Sunday, August 24, 2008

Matt 24 Watch, 66: Lessons from Poland's forgotten holocaust

One of the revealingly all- but- "forgotten" dimensions of the Nazi holocaust is the fate of one-fifth of Poland's population in the aftermath of Hitler's invasion of September 1 1939, which sparked off the Second World War.

Observe, for instance, how the reliably politically correct online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, presents the relevant information, in its article on Poland:

The Sanacja movement controlled Poland until the start of World War II in 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded on 1 September and the Soviet Union followed on 17 September. Warsaw capitulated on 28 September 1939. As agreed in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Poland was split into two zones, one occupied by Germany while the eastern provinces fell under the control of the Soviet Union.
Of all the countries involved in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over six million perished, half of them Polish Jews . . . The main German Nazi death camps were in Poland. Of a pre-war population of 3,300,000 Polish Jews, 3,000,000 were killed during the Holocaust.
The telling gap in the above -- who were the other half, please? -- is aptly exposed and stingingly indicted by Polish descendant and Jewish convert, Terese Pencak Schwartz; in her online site,

Why the Polish Holocaust is rarely recognized by American media and wire services or mentioned in Holocaust literature has baffled Polish Americans and Poles, especially since so many books and articles have been published about the Holocaust . . . The World Almanac and Book of Facts. The relevant sentence reads, “During the war, some 6 million Polish citizens, half of them Jews, were killed by the Nazis.” But note the nuance of the wording -- it is as though the words “three million,” “Polish Christians,” and “dead” cannot be mentioned in the same sentence in anything written about the Holocaust. Even direct mail pieces from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum cannot acknowledge the Polish dead -- their annual direct mail piece reads, “You see, the Nazis tried to wipe out not only the Jews but also the physically and mentally handicapped, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Gypsies, Soviet POWs and people who didn’t agree politically.” No mention of three million dead Poles . . . .

When Holocaust Remembrance Week was approaching this year, the first news release ("Israel Re-Examines Holocaust Story" 4-29-00; 12:24 p.m. EDT) from the Associated Press read, "The new Yad Vashem museum will also deal with the persecution of other groups targeted by the Nazis, including Gypsies, homosexuals, the handicapped, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses and others." Again, there was no mention of three million dead Polish Christians who, by the way, vastly outnumbered the combined number of dead Jehovah’s Witnesses (2,000), Gypsies (400,000), homosexuals (10,000 at the most, according to Peter Novick in The Holocaust in American Life), handicapped, etc., usually cited in Holocaust literature. Are these three million Polish Christian souls not worthy of honor at Holocaust remembrance ceremonies and in Holocaust literature? Hath not Poles eyes? Hath not Poles hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If Poles are poisoned, do they not die? [Emphases added.]
Worse yet, the same site reports that the disproportionate magnitude of Poland's losses in the war was actually a calculated Nazi genocidal policy, one announced by no less a figure than Hitler himself:

“The destruction of Poland is our primary task . . . . Kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language. Only in this way can we obtain the living space we need.”
In short, the same demonic, genocidal racism that led Hitler to seek to wipe out the Jewish nation also led him to target the Polish nation at large for destruction. As a result of this, one fifth of that nation perished, half being Jews [90% of the Jews of Poland], and half being overwhelmingly Catholic Christians. These three millions being up to sixty percent of the commonly estimated five million non-Jewish victims of the holocaust. All, horribly foreshadowed through the chilling Darwinism-inspired twisted worldview expounded in Chapter XI of Hitler's infamous Mein Kampf, My Struggle:

Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents . . . Consequently, it will later succumb in the struggle against the higher level. Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life . . . The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable.

The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice . . . .

In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right or opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. [That is, Darwinian sexual selection.] And struggle is always a means for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of its higher development.

If the process were different, all further and higher development would cease and the opposite would occur. For, since the inferior always predominates numerically over the best [NB: this is a theme in Darwin's discussion of the Irish ["Celts"], the Scots and the English ["Saxons"] in Ch V of Darwin's 1871 Descent of Man -- which should be understood in light of the chilling do-nothing English policy in response to the peak of the Irish Potato famine], if both had the same possibility of preserving life and propagating, the inferior would multiply so much more rapidly that in the end the best would inevitably be driven into the background, unless a correction of this state of affairs were undertaken. Nature does just this by subjecting the weaker part to such severe living conditions that by them alone the number is limited, and by not permitting the remainder to increase promiscuously, but making a new and ruthless choice according to strength and health . . .
But, the lessons we need to remind ourselves of go further than just that Hitler's agenda was racist and that that racism was in significant part Darwinist-inspired, in a context that had dismissed the restraints imposed on German culture by the ethics of the Gospel, as Heine warned on in the 1830's. For, the commonly met, repeatedly emphasised itemisation of relatively minor, mostly politically correct victims while being silent on the second major group of victims of the Hitlerian Holocaust proper, is telling about our own times -- and about the extremely dangerous Civlisation-wide trend of rising anti-Christian bigotry.

This bigotry, of course, now routinely comes out in the best-selling writings of the so-called New Atheists. There, it can be seen in how readily long litanies of the real and imagined sins of Christendom [which admittedly, sadly, are legion -- as are those of any other major, longstanding cultural movement of humans: i.e. us finite, fallible, fallen, too often ill-willed sinners] are trotted out; even as the major positive contributions of Christians to the development of civilisation are suppressed or even -- too often, in the teeth of reasonably accessible evidence to the contrary -- falsely attributed to other forces or agencies in history. But, this is not just a matter of a few unbalanced men who hate or rage against God (often, as a stand-in for the fathers they equally resent . . . ).

For, even in the most educated circles, it is too often often forgotten that Modern Liberty and Democracy owe much to the Reformers and other Christian or materially Christian-influenced thinkers on civil government, such as Locke, Blackstone or even Jefferson and Madison. Similarly, the major contributions of the Christian faith to the rise of modern science are often suppressed or dismissed in the haste to project an imagined age-long war of Christianity against science, with a distorted account of Galileo's fate being exhibit no 1. In the Caribbean, the role of Gospel-inspired, Bible-believing Dissenters [i.e. Evangelicals] in the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade and then that of chattel slavery [cf here, here and here, and here, for instance] is too often not only dismissed but denigrated. (And those who try to correct the record, sadly, are too often slandered.)

But, perhaps the most telling instance I can find is the following abuwsive transfer of terrorism from one entire faith to another by use of that ever so handy smear-word, "fundamentalists", by the Rev'd Dr Roderick Hewitt, and published in Jamaica's leading newspaper only a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks in the United States:

The human tragedy in USA has also served to bring into sharp focus the use of terror by religious fanatics/fundamentalists. Fundamentalism or fundamentalists are terms that are applicable to every extreme conservative in every religious system . . . . During the twentieth century in particular we have seen the rise of militant expression of these faiths by extreme conservatives who have sought to respond to what they identify as 'liberal' revisions that have weakened the fundamentals of their faith . . . They opt for a belligerent, militant and separatist posture in their public discourse that can easily employ violence to achieve their goals. [Gleaner, Sept. 26, 2001, italics added.]
But in fact, there is little or no material parallel between Islamist radical terrorist suicide bombers and the members of our local Bible believing churches across our region. And that should have been obvious to any reasonably educated person, much less a leading, doctorate level theologian in Jamaica; not to mention, the Editors of Jamaica's leading newspaper!

In short, the bigotry is real, widespread and potentially extremely dangerous.

What, then, must be done?

1 --> First, we must remind ourselves of aspects of the past that we dare not forget. For, as Santayana and others remind us, if we refuse to learn from history we are doomed to repeat its worst chapters.

2 --> Next, we must do everything possible to make sure that we have a fair, objectively true and balanced view of the past.

3 --> That means we must indeed recall the sins as well as the contributions and triumphs of Christendom.

4 --> In so doing, we must in particular remember the reforming and cleansing impact of the Gospel and of those who sought to live by it.

5 --> Similarly, when we celebrate the contributions and triumphs of science, we should also remember that science and worldview agendas supported in the name of science have not been blameless in our history.

6 --> In particular, we should learn the lines of influence from Darwin to Hitler, and from Darwin to Stalin and co. So, we will learn that not all that is labelled science or is based on what is so labelled is blameless. Science is -- and must always be -- accountable before the bar of ethics and morality.

7 --> Thus, too, we must restore a sound basis for ethics and morality, in the teeth of the acid that eats away at the foundation of ethics as a limit on public policy and personal behaviour in contemporary culture: evolutionary materialism.

8 --> Here in the Caribbean, we must stoutly resist the pressures that are now mounting up to push us away from the tested foundation for ethics in our culture: the Gospel and its biblical framework.
Perhaps, then, some balancing remarks by Prof Bernard Lewis in his famous essay on The Roots of Muslim Rage, are soberlingly appropriate:

. . . revulsion against America, more generally against the West, is by no means limited to the Muslim world . . . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty -- not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst . . . .

Slavery is today universally denounced as an offense against humanity, but within living memory it has been practiced and even defended as a necessary institution, established and regulated by divine law. The peculiarity of the peculiar institution, as Americans once called it, lay not in its existence but in its abolition. Westerners were the first to break the consensus of acceptance and to outlaw slavery, first at home, then in the other territories they controlled, and finally wherever in the world they were able to exercise power or influence -- in a word, by means of imperialism . . . .

In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation. [Kindly follow the link and read on. By the way, I recently read Samuel Eliot Morison on the southern voyages of exploration, which brings out the many sins of the explorers and conquistadors with great force, the more effectively for being given with a measure of sympathetic judgement on these men as great but greatly flawed men, not mere one-dimensional "blue-eyed devils." Perhaps, it is not too much to hope that our region's historians could emulate such a maturity of tone?]
Will we learn? Can we do better? Let us hope -- and pray -- so. END

F/N: KF Blog sub-Series on the Holocaust and its history of ideas roots, Mt 24 W 65, 66 [note the significance of the 3 million non-Jewish Polish victims discussed above],  67, 68; cf also video lecture here.

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