MATEUSZ WYRWICH: Investigations of the tragedy of Hungarian Jews described by Jan Grabowski in a book ‘The night is going on…’ are based on a report by Szraga Fajwel Bielawski. Whereas, as you prove, the book by Bielawski is an anti-Polish fiction, including lots of confabulations and fabrication. Why does the professor of history at the university in Ottawa and also a co-founder of the Centre of Investigations on Jews’ Death of the Philosophy and Social Studies Institute of the National Science Academy tell lies? After all, he knew real sources.

RADOSŁAW JÓŹWIAK: - In 1991 in the USA a book by Szraga Fajwel Bielawski came out in English, in Poland it was published four years ago under the title ‘The last Jew from Hungary’. In his book, the author accuses inhabitants of my city of their active participation in liquidation of Jewish neighbours. He says that he was an eye-witness of those events.
I was investigating credibility of the book. A lot of threads have been fabricated in it. I verified it on the basis of memories by other Hungarian Jews. First of all, I reached for a reports by Bielawski which he gave in 1945 to the Jewish commission in Łódź. They are available in a Jewish History Institute in Warsaw. Bielawski also filled the so-called charters, that is, a kind of a questionnaire in the Yad Vash Institute in 1979. Moreover, I listened to an interview he had given in 1997 to the needs of Shoah Foundation. These reports are different from one another with content, a lot of their fragments are even contradictory with one another. Whereas, although Grabowski knew the sources mentioned by me, he based his ‘revelations’ about murdering Jews by Poles only on a book by Bielawski.

You say about cheating by Bielawski and also Jan Grabowski. Did Bielawski have a reason to cheat?

Indeed, he did, as for example, he concealed a fact that his brother Mosze had been in the Jewish police, and formation had been helping the Germans during the liquidation action. It is mentioned by a Jewish witness Sewek Fiszman. There is also a photo on which he is wearing a band of the Jewish police on his jacket.

So, can Szraga Fajwel be a credible source, although in the book by Grabowski he appears as the main witness accusing the local community of active participation in Holocaust?

Every fragment of his memories includes lies which raises questions who he was when the Hungarian ghetto existed. A simple example. Before the liquidation of ghetto there was a high population in it, as the Germans transported Jews here from other regions of the country. Before the war Hungary was inhabited by about 5 thousand Jews. During the war the Germans placed 12 thousand Jews in ghetto. The population reached 10 people per one room. Whereas a family of the Bielawski of 4 people lived in a 5-room-flat. Why? A version that he gave a bribe in the form of two shirts, does not sound convincing. Another example: Bielawski writes what shortages his family had to suffer from, having …..small amounts of meat, butter and sugar. And he gives numbers. It turns out that they were bigger than the allocations for Poles. And when were Jews given bigger allocations than Poles? Only when were they in Judenrat or the Jewish police. I have a reason to think that the author of the memories was a police officer. But for Grabowski the issues of the Jewish police and Judenrat are the taboo issues, he uses many manipulations, including cutting off fragments from reports by other Jews, in order to conceal actions of the formation against inhabitants of ghetto. Here is the example: Grabowski refers to the reports by Ruwen who was a Jewish police officer. He mentions that at the moment when liquidation of ghetto in Hungary in the headquarter of Judenrat began, all Jewish police officers gathered, as well as the whole Judenrat and were not included into deportation. Quoting Ruwen, Grabowski removes this fragment on purpose. We find out from another Jewish report that on the day of liquidation of ghetto, members of Judenrat are putting on hats with special bands. What does it mean? It additionally confirms the fact that there was an agreement of the Germans with Judenrat and the Jewish police. It was similar in nearby Sokołów Podlaski. According to other Jewish reports, before the liquidation of ghetto Judenrat was taking enormous amounts of exactions from Jews via hands of the Jewish police, under allegation of collecting ransom for the Germans, which was allegedly to guarantee saving ghetto. Jan Grabowski writes that there were not many Jewish police officers and they were saved only because somebody had to bury those who had been shot dead during the liquidation action. He knew the report by Sewko Fiszman very well who mentioned that police officers had helped the Germans in finding and deporting their co-brothers. Grabowski knew the acts of the postwar process of firemen, in which it is possible to find a report by Janina Bobruk and Klementyna Krysiak who were witnesses of taking their brothers to execution by the Jewish police. Not only does not Grabowski mention it, but he uses fabrication writing that the Jewish police was not big in number. He also refers to a book by Tadeusz Wngrat ‘Poland and the Hungarian province on the day before and during the Second World War’. Here he quotes the page 100. And this page describes something completely different, how Jewish police officers were guarding borders of ghetto. They were equipped with rubber truncheons and were beating compatriots who had not been following rules and provisions. The number of police is not mentioned here at all. According to Grabowski the borders of ghetto were guarded only by Poles and Germans.

Bielawski writes and Grabowski repeats it after him that during liquidation of ghetto, Poles were outraged by liquidation of Jews hiding there. They were running around ghetto to take them out of their hidings. And what are the facts like?

On the day of liquidation of ghetto, being near it might bring death. It is exemplified by a tragedy of Leokadia Piotrowska who lived in an Arian district. She wanted to see what was happening on the Market onto which Jews had been sent. She was shot dead. The chapter by Grabowski is full fo descriptions of Poles’ participation in murdering Jews, whom Bielawski allegedly saw through a hole as thick as one row of bricks, engraved in a wall with a pocketknife. I uncovered this hiding which survived in a good condition till our times and I measured the thickness of the wall. It was 38 cm thick. When I published the results of lustration of the attic, I was accused of ‘Holocaust distortion’ by Jan Grabowski. Who should accuse whom? Grabowski fabricated a drawing of a hiding to the need of the Polish edition of memories by Bielawski, in order to make it difficult to question credibility of an alleged eye-witness.
Grabowski wrote that inhabitants of the city had given the Germans help in looking for Jews in return for a one quarter of kilo of sugar. He referred to testimonies of Efraim Przepiórka. However, he did not comment on the fact that Przepiórka was not on the area of Hungary during the Nazis occupation. It did not inhibit Grabowski from considering him as a key witness of the mass crime of Poles committed on Jews.
What I consider the biggest cheating of prof. Grabowski is his deliberate keeping silent on a known fact to him proved in many sources, that for a lot of days a big German liquidation group had been arriving at Hungary, which was searching ghetto, and transported captured Jews to a camp by vans or shot them dead. Grabowski told a lie that it were Poles who found 1000 hiding Jews and the liquidation group, consisting of only local gendarmes, limited its actions to executions on inhabitants of ghetto done by Poles. The fact that gendarmes were hunting Jews in the evenings was also left unmentioned by Grabowski. German crimes were to burden Poles.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 16/2019 (21 IV 2019)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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