Posted Pavel Pustelnik
The poetry of Naftali Herz Kon was finally released from the imprisonment of the Polish Archives.
In January this year I was exploring complicated happenings around the poetry of Naftali Herz Kon. The poet was accused of espionage and all his archives were confiscated in the early 1960s (Read more here). A battle between the courts and Kon’s daughters Ina Lancman and Vita Serf took years. When it was finally decided that the State Archive should return the property to the inheritors, procedural issues aroused.
Today, finally the poems are free. - First we got through all the formalities. The Director of the Archives read aloud the operative part of the judgment, which put the Archives under an obligation to return the literary estate. It was an extremely emotional moment. The daughters cried and I was on the brink too as the emotions got to me after such a prolonged battle – says prof. Tomasz Koncewicz, who was working on Kon’s issue. Indeed, it was a long battle set in the realities of slow Polish courts, which seemed to miss the whole point and did not understand who absurd the whole situation was. - It is hard to believe but to get the literary estate back to their rightful owners I have written more than 1000 pages of interventions, pleadings, statements… You name it! – says Koncewicz, passionate about the problem.
When we met with prof. Koncewicz in January this year he was sure that one day the poetry would be returned. Even though, we started to plan a poetry evening consisting of a broad historic background of the story, readings of the poems both those then available and those that would be “set free”. There was hope in his voice, but nobody could be sure when the issue will be solved. – During the commemorative evening with the poetry of Kon on 7th of March at the Center of Rabi Schorr in Warsaw I even quipped that that all this would make up decent novel “Lost in the Archives”. – prof. Koncewicz says today. – I make fun of all this now but I will never forget that 6 months ago the mood was much more somber and I was desperate – he adds.
It was not easy to predict what is hidden in the boxes imprisoned in the Archives. Everyone was expecting poems, but as we see now, there is much more. - There is some amazing content hidden in the Kon’s papers. Apart from the priceless poetry, there are intimate letters, notes and photographs. One document, which is most symbolic, is the original of the Kon's release order from gulag in the fifties! – says prof. Koncewicz who had a chance to assist in receiving the documents.
- All in all it was a wonderful and fulfilling day for all of us. The case is a powerful proof that justice and dignity stand for something after all – Koncewicz sums up.
Now the documents need to be ordered with great care. They were kept in the Archives for over 50 years. When Koncewicz first saw the files in 2010 they were covered with dust. It was obvious that nobody was touching them, perhaps the lawyer was the first one since the 1960’. Lancman and Serf are planning to translate the documents to English and Polish.
All photographs related to this text courtesy of TT Koncewicz.
12.3.13 at 1:03 pm | Analysing Jewish Europe Today – perspectives. . .
12.3.13 at 12:57 pm | In August this year I was going to provide my. . .
11.15.13 at 11:20 am | Representatives of the New-York based Foundation. . .
11.15.13 at 11:18 am | It all began this October, at a seminar with a. . .
11.3.13 at 9:40 am | As Henry Ford put it, coming together is a. . .
11.1.13 at 10:54 am | The Museum of the History of Polish Jews was. . .
7.25.12 at 12:48 pm | Unfulfilled murderers, domestic sadists – nice. . . (42)
1.15.13 at 12:54 pm | The biggest (and probably the most splendid as. . . (28)
4.18.13 at 1:15 am | As she was passing by some girls in their. . . (22)
March 19, 2013 | 7:45 am
Posted Michał Zajda
First, one must ask the question, what was the so-called people’s government in Poland? Right after the Germans yielded, I am purposely avoiding the word ‘liberation’, the Soviets dictated their way of running the country. The system, which was forced on Poland, wasn’t Lenin Bolshevism anymore, not to be mistaken with Marxism, but a Stalinist totalitarian emanation of it. The Stalinists got rid of the opposition very quickly, by putting them in jails, or exterminating them physically, callously and ruthlessly suppressing the smallest forms of resistance. Until Polish October (or Gomułka’s thaw – ed.) in 1956, soldiers of the underground resistance were being destroyed, their fight against the Nazi invaders marginalized and they were attributed with the biggest war crimes.
The Holocaust, globally the largest crime in human history, was slowly becoming a weapon in the fight against Polish patriots. If someone spoke of bandits in the forest, they couldn’t have meant anybody else than the Armia Krajowa (Home Army – ed.) or the National Armed Forces. They were accused of collaborating with the enemy, which was the official basis for trials and later sentencing of the leaders of the Polish Underground State (PPP) to death. Unfortunately, such thinking still lingers in the minds of the unreflective part of society, which repeatedly looks for signs of supporting the Holocaust in PPP’s actions. This is, and must be made completely clear, wrong - from the ground up. PPP’s aim was to protect citizens against the German aggressors and as is known, Jews were full-fledged citizens of the pre-September Poland, that is, until this country was invaded and then swept away by the Nazi-Soviet machine of destruction!
But the Polish state, meaning the civic community, has suffered most in the war. Nearly four million people were killed (the number is impossible to determine, yet according to statistics Poland was populated by around 35 million people in 1939, that number fell to 24 million) and thirty percent of the national wealth was destroyed or stolen. Poland lost nearly seventy-seven thousand square kilometers of land! What more is there to say, just look at a photo of post-war Warsaw… After the year 1956, the routine use of force against Polish patriots stopped, but the verbal bashing continued until the regaining of sovereignty in 1989. Then, the perception of responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust was subject to a more pragmatic view. Yet the mental effects dug into the Polish awareness very deeply, filling out the guilt with a kind of negation of certain historical facts. Why? From the very beginning, the so-called socialist historiography, in other words – propaganda, stuffed the Polish society with very specific “truths”, which passed for reality. Quite clearly, they suggested that the Pole, as inherently good, guided by their own worldview could not allow the szmalcownictwo (blackmailing for profit) and other war crimes against the Jewish people. He had evil and deceitful leaders! How nice and pleasant for all, easier to accept.
Quite an interesting observation seems to be a semantic fact, used mostly by non-democratic systems. Please note, that whenever the word “truth” is abused it often legitimizes the “untruth”. So the more one seeks to know the truth, the more he/she does not want to know it. Also, I have the impression that today this principle refers to certain specific cases. The Smoleńsk wreck is crowning proof – without bowing in any direction, it is clear that in this case, the “truth” is a political tool in the hands of both sides of the conflict over “the truest truth”. Nobody wants to reach it, because the lack of knowledge gives a lot of leeway which is very convenient for both sides. Just divagations about the service of “truth” in the world of “untruth”… so much on this topic, I’ve written too much anyway!
The tragedy of the Holocaust became a powerful, ideological weapon in the hands of the communists. We should keep in mind that the main arena for the crimes of the Nazi genocide were lands that are in accordance with the Yalta order, that prevailed at the end of World War II, in the Soviet sphere of influence. The communist propaganda twisted the facts, mainly by giving imaginary numbers of victims – these actions usually concerned Auschwitz, as a symbol of the Nazi crimes. Why? Many times during the “real socialism” or “communism with a human face”, as party notables used to call the PRL (People’s Republic of Poland – ed.), one could hear of about six million murdered in Auschwitz, or more accurately, yet still far from the truth, information about three million murdered. On the basis of reliable historical research, we can now say that this number is believed to be around one million one thousand. It is known to anyone interested in the matters of genocide by the Germans in 1942-1945, that the camp in Auschwitz couldn’t have murdered the number of people mentioned earlier.
What was the purpose of these manipulations then? The Federal Republic of Germany in the Cold War propaganda was presented as the primary enemy of the Republic of Poland, because it combined the long-standing aversion towards Germans as the eternal adversary of Poland, besides it pointed to FRG as the direct ideological heirs of the perpetrators of the tragedy of war. The effect of such thinking about the „revisionists from Bonn”, as the inhabitants of Western Germany were commonly called in the media east of the Elbe, was assigning them the will to change the Oder-Neisse border. That is where, according to eastern propaganda, Nazi war criminals were hiding. Again, that is where the gains of Nazi eugenics were used and the money stolen from Poles, as well as Jews, was being laundered. It was the border agreement created on December 7, 1970 that "calmed down" the propaganda and began to slowly and timidly, regulate the relations, diplomatically, as well as economically.
So the tragedy of the Holocaust was a bargaining chip in the hands of the communists, in shaping domestic policy. It served to drag the families affected by this disaster onto their side. For a limited time. In 1968 the myth burst like a bubble and the delusion of a good communist gave way to cold-blooded, cunning, political calculation. Jews weren’t needed anymore. They changed from victims and became a partner, standing at the side of the class enemy, the American imperialist. The rhetoric of “backstabbing” could be used again as an irreplaceable antidote for all injustice. Of course, an escalation of violence could not happen again, yet twenty years after the war, people were going through an ideological déjà vu… A simple man could have thought, WE helped you disinterestedly, and this is how YOU repay us? To Israel, we don’t want you here in Poland anymore. Such thinking from a simple man was expected by the “people’s government”!
History has come full circle…
March 19, 2013 | 7:42 am
Posted Tal Dror
It is no secret that Antisemitism is bluntly on the rise in Europe, South America, the Arab world and almost everywhere in the world. So why would Facebook, the 3rd largest 'country' in the world with over a billion 'citizens' would be different? Why would Wikipedia, home for millions and millions of 'tourists' entering through its gates on a daily basis would be any different? Antisemitism doesn't stop on the borders of Europe or the Arab world. It crosses borders and boundaries, and infiltrates the cyber world as much as it infiltrates schools, mosques and community centers.
In its 2009 study on social networks, the Simon Wiesenthal Center showed a growth curve in the number of websites calling for violence against Jews In 2000, 1400 sites were identified, as opposed to 10,000 sites in 2009.
The reasons for this huge growth are many. But I would like to focus not on WHY online Antisemitism is on the rise, but on WHAT can we do, and HOW we can combat it. The Web allows unmonitored access to marginal groups' contents, and thus can greatly influence the various audiences exposed to that information, mainly young people who are easily influenced. Considering that the Internet is used as a significant instrument for spreading Antisemitism and hatred towards Israel and the Jewish people, it is also the proper platform on which we should battle the Antisemitic websites, undermine them, and spread credible and balanced information instead of them.
In 2011, a group of young leaders from the National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) decided that for too long the cyber world was a failed warzone for Israelis and Jews all over the world. In this warzone, the invisible 'enemy' launches numerous attacks on us, inflicting damage and wounds on the image of Jews and Israelis around the world.
This is why our group – 'Students Against Antisemitism Online' was created. A group of young, professional and passionate students who spend hours every month working on various websites, social networks, blogs, Q&A websites and much more trying to spread positive materials and the other side of the story, alongside shutting down and getting rid of Antisemitic users online. These are our two main strategies – to make sure that mainstream websites, FB groups, blogs etc. will have a presence that contradicts Antisemitic claims as well as making sure that Antisemitism will be shut down and thrown off the cyber-map.
In this somewhat war of attrition it's hard to tell winners from losers. It's hard to know if you inflicted any damage on your invisible 'enemy', or if sometimes you are shooting your cyber-bullets on useless targets. But one thing is for sure – the very presence of young Jewish voices online, dedicating hours and hours every month is extremely important. The next neo-Nazi or KKK member will not be recruited in a dark basement in a god forsaken town in Europe or the US. He or she will be recruited after watching an inflammatory video on Youtube, reading a biased and Antisemitic article on Wikipedia or joining a Facebook groups delivering Antisemitic slur 24/7. This is why our presence is so important. This is why even if this war of attrition can't be won, and we are outnumbered by thousands of Antisemitic activists from all around the world we can't give up and continue with our activity. If us young people, who are native to the social media world are not going to do it – then who will?
This short introduction to the NUIS' 'Students Against Antisemitism Online' program will be followed by descriptions of our daily activity, the problems and struggles we face and sometimes also a 'call of action' for young Jewish students from all around the world to join our efforts and contribute a FB post, a small 'Like' or a positive comment. You can already start helping us by Liking our FB page:
For any questions, comments or ideas don't hesitate to email me at:
Students Against Antisemitism Online
March 10, 2013 | 5:26 am
Posted Michał Zajda
I was intrigued by the recent commotion regarding the alleged insults thrown at the Radwański sisters by tennis pseudo-fans in Israel. Obviously, we are not talking about real fans here, only plain „rebelious boors” of the sort that are beloved by the fatherly figure of the establishment of true Poles, Staruch, the star of a recent episode of Jan Pospieszalki’s talk show. But to the point. Today, that is the 1st of march, during Kontrwywiad on RMF FM, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski informed the listeners that the Polish ambasaddor or his staff „contacted the Radwański sisters’ coach, who said that he did not hear anything and he is not asking for diplomatic intervention”.
But first thing’s first... On February 12, on my favorite website niezalezna.pl, we read as follows,
„During the match with Israel in Euro-African Region, Group I, the Radwański sister double from Poland was called out to by Israeli fans. We received informatoin that the tennis players were addressed as „Catholic bi....s!”. The media were silent about this, but we managed to get confirmation of this news from a member of the Polish tennis crew. There is even a discussion regarding this on Agnieszka Radwańska’s official Facebook page.”
And here is the confirmation of this information, „One ought to keep a certain form at the tennis courts, but their behavior was very, very rude”, Dawid Celt told Niezależna. Celt is a member of the Polish tennis crew, who played a Friday match against Israel. During the game, the Radwański sisters were insulted by the fans. Apart from offensive remarks, the court was also littered with paper planes. The Polish Tennis Association did not wish to comment the matter.
Celt did not want to fan the flame and did not comment the remarks made from the stands. „The fans did not behave appropriately for the venue and the significance of the event. They did not behave as tennis fans should, they disturbed the game, crying out. I can’t say what they were yelling”, Dawid Celt says.” – End of quote.
From that context it appears that it was all so offensive that Mr. Celt cannot say what it is they were yelling... or perhaps he just didn’t understand? But if he couldn’t understand, then that just means they weren’t yelling right – of course! The vigilant, independent, always oppositionist and unsuccessfully persecuted organs of the true Poles, have rapidly deduced that the regime-like, anti-Polish media, dominated by the Michnik-esque Judeo-communists have simply decided to stay silent. Basta!
I cannot comprehend, with my perhaps somewhat limited historian’s brain, how this trivial incident, which surely took place, could have become such a huge media event. I recommend visiting any football match in Poland and listening to what the „fans” are chanting in the stands... and thus comes the question. Doe the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs issue statements of protest? I am under the impression that we are dealing with some sort of manic psychosis, combined with an international coddling-deprivation syndrome.
But what made a great impression on me is the attitude of Agnieszka Radwańska herself, who commented in a very laconic, but meaningful way, on the behavior of part of the Israeli fans, who insulted the players by calling them „Catholic bi....s” – she said, that such behavior was sad and unfair. She is right of course! It is sad and offensive. But Agnieszka herself said this once, and then went on to her training, in order to promote Poland and herself with her quality of play. It should be noted, that during the tournament she defeated every opponent, got on the plane and returned to Poland. What more is there to say... Case closed.
The Polish team’s achievements and wins at the Federation Cup in Eliat became secondary for many, I believe; what was important is that „they’re offending us over there”...
Dear Readers – I am not denying the fact of a verbal assault against these innocent women, I do not think that Israeli hooligans are any better than Polish ones. I do, however, oppose the accompanying narration! Niezalezna.pl and similar such media ex cathedra, treat such hooligan antics as the official position of one ethnic group toward another. This is both sad and false.
Today, Poland remembers the day of „banished soldiers” – people abandoned by the system, marginalized and destroyed brutally by the communists. I won’t have it, for Staruch and other criminals, who chant „f...k the Jews” in the stands, to shield themselves with the banners and images of heroes, when such events take place today. In today’s Gazeta Wyborcza, I read the following words in an interview with Catholic University of Lublin professor, Dr. Rafał Wnuk, „The anti-communist message of the „banished soldiers” is an attractive banner, for radical communities to unite under. We can’t forget, however, the goal of this anti-communist mobilization in our country, where communism fell nearly a quarter of a century ago. Here lies the essence of this manipulation. Its aim is to portray the „banished soldiers” as a symbol of resistance against the current state of Poland, a country considered by some to be subordinate or involved with communism. I am very hopeful that this day of remembrance will not evolve in that direction.”
I do not refer to this holiday here without reason. I am guided by the idea of promoting the values connected with it, but I am also hurt by it being appropriated by these extremes, involved with criminal circles, which insult others and wipe their mouths with ideas of which they have no comprehension whatsoever.
Leaving this unpleasant topic, I will allow myself the support of a few quoted lines from My Żydzi polscy (We Polish Jews) by the unforgettable Julian Tuwim,
Jestem Polakiem, bo tak mi się podoba. To moja ściśle prywatna
sprawa, z której nikomu nie mam zamiaru zdawać relacji, ani
wyjaśniać jej, tłumaczyć, uzasadniać. Nie dzielę Polaków na
"rodowitych" i "nierodowitych", pozostawiając to rodowitym
i nierodowitym rasistom, rodzimym i nierodzimym hitlerowcom.
Dzielę Polaków, jak Żydów i jak inne narody, na mądrych i
głupich, uczciwych i złodziei, inteligentnych i tępych, intere-
sujących i nudnych, krzywdzonych i krzywdzących, gentelmanów
i nie-gentelmenów etc. …
I am Polish, because I like it that way. This is strictly my private matter, which I do not intend to relate, explain or justify to anyone. I do not group Poles into the „true born” and not, leaving it to true-born and not true-born racists, native and foreign-born Nazis. I separate Poles, same as Jews and other nations, into the smart and the dumb, honest and thieving, bright and dim, interesting and boring, harmed and harming, gentlemen and non-gentlemen etc. ...