The Holocaust Object in Polish and Polish-Jewish Culture

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It will peak in August at 5, deaths. You know, sometimes I find excuses for Zygus. Today, poor, dear Granny made a clumsy attempt to help me feel better, but instead she only lacerated my already bleeding heart. It will take a while for it to heal. April Axis forces move deeper into Eastern Europe, conquering the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and dividing it among themselves. I am the unhappiest of unhappy people. Why did Zygus arrange to take Irka to a party?

Why does he want to spite me? Long live May! We went to the movies and sat closely entwined. Zygus likes to study my poems. So much it chokes me up.

My whole life is swelling up in me, all 17 years of it. All my emotions are piling up into one heap of dry leaves, and May is like fuel poured on that heap. Let the heart, brain, mind, body catch fire, let there be only conflagration and heat—and desire for burning, red-hot lips Have I lost my mind? There are only three days left until the end of term! Such amazing lips! We climbed up high into the hills, along the paths. The San was flowing—powerful, glimmering, red in the sunset. Zygus passed his final school exam today!

He was so wonderful today! Very, very tender and very darling. We had another wonderful evening. The stars started to emerge, and the moon floated up, and we sat next to each other and talked. We got lost. It was so light, elusive, ethereal, delicate. How did it happen? No more now, I need to think and dream. I love those green eyes.

We kissed for the second time today. You will help me, Bulus and God. War again, war between Russia and Germany. The Germans were here, then they retreated. Horrible days in the basement. Dear Lord, give me my Mamma, save all of us who have stayed here and those who escaped the city this morning. Save us, save Zygus. I want to live so badly. Tonight is going to be terrible. You saved me before, save me now.

God, thank you for saving me. Almost the whole city is in ruins. A piece of shrapnel fell into our house. These have been horrific days. Why even try to describe them? Words are just words. Dear diary! How precious you are to me! How horrible were the moments when I hugged you to my heart! And where is Zygus? I believe, fervently, that no harm has come to him.

Protect him, good God, from all evil. All of this started four hours after the moment he blew me the last kiss up to the balcony. First, we heard a shot, then an alarm, and then a howl of destruction and death. God, save us all. Make it so Mamma comes and let there be no more misery.

June 30, German forces capture Lwow and its surroundings from the Soviets. Jews are ordered to wear armbands emblazoned with the Star of David. Nazis and Lithuanians together will ultimately kill 70, Jews there. All of us, Nora, Irka, Zygus, my friends, my family. I will be a Jude. It just feels so strange and sorrowful. My school vacation and my dates with Zygus are coming to an end. No news about Mamma.

God protect us all. Goodbye, dear diary. Grant me that, Lord God, I believe in you. Nothing new so far. We wear the armbands, listen to terrifying and consoling news and worry about being sealed off in a ghetto. He visited me today! It seems a little strange, but why not? I want Bulus to come with my whole heart. God, bring Mamma, let her be with us for better and for worse.

You will help me, Bulus and God! I was just with Mamma and it seemed so wonderful, so extraordinary. But then again, my mother is also different. I believe in God, in you and in Mamma. I believe it will be like Zygus says. Zygus is also different from everyone else. October 15, Nazis begin deporting Austrian Jews to ghettos in occupied Poland. Authorities ultimately compel Jews from other neighborhoods to move there. That word is ringing in our ears.

We were ordered to leave our apartments before 2 p. Maybe there will be a ghetto, but it seems that we will definitely have to move out of the main streets either way. At last night, suddenly the doorbell rang, and who was there? The police! I pressed my hands to my face then and I called you, oh God, and you heard me. It was a policeman from our old village and he let himself be bribed. I reminded him of the good times, the friends, the revels, and somehow it worked. Bulus came on Friday and left today! She warned me not to take this relationship too seriously.

It would be all over then.

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Why am I so angry, really? Is it because of what Bulus said? No, I do still want him to be my husband. I think perhaps God will listen to my heartfelt, girlish request. Yes, may it happen! God, may my dreams keep coming true. After Bulus left, I dreamed I had an all-night argument with Zygus.

Maybe I will be unhappy. But am I ready to give up on my dream? It was his birthday today. I gave him a collection of poems and he was so touched! He said for us to survive this war without splitting up. Do I want that, too? How good that he understands this. Poems connect souls and elevate love.

God, thank you and may my dreams come true. They are closing our quarter; they are moving people out of town; there are persecutions, unlawfulness. How can you be in love for 18 months? Everything is real, pulsating, seething with life and love and youth. I feel as though I were riding a chariot or racing into the wind and rain.

The War Between Polish Nationalism and Holocaust History

I might dissolve in my own tenderness, my own affection. Today I was really ready to strangle him, but what would I do then? Stupid, mad, wonderful dreams! May Some miles from Przemysl, in Treblinka, Nazis order the construction of an extermination camp. In the two years Nazis operate it, , to , people will be killed there.

I spent the day with Nora today. Her attitude toward love is light, while mine is serious. She says that will make me unhappy. After our conversation, I was exhausted and had a headache. And this ghetto, this situation, this war Some kind of fever has taken over the city. The specter of the ghetto has returned. Lord, forgive me. But my soul was so embittered that I felt like maybe that would be for the best.

Mamma writes us that children are being taken away into forced labor. She told me to pack. She wants to be with us and at the same time she wants to send Daddy an official letter asking for divorce. They will never patch it up. Her husband will be a stranger. And Daddy wrote to me that he was not sure if he would ever see me again! Daddy, you are an unlucky Jew, just like me, locked away in the ghetto.

Holy God, can you save me? Can you save them? All of them. Oh, please, work a miracle! Life is so miserable. But my heart still fills with sorrow, when I think What awaits us in the future? Oh, God Almighty!

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I had a good, filling dinner—and I feel so terrible. And Zygus? You might even have more children. And Mamma, so dear, will be with some man who is a stranger to me. The man I will be with will be a stranger to her. Life brings people together and then separates them. Yesterday Z. I feel like his little daughter and I like it oh so much! Something has been bothering me terribly the last few days. I know she doubts whether Z. I know it; I can feel it. And Zygus sometimes says something without realizing it and it hurts me so badly. Sometimes, when it bothers me too much, I think about running away.

That would mean giving up my soul. When Z.

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Such a shame the month is about to pass. The nights are filled with stars. Now I know what the word ecstasy means. For the first time, I felt this longing to become one, to be one body and To bite and kiss and squeeze until blood shows. And Zygus talked about a house and a car and about being the best man for me.

June Some 5, Jews from several other Polish towns are deported to Przemysl. I desire with every tiny bit of my body, my thoughts, my imagination. Even the most innocent book stirs me up. Ah, I struggle with such disgusting dreams. My greed for life makes me fierce. Nora and I went for a long walk deep into the quarter and we talked. She was the first person I told. I realized that burden was what had been tormenting me. I felt at peace. Wherever I look, there is bloodshed.

Such terrible pogroms. There is killing, murdering. God Almighty, for the umpteenth time I humble myself in front of you, help us, save us! Lord God, let us live, I beg You, I want to live! Panic in the city. We fear a pogrom; we fear deportations. Oh God Almighty! Help us! Take care of us; give us your blessing. We will persevere, Zygus and I, please let us survive the war. Take care of all of us, of the mothers and children. June 18, The Gestapo rounds up more than 1, Jewish men in Przemysl and sends them to the Janowska labor camp.

God saved Zygus. They were taking people away all night long. They rounded up 1, boys. There are so many victims, fathers, mothers, brothers. Forgive us our trespasses, listen to us, Lord God! This was a terrible night, too terrible to describe. But Zygus was here, my sweet one, sweet and loving.

It was so good; we cuddled and kissed endlessly. It really was so delightfully pleasant that it was worth all the suffering. Yesterday there was a kind of pogrom in our quarter. Bulus wrote and told me to leave the city with Zygus. It would be so delightful, so sweet! But nowadays even the biggest absurdity can come true.

Good, peaceful, quiet, blessed Saturday evening. My soul has calmed down. Because I snuggled against him, he caressed me and made me feel like his tiny little daughter. I forgot everything bad. I could lie snuggled against him for a long, long time. Zygus tells me bad things. He tells me sweet things, too.

Zygus is also at his most beautiful then. The Judenrat includes doctors, lawyers, rabbis and business leaders. We feared it and then it finally happened. The ghetto.

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The notices went out today. Great Lord God, have mercy. I saw a happy-looking couple today. Zygus, my darling, when will we go on an outing like theirs? I love you as much as she loves him. I would look at you the same way. Only members of the Judenrat and their families are allowed to temporarily remain in homes outside the ghetto.

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Any- one assisting or giving shelter to Jews is threatened with execution. Remember this day; remember it well. You will tell generations to come. I live here now. The days are terrible and the nights are not at all better. Every day brings more casualties and I keep praying to you, God Almighty, to let me kiss my dear mamma.

Oh, Great One, give us health and strength. Let us live. Hope is shriveling so fast. There are fragrant flowers in front of the house, but who needs flowers? Lord, please protect his dear head. God, let me hug my dear mamma. You probably want to know what a closed-off ghetto looks like. Pretty ordinary. Barbed wire all around, with guards watching the gates a German policeman and Jewish police.

Leaving the ghetto without a pass is punishable by death. Inside, there are only our people, close ones, dear ones. Outside, there are strangers. My soul is so very sad. My heart is seized with terror. I missed Zygus so much today. I thought about him all the time. After all, we face such a terrible situation. Days go by. Evenings are the most pleasant. We sit in the yard in front of the house, we talk, joke and—breathing in the fragrance of the garden—I manage to forget that I live in the ghetto, that I have so many worries, that I feel lonely and poor, that Z.

Here, in the yard, doves coo. So, after much scandal, the Polish government performed a tactical retreat and managed to get the Israeli government to commit publicly to use the term 'anti-Polonism'. In Israel, the joint declaration was hardly a popular move. However, the document stood. For the price of giving up the controversial criminal sanctions, the Polish government was presented with the option to use yet another hoary argument: if Israel itself does not find us guilty of anti-Semitism, who could?

Indeed, it was easy to celebrate this as a triumph of Polish national interest. Few are aware that although the criminal sanctions were dropped, the option to file a civil lawsuit and impose non-criminal sanctions for making public statements about a Polish responsibility for the Holocaust remain. All sources of public controversy were thus dealt with, or so it seemed at the time: the joint Declaration contributed next to nothing with regard to fostering a sustainable understanding between the Polish and the Israeli governments.

What is probably at least equally important, both the ultimately failed transaction with the Netanyahu government and the Constitutional Tribunal's verdict did little to remedy the negative social effects of dabbling with the IPN law. According to media reports , no prosecutions were initiated based on Article 55a before it was repealed despite provocative self-accusations by some oppositional organizations. Predictably enough, the report provided further support for those who have diagnosed a new wave of prejudice in Polish society on equal footing with a defamation of the Poland's reputation.

Although the data analysed by the CBU was gathered in March , before the criminal sanctions were dropped, it seems reasonable to assume that the June amendment as well as the recent diplomatic conflict with Israel would only have reinforced the tendencies observed by the researchers a few months earlier. The report summarizes the effect of the new IPN law as quite contrary to the declared intentions of the PiS government.

Instead of decreasing false and unjust historical narratives, it led to their rapid escalation. Internationally, the main result of PiS's attempt to defend Poland's reputation was further a denigration of the same. Domestically, the outcome was an ever-deepening polarization on the subject the history of Polish-Jewish relations. However, this did not translate into a significant shift in attitudes towards historical truth: adherents of a narcissistic view of the Polish nation as well as those who hold anti-Semitic views remain unwilling to admit that there were murderers among the Poles, too.

A further deplorable effect was the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech in public debate: previously marginalized expressions, phrases and tropes have made it into mainstream public discourse, likely for good. Prejudice-mongering epitomized by the new IPN law has contributed to a negative picture of Poland abroad, and deepened social conflict in the country.

These two halves of Polish society are unlikely to be reconciled, and the Polish-Jewish past remains a deeply antagonizing factor. The division of Polish society predates PiS, but its persistence is undoubtedly the responsibility of those who deliberately introduced the language of prejudice, hate and aggression into the public discourse.

As such, the Polish cultural wars continue. However, the symbolic and emotional potential mobilized in service of short-sighted, ignorant politics and sloppy legislation cannot be extinguished at will. Whether or not it will turn on the political forces that deployed it, it has undoubtedly already damaged Polish society, as well as the Polish state and the Polish nation.

Cultures of History Forum This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the copyright holders. For permission please contact the editors.. Feb - DOI The first section of Article 55a reads as follows: Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich […], or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes — shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years.

Facts and Responsibilities Attributing responsibility is never simply a matter of fact. Switzerland in For the Court, the justification for making its [the Holocaust] denial a criminal offence lies not so much in that it is a clearly established historical fact but in that, in view of the historical context […], its denial, even if dressed up as impartial historical research, must invariably be seen as connoting an antidemocratic ideology and anti-Semitism. Individual versus the State or National Responsibility A further implication of Article 55a: what does it mean to attribute responsibility for the Holocaust to the Polish state or the Polish nation?

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Despite frequent proclamations by PiS politicians that the new IPN law was not meant to suppress freedom of speech or freedom of science and art, concerns remained. Only a small percentage of the Jewish community had been members of the Communist Party of Poland during the interwar era, though they had occupied an influential and conspicuous place in the party's leadership and in the rank and file in major centres, such as Warsaw, Lodz and Lwow. This representation occurs more vividly when the Holocaust experience is evoked through ordinary objects. Views Read Edit View history. It is this jouissance, then, that enables him to overcome the communal, ugly, humiliating nature of the death prescribed for him. The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw condemned the attacks at the conference.

How to Prove a Negative The third matter of opinion camouflaged within Article 55a is the issue of proving a negative. Der Umbau der polnischen Justiz , Osteuropa , No. Verfassungskrise und polnische Rechtskultur, Osteuropa , No. As no official English translation has as yet been made available by the IPN, we refer to an unofficial English translation provided by the Times of Israel 1 February , retrieved 24 January For the original see Ustawa z dnia 26 stycznia r. The Deputy Minister for Justice Patryk Jaki elaborated on the possible scope of the law during a session of the parliamentary committee presenting the bill 08 November Piotr Forecki.

Die Republik der Gerechten. Switzerland , Application no. January , retrieved 24 January In Kooperation mit. Schulz's drawings published in Poland, with some of its pages printed upside down. Gebert responded with equal sarcasm: ''We do publish books upside down. I'm pleased to say no mistakes are made in Israel. The murals, illustrations of Grimms' fairy tales, were made by Schulz at the command of an SS officer for his small son's room. In Schulz was fatally shot by another officer. Removal of segments of the mural by Yad Vashem is one of a series of events recently that have focused attention on continuing issues concerning the Holocaust's cultural legacy.

Dina Gottlieb, a former prisoner at Auschwitz, painted portraits of Gypsy inmates on the orders of Josef Mengele, the chief physician at the camp. Now an American citizen and known as Dina Babbitt, she has asked Congress for help in her campaign to have the portraits restored to her by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. The museum has refused so far, arguing that the paintings are evidence of the Nazi genocide and part of the cultural heritage of the world.

In the past few years there has been a plethora of cases involving the return of artwork, often found in national museums, to Jewish families from whom they were looted during the war. Last year the Lithuanian Parliament agreed, after years of negotiation, to return books, including Torah scrolls and fragments, stored in its national library that were the property of Jews before the war.

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Requests for restitutive scrolls have been received directly from Jewish congregations and museums in Europe and the United States, while Israel has told the Lithuanian government that it believes that all the scrolls must be delivered to Jerusalem. There are parallels to the Schulz case in the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which was designed to allow the return of certain artifacts stored in federally financed museums to tribes, said Robin Cembalest, managing editor of Art News, who was also a participant in the forum. Samuel Gruber, director of the Jewish Heritage Research Center in Manhattan, and one of the panelists, said education was the central issue in the debate.

But ''who is to be educated? It's not just a commemoration of our ancestors, our families, but the education of people who had no involvement. They really need to know.