despite the calamity shared by Poland's Jews and non-Jews, anti-Semitic violence did not stop in Poland with the end of the war. Jewish Holocaust survivors returning to their Polish hometowns after the war experienced widespread hostility, including murder, at the hands of their neighbours. The bloodiest peacetime pogrom in twentieth-century Europe took place in Kielce, Poland, a year after the war ended' (the text on the cover).
One can see on the basis of this 'detail' that the book does not contain any element of fundamental sincerity in looking at Poland and Polish people. According to Gross only few Poles behaved fairly towards the Jews during the war, whereas the majority was devoid of compassion for the Jews who were murdered, the majority of Polish people collaborated with the Germans and together with them took over Jewish properties and even many a time murdered Jews.
We asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to politicise with this publication. And we witnessed such polemics. Oh horrors! The publication prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Polish Institute of International Affairs entitled 'Difficult Post-war Years. Polish Voices in Debate Over Jan Gross Book Fear' (2006) contains commentaries that praise Gross's book. The publication does not give the names of the authors who selected the texts, which makes the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs co-responsible for the contents of the publication. The anonymous author of the Minister's selection of texts concerning the book by Gross intentionally, and extremely bias, omitted the strongest criticism of Gross's book and the articles presenting the picture of the anti-Jewish incidents in Kielce in July 1946 as 'the work' of the special communist services. In the text by P. Wrobel we read that 'Fear' is 'an outstanding, moving and inspiring book', which should be obligatory for all those who are interested in the contemporary history of Poland. The fact that the text by P. Wrobel was exposed in the volume prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is shocking since other voices from North America were passed over. Above all two large critical articles on Gross by Marek J. Chodakiewicz, who lives in America, were omitted. And his output concerning the history of the Polish-Jewish relationship is far more bigger as compared with other authors. Similarly, the thorough critical publication by Prof. John Radzilowski and lawyer Ryszard Tyndorf, who presented the Polish point of view in the controversial Polish-Jewish affairs, was omitted, too. Evidently, these criticisms did not suit the anonymous editor who selected the texts and wanted to use all means to falsify the course of the Polish debate concerning Gross's book and at the same time he wanted to support him in the best possible way by making this truly anti-Polish selection!
How can we justify the attitude of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which decided to put a really disgraceful text containing so effusive praise of the author of this most venomous Poles-preyed book? By preparing such a mutilated selection, to the detriment of Poland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made an extremely generous present for some Jewish American circles that hate Poles.
Your Excellency! We demand that you commence an investigation: who is responsible for the publication in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the publication in which most texts expose anti-Polish slanders spread by J. T. Gross. Are we really doomed to a smeared picture of Poland on the international forum, picture prepared with the help of the highest offices of the Republic of Poland?
Finally, we would like to mention the wonderful testimony from the Vatican. Namely, on 24 January 2007, during the presentation of the Italian edition of the book 'I Giusti, gli eroi sconosciuti dell'Olocausto' [The Righteous - The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust] by Martin Gilbert, 70-year old English historian of Jewish background, one of the most eminent experts in the Second World War and Shoah Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, recollected the martyr's death of the Ulm Family and thousands of other Polish people who were murdered by the Germans for hiding Jews during World War II (on 24 March 1944 in Markowa near Lancut the German police shot Wiktoria and Jozef Ulm with six children and eight Jews whom the Ulms hid).
Cardinal Bertone focused on the fact that Poland was the only country where the Nazis used death sentence for hiding Jews. Referring to the data, quoted by Prof. Jan Zaryn from the Institute of National Remembrance, he said that about one million Poles had helped the victims of the Holocaust. Those who helped the Jews and their families lived in constant danger of death. The Italian Cardinal also quoted the speech of the Jewish activist Adolf Berman who during a Jerusalem conference about Jews in the Second World War said that thousands of our fellow citizens paid the price of their lives for rescuing the Jews. Many of them were decorated with the Israeli 'Righteous Among the Nations of the World' Medal. In 1995 the medal was awarded to the Ulms and their cause for beautification began in the Archdiocese of Przemysl in August 2003.
Your Excellency! It is disagreeable that it is the Italians that defend Poles and we ourselves blacken the truth about us.
Senator Czeslaw Ryszka
Senator Ryszard Bender
Senator Adam Biela
Warsaw, 8 February 2007