- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: Lexington Books (July 15, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0739104845
- ISBN-13: 978-0739104842
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,649,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947
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Research on occupation policies during the Second World War era falls into three main subcategories. The most fully examined era concentrates on German wartime aggression and attempts to explain the impact of Nazi ethnic, racial, and resettlement policieson the indigenous (captured) populations of Eastern Europe. Another thoroughly mined genre tackles occupation from the viewpoint of the occupied, by focusing on the heroism of the resistance and the misdeeds of the collaborators. The postwar era comprises yet another subgroup, and helps explain how victorious Allies rebuilt the institutions of the vanquished nations. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's volume, Between Nazi's and Soviets, transcends these categories by attempting to treat the Nazi and Soviet administrations of Poland as different manifestations of a single occupation experience. This novel approach not only sheds new light on an important period in Polish history, it also leads scholars to consider more generalized conclusions about the natureof occupation as a distinct historical phenomenon. The result is an intriguing look at the entirety of Poland's seven years as an occupied nation, one that informs us as much about the tactics and motivations of the occupied as about the goals and strate (Richard A. Lieby, Rosemont College H-German)
Holocaust education in western societies has favored the minimizing of the Polish agony during WWII, and has spawned a large body of misconceptions regarding Polish-Jewish relationships during this tragic time. This profusely-documented work goes a long way towards clarifying these issues. (Jan Peczkis)
Research on occupation policies during the Second World War era falls into three main subcategories. The most fully examined era concentrates on German wartime aggression and attempts to explain the impact of Nazi ethnic, racial, and resettlement policies on the indigenous (captured) populations of Eastern Europe. Another thoroughly mined genre tackles occupation from the viewpoint of the occupied, by focusing on the heroism of the resistance and the misdeeds of the collaborators. The postwar era comprises yet another subgroup, and helps explain how victorious Allies rebuilt the institutions of the vanquished nations. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's volume, Between Nazi's and Soviets, transcends these categories by attempting to treat the Nazi and Soviet administrations of Poland as different manifestations of a single occupation experience. This novel approach not only sheds new light on an important period in Polish history, it also leads scholars to consider more generalized conclusions about the nature of occupation as a distinct historical phenomenon. The result is an intriguing look at the entirety of Poland's seven years as an occupied nation, one that informs us as much about the tactics and motivations of the occupied as about the goals and strategies of the occupiers…. Chodakiewicz's exhaustive research in the primary and secondary source is admirable. If for no other reason, this book would be a valuable contribution to scholarship simply by bringing the vast amount of information available in Polish to an English-reading audience. Over 100 pages of notes join 160 pages of maps and statistical appendices. This book is an undeniably valuable glimpse into the local manifestations of occupation in Poland. (Richard A. Lieby, Rosemont College H-German)
About the Author
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is research professor of history at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. From 2001 to 2003, he was assistant professor of history, Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies, at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia.
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Against the view that Poles were "spectators" of the Jewish catastrophe, the reader immediately realizes that Poles had no possible luxury of being spectators. They too were in a battle of survival, being subject to a progressive genocide consisting of episodic mass murder and universal pauperization. Few realize that, alongside the 5-6 million Jews, a total of 2-3 non-Jewish Poles were murdered by the Germans, as were a few hundred thousand by the Soviet "allies". Nor were German crimes limited to "Nazified formations", as some contemporary German authors claim. For example, the murder of Polish civilian hostages in reprisal for any act of disobedience originated with the German army (p. 92), not the SS or Gestapo.
Various Polish actions, simplistically blamed on "Polish anti-Semitism", usually had other causes. Prewar Polish-Jewish antagonisms, stereotypically attributed to church teachings, were actually fueled primarily by economic rivalry (p. 51-55, 64). Peasants' acceptance of the blood libel must be contextualized within the large body of peasant superstitions, most of which had nothing to do with religion or ethnicity (p. 63). Any conflation of Polish Catholic nationalism with fascism and Nazism is demonstrably false. In fact, even the most right-wing Poles almost universally repudiated the materialistic, racialist, statist, totalitarian, and genocidal character of the latter (p. 56, 339-340).
German documents from October 1941 complain that Poles are not opposing the movements of fugitive Jews within the county (p. 174). There is no evidence of Polish Underground collaboration with Germans against Jews (p. 326) . Slanderous accusations of the Polish Underground (AK, NSZ, and successor organizations) having a secret plan to "finish Hitler's work" by killing all remaining Polish Jews is refuted by such things as the acceptance of known Jews into Underground ranks (p. 179), the sparing of Jews who fell into Underground hands (p. 307), and acts of assistance to fugitive Jews by the Underground (p. 317). The competition of Polish guerilla units against each other for scarce firearms (p. 185) illuminates the unwillingness of the Polish Underground to provide more arms to the Jewish Warsaw ghetto fighters.
The Blue police have incorrectly been portrayed as the Polish counterpart to Ukrainian and Baltic collaborationist forces used in the Holocaust. In actuality, it was a compulsory force set up by the Germans for crime fighting and was hardly ever used for mass executions or the guarding of labor camps (p. 71). Although sometimes used against Jews, the Blue police was not, willingly or unwillingly, responsible for many Jewish deaths (p. 153). Some members of the Blue police aided Jews (p. 174), and a large fraction of its ranks doubled as members of the Polish Underground (p. 194, 222).
The Blue police and low-level Polish civilian administration were not, individual exceptions aside, collaborators. They were primarily accommodators to German terror and hostages of the same (p. 78, 80).
Fugitive Jews formed bands and robbed and killed Polish peasants, and joined subversive Communist units, sometimes provoking Polish counter-actions (p. 149). Otherwise, the sporadic killings of fugitive Jews by Poles was just part of the general lawlessness under a brutal German occupant (p. 154). Complaints about Poles not protecting fugitive Jews from Polish criminals ignore the fact that only a small percentage of even Pole-on-Pole crimes could eventuate Polish anti-criminal intervention (p. 94).
Poles had been willing, despite the draconian German occupation, to risk the death penalty in forming a flourishing black market and setting up Underground units. This has led Jan Thomas Gross to the absurd argument that Poles were therefore not deterred by the death penalty from saving many more Jews. In reality, the black market owed its success to its flexible, spontaneous, mobile, and decentralized nature (p. 122)-in most ways the OPPOSITE of hiding Jews, especially on a large, organized scale. Also, Jan Thomas Gross should know that concealing a Jew was much riskier than blending into the population while a member of the Underground. The considerable German success in arresting members of the Polish underground (p. 192) underscores the risk of even Underground involvement, and makes folly of the argument that Poles should have saved many more Jews. Finally, the relevance of the death penalty in constraining Polish conduct is proved by the fact that the Underground carefully planned its actions to minimize German reprisals against Poles (p. 337).
Some 300 out of about 1,000 fugitive local Jews did survive the Holocaust (p. 326), a fraction comparable to that of Warsaw's fugitive Jews (Paulsson. SECRET CITY). These figures soundly refute the claim that a fugitive Jew was almost certain to be betrayed by a Pole. Application of Paulsson's simple arithmetic makes it obvious that, unless Polish denouncers of Jews had been very uncommon, hardly any fugitive Jew could have survived. The Germans did boast of having "two informers per village" (p. 119) relevant to Pole-on-Pole denunciations, so it appears that these were at least as common as Pole-on-Jew denouncers.
About 4% of local Poles assisted Jews in some way (p. 152), and complaints that "most Poles did nothing" ignore the fact that the vast majority of Poles were never approached by even a single fugitive Jew for help (p. 153)! The Holocaust itself was so unexpected and so swiftly applied that few Jews could even plan to escape the urban ghettos and seek Polish help (p. 151, 153). THAT, and not imagined Polish indifference or hostility, was the REAL reason for only a small percentage of Polish Jews surviving the Holocaust! It is high time that Holocaust materials reflect this reality.
Slanderous accusations of the Polish Underground (AK, NSZ, and successor organizations) having a secret plan to "finish Hitler's work" by killing all remaining Polish Jews (alleged first by Communist propaganda and later by some Jewish writers, such as Oskar Pinkus and Yaffa Eliach) is refuted by such things as the acceptance of known Jews into Underground ranks (p. 179), the sparing of Jews who fell into Underground hands (p. 307), and acts of assistance to fugitive Jews by the Underground (p. 317). In no sense was even the Polish Right fascist or pro-Nazi. (p. 56, 326, 339-340).
The Polish Underground killings of Jews, contrary to the accusations of Moshe Kahanowitz, (Communist) Reuben Ainsztein, (Communist) Shmuel Krakowski, and others, seldom had anything to do with anti-Semitism. They were usually justified by such things as Jewish banditry, espionage for Nazis or Soviets, service for the Communists in the AL and GL, etc. The AK was freely accused of killing Jews even when the perpetrators were unknown, or Communists. (p. 177). Indeed, many fugitive Jews were killed by Communist guerillas (p. 155), yet very few Jewish writers complain about that.
At the time when most Polish Jews were being murdered by the Nazis, the Polish Underground was not yet appreciably deployed. (p. 154). If the Polish Underground was "stingy" with supplying arms to the Jewish Warsaw ghetto fighters, then its units were first of all "stingy" towards each other in this regard. (p. 185).
Jan T. Gross has misrepresented Polish administrators under the German occupation as collaborators. They were not. They were merely conveyors of German orders (p. 323), and functionally hostages of the Germans. (p. 78, 80).
In his much-publicized FEAR, Jan T. Gross has spun the killings of several hundred Jews (a drop in the bucket of 300,000 remaining ones) into proof of a Polish guilt complex over the acquisition of post-Jewish properties. In actuality, the vast, vast majority of Jewish property reacquisitions occurred without incident. (pp. 304-305). Occasional Polish killings of Jews must be placed squarely within the context of the rampant criminality that flourished under the brutalities of the German and then Soviet occupation. (e. g., p. 119, 154, 415-416, 431).
Most Poles never came to terms with the Soviet puppet state forced on Poland, with western acquiescence, after WWII. Although this process began on the heels of the Red Army in 1944, the last stalwart Polish independentist guerillas were not captured in their bunkers until late 1961 (p. 233), and the last active guerilla fighter was not killed until 1963. (Chodakiewicz, personal communication).