Jędrzej Giertych: A JEWISH STATE IN CENTRAL POLAND ?

A Jewish State in Poland
Jedrzej Giertych

 

 

A JEWISH STATE IN CENTRAL POLAND ?

ENGLISH summary

By

Jedrzej Giertych

Acc “Komunikaty Tom II cz. I 1979/1980

 

 https://sites.google.com/site/krzysztofcierpisz/ajewishstateinpoland

 http://gazetawarszawska.com/2012/11/18/zydy-w-polskim-radio-za-polskie-pieniadze/

 

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In this little work the author formu­lates the hypothesis that there was a plan in some Zionist circles during the Second World War to achieve not only the political aim of a Jewish state in Palestine, but also another political aim: the establishment of a similar state in Poland (in the province of Lublin); and that in this endeavour the Jewish politicians initially had some support on the part of Hitler, or at least of some German government cir­cles at the time of Hitler’s rule.

The matter needs more thorough ex­amination in archives and the author is not in a position now to undertake such an examination. But the general lines of the problem present themselves suf­ficiently clearly in the light of scatter­ed information, accessible in works which have been already printed.  The author (gathered together in this work this information in the form of excerpts; from printed works (many of them in the English, or German language, all quoted in the original, but always with, an added Polish translation). All the texts quoted have been carefully examined and interpreted by the author.

It is am indisputable fact that in 1939 and in 1940 the German occupation au­thorities in Poland were organizing a. “Jewish Reserve” in the province of Lublin in Poland and according to some-German pronouncements, this , Re-serve” was to contain the whole Je­wish population of Poland and probably also the Jewish population transferred from other countries, such as Ger­many, Czechoslovakia and Austria. As according to an official estimate there were 3.351.000 Jews in Poland on 32st August 1939 (3.136.000 according to the official census of 1931), the trans­fer of the total Jewish population of Poland into the Lublin province would have created, even without the trans­fer of Jews from abroad, an accumul­ation of Jewish population twice as large as the present total population of the Republic of Israel and roughly equal to the total population of such indepen­dent states as Denmark, Norway, Fin­land, Eire or Syria.

JRMiP

The German transfer of groups of Jewish population from other Polish provinces and from abroad into the Lub­lin province and expulsions of the Po­lish population from this province actu­ally took place but they were on a small scale. This however is easy to explain because of the difficulties of war time. There is however another sign which supports the opinion, that the German

I government considered the plan of a Jewish Reserve in a serious way. The to­tal Jewish population in Poland was transferred by the German authorities into “ghettoes” in larger Polish cities and towns and in these ,,ghettoes”, enclosed by walls, ordered to perform industrial work for the German Army and undoubtedly suffering great economic and physical persecution the Jews were allowed to achieve one very important thing: some elements of political self-government (a Jewish ad­ministration, police, tax system, school system, prisons, courts, public welfare etc.) which was preparing them for future statehood.

In the administration of the “ghettoes”, the German authorities found a large class of enthusiastic supporters among the Jews themselves. It is im­possible to dismiss this fact by the stat­ement that they were quislings and traitors. It is obvious, that they were Jewish patriots, that they believed in the usefulness and importance of their work for the Jewish cause and that they seemed to work according to a common political plan, undisclosed, but clearly perceptible in their attitude. They were not perturbed by the oppressive character of the German rule and calmly conducted their work until a very late date. When they discovered that the Germans were aiming at the massacre of the Jewish population — and for a long time they did not want to believe this — they almost all found a patriotic death, either by suicide or by volunteering to the” gas chambers, or by German execution.

The Jewish “ghettos” became a step on the way, leading to Ger­man massacre, but they could easily have become also a step towards a Je­wish state on Polish soil. The transfer of the Jews into the “ghettoes” destroyed the former basis of the Jewish economic existence In Poland as a scat­tered population of traders, merchants, artisans, workers and professional men. The years of life in isolated, purely Je­wish communities under a harsh Ger­man rule, in poverty, in hard work and in a system of Jewish self-government, had also transformed them psycholo­gically and made of them a human material better suited to the future role of Zionist settlers. After the war the “ghettoes” would have been opened. The transfer of their population into a newly created, purely Jewish province with an agricultural basis, would have been an almost obvious solution. Con­trary to opinions expressed by some at the quoted sources, the Lublin province was one of the richest and most fer­tile provinces of Poland. The city of Lublin had centuries old historical tra­ditions in its local Jewish community and was, during the epoch of Jewish dispersion, one of the main historical centres of Jewish life, similar to Toledo, Amsterdam and Wilno.

It is the author’s opinion, that in 1939 and in 1940 the creation   of a Jewish state   or “reserve” in   the Lublin prov­ince was a serious   German aim.   In summer 1940   the   Germans   begun   to have   doubts,   and in 1941 dropped the plan altogether. The plan of a massac­re of the Jews was not an original German aim, but was conceived only in or after 1941, in connection with so­me general change in German politi­cal plans. The abandonment of the Ger­man plan of a Jewish Reserve in Lub­lin   may   perhaps   be   connected in some way with the breakdown of German-Soviet political co-operation in the years 1939-1941. The reason why the German  Nazi  government, known for its anti-Semitism, may  have  wanted to create a Jewish territory which sooner or later would have to become a Jewish state can be explained by the fact   that  they  were  prepared    to use any means which would help to destroy Poland.

A question which it is impossible to answer without an examination of ar­chives, is the problem if there were in 1939 or at any other time -an formal agreements, concerning the Lublin Re­serve,  between the German government and any responsible Jewish political circles. It seems to the author, that there must have been some such agree­ment.

The author quotes long excerpts from a remarkable book by one of the most prominent Jewish politicians, the leader of the influential party of the Zionists-Revisionists, the late V. Jabotinsky, in which the idea incessantly recurs, that it was an aim of the Jew­ish nation to establish MORE THAN ONE Jewish state after the end of the Second World War.

It needs not be said, that a plan, in­volving the expulsion of a several mil­lion strong Polish population from the Lublin province and an establishment of a Jewish state there, would have been a terrible shock for Poland. Such a state would have immediately been taken under the protection of Soviet Rus­sia and it would have also enjoyed sympathies in the Anglo-Saxon world. In the centre of Poland a strong, alien body would have been established and this could have been for Poland almost a death blow.

There is no justification whatsoever for accession of Polish territory for Zionist ends. Poland is not the home­land of the Jews. She has given hospi­tality to the Jews for many centuries and besides Spain she was the main country outside Palestine in which they found a temporary home. But it would have been ingratitude on the part of the Jews to repay Poland for her hospitality by territorial aggression.

It is the widespread opinion in Eng­land and America that during the between — the — wars period of 1918-1939 the prevailing attitude of the Polish na­tion towards the Jews was anti-Semi­tism. It will not be out of place here to say a few words about this for bene­fit of the English or American reader. This opinion is completely unjustified, because the Polish-Jewish conflict of that time had a purely political charac­ter and did not differ from any other political conflict between nations, such, as the Polish-German, or English-Irish, or Italian-Yugoslav, or Greek-Turkish. What was the so called Polish anti-Se­mitism, is best shown by the fate of Jan Mosdorf, one of most prominent of its leaders, whose name resounded in the thirties throughout the world for this reason. During the second world war the Germans placed him in a con­centration camp, where he joined an underground group, which for motives of   Christian   charity, was organizing help for the Jews, who were the most persecuted among the Inmates of the camp. His activities were discovered by the Germans and he was executed for this. I would say, this is not the most typical attitude for an anti-Semi­te: to give his life for persecuted Jews.

The so-called Polish anti-Semitism was not directed against the Jews as a. race, but against the Jews as a politi­cal power, whose aims were opposed to the Polish ones. There is much simi­larity between the Jewish-Arabic poli­tical opposition in Palestine between the wars and the Jewish-Polish in Po­land of the same time. The Arabs also were not anti-Semites: it would be ridiculous to call them by this name if only for the very simple reason that they were Semites themselves. They were opposed to the Zionists not because they did not like Semites, but because they saw in them a danger to the Arab national cause and to their country.

The Jews were, in Poland, a force which was not negligible even numeri­cally. Talk that a Jewish state could be created on Polish territory did not start only in 1939: such talk was wide­spread already many years earlier, not, it is true, in connection with the pro­vince of Lublin, but with the province of Polesie, which since the Russo-Ger-man agreements of 1939 has been In the Russian zone of Poland. (This pro­vince, which included the towns of Pinsk and Brest, was an immediate neighbour of the province of Lublin). The number of Jews in Poland was sufficiently large to form a viable in-dependent state. The Polish Jews were ardent Nationalists and it was they who were to create the Zionist Republic in Palestine. (With the exception of Herzl, all the most important leaders of Zionism were Jews from the terri­tory of ancient Poland and the bulk of Zionist settlers and stragglers came from Polish territory too). They were a tremendous economic and financial power in Poland and this power was increased (by their ties with Jewish communities abroad. Their political attitude was to a great extent hostile to Poland. A very substantial part of the Jewish proletariat and intelligent­sia in Poland sympathised with Soviet Russia and helped the Russian side in the Polish-Russian war of 1919/20; the Communist Party in Poland was to a great extent composed of Jews and even to-day people of Jewish origin form a very numerous   and influential part of the Communist administration in Poland. The religious, liberal and wealthy sections of Polish Jewry befo­re, during and after the First World War sympathized with Prussia, with Imperial Germany, with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and with the Ger­man Weimar Republic. Those Jews who took part in Polish political life often undisguisedly showed their hostility to Poland; e.g. Mr Isaac Grunbaum, the leader of the Jewish representation In the Polish Parliament (which was quite numerous thanks to the Polish proportional electoral system), conduc­ted a policy of (permanent alliance with the Nazi representation of the German minority in Poland and with Ukrainian separatists, with the aim of a transfor­mation of Poland into a Polish-Jewish-German-Ukrainian federation, in which the predominantly Polish character of Poland would disappear. In notorious ut­terances in the Polish Parliament in 1919 he made threats that (Poland would lose Gdansk , Wilno, Lwow and Silesia if she would not comply with some Jew­ish demands. He later became one of the most prominent leaders of Zionism and a member of the Government of the Republic of Israel.)

Te facts quoted above should be sufficient to prove that Polish-Jewish antagonism was mainly a political one. This antagonism was increased by the fact that many persons of Jewish origin became nominal Christians In Poland, and were superficially assimilated into the Polish nation, but were in fact athe­ists and cosmopolitans and exercised a disruptive influence in the life of Polish society, whose basis is essentially Ca­tholic.

One must also remark, that in past centuries the Jews enjoyed in Poland an exceptional amount of liberty, ne­ver known to such extent in other countries. It was a part of Poland s political philosophy that nobody should be persecuted for his faith and that unbelievers should not be compelled to become Christians if they do not wish to. (The most coherent exposition of this philosophy was made by the Polish thinker of the XVth century, Paulus Vladimir, but this philosophy perme­ated practically the whole of Polish his­tory from the XIIIth century till mo­dern times). Poland has never known religious intolerance and never known religious persecution. ( The sufferings of the Jews in the Polish Ukraine in the XVIIth century were not the fault of Poles but of the Cossack rebels, who mutinied against Poland). At the time when the Jews suffered persecutions and massacres in Germany and many other countries and were completely expelled from such countries as Spain and Eng­land, great crowds of Jews from all European countries sought refuge in Poland and found it there. Polish tole­rance and hospitality became the cau­se of a mass immigration of Jews into Poland and of the birth of the extra­ordinarily numerous communities of Po­lish Jews.

In the period of Poland’s partitions (1772-1918) the predominant section of Polish Jews found it expedient to make arrangements with Poland’s ‘oppressors (Prussia, Russia and Austria), and to dissociate itself from the Polish cau­se. The Jews helped to spread the German and the Russian language in Poland in many Polish cities: they star­ted to speak Russian, to support the Russian theatre, the Russian press, the Russian schools etc. in such cities as Wilno, Pinsk, Bialystok and to some extent even Warsaw, and in the same way they started to speak German in-Poznan and to some extent in Cracow and Lwow. They supported the Prussian and Austrian governments in Western and, Southern Poland and the Russian revolutionary parties in Eastern and Central Poland. Having the support of Poland’s oppressors, who, according to the principle divide et impera tried to transform them into a factor counter­balancing the native Polish population,. they became during the XlXth century a tremendous economic and political-power in Poland and started to consi­der themselves as co-owners of the Polish territory. This was the source of their program to organize in Poland a purely Jewish province, into which the bulk of Polish Jewry could be transferred.

A good example of the Increase of Je­wish influence in Poland is the fact that in Poland’s capital city, Warsaw, they formed 4.5 p.c. of the population in 1781, in the time of Poland’s independence, and 33.9% in 1857 under Russian rule. In the second largest Polish city, Lodz, 5.7% in 1793, 31.8% in 1897 and 40.7% in 1910.

 

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It seems that there was also a plan to organize a third Jewish territory in the Crimean Peninsula of Southern Rus­sia and in adjoining districts. A large scale agricultural Jewish colonization was conducted there at the beginning of Soviet rule and several “autonomo­us Jewish districts” were organized there.

It is the opinion of the author that the real programme of at least some of the Zionist circles before and during the Second World War was to create not only one Jewish state (in Palesti­ne), but two, or perhaps even three. The simultaneous existence of two or three Jewish states, in the Middle East, in Central Europe and perhaps also in Southern Russia, would have given the Jewish nation  a  much  greater weight in world politics than at present.

These plans came to ruin in conse­quence of the sudden change of Ger­man policy and of the terrible mass­acre of the Jews, executed by Hitler in the last years of the Second World War. Only a relatively small fraction of Polish Jewry was saved (partly thanks to the disinterested and often heroic help of the Poles) and was able to contribute its substantial effort to the building of the Republic of Israel in Palestine.

 

 

Written n1956

 

 

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  1. Jędrzej Giertych: NIEDOSZŁE PAŃSTWO ŻYDOWSKIE W LUBELSZCZYŹNIE Cz.3. - Gazeta Warszawska - 24/12/2012

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