Thursday, September 20, 2007
Jewish restitution groups - Poles are justifiably furious.
Jewish restitution groups - Poles are justifiably furious.
1. ON February 27, 2007, twenty leaders of Jewish restitution groups will convene in Warsaw, to advance their US$ 65 billion claim against Poland. Israel Singer, the general secretary of the World Jewish Congress, will be there. Jerzy Robert Nowak, a Polish professor of history, writes today in one of the independent papers that Singer's participation is an "extraordinary scandal" absent from most of the media.[i] Singer stated on April 19, 1996 that if Poland does not satisfy Jewish claims, it will be "publicly attacked and humiliated". A Polish publicist, Stanislaw Michalkiewicz has called Singer's declaration a "declaration of war against Poland".
Even a Jewish publicist in Poland, Antoni Marianowicz, has objected to Singer's demands in the April 23, 1996 entry in his book:
"This is simply preposterous; we in Poland have to reckon with the law and wait for suitable laws, and they demand everything right away. Often they are those who lived comfortably in the US, while their families were perishing here in the Holocaust. It's hard to imagine a more effective incitement of anti-Semitism."[ii]
In a recent interview in a Polish main paper, Singer said: "Nobody who lost their house wants to get just a piece of roof, a couple of windows and doors, but the whole house!".[iii]
The Poles are justifiably furious, for example, Nowak:
"As if the Nazi occupier has not methodically destroyed Poland -- Jews have received from Germany more than US$100 billion in compensations -- the Poles themsellves were awarded only meagre handfulls of Deutschmarks for slave labourers".
Nowak pointed out that in the first years after WW2, Jews could recover posessions in Poland fast, owing to sympathy of predominantly Jewish authorities, but the Jews usually sold the properties and left Poland. A few hundred thousand Jews mainly from the USSR immediately received apartments free of charge at the same time.
The US government has intervened on behalf of world Jewry's restitutions. Stuart Eizenstat, left, former special representative of US president and secretary of state for Holocaust-era issues, outlines how the US Jewish community achieved it:
"The Jewish community, considering its small size - only two to three percent of the population depending on who one defines as a Jew - has a remarkable impact on issues relevant to it in the American political system. Various interest groups influence the latter by accessing the Congress, the executive branch, and state and local governments on subjects important to their constituency."
The 1967 Six-Day War marked the coming of age of the Jewish community. Since then, "the entire organized Jewish community has been Zionistic."[iv]
Eizenstat's involvement in the restitution process in Eastern Europe started in 1995 when he was the US ambassador in Europe, and became US special envoy for that purpose: "At that time, Edgar Bronfman, Israel Singer, the WJC and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) had already been trying to obtain Eastern European property restitution -- they had the critically important wisdom and knowledge to use the media and political system -- The WJC and the WJRO knew that only American intervention in the former communist countries could lead to achievements. Bronfman had already obtained Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's support." Later prime ministers Netanyahu (right) and Barak didn't give as much support to Eizenstat, presumably out of concern for
"bi-lateral relationship with the new post-communist countries. Perhaps in their hearts they also wanted their Jewish communities to come to Israel rather than spend their lives in Eastern Europe."[v]
Singer indicated in 2003 that shows the restitutionism is also retributionism: "Yitzhak Shamir, who has a great distaste for Poland, told me he would support the WJC claims against eastern European countries."[vi] Singer recognized the strategic issues for the restitutionists to tackle:
"The eastern European property restitution issue from which the restitution process of the 1990s started has remained a big failure -- First, these are poor countries. Second, they are used to being victims. Third, restitution would require them to admit all the other wrongs they inflicted on the Jews during and after the Holocaust. Their governments try to deal with the local Jewish communities which - except for Hungary - are extremely small and powerless and thus easier partners than the international Jewish organizations."
So far the restitutionists disregarded the poverty of the target nation, Poland. Clinging to "victimhood" by Poles was solved with lies by "history professor" Gross on the Jedwabne crime and the Kielce "pogrom". Pliable "Polish" statesmen admitted Polish guilt for both crimes committed by others, including Communist Jews in the case of Kielce.
In the beginning, writes Eizenstat, restitution efforts focused on "communal assets such as synagogues and other buildings". The process in Poland "will eventually lead to the return of thousands of pieces of communal property" but has been slowed by "a lengthy dispute we helped mediate - between the small Polish Jewish community and the WJRO -- which questioned the local community's capacity to manage the restituted property. The international and local Jewish community will share control."
Marianowicz above indicated the local Jews' outrage with the claim. According to Eizenstat, WJRO also demanded at least some control over the restituted properties. While this should be an internal Jewish matter, WJRO's move means control over a sizeable part of Polish real estate by one institution that has proven extremely hostile to Poles, like the rest of the Jewish restitution movement. Also, the Jewish restitution organizations have been accused of keeping the awards for themselves, rather than distributing them to the needy and eligible Jews.
Some ineligible Jews "had falsified their papers". Germany paid about USD 50 billion, and until 1965 also gave to the Conference a billion dollars in present value, but the victims received only 15 percent:
"The large chunk of the rest of it, according to Ronald Zweig, an expert on the subject, went to Jewish communities in the Arab world, such as Iraq, and institutions such as Yad Vashem in Israel."
The Conference didn't pay the survivors: "They said there weren't any victims anymore -- now they claim all these needy Holocaust victims have languished in poverty all these years, because the Germans gave them no money." Some unjustly treated Shoah survivors said they "trust the German government more than they do the Jewish organizations".[vii]
Israeli banks deny payments from accounts of Shoah victims, too. In January 2005, a Knesset committee slammed Israeli banks for "severe negligence" in handling some 9,000 accounts totaling NIS 1 billion and locating the heirs. In the first years of WW2, the banks managed to ride out mass withdrawals thanks to the funds deposited by thousands of European Jews. Some of the banks misappropriated the funds and destroyed documents. A bill proposed that a government corporation would handle the restitution of bank accounts, real estate, stocks and other assets. Money without heirs would go to humanitarian causes.[viii]
Nowak's worst predictions come true. In 1999, he warned about an "anti-Polish alliance" of polonophobic Jewish, German and Russian groups: "The most threatening to us may prove an alliance of very influential Jewish and German factions."[ix]
Nowak wrote today, alluding to German restitution claims filed around Christmas 2006 against Poland:
"We see a clear synchronization of Jewish and German claims. Both are based on a common lie that seeks to paint WW2 Poles as executioners, instead of the factual victims we have been. Some influential Ukrainian groups suddenly added their indemnity claims for Operation Wisla, which was predictable when some time ago miscellaneous Polish "apologizers" showed up."
In Operation Wisla (1.5.1947 - 16.8.1947) that aimed at fragmentation of a minority religion, the new Communist government of Poland transported some 140,000 pre-war Polish citizens of Orthodox Christian faith, from the eastern part of the new state to former Eastern Germany.[x]
They were mainly Ukrainians and followed millions of Poles re-settled from former Eastern Poland, which the victorius Allies gave to Stalin "in exchange" for the Eastern German lands. It is unclear why Ukraine would advance claims on behalf of Ukrainians in Poland.
Copyright Piotr Bein 2007
[i] Jerzy Robert Nowak, Nasz Dziennik, 17-18.2.2007, Nr 41 (2754)
[ii] Antoni Marianowicz, Polska, (Zydzi i cykli) sci, Warszawa, 1999, p 86.
[iii] An interview with Israel Singer (in Polish), Rzeczpospolita, 3-4.2.2007.
[iv] Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Restitution Issues and the Activism of American Jews: An Interview with Stuart Eizenstat, Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 18, 1.3.2004
[vi] Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Restitution: The Second Round: An Interview with Israel Singer, Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 14, 2.11.2003
[vii] Viktor Frölke, Salon Magazine, 30.8.2000
[viii] Amiram Barkat, Haaretz, 19.1.2005; Yair Sheleg, Haaretz, 23.1.2005.
[ix] Interview with Nowak, Nasz Dziennik, 21-22.8.1999.
[x] Anna Radziukiewicz, Orthodox Christianity in Poland, Wydawnictwo Arka: Bialystok, 2001, p 70.