To the Web Editor
It is a precious contribution
to the Polish thought and FEELING about the Holocaust
that you are posting on the Foundation's Web site the
article by Hanna Swida-Ziemba. Penetrating and thorough,
and careful in its judgment I hope it will be read with
care and evoke new understanding. I became aware of
this important article only, when I was asked to translate
it. The reading made a profound impression on me and
it is sure to do the same for other Polish readers.
I am older than the author and
I witnessed the war atrocities as an adult - in Warsaw
while deeply engaged in underground resistance (AK).
I was horrified by German brutality in their drive to
overwhelm and subdue the occupied population and to
deprive it of all leadership. We suffered terrible losses
in lives and property, but we were able to resist with
pride. We did sympathize with the Jews, when they were
locked up and starved in the ghettos and then removed
to the death camps for total annihilation. We sought
to protect those who managed to hide among us.
But only Swida-Ziemba opened my
eyes to the ASSYMETRY between the Polish and Jewish
moral situations during the Holocaust. With empathy
she described the HUMILIATION of a Jew who was rendered
nonperson under the German terror. Isolation from the
community, often from his family, his complete dependence
on help from Poles, his insecurity and danger of exposure
among the general population - all that DENIED HIM HUMANITY.
Poles today are not always aware
of this inequality of fates, As hosts in the land that
holds the ashes of the Jewish Nation, they have a moral
obligation to welcome the Jewish pilgrimages to its
places of remembrance with warmth and respect.