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by David Carver

I was born in Zamosc, Poland, and at the age of 10 was shipped off with my older brother to the US to live with relatives of my mother, who had died the previous year. I guess that our father sent us to the US primarily so that we would be better off, although I am certain that the prevalence of anti-Semitism was also a factor. I remember full well the common epithet of "lousy Jew , go to Palestine" (in Polish of course), the overheard stories that animals could not by (Polish) law be slaughtered in the kosher manner, other stories that Jews could not attend university, etc. I never saw my father again as he along with most other Jews of Zamosc were murdered at Belzec I learned this in recent years from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. My mother's relatives forbade my use of the Polish language, mostly in an effort to force my rapid Americanization, but also I suspect that to them Polish reminded them of bad treatment of the Jews. I feel and have always felt that I am a Polish (American) who is Jewish rather than Christian. (Unfortunately, I only know a handful of Polish words; 60 years of not having access to the Polish language certainly resulted in my forgetting everything). My efforts to discuss in writing Polish anti-Semitism with Polish Catholic organizations have resulted in silence. I do not want to cause problems, nor to cause trouble, or to be accusative. I wish to live in peace and to be accepted as what I am; a Polish American Jew. Someone sent me an essay written by a leader of a Polish American organization in the eastern part of the US about the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Poland which quotes the Pope with something like, "forgive, but remember". I wrote to that gentleman stating that I felt that the Polish people suffered terribly at the hands of the German forces. That I have read that some 5000 Polish people have been recognized for saving Jewish lives at tremendous peril to themselves and their families and were recognized as "righteous gentiles" at ceremonies in Israel. Who knows how many others might have been caught and killed in trying to save or hide Jews? Furthermore, how many of any of us would jeopardize our lives and the lives of our families to protect some stranger? But at the same time there must be an admission that anti-Semitism in Poland was part of life so that there can be something like a correction. I also did not (and do not) like the reference to Jews and Poles. I think that smacks of anti-Semitism. Why not Jewish Poles and Catholic Poles? We have Christian Americans, Buddhist Americans, etc., etc. These are not direct quotes from my letter, these are pretty much what I had to say.