||Few Reflections About the difficult Past
by GREGORY KARPINSKI
It was not a coincidence that Holocaust mainly occurred in Poland. The
Nazis took advantage of the largest concentration of Jews in the pre-war
era in the country which harbored Jews for centuries and the country which
offered them a safe place to live with dignity.
We seem to forget that Jews were persecuted in traditionally catholic
countries such as Spain, Italy, and France throughout centuries. Those
who did not convert to Catholicism were pushed eastward and settled in
Lets not forget that Poland we know today was not Poland then. Partitioned,
it vanished from the map of Europe for 123 years regaining briefly its
independence and name after the July of 1919 Paris Peace Treaty. In the
last 250 years, Poland did not have foreign armies on its soil only for
25 years. Yet, the country offered its hospitality not only to Jews, but
also to many other ethnic groups. Did ethnic sporadic clashes take place?
Yes, similar to those in the US today.
The Nazis are known for their infamous war machine efficiencies. Therefore,
to save on transportation, and labor costs they built their death camps
in Poland where Jews were largely concentrated.
During World War II, 20% of the Polish population perished. Among them
thousands of Jews, Polish citizens, who as we know now were systematically
exterminated by Hitler's troops. It was again not a coincidence that the
very first news of the systematic genocide of Jews committed by Germans
in Poland was brought to President Roosevelt and thus the world by the
Polish catholic courier smuggled out of Poland, Mr. Jan Karski. He is
still a living witness to it, and lives in the US. In fact, the Jewish
state of Israel recognized Mr. Karski as well as 5,000 other Poles and
planted trees at Yad Vashem to honor Polish individual citizens for having
saved Jewish lives. The 6,000 other trees honor individuals of many other
nationalities. Yet, it is worth noting
that only in Poland the Nazis imposed and executed on the spot death penalty
on people who dared help save Jewish lives.
The film "Shtetl" pretends to bring the viewers back to the
war reality. It used its statements selectively and the director's premise
was based on opinions of the few.
I wonder what the opinion of the US and its citizens would be if only
events such as in Crown Heights, Brooklyn or assassinations of prominent
American Jews were presented to the world.
Although historical facts let us understand the world in which we live
now, I think that we should focus on eliminating past animosities instigated
by people who no longer are with us. We ought to help build the world
free of mutual hatred, and lack of tolerance.
Gregory Karpinski, NYC
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