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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting, January 11, 2012
Ellen Cassedy (Takoma Park, MD) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present (Paperback)
A welcome and uplifting addition to the discussion that began when Jan Tomasz Gross's "Neighbors" shined a spotlight on Polish persecution of Jews during World War II. Joanna Michlic, author of "The Neighbours Respond," explains the development of the negative image of Polish Jewry in the 19th century and traces this image through to the beginning of the 21st century. In looking closely at Polish anti-Semitism, Michlic encourages all of us to move beyond easy judgments.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Polish Anti-Semitism Irrefutable, February 24, 2010
Tom (Rochester, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present (Paperback)
With the partitions and the Nazi and Soviet occupations, no other European nation has suffered as Poland has, which makes it extremely difficult for Polish Catholics to admit to any malevolence of their own.

Polish monarchs welcomed Western Europe's Jews to Poland in the Middle Ages but this was not for altruistic reasons. The nobility desperately needed the Jews' acumen in finance and trade. Over the centuries, anti-Jewish sentiment grew in Poland, fueled by economic rivalry and the Polish Catholic Church.

At the end of the nineteenth century, a growing number of Poles envisioned an independent Poland whose citizens would be exclusively ethnic Polish and Catholic. This "Poland for Poles" ethno-nationalism, spearheaded by Roman Dmowski and his National Democratic Party, tapped into centuries-old, popular anti-Jewish sentiment. By the 1930's, anti-Semitism was not only prevalent among the masses, it was becoming increasingly institutionalized throughout independent Poland.

There were boycotts of Jewish businesses, restrictions on Jews attending university, segregation of Jews in classrooms, increasing Catholic-on-Jew violence, restrictions on Jewish religious practices passed into law, discussions of deportations, hiring and promotion restrictions in the public sector, etc.

Michlic ably examines the rise of institutionalized anti-Semitism in Poland in the 19th and 20th centuries. There can be no arguing with the extremely well-researched contents of her presentation. This book would be quite an education for Polish and Polish American conservatives, who deny anti-Semitism most zealously, and hold to it most dearly.

The editor of a Polish American weekly recently proclaimed that "Poles are not anti-Semitic" (Am-Pol Eagle, 4/8/2010), pointing to the thousands of Polish Catholics who participated in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. The ignorance of this argument is beyond comprehension although it is widely disseminated throughout Polonia, even by academics who should know better. It's quite obvious that anyone who holds to this opinion has an extremely parochial understanding of Polish history, 1918-1945.

Polish chauvinists constantly point to the fact that Poland leads other former Nazi-occupied countries in the number of Righteous Among Nations awarded by Yad Vashem (6195 as of 6/12/10) without acknowledging that half of Europe's Jews lived in the country at the beginning of the Second World War. In reply to Poles who purposely misinterpret the number of Righteous by country for their own purposes, Yad Vashem states on its website, "The number of rescuers in the different countries depends on a multitude of factors and therefore does not necessarily indicate the attitude of the local population to the Jews and their murder. Moreover, in view of the great difference in circumstances between different countries and regions, one should proceed with great caution when making such comparisons."

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

Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland by Robert Blobaum

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

Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust by Jan Gross

Imaginary Neighbors: Mediating Polish-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust by Dorota Glowacka

Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era by Magda Teter

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

No Way Out: The Politics of Polish Jewry, 1935-1939 by Emanuel Melzer

Rethinking Poles and Jews: Troubled Past, Brighter Future by Robert Cherry

Rome's Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914-1939 by Neal Pease

The Catholic Church and Antisemitism: Poland, 1933-1939 by Ronald E. Modras

The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland by Genevieve Zubrzycki

The Populist Radical Right in Poland: The Patriots by Rafal Pankowski

When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland by Brian Porter

Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust by Michael C. Steinlauf

Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath by Joshua D. Zimmerman

Forced Out: The Fate of Polish Jewry in Communist Poland by Arthur J. Wolak

Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust by E. Thomas Wood

My Brother's Keeper: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust by Antony Polonsky

On the Edge of Destruction: Jews of Poland Between the Two World Wars by Celia Stopnicka Heller

Polish-Jewish Relations During the Second World War by Emanuel Ringelblum

Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940-1945 by Gunnar S. Paulsson

Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews by Eva Hoffman

The Convent at Auschwitz by Wladyslaw Bartoszewski

The Hidden Pope: The Untold Story of a Lifelong Friendship That Is Changing the Relationship Between Catholics and Jews - The Personal Journey of John Paul II and Jerzy Kluger

The Jews in Poland by Chimen Abramsky

The Jews in Polish Culture by Aleksander Hertz

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

Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in Twentieth-Century Poland by Mikolaj Stanislaw Kunicki

Difficult Questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue by Jacek Santorski

Economic origins of Antisemitism: Poland and Its Jews in the Early Modern Period by Hillel Levine

Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland by Brian Porter

From Assimilation to Anitsemitism: The "Jewish Question" in Poland, 1850-1914 by Theodore R. Weeks

Holocaust and Memory by Barbara Engelking

Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German Occupied Poland by Jan Grabowski (available 10/30/2013)

In the Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe by Rebecca Haynes

In the Shadow of the Polish Eagle: The Poles, the Holocaust, and Beyond by Leo Cooper

Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy by John K. Roth

Poland and the Jews: Reflections of a Polish Polish Jew by Stanislaw Krajewski

Poles and Jews: A Failed Brotherhood by Magdalena Opalski and Israel Bartal

Polish Politics in Transition: The Camp of National Unity and the Struggle for Power, 1935-1939 by Edward D. Wynot

Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation by Magda Teter

Social and Political History of the Jews in Poland 1919-1939 by Joseph Marcus

Studies on Polish Jewry, 1919-1939: The interplay of social, economic, and political factors in the struggle of a minority for its existence by Joshua A. Fishman

Symbiosis and Ambivalence: Poles and Jews in a Small Galacian Town by Rosa Lehmann

The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust by Karen Auerbach (available June 26, 2013)

The Jews in Poland and Russia: Volume III: 1914 to 2008 by Antony Polonsky

The Jews of Poland Between Two World Wars by Yisrael Gutman

There Once Was A World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok by Yaffa Eliach

Thou Shalt Not Kill: Poles on Jedwabne

Unequal Victims: Poles and Jews During World War Two by Israel Gutman

In the Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe by Rebecca Haynes
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Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present
Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present by Joanna B. Michlic (Paperback - December 1, 2008)
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