In the aftermath of a recent spat between Poland and Israel following the comments of the Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, the chief historian at Poland’s Warsaw Ghetto Museum Daniel Blatman in an op-ed for well-known daily Haaretz writes that Polish nation did not collaborate with the Nazi Germans in slaughtering Jews during WWII.
Writing for the Tel Aviv-based newspaper, Mr Blatman, who is a professor of Modern Jewish history and Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, states that “Israelis demanding that Poland acknowledge that the Polish nation colluded with the Nazis in the murder of the Jews will never happen because it simply isn’t true.”
Further into the piece, Mr Blatman elucidates what he believes is the cause for the volley of criticism Poland faces at the hands of Israeli critics.
“The problem is that in Israel the attitude toward Poland – mainly for those for whom the Holocaust is a totem – borders on a hysterical obsession. And that’s coupled with incredible ignorance. Here, hardly anything is taught about Jewish history in Poland, and even less about Polish history,” he notes.
Taking a dig at Mr Katz, Mr Blatman emphasises that “Katz is the epitome of this ignorance and folly.”
However, Mr Blatman does point out that several Poles were responsible for the death of Jewish people, explaining that “of course, there is no argument about the facts: Many Poles informed on and murdered tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.”
In an emphatic statement to his assertion, Mr Blatman argues that “it’s certainly correct to maintain that the effort to prevent violence against Jews was not at the top of the underground’s agenda. But saying that the Polish people and Polish state (which existed only in the underground) collaborated with the Nazi murderers is not correct. Plenty of Poles did collaborate for all kinds of reasons, but the underground Polish state objected to this, even if it didn’t try that hard to stop it.”
Recently, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said “Poles suckled anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk,” quoting the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir.