The Boston Polonia Appeals / Apel Polonii Bostonu
I am writing to call your attention to an article
in today’s (Jan. 27, 05
) New York Times that contains an inaccurate portrayal of the Polish role during both the Holocaust and this week’s commemoration events.
is “World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony” by Craig S. Smith and it contains the following paragraph:
“The commemoration means different things to each nation: for Russia it is a commemoration of its often-overlooked role as liberator, while for Poland and other Central European countries it is both part of a gradual recognition of their complicity in the killing and an opportunity to draw closer to Europe.”
The author provides no supporting evidence for his view on the commemoration’s meaning in Poland and mentions nothing else about the historical ramifications of the Holocaust and of the Auschwitz camp in particular. No mention is made of Germany’s invasion or occupation of Poland or of the extent of suffering, destruction, and murder inflicted on Poland during the war.
Also, the article does not identify any other nations as being “complicit in the killing” and does not explicitly state that it was Germany that was responsible for the creation and operation of the concentration camps in German-occupied Poland.
I have taken the liberty of attaching a Word version of the article
as well as a copy of the email
I had sent to the New York Times in this matter. I think that it is important that we inform the editors of the Times that these misrepresentations and omissions have no place in their paper.
Krzysztof W. Scibiorski
Boston University School of Law, 3L
This is very important and we need to respond by notifying our friends
about this article and by condemning falsification of history by the NYT.
Please write to them. Below is the exchange between the Consulate General
in NY and NYT on this matter. I was shocked by the response of the NYT. I
asked the Consulate General for a scan of the article itself. Should I
receive it, I will forward it to you. In the interim, please act.
FYI included is the American Jewish Committee's Press release on the issue
of falsification of history.
Enclosed is the latest exchange of correspondence between the
Consulate General and the New York Times.
Please continue your actions so
that history is not falsified and forgotten.
Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland
tel. (617) 357-1980, (781) 383-8384
fax (781) 383-8384
Daniel Okrent - Public Editor, the New York Times
Dear Mr. Okrent
Having received your prompt reply to our comments on the article
by C. Smith on January 27th, Consul General decided to write an "open letter " to the editor of NY Times (see attachments), and kindly requests for publishing it in the newspaper. Your email dated on January 31 (copy below) was perceived as a misjudgment or omission of certain known facts concerning the Holocaust history, so the Consul General feels obliged to explain publicly these simplifications and even stereotypes.
As you raised the issue with other editors I assume that it was the opinon of the New York Timed editing staff and other journalists, not only yourself.
Thank you in advance for your positive response to our request.
Consul - Dept. Public Relations
Consulate General of Poland
Please find attached:
1. Open letter from Consul General of Poland Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska
2. Copy of the article by Craig Smith"World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony"
3. AJC's statement on Poland and the Auschwitz commemoration
4. Previous corespondence - pasted below
Dear Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska,
Thank you for your message. I raised this issue with the editors, and can now send you their formal response:
By saying that Poland and other Central European countries are gradually recognizing "their complicity in
the killing," the article did not mean to suggest there was Polish complicity in the genocide of the Nazi death
camps. It was referring broadly to Poland's recent acknowledgment of the anti-Semitic climate in parts of
Poland at the time that led to the killing of Jews by Poles during the period, in particular the Jedwabne
massacre of 1,600 Jews in 1941 - for which Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski apologized in 2001.
It was also referring to the continuing debate over those Poles who knew what has happening at Auschwitz
but chose to remain silent. Our correspondent is aware of the suffering Poland endured at the hands of the
Nazis, of the deaths of Polish inmates at Auschwitz and elsewhere, as well as the contribution individual
Poles made in rescuing those Polish Jews who survived.
I'm grateful that you wrote to me about this matter. Please feel free to reproduce this message or forward it to anyone you wish.
N.B. Any opinions expressed here, unless otherwise attributed, are solely my own
I am writing to you with reference to an article
by Craig S. Smith “ World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony” that was published in yesterday’s New York Times. I was first confused and then appalled by the following paragraph:
…“ The commemoration means different thing for each nation: for Russia it is a commemoration of its often-overlooked role as liberator, while for Poland and other Central European countries it is both part of gradual recognition of their complicity in the killing and an opportunity to draw closer to Europe”…
The phrase “complicity in killing”, in the light of ongoing commemoration in Auschwitz, Poland, explicitly states that the Poles were perpetrators co-responsible for terrible genocide in the death camps during the Second World War. But not long ago, yesterday, the European Parliament, with the votes of German deputies, agreed on the resolution commemorating the Liberation of Auschwitz, the camp established by NAZI GERMANY.
The paragraph, especially the assumption that Poland and other Central European countries it is both part of gradual recognition of their complicity in the killing and an opportunity to draw closer to Europe, brings up a question - which countries of Europe the author meant – Nazi Germany, Vichy’s France, Quisling’s Norway in the past, or perhaps present Western Europe were anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli attitudes are on the rise (see: The Report on Anti-Semitism, U.S. State Dept. 2004) ? As you may realize collaborators were all over the Europe, and is not my intention to deny that Poland was free of anti-Semitism, collaborators or even perpetrators. The fact remains, however, that Polish government-in-exile based in London did officially oppose those acts and anyone found guilty of collaboration faced death sentence. More information on organization, such as “Zegota, or brave individuals can be found in numerous resources, amongst others in: “Holocaust – A History” by Debrah Dwork & Rober Jan van Pelt (W.W.Norton&Comp. 2003), which includes the following:
…” Americans were no more credulous. During the war they judged most reports of German atrocities as exaggeration at best. When the Polish government-in-exile published a long report on Nazi terror in German occupied Poland(1940, one American editorial warned its readers that twenty years earlier “ a great many of the atrocity stories which were so well attested and so strenuously told, so indignantly believed and so commonly repeated, were found to be absolute fakes.” Time mockingly called news from Poland “the atrocity story of the week”… (p. 301)
…” Blinkered by their prejudices, neither the Foreign Office nor the State Department was particularly sympathetic to the plight of the Jews. Instead, the State Department was blatantly and unforgivably antisemitic”… (p.323)
I, as well as Polish community in New York, would appreciate that after a thorough study of the history of Holocaust the author of the article C. S. Smith will publicly take a position and explain his aforementioned assumption on Poland’s “complicity in the killing and an opportunity to draw closer to Europe”.
Consul General of Poland in New York
Daniel Okrent - Public Editor, the New York Times
Dear Mr. Okrent
I am writing to you to protest the falsification of World War II history by the New York Times in the article of Jan. 27 by Craig S. Smith"World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony".In this article, Mr. Smith writes that Poland and other Eastern European countries are gradually recognizing "their complicity in the killing".I would like to remind Mr. Smith that it was not Poland that was attacking anyone. Poland was defending its own country and citizens.
The Germans, who were not even mentioned in this article except for the wording nazi (which for many is an abstract name without any connection to the country that instigated the War), were the invaders. It was the Germans that built the concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and killed millions of Poles including three million Polish Jews.
Poles were the victims, not the killers!!
If you want to sustain your newspaper's high reputation, you should replace Mr. Smith and his editor and publish appropriate corrections to the article.
Andrzej Pronczuk, D.Sc.
Polish Cultural Foundation, Inc. in Boston
(Revised letter to Craig S. Smith - Polboston.com)
I have read your article of January 27 (“World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony”) in the New York Times with serious concern. It appears that you do not know the history of World War II and the history of Poland during that time.
To set record straight, the first Jew that died in Auschwitz was in June 1942, at the time of the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto as well as other Jewish Ghettos set up by German Nazis in other Polish cities, Before that, the first prisoners sent to Auschwitz were Poles, professors from the Jagiellonian University and priests from Krakow and vicinity. One of these victims was my uncle, John Gustowski
, an American citizen. He had number “18922” in Auschwitz (see attached copy of his picture from the Auschwitz Museum and copy of the telegram).
You wrote in your article that, “while for Poland and other Central European countries it is both part of a gradual recognition of their complicity in the killing (my highl.).…”
In Jerusalem, there is an Avenue where tree are planted with nametags that represent those that saved the Jew during WWII. Of the thousands of the trees planted, the largest number (see Yad Vashem Museum web site
- PolBoston.com) of them have Polish names. Did you know what the penalty was if a Jew was found hidden in someone's house during the Nazi Germany occupation of Poland?
Everybody that was in this house was instantly shot dead, without asking any questions. In spite of this fear, the Poles helped thousands of Jews.
You obviously omit the fact that Poland was invaded and occupied by the German Nazis who, in fact, build the concentration camps in Germany as well as on occupied territory. Poland lost 6 millions of its citizens, including 3 million Polish Jews! (Largest population of Jews in Europe of this time.- PolBoston.com)
Jozef A. Wawarzak,
Dear Mr. Editor,
I would like to comment on an article published in the New York Times entitled “World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony” by Craig S. Smith that appeared in the Times on January 27th, 2005. After reading this article via various e-mails and through the web, I noticed that there are many errors and fallacies that Mr. Smith wrote about in this article. I would like to call you attention to these.
The line that strikes the most conflict is as follows “…while for Poland and other Central European countries it is both part of a gradual recognition of their complicity in the killing [and an opportunity to draw closer to Europe].” Many people reading this would think that it was the Poles who committed these atrocities against the millions who perished in these camps. THIS IS NOT TRUE! The Polish people were the victims of these atrocities and it was the Germans who committed these murders. There is no actual mention of the Germans building these camps and committing there inhumane acts there.
The article also does not mention anything regarding the invasion of Poland in 1939 by the German army, the six year occupation that the Polish people suffered, and the 3 million Polish people that were exterminated in these camps. These are all facts that many people including Mr. Smith greatly overlooked.
Another line also strikes me to be unnecessary and false. It goes as follows: “The commemoration means different things to each nation: for Russia it is a commemoration of its often-overlooked role as liberator…” The Soviet Union was not a liberator. It did not liberate Eastern Europe. After the war, the Soviet Union put its greedy control over many nations including Poland and most of Eastern Europe. To say that Russia was a “liberator” is extremely false. If Russia was a true liberator, it would have contributed to the uprising in Warsaw in 1944. Instead, the Red Army just waited on the other side of the Wisla River, waiting for the city to fall, waiting for the brave men, women, and children to fall in vain. Once the “liberators” entered Warsaw, the chains of fascism were thrown off of Poland, this time to be replaced by the chains of Soviet communism and domination, which would last for the next 45 years.
As noted above, the article that Mr. Smith wrote contains many fallacies and evidence that is deceiving and disloyal to the Polish people. As a young Polish American, I feel that it is my sworn duty to uphold the truth about Polish history and to correct the misleading information about this history. I feel that this article should be corrected and Mr. Smith notified about the errors. There is no excuse for such roguish reporting.