The Promise Hitler Kept,
by Stefan Szende. 1945
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
Author Stefan Szende was a Swede who completed a detailed interview of Polish Jew Adolf Folkmann and is the basis of this book. Folkmann describes his experiences in Nazi-occupied Lwow, Soviet-occupied Lwow, and then Nazi-occupied Lwow again. Folkmann managed to escape the German-made Holocaust by being shipped by the Germans, under false papers, to Norway. From there, he and a group of Poles managed to slip into Sweden in August 1943. Because this book was written at the end of WWII, it is largely free of the later Holocaust-related mythical accretions.
JEWISH-SOVIET COLLABORATION IN LWOW: 1939 ZYDOKOMUNA IN ACTION
Consider the period 1939-1941, which followed the Soviet conquest of eastern Poland. The author comments, “Workers councils were introduced in all factories and workshops, and a civilian militia was organized. The members of this militia were chiefly workers and young Jews.” (p. 17. Emphasis added).
JEWS WERE VERY SLOW TO ACCEPT THE REALITY OF THE UNFOLDING HOLOCAUST
The “fear of extermination by the Nazis” is the canned excuse given for Jewish-Communist and Jewish-Nazi collaboration. Actually, both forms of collaboration long preceded the Nazi German extermination of the Jews. And, if anything, Jews were long oblivious to what Nazism was really about.
Szende thus quotes Folkmann, “Up to this year 1942 we had never had reason to suppose that what we were suffering was anything but what we had suffered before, though perhaps more intense. We had no reason to believe that the persecutions the Germans were now carrying out, and the special laws they were passing against us, were intended to wipe us all out, every one.” (p. 89. Emphasis added).
He further elaborates, “Not one of us suspected that the final aim of the Nazis was our physical extermination, and wholesale annihilation of the Jewish race. None of us suspected it because none of us could reasonably think such a thing possible. It was inconceivable for a reasonable man to believe that a modern State in the twentieth century was planning the mass murder of millions of people…How could we have imagined that a Government was proposing to exterminate so many of its subjects?” (p. 91. Emphasis added).
POLES AND NOT ONLY JEWS WERE FORCED TO RESORT TO THE BLACK MARKET
Folkmann, quoted by Szende, found considerable overlap between the experiences of Poles and Jews under the German occupation. He writes, “Already we could work again, though it was true we had to get food from the Black Market to exist at all, but that was no more than tens of thousands of Poles had to do.” (p. 90).
Most Holocaust materials ignore or make light of the German death penalty. They operate in a Judeocentric contextual vacuum, and ignore Polish suffering. Furthermore, they almost invariably treat Poles as “bystanders” that lived more or less normal lives, and they insist that surely Poles should have rescued many more Jews. For this reason, according to their narrative, Poles should stop claiming credit for rescuing Jews, because, after all, “so few” Poles were rescuers and “so very few” Jews were saved.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Folkmann, who, unlike most of today’s self-appointed Polonophobic critics, actually went through the Holocaust, sets the record straight. He writes, “To help a Jew was certain death on discovery, so that even if they did not denounce Jewish fugitives they were not prepared to risk their own lives by aiding them.” (p. 132. See also p. 153).
JEWISH APPEARANCE DECISIVE
Let us take this further. Consider the seldom-acknowledged issue of Jewish physiognomy. When it came to the question of “paper Aryans”, Szende quotes Folkmann, “I have already pointed out that before a Jew could have any hope of being accepted as an ‘Aryan’ he must first of all look ‘Aryan’ and secondly, he must be able to speak Polish, and, if possible, German too, without the slightest trace of Jewish accent. Now it was rather exceptional to find these two conditions present at the same time. There were many Jews who could have passed in appearance for ‘Aryans’ but whose speech betrayed them, and there were many others who could speak Polish or German or both, without a trace of accent, but who looked distinctly Semitic. Both these categories had no chance from the start.” (p. 94. Emphasis added). For more on this, see:
In the end, Jews always realized that they were the “other”–both by birth and by choice. Folkmann quips, “We could not avoid our characteristic Jewish faces, and we had little desire to do so.” (p. 89). One way or another, Jewish appearance was decisive.
So, Jewish appearance (Jewish physiognomy) is the elephant in the room. It underscores the status of Jews as a self-created separate nation on Polish soil. Jewish appearance graphically explains why many more Polish Jews were not rescued. Hiding Polish Jews among ethnic Poles was very difficult. It also illustrates how Jews were an automatic security risk, and, for this reason, were not generally accepted into the Polish Underground A. K. (Armia Krajowa).