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A Catholic Auschwitz Survivor's Thousand Points of Light

April 08, 2008

Americans first heard about a “thousand points of light” from George Bush Sr. when he was campaigning for the presidency of the United States in 1988. Now, a Polish Catholic survivor of Auschwitz is starting a different kind of campaign to promote his own “thousand points of light.”

Michael Preisler feels “thousand points of truth” would be a more precise description.  What are these thousand points?  They are a
thousand copies of Andrew Hempel’s book about a six-year period Preisler lived through and its title is simply “Poland in World War II.”

It will be distributed by the Holocaust Documentation Committee of the Polish American Congress where Preisler is co-chair.
“Nowhere else is Holocaust history as distorted and as misrepresented as it is about Poland.”  Whenever Preisler says this he speaks from his own bitter experience which began when Germany invaded Poland in 1939 to start World War II.  He fought against the Germans as a member of the Polish underground resistance before being arrested by the Gestapo and ending up as an Auschwitz prisoner for more than three years.
Today, Preisler frequently visits schools to give students an honest and balanced account of what the Christians and Jews of Poland were forced to suffer under German occupation.  He tells them of his own experiences and the inhuman conditions German terror and brutality created for the Polish people.  Now he plans to leave behind one of his “points of light” books whenever he lectures again.  
Giving Americans accurate information about the Holocaust became a driving force for Preisler some twenty-five years ago. That was
when he first noticed how the entertainment industry and other media began to fictionalize and falsify history with an evident anti-Polish prejudice.
For many years he had tried to erase all his painful wartime memories. Now, this kind of manipulation of the historical record suddenly became a grim reminder of the anti-Polish propaganda the Germans used to demoralize and confuse the Polish people.  The constant lying they so cunningly devised created an ever-present sense of fear and suspicion in occupied Poland.
Preisler would like to believe the media mislead the American public simply because of ignorance or their carelessness in researching the facts. But he suspects there is more to it than that.
“They try to blame the Polish people for atrocities the Germans committed. They try to blame us for atrocities the Communists committed.  They prefer to call concentration camps like Auschwitz where I almost died “Polish” concentration camps instead of German camps.  The bad guys are made to look like good guys,” he said.
Preisler noted it was Poland’s grave misfortune not only to have the Nazis of Germany as an enemy in WW II. but also the Communists of the Soviet Union (now Russia).
“I only wish the American government had been as careful with investigating the background of ex-Communists who came to
the United States after the war as they were with the Germans,” he said.
Knowing Preisler was an Auschwitz survivor, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations at one time came to
him and asked him to help them identify photos of former German SS-men who might have sneaked into the United States.
Preisler says he was glad to help the OSI since he had a personal score to settle with the SS and some other Germans besides.
“But the OSI never checked out the Communists like they did the Nazis. They should have. The propaganda of these liars was just
as deceiving as the Germans’.  They’re experts at it .  I can’t help wondering if one of them is behind it whenever I see the truth about Poland get twisted today,” he said.
It’s feelings like these that keep driving Preisler to fight just the way they did that day in 1939 when Hitler’s army crossed the border
and started killing the Polish people.
He is determined to see each one of his “thousand points of light” enlighten the American public with the truth about Poland.
Contact:  Frank Milewski
(718) 263-2700 ext 105