Unsettled Heritage: Living Next to Poland’s Material Traces After the Holocaust,
by Yechiel Weizman.
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
This book is a curious mixture of the usual Judeocentrism and anti-Polonism, on one hand, and of worthwhile information on the other. I first focus on the latter.
Author Weizman repeats the standard line about Poles having a profound moral duty to restitute once-Jewish property. (pp. 214-215). Then he blows the contrived Jewish moral high ground right out of the water as he recounts the cavalier and commercial ways that Jews deal with the “sacred Jewish property” that has in fact been restituted.
He tries to spin this as based on some kind of imagined dire need, “Yet in many cases reclaimed religious buildings, or their lands, have been sold or leased by Jewish communities to private entrepreneurs, on the justification that the daily and acute financial needs of the living community outweigh the need to preserve these ‘dead’ sites for symbolic and commemorative purposes. Opponents of this position argue that sacred land cannot simply be regarded as marketable real estate, and they accuse the Jewish communal leaders who have made this compromise of lacking historical awareness and even of exhibiting great personal greed. The debate over the future of these communal properties is ongoing and contentious. It involves bitter, emotional rifts within the Jewish public in Poland and between Jewish organizations abroad and their national Polish-Jewish counterparts. The questions, ‘Who are the beneficiaries of the material heritage of Poland’s murdered Jews?’ and ‘What is the balance between catering for the everyday needs of the Polish-Jewish communities and preserving the memory of the victims?’ lack an unequivocal answer.” (p. 216. Emphasis added).
What a turn of events! All this time, the “Poles got rich off dead Jews” message has been a propaganda mainstay of the Holocaust Industry. And now we learn that, even today, Jews get rich off dead Jews. And so much for the eternal moral significance of long-unused communal Jewish properties!
CONTRARY TO JEWISH THINKING, CEMETERIES ARE NOT ETERNAL
With reference to the old synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Poland, there is an undercurrent of blame and hypocrisy directed against Poles for not preserving these long-defunct entities. In fact, Weizman (p. 174) admits that this issue has become politicized to the point of impacting Poland in international politics. (p. 174).
When it comes to Jewish communal properties, there is no such thing as post-Jewish property in Jewish thinking. (pp. 63-64). According to Judaism, a Jewish cemetery cannot be reused for any other purpose. (p. 237).
Back to reality. This is Poland, not POLIN! Polish law governs in Poland, not Jewish law. Pointedly, Weizman fails to point out that NO nation has any obligation to maintain any cemeteries (Jewish or non-Jewish) in perpetuity, let alone in situations where these cemeteries are no longer in use. See:
So, get off Poland!
CEMETERIES: BEYOND THE USUAL JUDEOCENTRIC CONTEXTUAL VACUUM
Poles at times are portrayed as some kind of primitive people because they repurposed Jewish cemeteries and would sometimes re-use a matzeva as a paving stone or building stone. In actuality, repurposing of cemetery materials and lands (and not only Jewish ones!) has been a fairly standard feature in the Soviet bloc. See:
Nor is there anything remarkable about Polish vagrants and drunks, or even farmers grazing their cattle, frequenting Jewish cemeteries. They did the same to German ones (p. 107), as well as to neglected Orthodox and Catholic cemeteries. (p. 135).
JEWS THEMSELVES, AND NOT ONLY POLES, REPURPOSE JEWISH TOMBSTONES (MATZEVOT)
Furthermore, none other than the Jews themselves could violate the presumed sanctity of their gravesites. Weizman comments, “True, the use of headstones in constructing a memorial from the remaining matzevot was a practice that had been adopted by postwar Jewish survivors. Yet while the survivors used displaced and fragmented gravestones to erect their monuments as an act of commemoration, local officials sought to erect memorials from intact gravestones standing in their original place as ‘compensation’ for the acquisition and repurposing of these cemeteries.” (p. 89).
Notice the Talmudic-style casuistry: The matzevot has special properties, but only in accordance with its location and state. It’s magic. But no matter. If the matzevot is not sacred enough to prevent becoming re-used in a monument (when built by Jews, that is), then it is not sacred enough to prevent being re-used in a sidewalk or building [by the goyim]. So what are the Jews complaining about?
JEWS ALSO PROFANE OTHERS’ CEMETERIES
At least Weizman is honest enough to admit the fact that Jews also profane others’ cemeteries. He writes, “The abandoned Abd al-Nabi Muslim cemetery in northern Tel Aviv, for example, became a public toilet.” (p. 249).
EARLY POSTWAR TEMPORARY PROPERTY AMBIGUITIES
Weizman tries to make something of the fact that, for a few years after WWII, some local officials apparently adopted the view that Jews still matter-of-factly owned their synagogues and cemeteries, just because all Jews were not literally gone (p. 61), and just as if the German-made Holocaust had never happened. This nonsense was later dispelled by none other than Norman Finkelstein, who asked (given 6,000 Jews in Poland and 6,000 Jewish communal properties) if each and every Jew is entitled to his or her own private synagogue or cemetery.
THE SOVIET-IMPOSED COMMUNIST PUPPET GOVERNMENT NATIONALIZED ALL PROPERTIES–JEWISH AND POLISH
Yechiel Weizman realizes the obvious, “Already at the beginning of 1945, the provisional government introduced a policy for the nationalization of the private sector. Not only was Jewish property expropriated or confiscated, but the authorities initiated a comprehensive land reform that affected the ownership status of all agricultural lands, factories, businesses, and public and religious properties.” (p. 20).
He adds that, “While private restitution could still be made, Jewish communal property (buildings, lands, and objects that belonged to the prewar Jewish communities) was now legally uninheritable, as the communist [Communist] authorities had passed a law preventing any postwar Jewish association from claiming rights to property of the prewar communities. An official circular dated February 6, 1945, declared that none of the prewar Jewish communities in Poland possessed any legal standing in the postwar era, and no Jewish association had the right to represent them or claim their property. The new congregations could obtain only a limited right to ‘use and manage’ their former religious sites solely for religious and communal needs; they were not considered legal owners.” (p. 21).
Not mentioned is the fact that Poles had no say in the enacting of these policies! It was Communist totalitarianism.
BEYOND HOLOCAUST MONEY-MAKERS. SHORTCOMINGS OF THIS BOOK
The author is a staunch Zydokomuna denialist. He also repeats the standard Jewish line on Jedwabne (p. 14, 213, 229) and Jan Grabowski’s fantasy of 250,000 fugitive Jews, most of whom were allegedly killed by Poles. (p. 15, pp. 222-223). He dumps on PiS for standing up for Poland. (p. 213). At least, to his credit, he cites the corrective work of historian Tomasz Frydel. (p. 15).
The title of this book itself is biased. It implies that there is something unsettled about the fact that Poland’s Jews, and the properties they once owned, are a long-closed chapter in Poland’s history. Of course, the Holocaust Industry wants us to believe that it is unsettled so as to assert its pretensions to these long-repurposed properties.
Weizman uses the fashionable newfangled phrase. “Jewish Poles and non-Jewish Poles”. This Orwellian construct is completely misleading, and I do not use it, because most Polish Jews, with their long-ingrained separatism, did not consider themselves Poles and most Poles did not consider Polish Jews as Poles either.
The author spells Communism with a small “c”. (e g, p. 21). This widespread practice is a newfangled and transparent Orwellian minimization of Communism and its crimes.