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I have a friend who takes English children to Auschwitz every year. She's there this week.
She doesn't really go into what caused (causes) anti-semitism. It's a phenomenon that is quite complex and fraught with danger to explain ... because you risk being called an anti-semite yourself.
Hence she skirts around the subject and it descends into a sort of extended lecture along the lines, "Now children, this is what happens if you tell jokes about ethnic minorities."
If liberals cannot bring themselves to explain the causes for extreme racism, then the Nazis will enlighten our kiddies.
I mean, I first learnt about the Jewish input into Soviet Communism through reading about Hitler (Prof. Bullock) and then, much later, Dmitri Volkogonov. My A Level history teacher (when teaching us about Hitler) said it would be unwise to divert our attention towards investigating in much depth the causes for anti-semitism.
He meant, of course, it would be unwise for him to teach us about it.
I as a level-headed adult have had to put it all into context and draw my own conclusions.
We're all adults here, so what in a Poland/Germany context would you say were the causes of anti-Jewish feeling?
It's difficult to find much mention of this subject in most history books.
The Nazis executed the holocaust so let's look at Germany.
I'll miss a lot of things out - forgetfulness/ignorance/time constraints ... this is off the top of my head.
We can accept the whole of Europe was always essentially racist and in particular anti-semitic for hundreds of years. Arguments used: "Jesus-killers" and money-lenders (Christians banned from usury/political leaders (lords/barons etc) borrowed from Jews and needed to kill a few from time to time to cut their debts and so whipped up pogroms).
Germany and WWI.
-Germany surrendered while their armies were deep in French/Belgian territory and just after they'd won massive swathes of territory in the East (up to Kiev).
- Popular disbelief at the brave decision of German High Command to surrender when they were going to collapse anyway. "Stab in the Back" theory that it was the Jews behind it.
- Inflation during the war. Who owned the small shops? "Profiteering Jews!"
- Lloyd George in 1916 launched a big campaign to win over American Jews who were sympathetic to the Germans because the Germans were fighting against the hated Tsar (who'd blocked emancipation of the Jews for a long time - I'll come back to this). The idea was to get American Jews to pressurize President Wilson to support the Allies. He wrote this in his memoirs, if you don't believe me. The British issue the Balfour Declaration calling for a Jewish homeland in Palestine (an 'insult'never to be forgotten by the Arabs).
- Russian Revolution - Jews massively over-represented due to the history of the Russian Bolsheviks. They'd merged with the massive Jewish clothworkers trade union and got swamped. (Ties up with Jewish emancipation movement). From now on, Communism will always be associated strongly with Jews. Lenin was only part-Jewish, but anti-semites forget the other parts. There again, he did say, "An intelligent Russian is almost always a Jew or someone with Jewish blood in his veins." Sverdlov, Trotsky, Kamenev, Litvinov, Zinoviev etc were more Jewish. Stalin slaughtered most of them in the 30s.
- Versailles Treaty - massively unfair to the Germans. To add insult, a group of German Zionists attend, inquiring into land in Palestine. Viewed as Jewish traitors to Germany in her darkest hour.
- Jewish Communists (Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht) attempt revolution in Germany - fail due to nationalist irregulars. Jews get blamed.
- The money markets (with Jewish over-representation)react to Reparations by dumping the German currency, which goes into freefall. Hyperinflation means utter misery. Jews get blamed. Then comes the Wall St. Crash and mass unemployment. Hitler promises above all jobs and an end to Reparations.
- Lots of Jews (among many others) emigrate to America, but anti-semites had a field day.
- First group to be attacked en masse wasn't the Jews, it was the inhabitants of mental hospitals. 100,000 slaughtered. Extermination of the Jews was the Big New Idea, brought out at a secret conference in Wannsee in 1942. I don't know their precise motivation, but it certainly came as a top-down initiative - not a grass-roots thing.
So, yes Europe was anti-semitic; yes Germany was anti-semitic, but that doesn't explain the massive increase in anti-semitism which occurred in the first 30 years of the 20th century.
Varsovian; I share your concern. Any topic which is kept from open discourse takes on the allure of the taboo and can then be manipulated by those with specific agendas. This topic is especially pernicious.
Might I offer the observation that the perceived dichotomy between liberalism and Nazism is a product of presenting the political spectrum in a linear fashion with liberals on the left and conservatives on the right and various degrees of socialists and fascists on either side.
This is the model most often presented because it suits the purpose of either of the extremes by illustrating how distant they are from their rivals. It also serves the purpose of those self-locating in the middle to illustrate how balanced they are.
In practice, however, the range of political attributes is more properly exhibited three dimensionally; as a sphere if you will; with ideologies shifting along the surface of the ball (and through the interior as well).
This is all to say that liberals and Nazis are much closer to each other than either would like to admit. They share so much in common: subsuming the individual to the benefit of the whole, intolerance/political correctness, tethered-free-markets and more. Modern liberals recoil from discussion of fascism because they find themselves looking in the mirror.
As to the specific issue of anti-Semitism; in its broadest context it is an issue of lack of integration and assimilation. This derives from convenience and the considered choice of both sides. The segregation of Polish and Jewish communities allowed for the granting of special privileges and liberties that were not available to others. In general the respective Polish and Jewish leaders could manage the relationship to the benefit of both parties as long as Poland was free, independent and strong. The relationship of “separateness” did not, however, have the benefit of mutual advantage at the times that Poland was subjugated, dependent and weak. At those times the separateness was seen as inequity which fostered resentment. There were also insufficient shared channels of communication with which to reduce the resentment which could then foment into enmity.
Without the means to communicate across broad sectors of both groups it was easy during the times of greatest turmoil to Poland to strike out at a group that spoke a Germanic language or formed the majority of the core leadership of a political movement determined to subjugate the nation.
But I was talking about an English school trip to Auschwitz, which has little to do with Poland - despite being inside Poland.
That is strange in itself.
A local school had an Auschwitz victim at the school telling all the kids about what happened. A friend kid said "It was OK , but a bit boring".
I suppose it lets them understand history a bit more.
"As to the specific issue of anti-Semitism; in its broadest context it is an issue of lack of integration and assimilation. This derives from convenience and the considered choice of both sides. The segregation of Polish and Jewish communities allowed for the granting of special privileges and liberties that were not available to others. In general the respective Polish and Jewish leaders could manage the relationship to the benefit of both parties as long as Poland was free, independent and strong. The relationship of “separateness” did not, however, have the benefit of mutual advantage at the times that Poland was subjugated, dependent and weak. At those times the separateness was seen as inequity which fostered resentment. There were also insufficient shared channels of communication with which to reduce the resentment which could then foment into enmity."
I'd say this is at the root of any residues of anti semitism in modern day Poland. I keep trying to explain that in Poland Polish Jewish relations were always extremely complex because of this "divide and rule" mentality. It started way back soon after Poland's inception and was carried on throughout Poland's turbulent history.
Obviously when national leaders or any occupying force are playing two very different groups against each other, you are going to end up with suspicion, friction and resentment through every level of society, but particularly the lower end of the spectrum. Add to that the history of Catholic vs Jewish religions and you have a potent mix.
In addition to this Polish Jews were not forced to integrate in the way they were in many Western European countries. They were also less persecuted for their lifestyles. That's why many fled to Poland during times of intolerance in other parts of Europe and that is why Jewish society thrived.
You can't therefore really compare Poland to any other country in this respect and the resentment emerged on both sides and still exists to a certain extent among certain people in both ethnic groups.
It's not an easy one to solve. But I think many Poles are at least now examining their views and are starting to see they might be incorrect.
The catholic church also frowned upon lending money, the Jews obliged, running the banking and finaces in Poland. Maybe if the church had been a little more open to modern day life at the time there would not have been the massive money making chance.
Back to the original thread. Sadly we can not call a spade a spade any more. Wouldn't want to offend anyone by telling the truth, so better to avoid it.
Then we tell our kids not to lie.
Thanks for some interesting reading
I only wonder why Jews are still blamed for so much in today's Poland!
"The catholic church also frowned upon lending money, the Jews obliged, running the banking and finaces in Poland. Maybe if the church had been a little more open to modern day life at the time there would not have been the massive money making chance."
I've read that an early Polish king (can't remember which one) deliberately recruited Jews to be keepers of the gold reserves because he did not want his reserves in Polish hands. Perhaps that's where the Jewish connection with banking and finance in Poland began. I think that's also when the play offs between the two groups started.
It's more to do with power and nothing to do with religion. Both groups had a very strong sense of their own identity and were not interested in accommodating the other in any way shape or form. Anyway the residual animosity is two sided and this is why there is such a to-do about anti Polonism. There's no point in trying to understand it as simple racism or anti semitism. It's complex, historically rooted and you need give on both sides to make any progress. Calling Poles anti semitic just makes the situation worse. People need to move on and start living in the modern world. Constantly raking up the past and dwelling on it is not healthy and will make no progress.
As to the original point. Well I already mentioned on a thread that I went to see the west end version of the sound of music and they didn't say heil hitler but said "heil ick". Quite bizarre because you end up focusing on what they haven't said far more than if they had said it.
"It's a phenomenon that is quite complex and fraught with danger to explain ... because you risk being called an anti-semite yourself."
People who are afraid to discuss racism and anti semitism in the open are often afraid of their own prejudices coming out. In order to make any progress in society it's important to discuss these subjects openly.
The other day an MP was told off for saying that there was a high prevalence of genetic defects amongst infants born to first cousins and that first cousin weddings were extremely high in the pakistani community. So if this is happening why should it be a secret? Huge amounts of taxpayers money is spent on special care baby units and other health services to cope with specialist genetic conditions. If anything can be done to avoid that what is the big deal in pointing that out when it's ok to say that fat people get more heart disease or asians are more prone to diabetes?
It's a bit like the don't mention the war sketch in fawlty towers.
As to Auschwitz the allies were supposed to bomb it but didn't act on the intelligence provided (thus causing much more death and suffering) and the Poles resented it because the soviets used to make Polish kids go there to show them how good the soviets were and how bad the nazis were. So it was used as an instrument of soviet propaganda and all such propaganda was resented. Much like Katyn being blamed on the nazis. Or the palace of science and culture in warsaw. My mum was forced to go there on such a propaganda trip by the soviets on a school trip just after the war ended. My father spent time in both a siberian gulag and a nazi prisoner of war camp. My life has been just as much affected by the events of the war in Poland as anyone else who has connections to it. It's left its brand on a whole generation of Post war offspring and I was born over 20 years later. No one group has a monopoly on suffering during WWII and nobody should be afraid to talk openly about what happened. Be they Polish, Jewish, German, American, British whatever...However you have to draw a line under it all and MOVE ON...!
"I only wonder why Jews are still blamed for so much in today's Poland! "
Because people are very good at living in the past Hans. Resentment is passed on from generation to generation. The same has happened in new generations of Jews who resent all Poles. It takes open dialogue and open minds to move on. There are various Polish Jewish societies around the world that try to foster better relations, but then you get something like radio maryja throwing a spanner in the works and giving the Polish church a bad name in the process.