Here’s an excellent article by Social Europe looking at Poland’s clumsy legislation to outlaw the expression ‘Polish death camps’. Earlier I cited another powerful critique in the NYT. Both articles remind us that in liberal free countries, it’s best not to suppress the truth. Perhaps, it’s time to worry about Far Right politics in Poland? Thoughts?
Dr Alf is right to be troubled. There should be no attempt to conceal the past and the role of Poland and for that matter Hungary and Lithuania in the Holocaust. That said the full context must be explored, including the roles of all participants.
In an earlier response to Dr Alf’s post about the Holocaust, I explained the culpability of the British and American governments, and thus Churchill and Roosevelt in their failure to order the bombing of the railway lines leading to the extermination camps and the crematoria.
There is more.
When my late Italian father was twenty-one, in 1944, and Italy had changed sides in the War, he was given a choice of working for the Germans or being sent to his certain death in a concentration camp. Sensibly, he chose the first option because it meant meals and a chance of survival. He was sent to Germany to clean up war damage and on his travels noticed mountains of human ash more than 35 feet high, suggesting that large numbers of additional people had been dispatched and then cremated so that who they were could never be established.
As the Allies were closing in, my father and his fellow Italian POWs, were assigned to burn everything in one particular camp, and then told by the German Commandant at that location to flee in the night because he had received instructions from the SS to shoot all the POWs in the morning.
Burning things in a location or locations was a way to reduce the enormity of what had happened to a total of six million Jews and one million gypsies, plus an unknown number of homosexuals, unemployed and the mentally ill.
How the ash which no plant will grow on was disposed of, where and by whom, is a different question which history has never answered.
My father before he died in 1983 gave me another insight into the aftermath of one extermination camp being liberated versus others that he had observed.
Of the Allies, the most effective and efficient at providing succour and relief to those concentration camp survivors who remained were not the Americans and the British but the Russians. As a result, more survivors actually lived as a result of the more swift action by the Russians than was the case with the British and American liberators who acted much more slowly.
Our accounts of World War II and the old black and white television series “The Valiant Years” tell us nothing about these events which is perhaps not surprising as victors in war always write the story.