Letter to Guardian RE: Derogatory statements in Book Review Nov 11, 2006
November 14, 2006
Guardian Letter to The Editor RE: Book Review 11th November ,2006 titled “ Eyes to the East” Piers Brendon assesses Norman Devies’s attempt to rearrange a continent in two volumes, Europe at War 1939-1945 and Europe East and West
Mr. Piers Brendon in his review of the historical book by Mr. Norman Davies , entitled “Europe at War 1939-1945” inserts, historically faulty and derogatory to Poland and Poles, paragraph to which I strongly object. An uninformed reader could assume that, the alleged prewar and post war, Polish anti-Semitism was a major factor in Second World War and that Poles, represented by Polish Ambassador in Berlin (Mr. Jozef Lipski) sympathized with Hitler in “solving Jewish problem”. Mr. Brendon also criticizes Mr. Davies for failure to emphasize “obtrusive Polish anti-Semitism” as a major factor in the bloody 1939-1945 conflict. Furthermore Mr. Brendon states, that after the war “Polish thugs killed hundreds of Jews in an apparent effort to complete the genocide.”
If Polish anti-Semitism was so oppressive and obtrusive, as Mr.Brendon states, how could the majority of European Jews reside safely, for few hundred years, in Poland and not for example in Great Britain. Further more, Mr. Brendon, as an historian should be aware that, before the war, the Jews in Poland published a multitude of own newspapers, owned theaters and in spite of alleged Polish anti-Semitism, dominated such professions as medicine and law. Without liberties offered to the Jews in Poland, the State of Israel, probably could not be created, because in Poland, Jews preserved theirs religious and cultural identity. The most outrageous statement by Mr. Brendon refers to the Polish Ambassador in Berlin (Mr. Josef Lipski), who supposedly was looking-up to Hitler for the solution of “Jewish problem” and that Poland would built Hitler a monument in Warsaw, if he will solve it.
If Mr. Brendon would be sincere in his profession as a historian, he would read a book, written by the same individual, titled: ”Diplomat in Berlin, 1933-1939: Papers and memoirs of Jozef Lipski, Ambassador of Poland”. (Book is available, in English, on www.Amazon.com. ) There Mr. Brendon would gather true information who was Polish Ambassador and what were his opinions about Hitler. Finally Mr. Brendon refers to “Polish thugs” as if it were a generally accepted generic term on par with the term "English soccer hooligans" commonly encountered at the European stadiums. Did he also mean Polish pilots beating up on the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. His use of the summarily derogatory phrase only serves to illuminate his own biases without adding anything to readers' understanding of the history of Europe. As he bills himself as a historian, shame on him.
Jan Czekajewski, Ph.D. (Polish holocaust survivor)
Member of Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in N.Y.