(JTA) — A Polish political feud over Holocaust history has widened into an international condemnation of the government’s attempts to silence a leading scholar on Polish-Jewish relations during World War II.
More than 300 academics and institutions around the world — including Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust history authority and memorial — issued a statement condemned the Polish government-led attacks against Polish historian Barbara Engelking, director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research, for publicly stating that Poles “failed” during the Holocaust and Jews were “unbelievably disappointed with Poles during the war.
One letter in support of Engelking released Thursday and signed by 11 Israeli organizations, such as Yad Vashem, the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Massuah Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, decried her critics’ attack on “academic freedom and historical facts.”
The dispute reflects the governing Law and Justice party’s ongoing push for a patriotic narrative of the past that scholars such as Engelking say erases Polish crimes against Jews during the war. The party’s campaign on this front led to a years-long series of diplomatic spats with Israel.
The latest fracas began on April 19, the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when Engelking made an appearance on the country’s largest private television station, TVN.
“Poles had the potential to become allies of the Jews and one would hope that they would behave differently, that they would be neutral, kind, that they would not take advantage of the situation to such an extent and that there would not be widespread blackmailing,” she said, adding that Poles today exaggerate how much they helped Jews during the war.
In response, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki lashed out at Engelking in a nearly 900-word tweet, accusing her of expressing an “unwarranted opinion” that distorted reality. He emphasized that the Nazi Germany’s destruction of the Polish state is what enabled the murder of 1.1 million Polish Jews during the Holocaust, and he suggested that those who did not sufficiently acknowledge Polish efforts to aid Jews during the war “commit a crime on human valor, heroism, on good,”
In addition, the government’s broadcasting regulator announced it would conduct legal proceedings against TVN, which is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, over the Engelking interview because “if the guest on a program is lying, the journalist must tell viewers that it is a lie.”
Poland’s education minister, Przemysław Czarnek, threatened to defund Engkelking’s research institute, which is part of the Polish Academy of Sciences, claiming he did not wish to support her insult to the Polish nation. Joining the chorus of critics was a member of the European Parliament from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, Dominik Tarczyński, who said he would file for a request for Engelking to be criminally prosecuted for insulting the Polish nation with her remarks. Tarczyński made headlines in 2019 when he told CNN that antisemitism does not exist in Poland.
This is not the first time Engelking has come under attack by the right-wing Law and Justice-led government for expressing her views on Polish attitudes during the Holocaust. In 2018 she co-edited a book, “Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in German-Occupied Poland,” about Polish betrayals of Jews during the war which was widely condemned by Polish officials as diminishing Polish suffering under the Nazi occupation.
It is estimated that the Nazis murdered up to between 1.9 million non-Jewish Poles about 3 million Jewish citizens of Poland.
There are more than 7,000 Poles recognized by Yad Vashem for aiding Jews during the Holocaust, about a quarter of all those the memorial has recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. In German-occupied Poland, those who aided Jews, as well as their families, were killed by the Nazis.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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