Women in Afghanistan

Artur Karp hart at POLBOX.COM
Fri Mar 19 17:16:18 UTC 1999

Mr. Dan Lusthaus was kind enough to allow me to protest against Poland
being singled out for "inhospitability toward Jews", but tells me not to
deny the charge of antisemitism. He knows better - "where, after all, were
the Death Camps?"

What next?

What transformations should the past of Poland undergo to finally satisfy
the definition of "being a major player" in the field of European
antisemitism? Pogroms in pre-revolution Russian Empire organized by a
conspiracy of Polish antisemites? Hitler inspired by the Polish
arch-theoreticians of antisemitism? Polish Auschwitz designed by Polish
architects and financed by Polish banks? Polish lobby effectively keeping
the President of the USA from bombing out Auschwitz railway lines and
industrial installations?

<I suppose the word "pogrom" is not in your vocabulary?>, asks Mr.
Lusthaus, trying to turn me - from the very start - into some kind of
sub-human existence.

I reject this kind of manipulative rhetorics and I resent the aggressive
tone. I reject the term "pre-Holocaust Poland" as suggestive of a stage
preparatory to "Holocaust Poland". I reject the image of pre-War Poland as
THE country of pogroms, it is not only unjust, it is idiotic. Finally,  I
reject the substitution of the word "War" by the term "Holocaust" - whenever
such substitution serves to reduce the extent and relativize the meaning of
non-Jewish suffering.

Poland has had her fringe of extreme nationalists, noisome radicals and
antisemites. And there was no lack of socio-economic and political tensions
in pre-War Poland, which was a young, multinational state, with a lot of
inherited inter-ethnic conflicts and large minorities (Ukrainians, Jews,
Germans, Byelorussians, Lithuanians). Some of these tensions, as also the
lowest human instincts, manifested themselves when the country was occupied
and the Polish State ceased to function. No serious historian, however, has
ever attempted to show this fringe as the mainstream of Polish history.
Finding the truth is certainly a slow and painful process, for both sides.
Thanks to the ongoing debate carried for at least the last two decades and
involving historians, intellectuals and theologians from Poland and Israel,
the accursed knot of mutual accusations, prejudices and stereotypes is being
systematically untangled.

Thanks to this cooperation, quite a lot is already known about the context
of the pre-War and post-War migrations of Jews from Poland to
Palestine/Israel; political and economic motives seem to play an important
role, perhaps much stronger than purely psychological reasons. More and more
evidence points to Kielce 1946 pogrom as the joint NKVD and the Polish
(Communist) State Security provocation, executed with the aim to further
separate Poland from the West. The so-called "1968 anti-Zionist policy" was
a fragment of factional struggle within the nomenclature of the Communist
Party and was designed to contain mass students' unrest and
anti-governmental demonstrations by bringing in nationalistic rhetorics. As
the events of the subsequent years show - with a marked lack of success.

I doubt phoney Hollywood heroes (memoirs of Schindler's wife are revealing)
can explain anything. And I do not believe hick historians' questions, like
"where, after all, were the Death Camps?", can bring anything new in the
picture. In his earlier posting on "Sanskrit Translations in Nazi Hands"
(13.01.99), Mr. Lusthaus wrote: <It's easy to dismiss things while one
remains willfully uninformed>. I heartily agree.

This is my last message re: "Women in Afghanistan". The exchange, although
unpleasant, brings to memory an excellent paper by Veena Das and Ashis Nandi
on "Violence, Victimhood and the Language of Silence" [in: Veena Das, ed.,
The Word and the World: Fantasy, Symbol and Record, New Delhi 1986. Sage
Publications. Pp. 177-195]. Violence, the authors say after analyzing the
literary images of the 1947/48 Punjab Holocaust, generates specific
languages by which it may be legitimized. Extreme forms of violence,
however, can be described only by silence - or insane ramblings. The paper
helped me to understand why the survivors of Auschwitz, Gulag camps in
Siberia or Stalinist prisons in Poland often prefer to remain silent.

I would like to thank Dr Dominik Wujastyk for his patience and ask him to
formally close the  present thread.

Artur Karp

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list