10 years ago I started the „I Miss You Jew” campaign in Poland with a hope for a change. I sincerely hoped that this positive statement would soon be shared by the majority of Poles and the truth about Holocaust would soon reach everyone. I thought we are leaving the rasist past and walking onto a path towards healing. I was wrong. Today it’s much worse. Today we have YouTube.
Browsing the Polish Internet and watching the most prominent YouTube personalities dealing with politics and social matters, who enjoy hundreds of thousands of views with every film, one must conclude that Poland is on another planet. Its a planet of aggressive denial, rasist hate and Holocaust lie on an unprecedented scale.
(Should you wish to help us cary on the „I Miss You, Jew!” campaign, pleas click on: paypal.me/betlejewski)
With the help of the Internet, Polish anti-Semites have gained access to hundreds of thousands of ears, and they share the poison of old superstitions, distortions, half-truths and open slanders giving oxygen to a real anti-Semitic enthusiasm. Today, anti-Semitism is not a folklore superstition, it is a mainstream agenda. And it doesn’t stop there – it’s picked up by the governement institutions. I can name just a few of these „YT truth preachers”: Stanislaw Michalkiewicz, Marcin Rola, Grzegorz Braun, Krzysztof Karoń, Wojciech Cejrowski, and of course Ewa Kruk who was almost awarded the Jan Karski Award in New York by the Polish government. It was stopped at the last minute only by an outcry of public indignation. But there are many others. There are whole channels named „national media” and such which go against the Jews. And it goes beyond youtube! The neo-fascist party under the name Confederation openly proclaims anti-Semitic views and gains 5% support in the European elections! And it would have won more if the rest of the anti-Semites did not vote for a more viable political option: the ruling party Law and Justice. When I uploaded my film with an anti-rasist protest last year, I received hundreds or even thousands of death-wish messages with advice to „get the fu.k off to Israel”.
For the last ten years, I have been reading the worst filth and insults expressed with great enthusiasm every day on the Internet. Just imagine this… everyday. Just because I travel the country and create murals saying „I Miss You, Jew”. But today there are new tones in those messages. A real novelty is the fact that many of these „inspired fighters for the good name of Poland” proclaim themselves as racists. In those exact words: I am racist, and I am proud! They are proud of being Polish nationalists and racists. They share their hate towards Jews, homosexuals, LGBT, communists and anyone who they target as the enemy of Poland. For some time now I have had the impression that the greatest achievement of the Internet is that any idiot with a phone can write to me directly, whatever his sick mind will produce. And these are ugly things. Before the Internet, he would have to find on a piece of paper, an envelope, the address, buy a stamp for the price of a beer and go to the post office. Today, any one with a cell phone can write his insults to me directly expressing things he would be afraid to shout through the fence if he saw me passing through his street.
And, in the past, in order to ground the anti-Semitic ideas, one had to read something, or at least see the pictures, or go to the Church to listen to the priest. Today you can click on a movie on YouTube, where an „expert” will lay everything out from a to z. X-ray the conspiracy and reveal the hidden agenda. And this „truth” falls on open ears: they are lying, robbing us, they want to turn us into slaves, and they are Jewish.
Today, it’s not unusual to hear on the Internet that „the Jews burnt themselves in the barn in Jedwabne because they were ashamed of their cooperation with the Soviets, which is why they are blocking the exhumation of the dead, where the truth of their lies is”. Today, youtube „patriots” outdo each other in tracking down „the Jewish lies and financial claims against Poland”. What’s more, they openly and without fear about legal consequences spread the Holocaust lies, what is a crime under the Polish law. No one in Poland has ever been prosecuted for that. And when Youtube in some cases closes a channel or removes a racist slander there are laments for „freedom of speech”. Yes! Today, Polish Holocaust liars claim their „freedom of speech rights” to preach lies about Holocaust.
Polish popular Internet proves one thing: Poles do not know anything about the Holocaust. We do not understand its history, nor its nature, nor meaning, nor influence on the present day. We are stuck in a bizarre but persistent fantasy about ourselves and our own history. The simplest conclusion is that the education system has failed. Even if the schools make some faint attempt to talk about Holocaust, they suffer a dismal failure in the face of Youtube, which provides young Poles with „real knowledge”. A more insightful conclusion would be this: anti-Semitic codes are the main component of Polish culture and as such are irreversable by the educational process in its current form. But they thrive on Youtube.
Let’s go through some of the most prominent myths shared by the Youtubers in Poland today.
It starts with a myth on our role during the II World War. The Internet Poles think that Poland and Poles were the heroes of the II World War, have never collaborated with the Germans, were never broken, and always fought on the right side. Poles were actively involved in helping Jews, and many people were killed for it.
Every now and again we hear that during the war „we were the best of all nations in Europe”. The proofs are to be Jan Karski, Witold Pilecki and AK (the Home Army), which are representing the entire Polish society. The delusion is that we attribute the achievements of the few to everyone. Poland is Pilecki, Karski and AK. Regardless of where you point your finger at the war map, the names will always pop up as if these people were everywhere.
The truth, however, is quite poor in heroism: only a handful of daredevils participated in the active resistance movement, in the conspiracy and in armed forces – for most of us these were the Himalayas deprived of oxygen. Most of us tried to live in the lowlands, keeping their heads down and noses clean, just wanting to survive, which BTW was the wisest choice. The attitude of the vast majority of Poles had nothing to do with monumental struggle of some war heroes and their spectacular heroism. During the years of occupation many Poles did not really see the Germans, keeping their farms far from the road. The village mayor was still a Pole, the local police was still Polish, and one had to travel to the bigger city only once in a while if ever. It is not like many of us think that the nazis sat on everyone’s throat and kept everyone under a gun. This would require immense man power. The more urgent problem than the Germans was banditry and guerrilla warfare that could take the live stock. In Węgrów for example, a city of 10 000 people which I recently visited with my „I Miss You Jew” project, apart from the Holocaust of Jews, which was a real cataclysm, the war destroyed practically nothing. Houses stand as they were. Fields grow as they grew and the usual market fair took place on every Tuesday and Friday. Same as today. Of course, the fear and uncertainty of tomorrow intensified, which is well documented by Zaremba in his book The Great Fear, one could get a ticket for forced labor, and many people went to the front, but for most of Poles the war just meant staying low.
I mean, people are just people. We do not really think that we are surrounded by heroes who are willing to have their fingernails ripped off before they give away our phone number? Do we sincerely believe that our neighbors, a lady from the grocery shop, a hairdresser from the market square are heroes of war resistance waiting to happen? And are these people candidates for Jew helpers if it means risking their lives? So, why do we think that about the people from the past?
Contrarry to the myths of Poles saving Jews and getting killed for it, even a boldly estimated data on the number of Poles who died at the hands of the Nazis for helping Jews is around one thousand. In 5 years of war. Compared with the general losses of the Polish civilian population during the occupation, this is a negligible number. And I do not want to belittle this effort and heroism of these people. I am just talking about scale. Another thing is that many of these heroes suffered reprisals because they were ratted out by someone from their Polish neighbors.
The truth is also that the majority of the Holocaust survivors talk the worst abot Poles as the biggest direct threat to their survival. There is a quote Jan Karski himslef, who in 1940 reported that: „The attitude of Poles towards the Jews is usually ruthless, often merciless.”
And finally, the truth is, if we talk about collaboration, thet the scale of Poles informing on other Poles was substancial, as evidenced by the recently published Gestapo archives. The Poles participated in the German administration in the Generalgouvernement, formed blue police units, joined the Wermacht, signed the Volksdeutsche list, which allegedly has 3.5 million of our countrymen. What is grotesque, many of these people later used this fact to claim German papers when escaping from communist Poland in years after war.
A new thing on the net: open and aggressive accusation of Jews for their collaboration with the nazis in killing Jews.
The Polish Internet is convinced that the Jews will never say a word of truth. The Jews are lying! – this is the number one myth. The Jews are lying through their teeth, and so are the Jewish-dominated world institutions, from the UN, through WHO to the European Union. In Poland, the Jewish lies are spread by the „lie-elite”, which are infested by the Jews, leftists, intelligentsia, media etc. Obviously, the historical institution investigatng the Holocaust are lying. The Center for Holocaust Studies is lying, Jan Tomasz Gross lies, Barbara Engelking lies and basically all historians who deal with the Holocaust and are recognized as authorities in the world are lying. Obviously I am lying, because I am running the „I Miss You, Jew” campaign. Recently, I heard it hundreds of times during my visit to Węgrów.
However, the worst and most vile thing is that, according to Polish „patriots”, they victims of the Holocaust are lying. The Jewish survivors lie. They lie about their assessment of the Polish involvement and their role in the Holocaust. In Węgrów which is a Holocaust city, where 60% of its population was massacred during the Holocaus, lies Szraga Fajwel Bielawski in his book „The Last Jew from Węgrów”. I have heard this opinion many times during the painting of the inscription and later on the internet. And it is not just the opinion the common uneducated men! It is the opinion of the local historians, such as Radosław Jóźwiak, and local politicians like the Deputy Speaker of the Polish Senate, Maria Koc! The chairman of IPN (National Remembrance Institute) Mateusz Szpytma holds the same position, which is a real horror. Here you have the state institution that becomes involved in the misrepresentation of the Holocaust and discrediting the testimony of the survivor. Besides, the same institution engaged in a effort to discredit the work of the Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, The Center for Holocaust Studies. It’s a sad curiosity.
The Holocaust denial is not just a YouTube monstrosity. It is the state agenda. It’s a root up effort all the way.
The next persisting myth on the Polish Internet is that anyone who tries to work for the Holocaust truth does so only out of a desire for profit. Profit or fame. „For Judas silver”. I know it from my own experience – I have been accused for that from the get go. Georg Soros pays for everything and everyone. When I hear it I start to think that maybe it is an echo of a well internalized „common wisdom”, that one could earn a lot of gold on the Jews and from the Jews, whether it would mean to rob their property with impunity or give them a hideout for draconian charges. Bielawski says in his memoirs that even the purchase of a pig by a Polish farmer during the war could arouse rumors among the neighbors that „they must by keeping Jews”. This persisting superstition can be expressed as follows: A Pole will never do anything for nothing for a Jew. There are no fools!
Thirdly, all the Jews want is money. According to Polish „patriots” on the Youtube, this is the only motivation for Jews. The Jews want to extort substantial damages from Poland, or as Krzysztof Karoń expressed on YT: „today Jewish bandits want to rob us.” The Poles, however, are not naïve and have seen the game through. I heard it in Węgrów in this version: today you scrawch something on the wall, and tomorrow the Jews will come to take the houses. The Jews are presented as ungrateful and traitors who, despite our help efforts, now lie about us in the world, wanting to extract extra billions. Besides, money is one of the most lasting superstitions around the Jews. Jews and gold. Golden teeth, global finances, etc.
Fourthly, there is no anti-Semitism in Poland. The Polish internet is convinced that this is just another slander cast on Poland and Poles to extort the silver. Of course, by the Jews. Anti-Semitism is a slander cast on the critics of the Jewish conspiracy. „You say something critical about the Jew, you are already an anti-Semite.” The proof thet there is no anti-Semitism in Poland is that a Jew will pass safely through any street of the city and nothing will happen to him (which, incidentally, is true). Anti-Semitism is but everywhere in Europe, not in Poland. And it is enough to accuse someone of anti-Semitism and make him indignant, as if insulting his mother. Anti-Semite, like a fascist, is insulting. Regardless of whether justified. „If there are no arguments, then a patch of anti-Semitism will come,” they say.
In short, Poles do not know what anti-Semitism is and how to recognize it. They do not understand that anti-Semitism is hidden in common views and common fantasies, that it consists of false generalizing beliefs and prejudices, that it is enough to repeat them to join the group of anti-Semites. Nobody teaches this at school. Anti-Semitism is German, Nazi, anti-Semitism is the beating of a Jew. And Poles do not beat Jews, so they are not anti-Semites. Poles are only fighting for theirs. Anti-Semitic prejudices have been presented as ordinary common-sense criticism.
Fifth, there is anti-Polonism in the world. This is perhaps the most bizarre illusion of all, because it is basically „sucked out of the finger” as we say in Polish – totally untrue. And yet it is repeated continously on the Polish Internet. According to this conviction, if I tried to write „I miss you, Pole” on a wall in Israel, I would be stoned to death. This myth seems to me extremely perverse, because it is an exact mirror image of the Jewish conviction of universal anti-Semitism, but just as the Jews have proof of it in the form of enormous scientific literature, 2,000 years of pogroms and the Holocaust, the Poles have nothing to show for it. Where, I am asking, is there any sensible ethnographic book on this subject? Nothing. Has anyone heard about the figure of POLAK serving somewhere to scare children? Not really. On a contrary, it’s enough to go anywhere in the world to see that the Poles are not only liked, just like any other tourists, they are often confused with the Dutch. Poland Holand. Most people do not even know where Poland is at all, not to mention prejudices. I often ask what anti-Polonism is supposed to be and all I get are general assurance that one day it will get me. The hatred against the Poles. This anti-Polonism is to be primarily present in Israel, and – surprisingly – among the Polish corrupt „lie-elites” who hate themselves. Both of these claims are false.
Or are they… I have been to the States and to Israel, I talked to so many Jewish people… And I do wonder about it. Not so much about „anti-Polonism”, which is a myth, but about the real reluctance of many Jews to Poland and Poles. I saw this reluctance, it was communicated to me. I experienced a deep regret towards Poland and Polish neighbors on the part of the Jewish survivors who were betrayed by these neighbors. There is a huge reluctance and grief towards Poland and Poles from people who were expelled from our country in 1945 and 46, when they tried to rebuild themselves on the ruins of previous life, which was stolen from them with everything they had, including their families. I think that there is a great bitterness and reluctance towards Poles from the Jews who were affected by the anti-Semitic campaign in 1968 and who were forced to abandon their homeland to wander and emigrate. Tomasz Żukowski from the University of Warsaw notes that these people do not even want to talk to us. Yes, Jewish hatred for Poles is a fact. Hatred from the Jews whose families have been put in mass and unnamed graves because of their Polish neighbors, from the Jews who remember insults, spying, humiliation and exclusion from among the people who should have saved them. This hatred was carried by the survivors to all parts of the world and expressed in countless war memories. Hot, unperturbed grief and disbelieving bitterness.
But this Jewish hatred is our problem and our task! Jewish hatred for Poland and Poles is a great unresolved problem of Poland and Poles. The problem is further aggravated by the paranoid policy of the Polish government and the callous, cruel anti-Semitism of Polish society. The expanding and grounding Holocaus lie, a soulless attempt to discredit the victims and people who want to preach the story of the victims.
I will share my own experience here. I met many Holocaust survivors, many people who had the worst possible opinion about contemporary Poland because of their own experiences. Or people who inherited this hate from their forfathers. And I know it’s enough to reach out. To say: I’m sorry, I know what happened, I know the truth and I will not lie about it. It is enough to open hearts and instead of reluctance to receive love. Because in addition to the painful memory, there is also a big load of positive memory of the beauty of the landscape, the beauty of childhood, and the fun and joy of life. Everything that Poland can be and was for these people.
But instead, the Jews learn from the Poles that they collaborated with the Germans in killing Jews. When I admit that I feel a hot wave of embarassement. But it’s true. It just happened on my facebook page where an 88 year old Jewish survivor met a Polish woman living in Chicago, and she told him to re-evaluate his story and admit his guilt. Its true! She believes that the Holocaust is a story of Jewish shame! These are the most aggressive Polish anti-Semitic myths. There are now thousands of people who believe the Jews cooperated with Hitler (A Jewish Hitler of course), in the extermination of Jews. Today on the Polish YouTube you can find dozens of films „discovering the truth” about Jewish collaboration with the Nazis, Judenrat, Jewish police, Jewish criminals, Jewish bankers financing the Third Reich, etc. Among the Polish „patriots” the best-known Jewish surname from the period of occupation is Chaim Rumkowski, the head of the Lodz Ghetto, only because it is a compromised and awful figure. The Polish „patriot” cannot name any other Jewish name in the context of the Holocaust.
And the same „patriot” will demand „gratitude from the Jews for the Polish help”. This is another and extremely clear feature of Polish anti-Semitism on the Polish YouTube. Jews are to express gratitude and remorse in public. The emblem of Polish heroism is the figure of the Righteous, who in general delusions represent the whole of the Polish society, or at least its basic attitude. This mechanism of the Polish aggressive nightmare was well described in a magnificent book „The Great Retouch – how we forgot that the Poles were killing Jews”, by Tomasz Żukowski. Victims are to be grateful to the perpetrators and thank them.
The Myth of the Righteous is the most stubborn myth of the Polish Holocaust lie. It’s a myth of universal Polish help.
The truth about the Righteous, however, is another accusation towards the Poles. The Righteous were the people who defied their neighbors, they had to cheat them every day and were betrayed by them. Even many years after the war they were afraid of revealing their commitment to saving Jews, and often received their medals in complete secrecy.
Today, the Holocaust is excluded from the Polish martyrdom history, it also has been marginalized as a Jewish propaganda conspiracy.
The Polish YouTube talks about the „industry of the Holocaust”, which is to be aimed at Poland and our good name. Quoted here are the likes of Norman Finkelstein and the movie Defamation by Jo’awa Szamir – as evidence that the Jews themselves unmask the conspiracy. Israeli policy towards Palestine is mixed with the Holocaust memory and absolves Poles for plundering Jewish property during the war. We owe noone nothing – as Jarosław Kaczyński put it. In this way, the most important contemporary event, and perhaps even the cornerstone of modernity, which is the Holocaust for world historiography, turns into a grotesque for us.
First of all, because no one is reading in this country. As simple as that. Bookstores are bending away from books explaining in detail both the morphology of Polish anti-Semitism and the course of the Holocaust. You can find research published by historians, reprints from the world, as well as the voice of victims, the eye-witnessed testimonies. We have an entire choir of great history teachers at hand, but none hears them. As if they were not there. For the lively „patriots” who populate the Internet, the only voice is the voice of the „prophets of truth” in plain words explaining to them, how they are fooled, how the Jews hate them and how they want to pump out billions from them with the participation of corrupt Polish elites, leftists and homosexuals, agents of the European Union and the „big business”. People like Krzysztof Karoń and Michalkiewicz explain how Marxism and communism return under the disguise of LGBT and the European Union to make us into slaves. Priests like Rydzyk and Oko lecture that the Polish Catholic community is a salt in the wound of perverts from Europe who want to change us into cheap labor. Later all pumped up with patriotic hate their viewers throw themselves like woolves on people like Jan Tomasz Gross, Jan Grabowski, Barbara Engelking or myself and write their aggressive comments on social media, aiming at tormenting, taking away hope and willingness to work from anyone who deals with Holocaust.
Right-wing media provide fuel by openly compromising scientific institutes and their employees „refuting their harmful theories” and ridiculing them personally. Today, it is enough to use the name Gross in the public statement to be considered as finished. There is no limit to verbal violence. There is no epithet that can not be used.
As a result, we, as a society, are vere more turning our backs on ourselves and our history, immersed in the evil dream. Extremely irritated and selfsensitive. All you need is a word or a gesture that challenges the official Polish vision of patriotic myth to evoke extreme emotions and radical anger. There is no space for conversation. Ask a question about the Polish participation in the Holocaust, and you will see angry faces, hear insults and such. Out of fear and guilt we do not want to delve into the gloomy depths of our own subconsciousness, face the burden of memory and responsibility, we do not want to mature. Today’s Polishness is an infantile celebration of oppression and glory, pride evoked by force in isolation from what is most true in us. We live in anesthetic oblivion, condemning ourselves to the fact that the monsters of the past are constantly biting us and poisoning our present day. Like Zombies moved by the impulses of the sorcerer, we move wildly at reports from abroad about some attempt to commemorate Polish Jews or someone’s slip of the tounge about „Polish Death Camps”. For us, these are not commemorations, they are insults. For us, these are not mistakes, these are plots of the conspiracy, an inevitable ax of Jewish vengeance. Instead of truth, we harbour the myth, and thus we live in the incomprehension of who we are. Andrzej Leder calls it a dream. A persistent, stifling and tiring sleep. It’s maligna.
The Holocaust as a great historical experience of humanity remains irrelevant and unrecognized to us. It seems to us that the world should tell about our heroism, and the most important historical event should be the Warsaw Uprising, not the Ghetto Uprising, the charge on Monte Cassino and 303 Squadron not the D-Day. The world celebrated heroes should be Pilecki not Churchill. The Polish YouTube is convinced that the Holocaust was not a extraordinary event, that there were more Holocausts, like the killing of Poles in Volhynia, or when the Turks murdered the Armenians.
So let us put this question forward: What distinguishes the Holocaust from other cases of genocide and why is it so important?
Well, the Holocaust is not simply „mass murdering of people”, it is much more than that. It was a long-term multimedia project: philosophical, ethical, state, political, social, etc., and finally also industrial. What’s more, the Holocaust is a transnational, multi-state project. Yes, the Germans are the initiators of this „project”, they are its efficient organizers, but all of Europe, all communities speaking different languages, having different traditions, cultures and even religions have joined in.
It was an attack on European own social fabric, which was largely indistinguishable from the rest of the society and which in essence was the foundation and base of Europe. It’s a bit like the immune system has stopped recognizing its own cells. It may be argued that the Holocaust is not a one-off unlucky event, but in fact is a top achievement of European culture, the culmination of a long history of institutional violence, episodes of religious wars, the Holy Inquisition, local wars, feudal violence and the export of violence in the form of crusades, colonialism, slave trade, having its nightmarish apogee in the murder of American Indians. Throught all that time, European philosophers and ethicists were busy creating rationalization for this violence and the foundation for the intricate edifice of European racism. Ane finally, when the culture of violence matured to the final crisis, Europe has unleashed an attack against itself on a completely unprecedented scale.
And yet, the story of Polish modern day could have been very different.
After 2000, and the publication of „Neighbors” by Jan T. Gross, there was a chance to revive. In addition to Gross, many teachers appeared among us, whom we could have listened, who showed the structure of the Holocaust in a methodical and morphological way. There are plenty of witnesses and survivors who offer their memories. We, however, like crazy people from the yard prefer to harass them, throw stones at them and make fun of them.
I have to recommend a few books here, because maybe somebody will take this text seriously: Maria Janion „The Heroe, The Conspiracy, The Death”, Andrzej Leder „The Slept Through Revolution”, Joanna Tokarska Bakir „Legends of Blood”, „Confession” by Calel Perechodnik, „Next is the night” – collective work of the Center for Research on the Holocaust of the Polish Academy of Sciences, „Great Retouch – How We Forgot That We Killed Jews” by Tomasz Żukowski, which offers a clear lesson on the subject of the encounter between the reality of the Holocaust and the Polish patriotic myth. One must read Gross, who started the Polish investigation into the truth in 2000, one must read Anna Bikont and her „We, from Jedwabne”. I would also like to recommend the tesknie.com website, which was resumed thanks to Animativ.pl. There you can find the documentation of the „I Miss You, Jew!” campaign and the record of the Polish subconscious „in the subject”.
There is so much talk lately about hate speech. Maybe we should have to look at people like Ewa Kurek, Marcin Rola, Stanisław Michalkiewicz or Jacek Międlar. People who became the mainstream voice of the Polish Internet, and who are leading in offering the easy prescriptions and false dreams to the young viewers.
Maybe it’s high time to put these people in jail? People, who, 70 years after the war, have the audacity to deny the Holocaust. Today in Poland, an oracle about Jews for hundreds of thousands of Internet users are anti-Semites preaching their hateful idiocys from rooms of provincial churches, watched on YouTube.
(Should you wish to help us cary on the „I Miss You, Jew!” campaign, pleas click on: paypal.me/betlejewski)