The imposition of a Soviet puppet government was a painful chapter in Poland's history. In response to the usual anti-Polish bias of Holocaust materials, arguments fly back and forth, including that: 1) Jews supporting the Communists were few and far between, 2) Jews acting against the anti-German anti-Communist Polish independentist forces (the AK, NSZ, and their successor organizations) were simply taking revenge for earlier injustices and/or protecting themselves against Polish hostility, 3) Retaliatory attacks by Polish independentists against Jews were narrowly tailored against those Jews who supported Poland's enemies, 4) The Polish independentist forces formed and implemented a plan to "finish Hitler's job" by killing off all remaining Jews so that Poland would be Judenrein (free of Jews). 5) The explanation for Poles killing Jews, notably during property disputes, begins and ends with Polish anti-Semitism. As Chodakiewicz shows throughout this eye-opening book, all five premises are FALSE.
There is no evidence that Polish independentist forces were behind the Cracow and Kielce pogroms. Furthermore, the citation of a Soviet source that attributes these tragic events to staging by the Soviet secret police (for propaganda purposes, see p. 184) is intriguing, and calls for further research. So is a Jewish eyewitness report of the suspicious behavior of a Soviet commander stationed in Kielce at the time of the pogrom (p. 172). As for those local Poles who joined the anti-Jewish riots once in progress, one wonders where Polish anti-Semitism left off and where mob psychology began. Unfortunately, the relevant archives of the Polish Communist secret police were destroyed about the year 1989, raising obvious questions about these pogroms.
Anti-Semitic animosities were triggered much less by old folklores and traditional church teachings than by the large-scale Jewish support for Poland's enemies, most recently during the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland in 1939 and again in 1942-1947. Chodakiewicz cites a number of documents (pp. 42-43) that prove the fact that Jews, at 1% of Poland's postwar population, represented upwards of 50% of leadership positions in the dreaded Communist secret police, a force responsible for torturing and murdering tens of thousands of Poles. Jews were also strongly over represented in its lower levels, though not to as extreme an extent. While there was no grand Jewish-Communist conspiracy as such, it is difficult to imagine how the existing situation could have failed to inflame Polish-Jewish relations.
The cited testimony of Jan Dawid Landau (p. 77) is instructive in understanding how Stalin recruited Polish Jews to do the dirty work for him (also facilitating the tarring of independentists with the label of anti-Semitism once they fought back). Landau was told by a UB (Communist secret police) officer that he now had the opportunity to take revenge for everything he had suffered from the Polish people. This illustrates the typical left-wing technique of stirring up resentments ("victim consciousness") of one group against another. Landau did not join, and instead fled to the west. Chodakiewicz notes instances where Jews were perfectly justified in involving the Communist authorities. Others clearly were not. Perhaps the most odious episodes involved Jews turning against their erstwhile Polish benefactors and rescuers. Finally, those Jews who chose to join, or otherwise collaborate with, the Communist police itself must have known, based on the information in quotes cited by Chodakiewicz (p. 73, 78, etc.), that their actions would send multitudes of Poles innocent of anti-Jewish actions into the torture-and-death mills of the Soviets, and thus provoke an anti-Semitic backlash. Chodakiewicz provides a very minimal estimate, based on only the few local sources that he had access to, of 3,128 to 6,625 Polish victims of Jewish perpetrators (p. 223).
Polish independentists targeted both Communist Poles and Communist Jews, often killing family members in reprisal for the actions of a Communist relative. Yaffa Eliach's experiences, if accurately reported by her, can be understood in this light. In addition, totally innocent Jews in the area were sometimes targeted. Whether or not this actually happened depended partly on the decisions of low-ranking commanders as well as the extent and visibility of Jewish-Communist collaboration in a given area. Chodakiewicz says that "Alas, collectivistic thinking produced collectivistic reprisals." No doubt the Communist Jewish enmity directed collectively against Poles provoked a similar counter-response.
Nevertheless, the insinuation, periodically appearing in Holocaust materials, that the AK and NSZ were out to kill all remaining Polish Jews is totally baseless. In fact, Chodakiewicz provides instances where independentist forces did not kill known Jews (pp. 144-145) when they easily could have done so. Earlier, some AK and NSZ units had rescued and hid Jews (pp. 59-60, 189). Finally, Chodadiewicz cites numerous instances of Polish-Jewish cooperation and goodwill in the difficult postwar years. These provide a resounding rebuttal to the widespread mischaracterization of Polish society as being so anti-Semitic that Jews had no choice but to be the enemy of Poles.
Concerning those hundreds (NOT thousands) of Jews killed in property disputes with Poles, Chodakiewicz shows that most of these incidents stem from the widespread lawlessness that prevailed in the wake of the imposition of Communism over Poland (p.7, 13). Chodakiewicz could have made his case stronger by putting these Jewish deaths in numerical perspective. Considering the fact that there were over 300,000 surviving Jews, it follows that reclaimed Jewish properties must have numbered in the tens of thousands, meaning that less than 1% of property reacquisitions led to the killing of the Jewish claimants, in addition to the fact that most of the killers were motivated by common banditry, not anti-Semitism. Yet Holocaust materials (notably Maus) tacitly portray the killing of Jews by Poles as a normal and anti-Jewish occurrence, and it is high time that these inaccurate and inflammatory materials be withdrawn. Other Holocaust materials, which never tire of bringing up Polish anti-Semitism and the greatly exaggerated role of Christian teachings behind it, should be more forthright in mentioning and elaborating the large scale of Jewish collaboration with Poland's enemies that was the main driving force behind this anti-Semitism.