When Narratives Collide: Poland Cancels A Visit By An Israeli Delegation

The dispute on reparations for real estate property belonging to the victims of the Jewish genocide in Poland escalates

Hundreds of thousands of Jews were burned in this very oven. Many were put in it by Poles.
Copyright: Black Stripe at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

In 1939, more than 10% of Poland’s population were Jews. By 1945, the number of Jews in Poland was a few dozen. Most were slaughtered right there, on Polish soil, by the German occupation forces with significant assistance from individual Poles. The real estate held by the four million Polish Jews who were thus exterminated is well documented by archival evidence and other sources. The few who managed to escape have descendants, mostly in Israel and in the US, who are still the legal owners of these properties since they were never sold or abandoned, but rather taken from them by force or illegally appropriated when they were forced to flee for their lives.

After the Nazi occupation, Poland was liberated by the Soviets, who installed in it a puppet communist regime. According to communist practice, much if not most of the looted Jewish real estate was nationalized, becoming the property of the state. When the communist regime in Poland ended just before the fall of the USSR in 1989, some of these properties began to be sold by the government back into private hands. This brings us to the present day, when real estate worth many billions of dollars, real estate whose legal owners were slaughtered or forced to flee for their very lives, is being enjoyed every day by the Polish government and by private Polish citizens. Today, this illegally gained real estate is making money for the descendants of the people who helped loot it, who helped exterminate its legal owners.

Or at least this is the Jewish and Israeli narrative. The Polish narrative is that Poland was the victim of three occupations: first in 1939, when according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact Poland was divided between the Nazis and the Soviets, then again when it was shortly thereafter occupied solely by the Nazis, and finally, when it was quasi-occupied by the Soviets in 1945. The Poles thus see themselves as the victims of the Holocaust and its aftermath, rather than its perpetrators. The Poles reject the responsibility of being the willing accessories to the Nazi murderers who occupied their country, a claim that bears no historical scrutiny and which makes normal relations between Poland and Israel all but impossible.

The equal rights division within the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs has been working for four years now in conjunction with private Jewish organizations to identify and catalog the pre-war Jewish property in Poland as well as in Romania. This week, a delegation from the Israeli foreign ministry was supposed to visit Poland to present the reparations framework that it had developed for the looted real estate . However, the issue of such reparations has recently become an incendiary one in Polish politics, with the right wing parties organizing major demonstrations in opposition to any reparations being paid. Bowing to these pressures, the Polish government cancelled the planned visit by the Israeli commission.

From the Jewish and the Israeli perspective, the continued enjoyment with no reparation or consideration by Polish authorities and individual Poles alike of the massive portfolio of real estate holdings that do not legally belong to them, but rather belongs to the descendants of Polish Jews and the State of Israel in its role as the legal inheritor for all Jewish properties the legal owners of which were the victims of the Nazi genocide cannot be contemplated. There is no doubt that should Poland refuse to cooperate with Jewish and Israeli efforts in settling this matter, it will be taken to international court and lose. In the process of these legal proceedings, the war crimes committed by thousands upon thousands of Polish citizens between 1940 and 1945 will be exposed for all the world to see. This is not something Poland should have an interest in doing, but it will likely end up going that way regardless.

There are several reasons for this intransigence, but first and foremost it is still the age-old Polish anti-Semitism, a pernicious bigotry that, as an Israeli government minister had so undiplomatically, but truthfully stated, they suckle at their mothers’ breasts. And that is the real issue, one that, like an ember glowing in a hidden hollow after the firefighters had left, is threatening to reignite the conflagration. What used to be called mitteleuropa, Middle Europe, from Germany to Poland, still harbors a hard anti-Semitic element, an element that is squeezed to the surface when social and financial stresses are brought to bear.

One would have thought that this lesson would be well-learned by the European elites; that they, knowing full-well the dangers, would foster in their working classes a sense of economic security and personal prosperity, the two greatest antidotes to endemic bigotry against Jews. And for a few decades after the war they did. Alas, blinded by their lust for money and power and led by bad actors like George Soros, these European elites have embarked in the past quarter century on a project of subjugation of their own working classes to mass immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, a project that created, once again, a sense of deep anxiety and unease among them. The price of this simultaneously suicidal and homicidal policy is only just beginning to be felt; light whiffs of smoke are just now beginning to be seen by those not wishing to avert their gaze from reality.

The killing fields of the Second World War, Poland, Romania, and Hungary may see their soil drenched in blood yet again, for the second time in a century and the third in a century and a quarter. All wars are failures of leadership; world wars are simply failures on a global scale. Today, we are witnessing such a failure unfolding before our very eyes and the results for humanity will be no different. But one thing sure as heck will be: Jews will not be the victims this time. You can bet on that.

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