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Catholic Church and Antisemitism: Poland, 1933-1939 (Studies in Antisemitism) Hardcover – July 1, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-3718655687 ISBN-10: 3718655683 Edition: 0th

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This is an excellent scholarly book which also carries strong humanitarian appeal. The author places Polish Antisemitism in both a national and international context. He clearly defends his thesis that Polish attitudes were fully in accord with the outlook of Rome, especially the papal obsession with liberalism and secularism.'.
–John Klier of University College, London --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Antisemitism
  • Hardcover: 429 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (July 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3718655683
  • ISBN-13: 978-3718655687
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,708,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This work flits from topic to topic, making it a many-topic compendium that is lengthy but very superficial. To correct every issue would require a book of its own. I touch on a few specific items later in this review.

The only scholarly merit of this book is its inclusion of much seldom-available Polish-language material. This, of course, assumes that the materials are accurately quoted.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronald Modras is an ex-Catholic priest. He is obviously a theological liberal (or modernist), as evidenced by his rejection of the Gospels, at least those according to Matthew and John, as objective history. (p. 203). He discusses Wanda Wasilewska in a positive light, and manages to avoid mentioning even once that Wasilewska was a deep-dyed, prominent Communist. (p. 379).

Pointedly, the author tacitly admits that his qualifications to study the subject of Polish-Jewish relations are very limited [if that]. Modras writes, (quote) I am not a student of Polish history. My training has been that of a theologian, and, as an American Roman Catholic, I have spent much of my professional life studying the reflecting on the history and theology of the Roman Catholic Church. (unquote). (p. xiv).

READING HISTORY BACKWARDS

The author imposes the values of today's ecumenical climate onto the 1930's. The reader would never guess that antagonisms between religions (not only Christians against Jews!) were hardly noteworthy. [For example, even in my own lifetime, long after the 1930's, nearly 450 years after the Reformation, and in the pluralistic USA, Catholic classes still taught that Protestant churches were false, manmade churches. Protestants, for their part, still taught that Catholicism was the Whore of Babylon.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tom on July 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Roman Catholic theologian Ronald Modras's "The Catholic Church and Antisemitism, Poland, 1933-1939" is a critical appraisal of the virulent anti-Semitism of the interwar Polish Church.

Beginning in the 1890's, Roman Dmowski's National Democrats (Endecja) tapped into centuries-old popular anti-Semitism, blaming all of Poland's problems on it's Jewish citizens. By the 1930's, Endekian thought was becoming increasingly institutionalized. Modras shows that the church was not a bystander to the growing intolerance but was a leading and enthusiastic proponent.

Modras goes to great lengths to demonstrate that the anti-Semitism of the Polish Church was not unique but was in accordance with the viewpoint of the Vatican and other national churches at that time. The author provides a wealth of anti-Semitic articles from official Polish Catholic publications. Most numerous are articles from Fr. Maksymilian Kolbe's rabidly anti-Semitic daily newspaper, Maly Dziennik.

"The Catholic Church and Antisemitism, Poland, 1933-1939" is an exceptional book and a thoughtful, Christian response to the ethno-nationalistic chauvinism still so prevelent in American Polonia today.

Some other very good books which discuss Polish Catholic anti-Semitism:

"Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present" by Joanna B. Michlic

"Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland" by Jan T. Gross

"The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland" by Antony Polonsky

"Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz" by Jan Tomasz Gross

"Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath" by Joshua D.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David P. Efroymson on October 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Modras knows what he is doung. This is an excellent account of antisemitism in an important time and place. He levels serious criticism where appropriate, but the "good guys"--and there are a few--get some deserved credit. The best thing available on (especially Catholic) Poland on the evew of the Shoah.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful By AM Melbourne on February 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent piece of very clear readable writing about a shameful period in human history. It shows how Christian anti Jewish teachings had, after 1700 of such inculcation created an environment where rounding up Jews for the crematoria was rendered very easy for Hitler's murderous armies.

The author, Modras is an honest theologian and practising Catholic. His honest history writing, brimming with direct cited quotations is an indictment of the Polish Catholic clergy.

The book is a cannot-put-down type of non reading, rarely encountered in non fiction.

It is a must read for anyone, like myself, whose parents were Poles born in the late 19th century.

AM, Melbourne
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