WATCH an incredible short-length documentary about the real Polish-Jewish history – from the 10th century to World War II. Poles and Jews have shared over a thousand years of history. Poland was one of the most tolerant countries on Earth! That’s why people called Poland a “paradise for Jews”. (…) On September 1, 1939, Poland was attacked by Nazi Germany and on September 17 of that same year, it was attacked by Communist Russia…
Poles and Jews have shared over a thousand years of history. The first description of the Polish state was made by Ibrahim ibn Jakub, a Jewish merchant from Tortosa. The first mentions of Jews living in Poland come from the 11th century. They came to Poland to protect themselves from pogroms which were organized in Western Europe by participants of the Crusades.
In the 12th century, Jews exiled from Kievan Rus began to flow into Poland.
The King of Poland, Casimir III the Great is recognized as the protector of the Jews. During his time, in the 14th century, the Kingdom of Poland became a safe haven for Jews exiled from all over Europe, namely Germany, England, France and Hungary.
Before the Catholic Reformation in the 17th century, Poland was one of the most tolerant countries on Earth! It was home to one of the greatest Jewish communities in the world. That’s why people called Poland a “paradise for Jews” (Latin: paradisus judaeorum). The 16th century Polish rabbi, Moses Isserles said: “Had not the Lord left us this land as refuge, the fate of Israel would have been indeed unbearable”. In the 16th century, Jews expelled from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic found refuge here. About 80% of all Jews living in the world lived on Polish soil. It was the main center of their culture and arts.
At the end of the 18th century, Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland and our country disappeared from the map for 123 years. The three partitioning powers, and especially the Russians, forced Jews to relocate to Poland.
We regained our independence in 1918 and by that time, Poland was inhabited by over three million Jews. It was one of the largest diasporas in the world.
On September 1, 1939, Poland was attacked by Nazi Germany. On September 17 of that same year, it was attacked by Communist Russia. Abandoned by allied England and France, the Polish army, fighting alone, was defeated by two invaders working in concert.
Just before the attack on Poland, on August 23, 1939, Germany and Russia signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact concerning the partition of Polish lands. After a joint invasion by Germany and Russia, Poland was divided into two parts. On September 23, 1939, a joint German-Russian parade took place in then Polish Brest celebrating the victory over Poland. On September 28, 1939, a treaty on borders and friendship of the Third Reich-USSR was signed in Moscow.
In September of 1939, both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army committed many crimes against prisoners of war and civilians. The murder, torture and deportation of Poles were constant elements of the occupation policy of both totalitarian states. In 1940, the Russians brutally murdered at least 22 thousand Polish officers, policemen, teachers, politicians and other members of the nation’s elite who had been captured. Some of those murdered on the basis of Stalin’s decision of March 5, 1940, were found in 1943 in the Katyn forest. A significant number of those murdered were of Jewish nationality. It wasn’t until 1993 that Russian President Boris Yeltsin apologized for this crime.
At the same time, the “AB-Aktion” was being carried out on German-occupied Poland, which also aimed to liquidate the Polish leadership.
During World War II, Poles created the largest resistance movement in the world, the Home Army, which numbered up to 400,000 members in its best time. In other German-occupied countries, SS troops collaborating with Germany were established. But not in Poland! There also wasn’t any collaboration between Poland’s government and Germany. The Israeli War Crimes Commission estimates that less than 0.1% of ethnic Poles collaborated with Germany during World War II.
Nazi Germany began the liquidation of the Jewish people in occupied Poland. Despite the fact that Poland was the only country in which the death penalty for helping Jews was imposed by the Germans, it was here that ŻEGOTA, the only secret organization in the world aiding Jews, was created by the Polish underground state. Poles saved more Jews than any other nation in the world. We saved between 100-150 thousand Jews. Furthermore, 1 million Poles were involved in helping Jews. Among those who have been awarded the medal “Righteous Among the Nations”, Poles are the most numerous.
During World War II, the Germans killed about 6 million Poles, including 3 million Jews, who were Polish citizens. About 20% of the Polish population was killed. Germans killed over 90% of Polish Jews. Overall, Poland suffered the largest human and material losses in World War II.
As for Russia’s crimes against the Polish nation, between 1939-52, 1.8 million Polish citizens fell victim to Joseph Stalin’s communist repressions. Most of them were deported somewhere in the Soviet Union, of which 150 thousand lost their lives.
After World War II, Poland was under Russian occupation. The Russian army left Poland only in 1993.
To this day, we have not received due war reparations, either from Germany or Russia.
Arthur Bliss Lane, the first U.S. ambassador to Communist Poland, was an eyewitness to the deceitful and totalitarian nature of the Russian occupation of Poland. He concludes his recollections of his mission to Warsaw with the following words: „The responsibility of preventing a Communist seizure of Italy, France or any other country, and of restoring freedom to Poland and to other nations, rests on the people of the United States and of all other democracies.”