The Holocaust Across Borders
by Hilene Flanzbaum. 2021
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
The highlight of this anthology is the article, by Holli Levitsky, on the creation and promotion of a Polish language edition of MAUS in Poland. That is my main focus. Hilene Flanzbaum has a few whoppers of her own, which I address.
GAZETA WYBORCZA (SURPRISE) TAKES AN ACTIVE ROLE IN PUSHING MAUS ON THE POLES
Levitsky comments, “As I mentioned earlier, Polish publishers and commentators refused to deal with the book for fear of public protests and boycotts. Poles love Poland and stand prepared to defend her honor. While this behavior could be seen as ‘piggish’, the Poles felt the portrayal made them a homogenous mass of Polish swine, their country a pigsty. In order to publish MAUS in Polish, Piotr Bikont, a journalist for Gazeta Wyborcza, had to set up his own publishing house. Demonstrators protested publication and burned the book in front of Gazeta’s offices. Bikont’s response was to show his own acceptance as a ‘Polish pig,’ so he donned a pig mask and waved to the protestors from the office windows. The book’s translation into Polish was delayed for a decade due to the ferocity of public resistance.” (p. 63).
So the left-wing and Judeocentric GAZETA WYBORCZA, funded by George Soros, promoted MAUS in Poland. It figures. Until his untimely death, Piotr Bikont had been the husband of Jewish arch-Polonophobe Anna Bikont, another GAZETA WYBORCZA journalist, who had long been promoting the lie that Poles were responsible for Jedwabne. Birds of the same feather flock together.
There is an irony. Levitsky does not bother to explain why the portrayal of Jews as pigs (JUDENSAU), in six centuries of German anti-Semitic iconography, was something terrible, while the portrayal of Poles as pigs, in MAUS, is just fine. But no matter: The game is up. Art Spiegelman has admitted his anti-Polish motive. See:
MAUS: MULTIPLE DEROGATORY PORTRAYALS OF POLES
But wait. It gets even better. Quite apart from the built-in derogatory character of pigs as such, the Poles-are-pigs portrayal, in MAUS itself, has additional layers of negativity. Levitsky (p. 60) quotes Peter Obst, who perceptively notes:
“The pigs for the most part are not presented in a sympathetic way or as cute. They are portrayed as bad tempered or frightened and unwilling to help. It is never explained why. It is suggested that Poles killed Jews. The kapos in the camp are brutal pigs. A priest (pig) prisoner consoles Vladek. The idea that there were prisoners other than Jews at Auschwtiz makes an occasional appearance but is never fully explored. Earlier in the story there is a female pig who hides Vladek’s family but money seems to be the motivation. Finally, vodka drinking pigs undertake to smuggle Vladek and Anja into Hungary but only betray them to the Germans.”
The article by Peter Obst can be found at:
CANDOR ABOUT GROWING UP WITH JEWISH POLONOPHOBIA
Holli Levitsky describes her childhood in Detroit, and her familiarity with Polish-Americans from Hamtramack, as follows, “At the time, I didn’t know much about the country or its history, but in Jewish communities in the 1960s and 1970s, I often heard condemnations of Polish antisemitism and their conduct in the Holocaust…So-called ‘Polack jokes’, based on negative stereotypes and meant to mock Poles, Polish culture or habits, had become part of the American lexicon, and in some ways could be seen as a kind of twisted revenge on the assumed anti-Semitism of the Polish people.” (pp. 55-56).
UPDATE ON POLONOPHOBIA
Not much has changed, as evidenced by some of the content in this book. Hilene Flanzbaum cites the Holocaust in Poland, which, according to her, “…relied on the anti-Semites to inform against their neighbors.” (p. 8). Actually, the German murderers relied primarily upon themselves, including in the rural areas, where German gendarmes were ubiquitous. Most assistance to the Germans came from Ukrainian and Baltic collaborators, not to mention Jewish collaborators. Poles were dead last.
Not done yet, Flanzbaum waxes eloquent about “…Jews murdered when they returned after the war, or Polish indifference toward the peculiar stench of chimney smoke.” (p. 15). Really? Do cremated bodies of German-murdered Poles smell any different? And Flanzbaum conveniently forgets mentioning the multitudes of Poles murdered by Jewish Communists. They do not exist.
While bashing the Poles, Flanzbaum idolizes the Danes. (p. 15). She does not even hint at the circumstances by which only 120 of 7,500 Danish Jews met their deaths at the hands of the Germans.
HOLOCAUST SUPREMACISM IN CANADA
Even when non-Jewish genocides are mentioned in public discourse, the Jews’ Holocaust rules supreme. Lizy Mostowski writes, “The NHM [National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa] reveals a collective understanding of the Holocaust as a unique event that cannot be compared with other traumas…” (p. 181).
In Canada, there are 8 million people from Communist countries, and only 40,000 Holocaust survivors. (p. 183). In contrast to the silent approval of the NHM, the Memorial to the Victims of Communism is considered “controversial”. Even that is not enough for some people. Mostowski quotes Nadine Blumer, who wrote of some people complaining that it “panders to the people from Communist countries”. (p. 183). Could it not more readily be said that the Holocaust museums pander to the Jews?
THE POLISH ANTI-DEFAMATION LAW
Hilene Flanzbaum first quotes the 2018 Polish Anti-Defamation Law, “‘Whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich…shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years.” (p. 15).
Evidently not reading what she had just written, she then repeats the canned lie about the Polish Anti-Defamation Law. Flanzbaum tells us that “…it is illegal for Poles to examine their own complicity in the extermination of the Jews.” (pp. 15-16). Hogwash. The law only prevents blaming the Polish nation, as a whole, for being accused of conducting the Holocaust or complicity in the Holocaust.