Figure of 200,000 Jews killed by Poles is fake: commentator

Poland IN looks at the claims by a researcher that Poles were responsible for the deaths of at least 200,000 Jews during the Second World War. We interviewed “Do Rzeczy” commentator Łukasz Warzecha who has examined the claims.

A well known Holocaust researcher, professor Jan Grabowski from Ottawa University, in his latest book came back with his far-fetched thesis from years ago, according to which Polish citizens murdered as many as 200,000 Jews who escaped from ghettos and death transports during WWII in the German-occupied Poland. His opinions raised doubts even among his fellow Holocaust researchers.

The scholar, quoted by the Israeli Haaretz daily, stated that his estimations from 3-4 years ago were “way, way, way too conservative”, and that the figures need to be raised.

PolandIN talked to the Polish publicist Łukasz Warzecha, who has conducted a thorough research on the statements made by Jan Grabowski, and found that the scholar misinterpreted another scholar’s work, and thus cannot be treated as a reliable historical source; on top of that, his research was based on insufficient data.

Warzecha said that the “crusade” undertaken by Mr Grabowski operates to the detriment of historical truth. Furthermore, his unreliable statements appearing in the Israeli media badly affect the relations between Poland and Israel.

You can find the full interview here.

Seeking the truth

Mr Grabowski, the co-founder of the Polish Centre for Holocaust Research, advanced his thesis in 2017, stating that the Poles are guilty of or complicit in the death of around 200,000 Jewish people who survived the liquidation of ghettos. That year, Haaretz published a piece based on Mr Grabowski’s statements, titled 'Orgy of Murder': The Poles Who 'Hunted' Jews and Turned Them Over to the Nazis. The figures of deaths quickly went all over the world.

According to Mr Grabowski, his statements were based on the research by the Jewish historian Szymon Datner, published in the 1960s. Datner, himself a Holocaust-survivor, have studied the fate of the Jewish people who escaped ghettos or were hiding in the German-occupied territory.

In his story, Mr Datner included many shocking details about the cruelty of hunting Jews and their extermination. The researcher pointed out that the Polish community would hide the Jewish people on numerous occasions, although there were also cases when some Poles would hand them over to the German Nazis.

Szymon Datner concluded his piece with a statement that approximately 100,000 Jewish people who were hiding or fled from ghettos/death transports, managed to survive, mostly thanks to the Polish help. On the other hand, at least the same number of Jews were caught and killed by the German Nazis, sometimes with the complicity of Poles.

Tracking the source of Mr Grabowski’s numbers also led to the book published by professor Antony Polonsky, a renowned Holocaust researcher, who was investigating how many Jews survived Nazi-German occupation of Poland. However, Polonsky has used data from the voluntary census conducted after June 1945, and never said that these numbers were definite. In fact, many Jews could have emigrated before that time, or would have been reluctant to register anyway. The number of Holocaust-survivors could then have been bigger than Mr Grabowski estimated.

Recent revelations caused a stir even in the circles of Mr Grabowski’s fellow Holocaust researchers. Earlier this year, a comment on the so-called “Grabowski Numbers” that came out of the Polish Centre for Holocaust Research members stated: “We accuse apologists of hugely overestimating the number of Poles helping Jews, which is why we should not do the same with regard to the murdered ones”.