« Oh Noes! Socialism! | Main | Question »

October 26, 2008


And if you go on to the immediately previous front-page post at TPM, it links to a Mark Levin post at NRO the subtext of which is also about comparing Obama's campaign to a fascist movement, though at least the couple of paragraphs I skimmed before leaving in disgust did not impute schemes of genocide.

It seems amazing that any Jewish policy adviser would do anything other than rip that out of the hands of the others in the room and ram it into the shredder.

Can someone petition the Supreme Court to invoke Godwin's Law and declare Obama to have won the election now?

(Joking aside, this is a revolting tactic.)

The only comforting thought about this is that there has to be a special place in Hell for these people.

This is why I quit reading Thoreau, at Unqualified Offerings, after he started his regular practice of referring to Transportation Safety Administration employees as "thugs" of the "Gestapo," the "Mukhabarat," the "Stasi," the "Die Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit," and so on. Spoiled kids who can't tell the difference between death camps and dumbass bureaucracies have a major perception and ethical blindness.

I wonder if this will make Charles Bird write a similar post for Redstate?


For Sarah Palin's church, another Holocaust is a feature, not a bug.

Odd thing is...

The Nazis are underrated for their murderousness, about as much as Alex Rodriguez is sometimes underrated as a baseball player because we take their extremes of performance for granted sometimes.

Adam Tooze did a great job of demostrating that these guys were completely off the evil scale...

I think Godwin's law invites too many stupid debates to be worth its while, but in a serious real-world context, one really need not compare people to the Nazis unless they at least comes close, like the Japanese in China or Pol Pot or something.

"Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let's not make a similar one this year!""

I object to the idea that "our ancestors" (mine included) "ignored the warning signs." Lots of them did not. But anti-immigrant sentiment, not just in the US, prevented them from escaping. If the US and western European nations had been more willing to accept Jewish immigrants from Germany, and especially Poland and Russia (the less assimilated "ostJuden"), many lives would have been saved.

It was xenophobia, more than ignoring warning signs, that produced the tragedy.

And by the way, those who did minimize the Nazi threat were not just being pollyannas.

During WWI Germany occupied much of Poland - then a part of the czarist empire. Conditions under this occupation were fairly benign, and Jews, specifically, enjoyed much better treatment that they had under the czars. It was not irrational for Polish Jews to look back on that period - a mere twenty or so years earlier - and conclude that much of what was coming out of Germany was just political rhetoric.

Remember that they were not living in the 21st century US, but in a generally anti-Semitic society, where discrimination and oppression were facts of everyday life. The question was not, "are the Germans anti-Semitic," but "are they worse than the Poles?"

"The question was not, 'are the Germans anti-Semitic,' but 'are they worse than the Poles?'"

Whom Bernard neglects to make absolutely clear, were pretty damn antisemitic.


[...] The country slated for destruction by the fiercely antisemitic Nazi German state, by a tragic twist of history, also contained the largest concentration of Jews on the European continent --some 3,250,000 Jews, a tenth of the population. Although present on Polish soil since the early Middle Ages, they were, at the dawn of the twentieth century, still by far a nonassimilable community. Apart from the language barrier (most Jews still claimed Yiddish as their native tongue), Jews stood out from the general population in dress,habits, names and surnames, and nonverbal language, such as gestures, facial expressions, and mannerisms --but mostly in the very different religious practice of Judaism in a country considering itself profoundly Catholic. All these factors, coupled with the concentration of Jews in the larger cities(where they constituted between one-third and one-fourth of the total population) and a no less significant presence in smaller ones, contributed to make most Jews easily recognizable, and frankly resented by the majority of Poles.

Again, by an additional historical paradox, the Polish Jews, accused by antisemites of secretly hoarding wealth for dishonorable purposes, were actually the poorest of all Jewish continental communities, and many were literally subsisting below the poverty level. This process was accelerated in the 1930s by government economic measures (aimed at transferring most enterprises into Polish hands) which amounted to economic strangulation of broad sections of the Jewish population, and was also exacerbated by other discriminatory measures, such as the restriction of Jewish students in universities (the infamous "numerous clausus"), random violence on streets and schools, and open adulation of Nazi anti-Jewish measures across the border. The powerful Catholic Church failed to take a stand against the official antisemitic policies of the ruling class (some even condoned it, accusing theJews, as in Cardinal Hlond's 1936 pastoral letter, of corroding the morals of the youth).


How would the people of Poland react to the plight of the Jews, and how would they respond to the tearful pleadings for aid by an ethnic group which was being swiftly decimated, and would soon disappear for good from the Polish landscape?

The weight of evidence from eyewitness accounts and documentary material, it must be said in full candor, points to a widespread antisemitism that militated against a serious attempt to render succor to the afflicted Jews--difficult as such undertakings would have been in light of the Nazi terror machine which operated with a special brutality against the Polish population. In many quarters, there was even sort of an eerie satisfaction that the Jewish Question in Poland (an irritating 10 percent of the population) was at long last being solved for the good of the country, coupled with a revulsion among some at the methods used to achieve this end.

Antisemitism in Poland had already reached high proportions in the immediate years before the war (although Jews enjoyed unprecedented liberties during the Middle Ages, at a time when their brethren suffered persecution in the rest of Europe). This antisemitism played into the hands of the Nazis, who needed, if not the outright cooperation, then at least the silent acquiescence of the conquered populations if their genocical plans were to succeed.

It is interesting that Emmanuel Ringelblum, the noted Polish-Jewish historian (whose authority is also lauded by non-Jewish Polish historians), castigated Polish society for its antisemitism; he labeled the Poland of the prewar years "the leading anti-Semitic country in Europe, second to Germany alone." He condemned the Polish police for playing a "most lamentable role inthe extermination of the Jews of Poland," and for being "enthusiastic executors of all the German directives regarding the Jews." Ringelblum wrote these words in a major study he was preparing on Polish-Jewish relations, from his hiding place in Warsaw. Ringelblum lamented the antisemitism of the non-Jewish population and their satisfaction "that Warsaw had in the end becomejudenrein."

Ringelblum's gloomy analysis of the anti-Jewish sentiment in Poland is borne out by numerous testimonies of survivors, even of those whose lives were saved through the courageous help of non-Jews. As stated by the historian Hersztein, "the historical account must conform to the documents, not the otherway around." Testimonies by survivors, even of those who survived thanks to the aid of benevolent persons, are replete with accounts of unfriendliness shown toward Jews, which in many cases took violent form.

Ringelblum terms these gangs "an endless nightmare" to the Jews on the Aryan side (the term generally used for the area of habitation outside the ghetto, forbidden to Jews on the pain of death). The evidence shows that there was hardly a Jew in hiding who did not have an encounter with them at least once, and who did not have to buy himself free for a sum of money. They brought disaster to thousands of Jews who has succeeded in eluding the Nazis. Numerous eyewitness accounts from other survivors (even of rescuers whose lives was made doubly dangerous and miserable from fear of blackmailers from among their own kinsmen) only tend to confirm this shameful phenomenon for which there was no parallel (to such an extent) in any other Nazi-occupied country.

The plague of the blackmailers was so widespread that the Polish underground felt it necessary to begrudgingly take measures, if not to fully eradicate it, at least to contain it. In practice, only a few informers were actually punished. The few steps taken in this direction bore absolutely no proportion to the magnitude of the crimes committed by the Nazis and, hence, had little effect in reducing the blackmailing plague, which continued festering undiminished till the last days of the occupation.


The threat facing would-be rescuers, however, also came from the direction of the local population. There were not a few Poles who exerted pressure on rescuers to expel their Jewish wards. These coercions came not only from strangers, but also from next-door neighbors and members of the rescuer's family, who were infuriated at the rescuer for risking the lives of his family, of neighbors, and the local community (who could suffer retribution at the hands of the Germans), all for the sake of the "despised" Jews. Many are the stories of rescuers who, under intense pressure, felt constrained to suddenly let their Jews go (in some cases only momentarily, until the pressure had somehow abated), or hurriedly made alternative arrangements for their wards to be hidden elsewhere. Not a few rescuers suffered violence after the war at the hands of their own kinsmen, when through indiscretion the story of their courageous deeds became known; others hurriedly moved to new locations to escape the wrath of their infuriated neighbors.

Thus, Polish rescuers had to overcome greater pressures and fears than their counterparts in other occupied countries, especially in Western Europe.

But there's so much more, including the post-war antisemitism.

Interwar Poland was a *very* fucked-up operation--especially during the run-up to the Hitler-Stalin pact. A lot of it was just really nationalist Poles who thought they had leeway into being macho pigheads...

I don't think anyone who's read much in the war is all that unawares of the extent of polish antisemitism in the face of two rather genocidal neighbors fighting in its territories...


Thanks for the comment. I didn't do enough to emphasize Polish anti-Semitism, which was quite severe in its own right, even before the rise of the Nazis.

Anti-Semitism was an important and overt issue in Polish politics. It was an explicit part of the platform of one of the major parties, the National Democrats, or "Endeks." The Endek leader, Roman Dmowski, was an explicit anti-Semite, and probably the second most important Polish political figure, after Pilsudski, in pre-WWII Poland.

This is probably way more than anyone wanted to know about all this, but the assertion that the "Jews ignored the warnings" is ill-informed and ignorant in and of itself, without reference to the Presidential campaign.

And of course the comparison with Jewish support for Obama is odious.

I see that a group of Pennsylvania Republicans are trying again. I think they're trying to compare him to Chamberlain, so no Godwin points, but still, eew.

(Via TPM)

The comments to this entry are closed.