FBI Director, Polish Collaborationists and Pogroms in Jedwabna

FBI Director, Polish Collaborationists and Pogroms in Jedwabna

The U.S. ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull has apologized for remarks made by FBI Director James Comey, who penned a Washington Post op-ed made public on April 16 in which he accused Poland of being a collaborator in the Holocaust.

The commentary is adapted from a speech given at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner to mark Yom HaShoah. Yom HaShoah (in English Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day), is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. The Warsaw ghetto uprising took place in 1943. The FBI Director wrote «In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us».

James Comey is a professional, he knows what he is talking about. He did not adduce facts to confirm the affirmation that Germany was not the only country where «the murderers and accomplices» conducted their activities during WWII. He could have easily done it if he wished. The history of such Polish urban places as Radziwillowe, Vonsoshi, Visne and Jedwabne offers vivid examples of the activities conducted by Polish collaborationists and crackdowns against Jews…its worth to note that the peak of anti-Jewish activities fell on the period right after Germany attacked the Soviet Union. By the time Poland had been under the Hitlerites’ yoke for two years. In Jedwabne and its outskirts Poles killed Jews one by one. They used sticks, stones, they severed people’s heads and desecrated corpses. On July 10, 1941 the local Jewish community was wiped away from the face of the earth. They made around fifty Jews come to the central square of the town. They were told to do away with the memorial to Lenin. Then Jews were made take the memorial’s debris away from the town and bury it singing Soviet songs. The local rabbi headed the procession. All participants of the ceremony were cold bloodily fusilladed in an empty hangar. Bodies were covered. In the evening they took the Jews from Jedwabne, including women and children, to be buried alive. The overall death toll was around two thousand. 

On July 10, 2001 – the 60th anniversary of Jedwabne massacre – the Polish government acknowledged that the crime was not perpetrated by Hitlerites. It was committed by Poles, who had lived together with Jews for many centuries. In the official address delivered by the President of the Republic of Poland Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski on July 10, 2001, in Jedwabne, the country’s leader said «This was a particularly cruel crime», as he was broadcast live on Polish television. «It was justified by nothing. The victims were helpless and defenseless». «For this crime, we should beg the souls of the dead and their families for forgiveness», he said. «Today, as a man, citizen and president of the Polish republic, I ask pardon in my own name and in the name of those Polish people whose consciences are shocked by this crime». 

Poles were involved in mass collaborationism during WW II. Cezary Grymza told Wprost weekly in Octover 2005 that around half a million of Poles were Hitler’s Wehrmacht collaborationists. In the autumn of 2014, Jerzy Kohanowsky of Warsaw Institute of History mentioned the book „Wasserpolacken» (a German word for Polish half breeds residing near the Polish border areas) in an interview to Natemat.pl. The book written by Joachim Terafitsky describes the military service of Wermacht soldier. 

Vladislav Shwedt, the author of the book Katyn Mystery, or Perfidious Shot at Russia (2010) writes that «Poles collaborated with Nazi in concentration camps. The book The Death Factory in Auschwitz written by the camp’s prisoners tells a story about a Polish doctor Vladyslav Derring (p.112), a camp victim himself, who was involved in unhuman experiments. Stephan Vezbych from Upper Silesia was senior in the barrack. He preferred to kill with three strikes of stick (p.53). Polish doctor Zenon Zenkteller was a Nazi doctor who used a unique method of curing those who were ill (p.82) by beating them up. Bruno Bronevych, the senior man in the barrack, Kazimezh Goska from Warsaw, Yulius Miklus and Victor Tkoza (p.252-253) are also mentioned in the book. There is a list of SS servicemen notorious for extreme cruelty (p.231). There is always a black sheep in the family. The fact that Poles collaborated with Germans cannot be hidden. 

Perhaps Poles are not such anti-Semites as Jews believe them to be, said Mikhael Shudrich in early 2000s. But they are more prone to anti-Semitism that they believe themselves. («Focus», № 28, 2001). The Warsaw rabbi could have been mistaken. But this is the year of 70th anniversary of the victory in WWII. It would be right if Director of FBI James Comey would not only guess what killers and their accomplices of this or that country felt deep in their souls, but would also share the evidence he has at his disposal. 

Tags: FBI  Eastern Europe  Poland  US