- A Church Report from Poland for June and Half of July 1941
In 2004 I was honoured to be invited by Father Julian Warzecha to contribute to the Festschrift for Father Michał Czajkowski.1 The book was partly intended to serve the cause of 'rapprochement between various Christian denominations as well as between Poles and Jews'. In my opinion this cause is best served by speaking the truth—even if this truth is painful, bitter, and shameful. The national debate around the mass murder of Jews in Jedwabne in the summer of 1941 has shown that Poles have the courage to discuss the crimes committed by their compatriots. Faced with the sins of their forefathers, they asked for forgiveness, but the discussion of Polish–Jewish relations did not end there—in fact this was only the beginning.
'Sprawozdanie kościelne z Polski za czerwiec i połowę lipca 1941 roku' ('Church Report from Poland for June and Half of July 1941') was discovered by Krzysztof Jasiewicz in the archives of the Polish Underground Movement Study Trust,2 and a facsimile of it was included in his book Perwsi po diable (The First After the Devil).3 There is a copy in the Yad Vashem archive in Jerusalem,4 which was probably the version used by the first scholar to study the document, the Dutch historian Hans Jansen, who quoted large parts of it.5 Feliks Tych quoted from the Jerusalem copy in an essay published in 2002 in the bilingual Berlin magazine Dialog.6 [End Page 441]
The report originally consisted of nine and a half typed pages, but page 4 is missing. About one and a half pages, less than 20 per cent of the text, concern the 'Jewish question':
We need an urgent solution to the Jewish question which is more acute in Poland than anywhere else in the world, as about 4 million of this highly harmful and in all respects dangerous element live or rather parasitize here. As for the Jewish question—it has to be seen as a special decree of divine providence that the Germans, alongside the many injuries they have been inflicting on our country, in this one respect have made a good start: they have demonstrated the possibility of liberating Polish society from the Jewish plague and shown the way which—even if less cruelly and brutally—we should follow consistently. It is a clear divine decree that the occupiers themselves have aided in solving this burning question, since the Polish nation, soft and unsystematic, would never be able to take such energetic and necessary steps. It is quite clear that the matter is of the greatest urgency, since Jews cause untold harm to all our religious and national life. Not only do they suck the nation dry economically, prevent the development of Polish trade and the participation in it of those in the countryside who can no longer earn their living in agriculture, and deprive our cities and small towns of their Catholic character, but they are the source of all kinds of demoralization of the whole society. They promote corruption and graft, deform our public life through their secret influence on government and administration; they run bawdy houses and engage in human trafficking and inflame the people through pornographic literature; they corrupt the young, infiltrate literature, the arts, and public opinion with immoral and un-Catholic ideas; and finally they always support anything that would harm, weaken, and humiliate the church and Poland. Strangely enough even today, when they are being so ruthlessly persecuted by the Germans, through some peculiar psychological reaction, they hate the Poles more than the Germans and are hoping to take revenge on them for the injuries suffered.
According to the most serious people in the country, when Poland is reborn the Jewish question will have to be handled quite differently. The long-term goal—which must be pursued unwaveringly also in the international forum—is Jewish emigration to some overseas country of their own. As long as this cannot be achieved, it is necessary to isolate the Jews as much as possible from our society. They must unconditionally leave villages and...