Thoughts of a Polish Jew: To Kasieńka from GrandpaAn Assimilated Polish Jew Tries to Fit-in with His “Polishness”. Armenians and Jews. Revealing Statements by the Authorjan peczkis|Tuesday, November 22, 2016
The setting of this book is Galicia, beginning with Austrian rule and ending with the author’s flight from Poland in 1939, at the start of WWII. By this means, the author managed to escape the soon-to-be German-made Holocaust.
THE LWOW POGROM (1918)
Lilien-Brzozdowiecki was a witness to the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1918, and was situated at Lwow (Lviv). (p. 79). However, it is unclear what he personally experienced, and what he repeated from others (hearsay). He presents Jews solely as victims of the pogrom, ignoring evidence, from non-Polish sources, that verify the fact that Jews had been firing on Polish soldiers--even after the Poles had gained control of Lwow. Please click on, and read my detailed review, of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 26: Jews and Ukrainians.
ARMENIANS AND JEWS: A TALE OF TWO ENTREPRENEURAL MINORITY GROUPS
Pointedly, Lilien-Brzozdowiecki writes, “The Armenian problem never existed in Poland despite the fact that Armenians were also a different race. For centuries they enjoyed true equality; they were allowed to own land and hold public office. That’s why they became citizens like all others.” (p. 100).
In stating the foregoing, the author refutes the argument that Poles and Catholics were inherently intolerant of others. Obviously, Poles were welcoming to minority groups--provided that certain conditions were met. Unfortunately, Lilien-Brzozdowiecki does not tell the readers the reason that Armenians and Jews were treated differently: The Armenians, from the very beginning, embraced true Polishness and were unswervingly loyal to Poland. The Jews did not and were not.
Even more basic issues are involved. What happens when a particular minority group is strongly nonconformist, and it regularly antagonizes the host nation? This even happened in a Jew-on-Jew situation: As Ashkenazi Jews moved to Eretz Israel in the 19th century, they tried to impress and impose their will upon the majority of native Sephardic Palestinian Jews, causing an unfavorable reaction. Please click on, and read my detailed review, of Real Jews: Secular Versus Ultra- Orthodox: The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel.
In what seems to border on historical revisionism, author Lilien-Brzozdowiecki tries to blame the Poles for Jews not wanting to assimilate. (p. 100, 131-132). This flies in the face of elementary historical facts. The Jews had maintained and emphasized their separatism for thousands of years, largely because their religion taught them not to imitate the ways of the GOYIM. In the 19th century, religious-based separatism increasingly gave way to an even more aggressive and secularized separatism, based on the Yiddishist movement (Bundism) and Zionism. That alone caused assimilated Polish Jews to be viewed with suspicion—not only by Poles but also by Jews.
The “Jews had it bad” argument does not hold. In fact, many of the author’s relatives had been wealthy and influential Jews. (e. g, pp. 20-21).
WHY ASSIMILATED POLISH JEWS WERE COMMONLY NOT ACCEPTED AS GENUINE POLES
Throughout this work, and especially with reference to the 1930’s, the author complains about the continuing (and growing) intolerance of Jews in Polish society. Using only the information presented in this book, the reader can get a glimpse of why this was so. I now bring it out in this section of my review:
The author’s father was one of the pioneers of AGUDAS ACHIM (PRZYMIERZE BRACI), a short-lived movement of Jewish and Polish intellectuals, intended to facilitate Jewish assimilation. One of its leading members, Alfred Nossig, described as a fervent Polish patriot, did an about-face and became an ardent Zionist. (p. 45). Not surprisingly, the chameleon-like behavior of the likes of Alfred Nossig did not inspire Polish confidence in Jewish assimilationists.
Lilien-Brzozdowiecki’s own comments are revealing. He writes, “Europe is a few thousand years younger than the Jews. She gears all her energy and passion toward things non-essential. In the past, it used to be religious differences; now it is national disparities, and tomorrow it will be a power struggle under different mottoes.” (p. 96). Apart from his subtle Jewish elitism, which exists despite his professed Polishness, one can sense his religious indifferentism and his cosmopolitanism. This is clearly inconsistent with the Polish soul, and his statements typify the attitude of many assimilated Polish Jews. No wonder the Endeks felt that most assimilated Jews do not become full-fledged Poles, and were concerned about the Zazydzenie (Judaization) of Poland in the event that Jewish assimilation happened on a large scale.
Assimilated Polish Jews commonly retain a veiled hostility to Poland, and this shows here also. The author expressed his upset about Bereza Kartuska (p. 83), but was silent about the magnitudes-greater crimes of the Communists next door—in which Jews were heavily complicit. He praised freethinking. (p. 44). He also took potshots at the Catholic Church—referring to “misfortunes caused by the politics of the Church…" (p. 120), and derided the Jesuits. (p. 119).
In a polemic directed against the ONR and its effort to force Poland's Jews to emigrate, Lilien-Brzozdowiecki repeated the contention that, if only Jews were given full civil rights, they would become fully part of Poland, and all the Jewish liabilities would soon disappear. (pp. 130-131). [Today, Poland's remaining Jews, by any measure, have full civil rights, and have had full civil rights for generations. Yet most of those bad-mouthing Poland today, from within, are Jews. The best-known of these is Adam Michnik vel Szechter. He is editor of GAZETA WYBORCZA, Poland's leading newspaper. It regularly runs articles attacking Polish patriotism and the Catholic Church. All the while, Adam Michnik is completely unrepentant of the crimes of his Communist father and his Communist brother.]
Fast forward to 1939, and the German-Soviet conquest of Poland. One of the author’s relatives offered her high-skilled services to the Soviets. (p. 18). However, no substantive details are provided.
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