In his speech in Warsaw, Trump mentioned Polish suffering and the Polish victims of the nation’s bloody history, but elegantly avoided the unpleasant stories of the Jewish victims of those same Polish victims
Ofer Aderet, Haaretz
The Polish government can claim a huge victory in the fight over the country’s honor, as well as its campaign to rewrite history and erase the stains of Poland’s past.
U.S. President Donald Trump, the leader of the free world, adopted the Polish narrative of victimhood and its unilateral pretension of innocence in its entirety, granting the right-wing, conservative-nationalist Polish government the seal of approval it so badly needed.
Trump’s Poland is a nation of fighters for freedom and justice who fell victim to the dictatorial conquests that ruined the land – but which survived thanks to its devotion to the values of liberty and its love of life.
In Trump’s Poland, there is no trace of the Poles who persecuted, betrayed and murdered thousands of Jews all over the country before, during and after the Nazi occupation. No trace remains of the deep-rooted anti-Semitism and venomous hatred of Jews, which they suffered throughout the period of Jewish-Polish existence even before the Nazis destroyed it.
In his speech in Warsaw, Trump mentioned Polish suffering and the Polish victims of the nation’s bloody history, but elegantly avoided the unpleasant stories of the Jewish victims of those same Polish victims.
For example, he noted the Katyn Forest massacre, where the Soviets murdered tens of thousands of Poles in 1940, but forgot to mention the massacre in Jedwabne (1941) and the pogrom in Kielce (1946), when Poles murdered their Jewish neighbors under the Nazi and Soviet occupations, respectively.
Trump didn’t bother to refer to them in a single word – and rightly so, from his point of view. That wouldn’t have been in line with his signature flattering and obsequious speeches, like the one he gave in Warsaw, in order to please his hosts.
In Trump’s Poland, the Poles were and remain the ultimate victims – of the Nazis and the Russians. But there is no mention of the Polish Jews, who were often forced to hide not only from the Nazis but also from their Polish neighbors. Therefore not surprising that Trump chose to deliver his main speech at the Warsaw Uprising Monument, which marks the 1944 Polish uprising that ended with the murder of 200,000 Poles by the Germans and the destruction of Warsaw, but skipped a visit to the famous monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt, the 1943 Jewish uprising that the Polish underground failed to join.
The fact he chose to skip a visit to the monument despite it being barely a mile away from the monument where he spoke – infuriated the local Jewish community.
In a protest declaration, they wrote that Trump is the first U.S. president since the fall of communism in 1989 who neglected to visit it. As far as they’re concerned, it’s the same as if Trump had decided to skip a visit to Yad Vashem during his visit to Israel.
Trump mentioned the main reason for the destruction of Polish Jewry (because “the Nazis systematically murdered millions of Poland’s Jewish citizens, along with countless others, during that brutal occupation”), but refrained from mentioning the secondary reason for that destruction: Those who helped the Nazis do the job, even if they themselves were suffering at their hands.
Trump noted that Poland suffered from various occupations throughout its history, primarily by the Nazi and the Soviets. But he added two sentences that are liable to discomfit quite a number of Jews whose relatives experienced the violence of Polish anti-Semites: “In those dark days, you have lost your land but you never lost your pride. Poland is a land of great heroes.”
The last two statements, referring to Polish “pride” and “great heroes,” are very true when it comes to the thousands of Polish Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives and saved Jews in the Holocaust – like the Ulma family from the town of Markowa, all of whom, including their six children, were murdered along with Jews they were hiding from the Nazis in their house.
But these statements are not at all true when it comes to thousands of other Poles, whose behavior toward their Jewish neighbors during World War II was the exact opposite of “great heroism.”
The Polish Town That Refuses to Face Its anti-Semitic Past
Polish journalist Anna Bikont has authored a powerful first-person exploration of the killings in Jedwabne and the current residents’ response to the discovery of Jewish skeletons in their closets.
“One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half.” With those jarring words, the Polish historian Jan T. Gross began his unforgettable account of a Holocaust massacre carried out not by Nazi invaders but by ordinary Polish civilians against the Jews next door. Gross’s book “Neighbors” (2000) set off an agonizing debate in Poland that has still not fully subsided about Polish culpability in anti-Jewish atrocities.
Now Polish journalist Anna Bikont, in “The Crime and the Silence,” has authored a sequel of sorts – a powerful first-person exploration of the killings in Jedwabne and the response of the town’s current residents to the discovery of all those Jewish skeletons in their closets.
“The Crime and the Silence” is written in the form of a diary, mostly covering 2001-2002, as Bikont speaks with survivors, perpetrators, bystanders and the next generation. The format makes for an effective narrative as Bikont weaves back and forth between the 1940s and our own time, trying to understand how so many citizens of Jedwabne could take part in herding more than 1,000 of their Jewish neighbors into a barn and burning them alive – and how so many could continue denying it to this day.
For some contemporary Poles, the fact that Poland was conquered and victimized by the Germans establishes a black-and-white perspective, according to which the Holocaust is something that the Nazis did to the Jews and in which Poles had no hand. The reality, however, was very different.
“The Crime and the Silence” reminds us, first of all, that the slaughter in Jedwabne did not come out of the blue but was preceded by many decades of deeply rooted, and largely church-driven, anti-Semitism. The anti-Jewish rhetoric that Bikont finds in the local literature, especially church publications, in the 1920s and 1930s is pervasive, profoundly ugly and often provides a rationalization – even an inspiration – for violence.
A regional newspaper called The Catholic Cause happily reported, in 1937, “the mood of excitement” sweeping the region as “farmers refuse to sell to Jews” and signs proclaiming “No Jews” spring up all over. In a follow-up story, the newspaper fairly chortled with glee as it announced that in one town, “Jewish stalls [in the marketplace] are watched so carefully that no peasant can go near them, and 250 Jewish families are doomed to hunger.”
Radoslaw J. Ignatiew, a prosecutor who headed a Polish government commission that investigated the Jedwabne massacre, at one point told Bikont he had encountered so much anti-Semitism in the course of his work that he wondered “if Poles hadn’t imbibed it all with their mother’s milk.” Then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir ruffled feathers in 1989 for using that same undiplomatic expression. But what some elderly Jedwabne residents told Bikont was not that different: when they were growing up, a child who resisted bedtime would be warned by his parents, “The Jews will turn you into matzo.” Parents who wanted to deter a nagging child from tagging along to the market would warn him that he would have to “kiss the Jewish lady’s beard” at the entrance.
The prevalence of grass-roots anti-Semitism in rural Poland not only helps explain the foundation of hatred that facilitated the Jedwabne slaughter; it also sheds light on the roots of similar pogroms that took place nearby during the previous week in July 1941. In Wasosz and Radzilow, too, Polish mobs raped, robbed, tortured and murdered. In each town many hundreds of Jews – exact numbers are elusive – were herded into a barn, which was then set afire. In Jedwabne, the destruction was almost complete: Only seven of the town’s 1,600 Jewish residents survived.
Germans played little or no direct role in these massacres, yet the Poles perpetrated many of the same kinds of outrages commonly associated with the Nazis. Jews were tied to the backs of wagons or horses and dragged through the streets. Infants were torn from their mothers’ arms and butchered before their eyes. In the Jedwabne synagogue, Jews were “forced to sing and destroy their holy books,” Bikont notes.
In Radzilow, some of the bodies were dumped into a pit used for curdling dairy products. One eyewitness told Bikont “the earth was moving” from the breath of victims who were only half-dead. I have had students who wondered about the veracity of a report in an American Jewish magazine, in early 1942, of German massacres in which the victims were machine-gunned into pits in a field, “and by the living breath of those interred, the field was heaving like the sea.” Bikont’s book should put those doubts to rest.
In all three of the towns that Bikont studied, those who were not involved in the violence played a supplementary role as looters. She presents accounts of peasant women in Radzilow tearing the dresses off Jewish women as they were being herded off at gunpoint. One Polish housewife admitted stealing and ripping apart Torah scrolls because of a popular belief that “there were dollars hidden in them.”
Yet at every turn, Bikont found herself confronted by the almost unanimous refusal of Jedwabne residents to face up to their town’s past. Younger residents resented what they saw as the besmirching of its good name. Old-timers conjured up tall tales to explain what had happened. Some insisted, despite mountains of evidence, that it was the Germans who did it. Some even claimed that a secretly Jewish Nazi officer who was trying to hide his identity led the massacre. Others accused their Jewish neighbors of having collaborated with the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, during the brief Russian occupation of the town. There were “60 Jewish units” of the NKVD, one older resident absurdly insisted. Sometimes Bikont directly refutes such allegations; sometimes she lets their inanity speak for itself.
Then-Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski, to his credit, acknowledged the truth about Jedwabne, but the townspeople boycotted his speech at a 2001 memorial ceremony and denounced him as a puppet of international Jewry. A sign blaming the Germans for the pogrom was removed from a local monument by the federal government, but the town council refused to authorize mention of the Polish perpetrators in the replacement sign. Even a local teacher who had attended a two-week program at the United States Holocaust Museum insisted that the Polish mobs in 1941 were just “carrying out orders” from the Germans and that contemporary critics are all just “making money” from the Jedwabne controversy.
Again and again, Bikont encounters ears of Jewish financial claims against Jedwabne.
“‘The Jews are about to come and take what belongs to them’ is a phrase I hear all the time,” she writes. If it belongs to them, one might ask, why can’t they take it? To this day, Poland is the only major European country that has no Holocaust restitution law, and numerous Jewish homes in Jedwabne remain in the hands of families who illegally occupied them in 1941. The silence to which Bikont’s title refers masks a continuing injustice.
The writer is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and coauthor of “The Historical Dictionary of Zionism,” among other books.
What the Holocaust establishment will never say about Anne Frank
While the story of Anne Frank is tragedy, the basic facts of the Frank family history fly in the face of the belief that Auschwitz was an “extermination factory.”
…by Jonas E. Alexis and David Merlin
David Merlin has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and economics from the University of California, Berkeley. He also has a Juris Doctor. He is currently writing a book on the “Irving vs. Lipstadt” trial. He is a frequent contributor to the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, CODOH.com.
Jonas E. Alexis: Anne Frank is arguably one of the most difficult personalities of World War II. She has been revered by political leaders of all stripes, including like Nelson Mandela. When the Ann Frank Exhibition was opened in 1994, Mandela, a Communist and Marxist/Leninist throughout his political career and a product of Jewish messianic and subversive movements, declared then that
“The Anne Frank Exhibition explores the past in order to heal, to reconcile and to build the future. I think we will all agree that it is not the most pleasant thing to revive bitter memories, to invoke the pain and suffering of the past.
“But, like the people of the Netherlands and others in Europe who experienced the harsh realities of Nazism and fascism, like the people in the developing world who lived under the brutality of colonialism, we, in South Africa know too well that we cannot move forward with confidence if we ignore the past.”
How ironic that the man who uttered those words did not even think that Leninism was worse than Nazism or Fascism. Mandela was even trained by the Israeli Mossad!
In any event, there is now an Anne Frank Exhibition in South Africa, but there is not a single exhibition for millions upon millions of innocent people who suffered under Lenin and Stalin—not even in America, the land of “democracy” and “freedom.”
Beyoncé and Jay Z have even all the way to Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank House, but they never asked the most damning question ever: whatever happened to other people who suffered under the Bolshevik Regime? Do they deserve our sympathy?
Are these people being fair? Are we really being careful with the historical account? One cogent observer by the name of Marc C. Digiuseppe has recently sent me his great assessment on the some of the problems facing the political and historical world which states in part:
“The German people were maligned and abused by the Western Oligarchs in World War I. The Oligarchs cleverly navigated a diplomacy that played upon Germanic Traditions—abstract notions of pride and honor—a rule of the clan that had endured for thousands of years…
“This entire process was then repeated upon the German people at the end of World War II.”
Absolutely true. The questions before us are simply these: When will the Holocaust establishment be fair to the German people, particularly those who suffered under the Red Army? When will they look at the death and evil on both sides of the historical equation? More importantly, what aren’t they telling us about Anne Frank?
Well, we’ll let Merlin answer that question for us.
Now, some readers will probably say that we are trying to deconstruct history here. Not at all. We should all sympathize for those who have suffered under violent regimes and for those who have absolutely and positively nothing to do with revolutionary movements.
In fact, we should all be able to separate good, bad, and indifferent people. But it is not fair to sympathize for one particular group while ignoring the suffering of others. And the Holocaust establishment has certainly tampered with the Anne Frank account. Now let us allow Merlin to talk about this issue.
David Merlin: There is a rather pretentious writer for the New York Times named Ed Rothstein. Mr. Rothstein specializes in pious critiquing of Holocaust tales and museums. He wrote an article about the Anne Frank extravaganza exhibit put on at the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The article is entitled “Playing Cat and Mouse With Searing History.”
Rothstein feels that people are drawing the wrong “lesson” from the exhibit. The exhibit is not horrible enough and “horrific circumstances are distilled into effervescent platitudes!” In fact, Mr. Rothstein has totally missed the history lesson. Maybe Mr. Rothstein can be excused since the backstory history of the Frank family is never mentioned by Holocaust Believers.
While the story of Anne Frank is tragedy, the basic facts of the Frank family history fly in the face of the belief that Auschwitz was an “extermination factory.” To Quote Bradley Smith’s Blog,
“Official history is that non-working Jewish people arriving at Auschwitz were all ‘gassed.’ But of the eight sent to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944 from the Annex, not one of them was killed in a gas chamber. Instead, five of the eight were transported back to Germany-Austria in November 1944.”
The details of the eight individuals from the Annex are:
- Anne Frank– sent to Auschwitz, then transported to Belsen where she died of typhus (in Belsen not Auschwitz).
- Otto Frank– left behind in Auschwitz with those in the sick barracks. Survived the War.
- Edith Frank-Holländer–left behind in Auschwitz as the Germans retreated.
- Margot Frank (Anne’s older sister) died of typhus in Belsen (not Auschwitz).
- Fritz Pfeffer, sent to Auschwitz then transported to Neuengamme concentration camp where he died on 20 December 1944. His cause of death is listed in the camp records as “enterocolitis.”
- Auguste van Pels born Auguste Röttgen (Hermann’s wife), whose date of death is unknown. Witnesses testified that she was with the Frank sisters during part of their time in Bergen-Belsen. According to German records, van Pels was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany with a group of eight women on November 26, 1944. Hannah Goslar’s testimony was that she spoke to van Pels through the barbed wire fence “in late January or early February”. Auguste was transferred on February 6, 1945 to Raguhn (Buchenwald in Germany), then to the Czechoslovakia camp Theresienstadt ghetto on April 9, 1945.
- Peter van Pels died in Mauthausen (not Auschwitz).
- Hermann van Pels died in Auschwitz. It is often claimed that he was “gassed.” However, according to eyewitness testimony, this did not happen on the day of his arrival there. Sal de Liema, an inmate at Auschwitz who knew both Otto Frank and Hermann van Pels, said that after two or three days in the camp, van Pels mentally “gave up.” He later injured his thumb on a work detail, and requested to be sent to the sick barracks. There is no evidence whatever for the assertion that Hermann van Pels was gassed.
The pattern is the same with other groups closely associated with Anne Frank who were also sent to Auschwitz from Holland.
- Eva Geiringer — born May 11, 1929. Sent to Auschwitz May 1944 Step-sister of Anne Frank. Survived the War. Married Zvi Schloss, also refugee from Nazi Germany. She is a co-founder of the Anne Frank Trust UK. Her experiences story was made into the play And Then They Came for Me – Remembering the World of Anne Frank.
- “Fritzy” Geiringer, mother of Eva, Married Otto Frank. Survived the War.
- Heinz Geiringer, brother. Survived Auschwitz but died on a forced march out of the camp.
- “Pappy” Geiringer. Survived Auschwitz but died on a forced march out of the camp.
The Geiringers were immigrants from Austria; They too ignored a call up for labor service received July 6, 1942 and went into hiding. They were found out on May 11, 1944, detained and were sent to Auschwitz that month.
- Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper. Was arrested for forgery. Was in the Westerbork, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. Traveled to Auschwitz on the same train as the Frank family and to Belsen with Anne and Anne’s older sister Margot. Survived the War.
- Lientje, sister of Janny. Was in the Westerbork, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps with Janny. Survived the War.”
Not one of the group of 14 was gassed or executed.
There is more: Anne, Margo, Janny, and Lientje were put on trains and transported back across Poland into Germany. It is pretty obvious that they were not moved around due to their value as workers.
How do Believers in an alleged policy to “Exterminate all Jews” explain this? Rothstein dances around the issue, playing up the tragedy and avoiding the actual history.
“Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the sole survivor of the “secret annex”
Rothstein also skims over the transportation problem with lurid rhetoric, “where the Germans had shipped her from Auschwitz along with other condemned souls in the waning months of the war.”
The point is exactly that the people transported out of Auschwitz were NOT condemned but saved. Their later tragic deaths by disease, cold, etc. may have been negligence (or not) but to bray out that they were “condemned souls” is absurd and dishonest.
Even Rothstein’s “waning months of the War” claim is a conflation. Anne, et al were transported out in November 1944.
The display that Rothstein finds most meaningful in the Exhibit is a “symbolic” wall of children’s clothes: Typical of a Holocaust Believer to worship symbolism and ignore the Truth.
The obvious point is that (whatever German policy was earlier) by September 1944 the policy was not to “exterminate all Jews.”
The Shady Mr. Frank
The promoters of the Anne Frank story leave out unpleasant information about Otto Frank.
The official story was that Otto Frank and his family were detained because they were Jewish. However a recent book by Carol Ann Lee, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank (Penguin Books, 2003), brings to light never before documented information about Otto Frank.
The operative fact was that Otto Frank was always in need of money. With one broken engagement already behind him, in 1925 Frank married Edith Hollander, a women with a substantial dowry and heiress to a scrap-metal and industrial-supply business.
It was, he later admitted, ‘a business arrangement’, though not even his well-to-do wife could help when, in the early Thirties, the family banking business plunged once again into the red.
Getting out of Germany
Otto Frank and his family emigrated from Germany to Holland in 1933, evidently under a cloud of some illegal business transactions. It is interesting to note that the various Anne Frank Websites blame the emigration on anti-Semitic policies of the National Socialists.
However, Hitler did not gain power until after the passage of the Enabling Act on March 24, 1933 and the Nuremberg laws were not passed until September 1935. By then Otto Frank had been in Holland for over two years.
Frank had established his franchise for the Amsterdam branch of Opekta pectin company by September 1933, evidently after months of planning. Interestingly, Frank had previously managed managed a large rival firm named Pomosin, which also traded pectin to factories from the Dutch town of Utrecht.
All this clearly shows that failed business dealings had already prompted Otto Frank to look for a creditor free life in Holland.
Business with the Germans
Holland did not give the Franks Dutch citizenship. When the Germans occupied Holland in 1940 Frank was happy to do business with the Occupying German Army (the pectin his firm produced was essential for the preservation of the German army’s rations.) In her book, Lee writes…”Otto Frank made a pact with the devil […]”
Otto manufactured and wholesaled pectin and other products to the German army.
“Pectin was a preservative that could be put to many uses, depending upon the type of pectin it was. All pectin was useful for food production, but certain kinds could be applied as a balm for wounds and as a thickener for raising blood volume in blood transfusions.
Other types of pectin were used in the steel industry as a hardener and in the oil industry as an emulsifier. Therefore, it is possible that the Wehrmacht used the pectin they bought from Otto Frank’s company for the war industry.”
Carol Ann Lee details evidence that after the War Otto paid hush money to people to keep his business dealings with the Nazis secret.
Otto Frank’s illegal activities
Frank illegally re-registered his business naming the husband of a secretary, Jan Gies, owner and changing the business name to Gies & Co. but Frank continued to act as an illegal “sleeping partner.”
Two years later, in July 1942, Margot Frank receives a call-up to report for a German work camp. Otto Frank went into hiding.
There is also the matter of the two Opekta employees, Martin Brouwer and Pieter Daatzelaa, who were arrested in March 1944 for dealing in counterfeit ration cards. They worked in the same building as the Annex.
Rather than mention what appears to be a sizable black market food and fake ration card ring centered at the Gies & Co building, protectors of the “Anne Frank Brand name” make the dramatic claim that the family “had been betrayed”but, when Otto Frank was discovered in hiding, he and his family were illegal aliens in Holland with a string of legal violations by Otto Frank, including strong connections with a counterfeit ration card operation.
The family was held for almost a month at Westerbork Detention Center while all this was sorted out. When the Frank family’s legal status was determined they were all transported to Auschwitz. None of the women were registered into the camp and none seemed to work.
All of the family survived the alleged “Extermination Factory.” As mentioned above, Anne and her older sister were transported back to Germany, where Anne Frank died of typhus right at the end of the War.
The “official” Anne Frank website ignores all these inconvenient facts about Otto Frank and the Frank Family’s visit to Auschwitz.
The Diary and the Anne Frank Brand Name
The pages that constitute the “Diary” were actually various loose sheets of paper allegedly left by the police strewn on the floor of the Annex.
Whatever else one can say about the “Diary,” it has been a huge goldmine and everyone connected with young Anne Frank has exploited her story, usually by establishing a “Foundation” such as Eva Geiringer’s Anne Frank Trust UK.More than 30 million book copies have been sold along with movie rights, plays, and exhibits like the pay-to-view show at the Los Angeles Wiesenthal Center ($15.50 to enter. Not included with general admission. Advanced reservations are recommended.)
In his will, Otto Frank bequeathed the original manuscripts to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. The copyright however belongs to the Anne Frank Fonds, a Switzerland-based foundation.
Over the years, there have been numerous legal brawls over ownership of the publishing rights.
For example, Cornelis Suijk—a former director of the Anne Frank Foundation and president of the U.S. Center for Holocaust Education Foundation—announced in 1999 that he was in the possession of five pages that had been removed by Otto Frank from the diary prior to publication; Suijk claimed that Otto Frank gave these pages to him shortly before his death in 1980. It cost US$300,000 to Suijk’s Foundation to get the pages back to the The Netherlands Institute for War Documentation.
Also see: “a legacy feud is simmering between the owners of Frank’s writings — the Switzerland-based Anne Frank Fonds — and stewards of the “Secret Annex” museum visited by more than one-million people each year, the Anne Frank House.
The disputes among the various trusts and foundations aside, they all unite in preserving the value of the Anne Frank Brand name. The Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation paid for a report that claimed that the various papers were “authentic.”
But then, after years of claiming that the Diaries were the sole work of Anne, The Anne Frank Fund, based in Basel, Switzerland, has claims that it holds exclusive copyright because Otto Frank was a co-author!
It all leads one to suspect that the various Anne Frank trusts, foundations, and museums are not shooting straight with the facts.
Obviously the detention and death by disease of Anne Frank is a tragedy but a review the facts puts a slightly different spin on the story than the myth making exploitation of the tragedy by the folks at Anne Frank House, the Anne Frank Fonds, and the Simon Wiesenthal Museum.
 Edward Rothstein, “Playing Cat and Mouse With Searing History,” NY Times, October 13, 2013.
 Rachel Cooke, “The Hidden Life of Otto Frank,” Guardian, July 14, 2002.
 Matt Lebovic, “A most unseemly battle over the legacy of Anne Frank,” Times of Israel, December 18, 2014.