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Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust;Jewish-Nazi Collaboration Analyzed. Earlier Jewish-Soviet Collaboration at Bialystok: Exculpation Falls Apart,

jan peczkis|Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Other reviews of this book already inform the reader about its overall content, and I do not repeat them. Instead, I focus on specific themes. My review content is topical, and not according to the actual chronology of events.

UNCRITICAL EMBRACE OF ANTI-POLISH AUTHORS




UNCRITICAL EMBRACE OF ANTI-POLISH AUTHORS

A major shortcoming of this work is the fact that author Evgeny Finkel thoughtlessly repeats the talking points of neo-Stalinists Jan T. Gross and Jan Grabowski. For instance, Finkel blindly repeats Gross’ false equivalence of the German-imposed death penalty for aiding Jews and that for non-Jewish offenses. (p. 128). [For details, see comments].

As for the fate of fugitive Jews in German occupied Poland, a much better work, than Grabowski’s JUDENJAGD (Hunt for the Jews) is [click and read my review of] Krwawe Upiory (Polish Edition).

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Evgeny Finkel’s analysis of Jewish-Nazi collaboration is quite good, and I discuss it first.

JEWISH COOPERATION AND COLLABORATION WITH THE GERMANS (NAZIS): DEFINING THE TERMS

Author Finkel puts cooperation and collaboration in contrast, “The key distinction between the two lies in the intended goals of the actions taken. Those who cooperated acted to preserve the community AND the individual members; those who collaborated knowingly worked to the detriment of the community’s or individual Jews’ survival.” (p. 73; Emphasis in original.)

NOT JUST "CHOICELESS CHOICES”: THE VOLITIONAL ASPECTS OF JEWISH COLLABORATION

Author Evgeny Finkel quickly dispels the exculpatory notion that Jews betraying other Jews were merely desperate people trying to save their own lives. He comments, “A large body of evidence suggests that quite a few—though certainly not all—Judenrat leaders were utterly corrupt, despotic, and abusive towards ghetto populations. They were often driven by desires for personal enrichment and survival, to the detriment of their communities. This is especially true of the Jewish police force, which tended to be even more corrupt and self-interested than the Judenrats [JUDENRAETE].” (p. 72).

He adds that, “The Jewish police were widely resented…Nachum Meringer-Moskowitz considered them worse than either the Germans or the Poles.” (p. 84).

What about the Jewish denouncers? Finkel says, "And those who assisted the Nazis by informing on and betraying other Jews often did so voluntarily, in order to receive monetary rewards, power, and status.” (p. 72).

NOT “CHOICELESS CHOICES”: JEWS COLLABORATE EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF GERMAN ORDERS OR GERMAN SUPERVISION

By way of introduction, certain Polonophobic authors (e. g, neo-Stalinist Jan Grabowski in his JUDENJAGD Hunt for the Jews) have alleged that certain members of the POLICJA GRANATOWA (Polish Blue Police), and various Polish peasants, participated in manhunts for fugitive Jews even when not specifically forced by Germans to do so. As it turns out, the same can be said about the actions of the Jewish ghetto police.

Thus, Evgeny Finkel quips, “Yet, torture or not, the picture that emerges from the testimonies is that the Jewish police did use physical violence against the ghetto’s population. More importantly, they did so not only while Germans were watching, BUT ALSO WHEN NO GERMANS WERE PRESENT. Whereas the former was generally seen as an understandable, indeed unavoidable behavior, the latter was a blatant violation of existing moral codes. The Jewish police also invested considerable effort in fighting the Jewish underground and managed to arrest several of its leaders…” (p. 85; Emphasis added.)

SERVING THE COMMUNISTS; SERVING THE NAZIS, SERVING THE COMMUNISTS AGAIN

Some of the Polish lumpenproletariat collaborated with the Nazis, and later these same individuals did the same with the post-1944 Communists, thus forming part of the CHAMOKOMUNA. This kind of revolving-role collaboration also went on among Jews, as described by Evgeny Finkel, “One of these people was Danek Redlich. When the war started, Redlich escaped to Eastern Poland, where he made a living as an informer for the Soviet NKVD. When Germany invaded the USSR he returned to Krakow and started working for the Gestapo. After the war, he continued doing what he did best, informing on regime enemies to the Communist political police.” (p. 86).

IMPLICATIONS OF NAZI COLLABORATION

The author states that virtually no Jews collaborated with the Nazis out of an ideological acceptance of Nazism. (p. 86). However, this is trivial information, as it was also true of most non-Jewish collaborators, notably the Polish ones.

Author Finkel concludes that most Jewish collaborators were animated by a desire to improve their personal lot and to increase their long-term chances of survival. (p. 86). But could not the same be said of ethnic Polish collaborators, especially in the face of what seemed like a likely if not inevitable German victory?

A DOUBLE STANDARD?

The author objects to the juxtaposition of non-Jewish and Jewish collaborators. (pp. 71-72). He does not tell the reader about his reasoning. Is he implying that there should be a Talmud-style dual morality in force--one that treats Jewish misbehavior less severely than comparable GOYISCH misbehavior?

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I now backtrack to the situation before WWII:

JEWISH “ASSIMILATION” AND “INTEGRATION” HAVE LIMITED SIGNIFICANCE

Consider traditional Jewish observances. In Minsk, under Soviet rule, many Jews no longer circumcised their male offspring: In Poland, even the most assimilated or nonobservant Jews still circumcised their infant sons. (p. 132, 144).

Krakow’s Jews were more integrated into non-Jewish society than was typical of Poland (p. 139), yet this did not mean that such Jews had necessarily “become Poles”. Finkel comments, “In this context, however, it is important to stress that integration does not necessarily imply assimilation; in Krakow, even the most religious Jews spoke Polish and often sent their children to state schools, all the while ostensibly clinging to their traditions, ways of life, and even to the external marks of Jewish appearance, such as beards, sidelocks, and traditional garb. Relatively few Jews in the city had strong family or friendship ties with ethnic Poles, but the number of those who had many ‘weak ties’, the kind usually formed in business and educational settings, were substantial.” (p. 139).

Outward Polonization is not necessarily synonymous with abandonment of a Jewish-first mentality, and still less with full identification with the Polish nation. Though not written for this purpose, the foregoing information helps the reader understand why the Endeks did not generally believe that assimilation would transform Jews into Poles.

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I now consider the first part of WWII (1939—pre-Barbarossa 1941):

LARGE-SCALE JEWISH-COMMUNIST COLLABORATION IN SOVIET-OCCUPIED BIALYSTOK

Attention is focused on what is sometimes called the ZYDOKOMUNA. At the time of the resurrection of the Polish state (1918), Bialystok’s Jews attempted to detach Bialystok from Poland. Soon thereafter, they sided with the Reds in the 1920 Polish-Bolshevik War.

Author Evgeny Finkel decribes the reaction of Bialystok’s Jews to the Soviet conquest of eastern Poland in 1939, “Soviet rule was welcomed by almost every Jew, including staunch anti-Communists…Quite often, Jews who were for the first time in their lives allowed to assume positions of authority used those powers to demonstrate to ethnic Poles their newly inferior status. ‘We did not behave properly towards the Poles.’ Admitted Mina Dorn. ‘[Many Jews] said: they were anti-Semites, so let them get what they deserve.’” [What if Poles later were to say that “Jews got what they deserve” for their looking down on Polish culture and admiration of German culture?]

WILL THE REAL EXCUSE, FOR JEWISH-SOVIET COLLABORATION, STAND UP?

Ironic to the usual bellyaching about Polish anti-Semitism, the WWII Soviet policies against Bialystok’s Jews had been far harsher. Finkel describes how the Communist authorities imprisoned or deported many Jewish political activists, notably the Zionists and Bundists. (p. 47).

In addition, Finkel elaborates on Soviet anti-Jewish actions, and how the Jews welcomed Communism ANYWAY, “Private enterprises were nationalized; synagogues were converted to clubs and warehouses…Jewish communal and political organizations were disbanded. Saturday became a regular working day…The regime, however, did not ONLY punish and deport. For many, Soviet rule brought numerous tangible benefits, such as employment, universal health care, access to secondary and university education, and upward social mobility, benefits not available to the vast majority of Jews in Poland. As a result, many young Jews enthusiastically joined in the new social order.” (p. 47).

Now consider this sobering fact: Had the Poles done half of what the Soviets did, to the Bialystok Jews, we would have heard no end of it, in the world’s presses, about how horribly anti-Semitic a nation is Poland. Instead, Jews gave the Soviets a pass.

What are we to make of this? Detractors of Jews had long characterized them as animated by materialism and other forms of selfish opportunism. The willingness of Bialystok’s Jews to wink at massive Soviet anti-Jewish acts, and to part with basic religious, cultural, and political rights, all in the name of “getting ahead”, all the while savagely attacking Poland for comparatively minor acts, definitely seems to partake of a spirit of selfish opportunism.
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