The Oath by Tadeusz Kosciuszko on Krakow’s Market Square on March 24, 1794. A gouache painting by Michal Stachowicz date April 7, 1804. Source: http://info-poland.icm.edu.pl
by: Robert John Zagar PhD MPH
Lately, the media have maligned Poland with “fake news,” lies, and distortions in a regular chorus of bias on the government’s decision to outlaw criticism about Poland’s role in the Holocaust that is inconsistent with Polish culture, geography and history. The major points are that Poland was the first modern European democracy to allow freedom of speech, religion and assembly. Because of Polish religious tolerance 30% of most Polish cities, towns and villages were Jewish. Third, Poland was dominated from 1792 through the end of World War I by Austria, Prussia and Russia and then again from 1939 through 1989 for fifty years, first by Nazi Germany and later by Russia. Finally, as many Catholic Poles as Polish Jews died in Poland during the Holocaust. Many Poles actually sacrificed their lives to save Jews during these horrific times. So let’s examine the facts about “God’s Playground” or the “Heart of Europe” as Cambridge historian Norman Davies describes Poland.
After the American Revolutionary War ended and Commander in Chief George Washington resigned his Congressional commission, he gave Brigadier General Taddeusz Kosciuszko his “Cincinnati Club” ring with the admonition to accomplish the same in Poland as the United States had with Great Britain. Kosciuszko stood in Krakow’s rynek or square repeating Patrick Henry’s mantra, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Thus began Poland’s history as the first modern European democracy since the time of the Greeks. The only Polish general from the Roman obliteration of the Jerusalem temple until the 1948 Israeli war of independence was a Jewish banker who joined Kosciuszko in his gallant quest to free Poland. After Poland was split by Austria, Prussia and Russia, Kosciuszko was put in house arrest in a castle until Catherine the Great died and the Tsar pardoned him.
Fast forward to September 1, 1939 and again the Germans and Russians simultaneously invade Poland from the West and East starting World War II. It was not until 1989 a half a century later that Poland was again in control of its destiny and a free homeland. Before and during these foreign occupations Poland was the only European nation with freedom of religion which is why 30% of most Polish, cities, towns and villages were Jewish. So many of the critics of today ignore this crucial historical fact in an anti-Semitic distortion.
German soldiers break the Polish border post. September 1, 1939
As the Germans invaded from the west, the Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east. Here Russian soldiers examine arms seized from Polish soldiers
Demonstrating Polish tolerance, Krakow Bishop Karol Wojtyla met and accompanied every German bishop who visited Poland even after the Holocaust and the devastation of Nazi Germany where millions of Catholic Poles and Polish Jews were massacred.
Muslim migrants are excluded from Poland because for 500 years the Ottoman Empire and Mongols from the East killed Polish children, raped Polish woman, slaughtered Polish men, and burned Polish cities, towns, and villages stealing everything they could get their hands on in fanatical religious raid without mercy.
Now when the democratically elected government by a majority of Polish citizen voters decided to purge the judiciary of leftover Communist holdovers, remove liberals from government and the media, limit non-Christian Muslim migrants, and outlaw distorted descriptions of the Holocaust, there is an outcry from the liberal media and unelected Brussel’s bureaucrats of what is “appropriate” for the sovereign nation of Poland who elected these leaders to accomplish these goals.
Jewish resistance fighters captured by SS troops during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Warsaw, Poland, April 19-May 16, 1943. Source: — US Holocaust Memorial Museum- https://www.ushmm.org/
Of my family, 12 served at the sergeant level or greater in World War II and the subsequent occupation, two sacrificing their lives, one after the Battle of Monte Casino buried in Loretto, Italy and another off the coast of Africa in a Liberty ship hit by friendly fire. My uncle fought with General Patton at the Battle of the Bulge and said the closest he came to death was at the Rhine River. My father and mother in law were survivors of enforced labor in Austria and Bavaria respectively. My mother in law described the SS hanging farmers who did not give a liter of milk daily to the German Army. Many of my friend’s family members hid and sheltered Jews while others died for doing the same.
So next time the media write an article or broadcast another piece on the Polish government’s intolerance to democracy and freedom, please ignore the “fake news” and go on with your life. No matter what the facts are, the “fake news” will persist.
Robert John Zagar PhD MPH is a clinical, forensic, industrial, school, and neuropsychologist. He testified before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime Terrorism and Homeland Security 24 July 2012 about saving 324 lives and $2 billion with the teen summer job program using jobs, mentors, anger management under Mayors Daley and Emanuel and diverting 56% of nonviolent offenders from Cook County Jail copied by President Obama in releasing 6,800 nonviolent federal prisoners by commutation and pardon. Mayor Daley shared Robert Zagar’s research with the University of Chicago who founded the Crime Lab to impact policy reforming the justice and mental health systems. Robert graduated from Northwestern University with a doctorate in research design and statistics and has taught in a dozen universities and authored fifty peer reviewed scientific articles.