The Construction of European Holocaust Memory: German and Polish Cinema after 1989Effectively--Though Subtly--Puts Poles and Nazi Germans on the Same Sidejan peczkis|Sunday, January 15, 2017
Author Malgorzata Pakier introduces her book as follows, “In recent years, commemoration of the Holocaust has become a major political, cultural, and educational issue for the European Union…There is no other historical event to which European institutions have demonstrated any comparable deep commitment. It is manifest in such initiatives as the European Parliament’s ‘Resolution on Remembrance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism, and Racism’ approved on January 27, 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and in the adoption of legislation criminalizing denial of the Holocaust at the level of the European Union under the German presidency in April 2007. The European Union has also played a key role in setting up the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, launched on the occasion of the International Forum on the Holocaust, which took place in Stockholm in 2000.” (p. 9).
[For Poles that are Euroskeptics, here is yet another reason for POLEXIT—Poland leaving the European Union.]
[The astute reader can appreciate the irony of the big fuss made in the media about Poland’s recent criminalization of the phrase “Polish death camp”, while it has no problem with the criminalizing of other forms of objectionable Holocaust-related speech (Holocaust denial).]
POLES AND GERMANS ARE NOW ON THE SAME SIDE
The very approach taken by this book is suspect. It focuses on major milestones in the development of Holocaust-related films—in Germany and Poland. Some readers will be able to see through this—as yet another attempt to conflate past German and Polish conduct towards the Jews, and thereby to ever-so-subtly dilute the guilt of the Germans. The conflation of the two nations makes about as much sense as conflating the Pacific Ocean with a pond of water.
This is no aberration. It fits-in with the de-Germanization of the Nazis in Holocaust films, the increasingly German-less Holocaust in eastern Europe, the frequent media mendacious remarks about "Polish death camps", etc.
For some time after WWII, Poles were recognized as co-victims, alongside Jews, of the Nazis, if only as "unequal victims". This gradually gave way to Poles as so-called bystanders to the Jewish catastrophe. Now books such as this one take the final step--effectively putting Poles and Germans on the same side, however subtly.
THE ONGOING MYSTIFICATION OF THE HOLOCAUST
This book consists of the standard Judeocentric Holocaust fare. It also repeats the standard Holocaustspeak (e. g, “coming to terms with the past”—VERGANGENHEITSBEWALTIGUNG in German: p. 13). Needless to say, no peoples ever are required to “come to terms with the past” as to their wrongs against Poles.
Consistent with the standard Holocaust narrative promoted by this book, it treats the Shoah as above the genocides of other peoples, although it mentions some dissenters from this view. (pp. 156-157). It effectively calls on the Poles to forget all their own suffering (which is dismisses as “romanticism”: e. g, pp. 39-40) and to embrace the sufferings of the Jews as something special. It also chides the Poles for their “heroic narrative” of WWII conduct instead of Poles engaging in breast-beating over the [rare and trivial] instances of Poles collaborating with the Nazi Germans. [The latter is a standard part of the PEDAGOGIKA WSTYDU (“Pedagogy of Shame”), which can easily become the “Politics of Shame”.]
THIS BOOK DISTORTS BASIC HISTORICAL FACTS
This book is completely silent about the factual errors, and anti-Polish biases, of many of the cited Holocaust-related films. I present just two examples of this.
Pakier uncritically mentions Claude Lanzmann and his SHOAH (e. g, p. 16, 87, 160). For corrective, please click on, and read my detailed review, of Shoah.
Not surprisingly, Pakier presents neo-Stalinist Jan T. Gross, on Polish responsibility for the events at Jedwabne, as fact. (e. g, p. 10, pp. 107-108, 145-147, 161). It is not. For corrective, see, for example, my review of this Jewish-authored work that affirms the fact of German, and not Polish, guilt for Jedwabne: Deliverance: The Diary of Michael Maik, a True Story.
Malgorzata Pakier misrepresents Barbara Engelking and her study on denunciation-letters to the Gestapo written by Poles, (p. 144). For corrective, please click on, and read my review, of Szanowny Panie Gistapo: Donosy do Wladz Niemieckich w Warszawie i Okolicach w Latach 1940-1941 .
The “usual suspects” are behind this book, and one does not have to believe in some kind of nefarious Jewish-German conspiracy to realize this. In the Acknowledgments (p. 5), author Malgorzata Pakier thanks the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C., for its postdoctoral fellowship. The publisher is none other than Peter Lang GmbH, of Frankfort am Main, Germany. (p. 4).
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