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Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust

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Title: Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Polish Righteous Among the Nations, Jedwabne pogrom, Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland, Jewish-Polish history (1989–present), Shoah (film)
Collection: Rescue of Jews in the Holocaust, Righteous Among the Nations, The Holocaust in Poland
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust

the Sheltering of Escaping Jews.
   There is a need for a reminder, that in accordance with paragraph 3 of the decree of October 15, 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.
   According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty

   This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against:
         1) Providing shelter to Jews,
         2) Supplying them with Food,
         3) Selling them Foodstuffs.
Częstochowa 9/24/42     
Der Stadthauptmann
Dr. Franke

Holocaust. Throughout the German occupation of Poland, many Poles risked their own lives – and the lives of their families – to rescue Jews from the Nazis. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the biggest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.[1][2] To date, 6,394 Poles have been awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations by the State of Israel – more than any other nation.[1]

The Armia Krajowa (Polish resistance) alerted the world to the Holocaust, notably with the reports of Witold Pilecki and Jan Karski. The Polish government in exile and the Polish Secret State asked for American and British help to stop the Holocaust, to no avail.

Some estimates put the number of Poles involved in rescue at up to 3 million, and credit Poles with saving up to around 450,000 Jews from certain death.[2] The rescue efforts were aided by one of the largest anti-Nazi Żegota.

Polish citizens were hampered by the most extreme conditions in all of German-occupied Europe. Nazi-occupied Poland was the only territory where the Germans decreed that any kind of help for Jews was punishable by death for the helper and his entire family. Of the estimated 3 million non-Jewish Poles killed in World War II, up to 50,000 were executed by Nazi Germany solely as a penalty for saving Jews.[2] After the War most of this information was suppressed by the Soviet-backed regime in an attempt to discredit Polish prewar society and government as reactionary.[3]


  • Background 1
    • Statistics 1.1
    • Difficulties 1.2
    • Punishment for aiding the Jews 1.3
  • Jews in Polish villages 2
  • Jews in Polish cities 3
  • Organizations dedicated to saving the Jews 4
  • Jews and the Church 5
  • Jews and the Polish government 6
  • Partial list of communities 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10


Before World War II, 3,300,000 Jewish people lived in Poland – ten percent of the general population of some 33 million. Poland was the center of the European Jewish world.[4]

The Second World War began with the Nazi German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939; and, on September 17, in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement, the Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east. By October 1939, the Second Polish Republic was divided between the two totalitarian powers, with Nazi Germany occupying western and central Poland. The Germans regarded Poles as "sub-human" and Polish Jews somewhere beneath that category, treating both groups with extreme and brutal harshness. One aspect of German policy in conquered Poland was to prevent its ethnically diverse population from uniting against Germany.[5][6] The Nazi plan for Polish Jews was one of concentration, isolation, and eventually total annihilation in what is now known as the Holocaust or Shoa. Nazi plans for the Polish Catholic majority focused on the murder or suppression of political, religious, and intellectual leaders as well as the Germanization of the annexed lands which included a program to resettle Germans from the Baltic and other regions onto farms, ventures and homes formerly owned by Poles and Jews.

The response of the Polish majority to the Jewish Holocaust covered an extremely wide spectrum, often ranging from acts of altruism at the risk of endangering their own and their families’ lives, through compassion, to passivity, indifference, and outright collaboration.[7] Polish rescuers also faced threats from unsympathetic neighbours, the Volksdeutsche,[7] and the ethnic Ukrainian pro-Nazis,[8] as well as blackmailers called szmalcowniks and (as in Warsaw) from Jewish collaborators such as Żagiew or Group 13. There were cases of denunciation or even participation in massacres of Jewish inhabitants. The guidelines for such massacres were formulated by Reinhard Heydrich,[9] who ordered his chiefs to induce anti-Jewish pogroms on territories newly occupied by the German forces.[10][11] Statistics of the Israeli War Crimes Commission indicate that less than a tenth of 1 per cent of Poles collaborated with the Nazis.[12]

Non–Jewish Poles provided assistance to Jews in organized fashion as well as through varying degrees of individual efforts. Many Poles offered food to Polish Jews and left food in places Jews would pass on their way to forced labour. Others directed Jews – who managed to escape from the ghettos – to people who could help them. Some sheltered Jews for only one or a few nights, others assumed full responsibility for the Jews' survival, well aware that the Nazis punished those who helped Jews by summary killings. A special role fell to the Polish medical doctors who alone saved thousands of Jews through their subversive practise. For example, Dr. Eugeniusz Łazowski, known as Polish 'Schindler', saved 8,000 Polish Jews from deportation to death camps, by faking an epidemic of typhus in the town of Rozwadów.[13][14] Free medicine was given out in the Kraków Ghetto by Tadeusz Pankiewicz saving unspecified number of Jews.[15] Rudolf Weigl employed and protected Jews in his Institute in Lwów. His vaccines were smuggled into the local ghetto as well as the ghetto in Warsaw saving countless lives.[16] It is mostly those who took full responsibility who qualify for the title of the Righteous Among the Nations.[17] To date, a total of 6,066 Poles have been officially recognized by Israel as the Polish Righteous among the Nations for their efforts in rescuing Polish Jews during the Holocaust, making Poland the country with the highest number of Righteous in the world.[18][19]


The number of Poles who rescued Jews from the Nazi persecution would be hard to determine in black-and-white terms, and is still the subject of scholarly debate. According to Gunnar S. Paulsson, the number of rescuers that meet Yad Vashem's criteria is perhaps 100,000 and there may have been two-or-three times as many who offered minor forms of help, while the majority "were passively protective."[19] In an article published in the Journal of Genocide Research, Hans G. Furth estimated that there may have been as many as 1,200,000 Polish rescuers.[20] Richard C. Lukas estimated that upwards of 1,000,000 Poles were involved in such rescue efforts,[2] "but some estimates go as high as three million."[2] Lukas also cites Władysław Bartoszewski, a wartime member of Żegota, as having estimated that "at least several hundred thousand Poles ... participated in various ways and forms in the rescue action."[2] Elsewhere, Bartoszewski has estimated that between 1 and 3 percent of the Polish population was actively involved in rescue efforts;[21] Marcin Urynowicz estimates that a minimum of from 500 thousand to over a million Poles actively tried to help Jews.[22] The lower number was proposed by Teresa Prekerowa who claimed that between 160,000 and 360,000 Poles assisted in hiding Jews, amounting to between 1% and 2.5% of the 15 million adult Poles she categorized as "those who could offer help." Her estimation counts only those who were involved in hiding Jews directly. It also assumes that each Jew who hid among the non-Jewish populace stayed throughout the war in only one hiding place and as such had only one set of helpers.[23] However, other historians indicate that a much higher number was involved. Paulsson estimates that it might have taken a "dozen or more" people for each person hidden.[24][25] Polish-Jewish historian Szymon Datner confirmed that usually more than a dozen were involved.[26] Paulsson wrote that, according to his research, an average Jew in hiding stayed in seven different places throughout the war.[19]

An average Jew who survived in occupied Poland depended not on the actions of a single rescuer, but on many acts of assistance and tolerance, wrote Paulsson.[19] "Nearly every Jew that was rescued, was rescued by the cooperative efforts of dozen or more people."[19] Paulsson notes that during the six years of wartime and occupation, the average Jew was sheltered in seven different locations, had three or four sets of documents, two or three encounters with blackmailers, and faced recognition as a Jew multiple times.[19] Datner explains also that hiding a Jew by a dozen or more Christians lasted often for several years thus increasing the risk involved for each family exponentially.[26] A renown Polish-Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Hanna Krall has identified forty-five Poles who helped to shelter her from the Nazis.[26]

Meanwhile, Father John T. Pawlikowski referring to work by other historians, speculated that claims of hundreds of thousands of rescuers struck him as inflated.[27] Likewise, Martin Gilbert has written that under Nazi regime, rescuers were an exception, albeit one that could be found in towns and villages throughout Poland.[28]

There is no official number of how many Polish Jews were hidden by their Christian countrymen during wartime. Lukas estimated that the number of Jews sheltered by Poles at one time might have been "as high as 450,000."[2] However, concealment did not automatically assure complete safety from the Nazis, and the number of Jews in hiding who were caught has been estimated variously from 40,000 to 200,000.[2]


The wall of ghetto in Warsaw, being constructed by Nazi German order in August 1940

Efforts at rescue were encumbered by several factors. The threat of the death penalty for aiding Jews and limited ability to provide for the escapees were often responsible for the fact that most Poles were unwilling to provide direct help to a person of Jewish origin.[2] This was exacerbated by the fact that the people who were in hiding did not have official ration cards and hence food for them had to be purchased on the black market at high prices.[2][29] According to Emmanuel Ringelblum in most cases the money that Poles accepted from Jews they helped to hide, was taken not out of greed, but out of poverty which Poles had to endure during the German occupation. Israel Gutman has written that the majority of Jews who were sheltered by Poles paid for their own protection,[30] but sadly, a large number of Polish protectors perished along with the people they were hiding.[2]

There is general consensus among scholars that, unlike in Western Europe, Polish collaboration with the Nazis was insignificant.[2][31][32][33] However, the Nazi terror combined with inadequacy of food rations, as well as German greed and the system of corruption as the only "one language the Germans understood well",[34] wrecked traditional values. Poles helping Jews faced unparalleled dangers not only from the German occupiers but also from their own ethnically diverse countrymen including Volksdeutsche,[7] and Polish Ukrainians,[35] who were anti-Semitic and morally disoriented by the war.[36] There were people, the so-called szmalcownicy[37] ("shmalts people" from shmalts or szmalec, Yiddish and Polish for “grease” and slang term for money), who blackmailed the hiding Jews and Poles helping the Jews, or who turned them to the Germans for a reward. Outside the cities there were peasants of various ethnic backgrounds looking for Jews who hid in the forests, to demand money.[34] Notably, there were also Jews turning over other Jews and non-Jewish Poles alike, in order to alleviate hunger with the prize.[38] The vast majority of these individuals joined the criminal underworld only after the German occupation and were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, both Jews and the Poles who were trying to save them.[39][40][41][42] The threat of denunciation not only deterred many Jews from attempting to find shelter among Poles, but also forestalled Poles of good will who feared denunciators.

According to one reviewer of Paulsson, with regard to the extortionists, "a single hooligan or blackmailer could wreak severe damage on Jews in hiding, but it took the silent passivity of a whole crowd to maintain their cover."[39] He also notes that "hunters" were outnumbered by "helpers" by a ratio of one to 20 or 30.[19] According to Lukas the number of renegades who blackmailed and denounced Jews and their Polish protectors probably did not number more than 1,000 individuals out of the 1,300,000 people living in Warsaw in 1939.[2][43]

Public execution of Michał Kruk and several other ethnic Poles in Przemyśl as punishment for helping Jews, 1943

  • Paul, Mark (2007), "The Holocaust Gets Under Way with Full Fury" (PDF file, direct download 911 KB), Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy (Polish Educational Foundation in North America, Toronto), retrieved October 1, 2012, Selected sources: Michał Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1993); Ewa Kurek, Your Life Is Worth Mine: How Polish Nuns Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children in German-Occupied Poland, 1939–1945 (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1997) 
  • Malgorzata Melchior, The Holocaust Survivors who passed as non-Jews – in Nazi occupied Poland and France. The comparison of the Survivors’ experience1, Warsaw University, PDF file direct download.
  • Gunnar S. Paulsson, “The Demography of Jews in Hiding in Warsaw, 1943–1945,” Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, volume 13 (2000), at pages 78–103.
  • Gunnar S. Paulsson, “Evading the Holocaust: The Unexplored Continent of Holocaust Historiography,” in John K. Roth and Elisabeth Maxwell, eds., Remembering for the Future: The Holocaust, p. 257, in an Age of Genocide (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire and New York: Palgrave, 2001), volume 1, pp. 302–318.
  • Gunnar S. Paulsson, “Ringelblum Revisited: Polish-Jewish Relations in Occupied Warsaw, 1940–1945,” in Joshua D. Zimmerman, ed., Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath (New Brunswick, New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press, 2003), pp. 173–92.
  • Gunnar S. Paulsson, Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940–1945 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002). Monograph.
  • Richard C. Lukas, Did the Children Cry: Hitler's War Against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945 (1st ed.: N.Y.: Hippocrene, 1994).
  • Richard C. Lukas, Forgotten Holocaust:The Poles under German Occupation, 1939-1944 (3rd rev. ed.: N.Y.: Hippocrene, 2012).
  • Sebastian Rejak, Elżbieta Frister (ed). Inferno of Choices: Poles and the Holocaust (PDF file, direct download 1.64 MB). RYTM, Warsaw 2011.  
  • John T. Pawlikowski, Polish Catholics and the Jews during the Holocaust, in, Google Print, p. 107-123 in Joshua D. Zimmerman, Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath, Rutgers University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8135-3158-6
  • Nechama Tec, When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland, Oxford University Press US, 1987, ISBN 0-19-505194-7, Google Print
  • Irene Tomaszewski, Tecia Werbowski, Zegota: The Rescue of Jews in Wartime Poland, Price-Patterson, 1994, ISBN 0-9695771-6-8


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  78. ^ a b c (Polish) Dariusz Libionka, "Polska ludność chrześcijańska wobec eksterminacji Żydów—dystrykt lubelski," in Dariusz Libionka, Akcja Reinhardt: Zagłada Żydów w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie (Warsaw: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2004), p.325.
  79. ^ a b (Polish) Krystian Brodacki, "Musimy ich uszanować!" Tygodnik Solidarność, December 17, 2004.
  80. ^ a b Alina Cała, The Image of the Jew in Polish Folk Culture, Jerusalem, Magnes Press, Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1995, pp.209–10.
  81. ^ a b Shiye Goldberg (Szie Czechever), The Undefeated Tel Aviv, H. Leivick Publishing House, 1985, pp.166–67.
  82. ^ a b “Marian Małowist on History and Historians,” in Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. 13, 2000, p.338.
  83. ^  
  84. ^ a b Gabriel Singer, "As Beasts in the Woods," in Elhanan Ehrlich, ed., Sefer Staszow, Tel Aviv: Organization of Staszowites in Israel with the Assistance of the Staszowite Organizations in the Diaspora, 1962, p. xviii (English section).
  85. ^ a b c Władysław Bartoszewski and Zofia Lewin, eds., Righteous Among Nations: How Poles Helped the Jews, 1939–1945, ibidem, p.361.; Gedaliah Shaiak, ed., Lowicz, A Town in Mazovia: Memorial Book, Tel Aviv: Lowitcher Landsmanshaften in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, 1966, pp.xvi–xvii.; Wiktoria Śliwowska, ed., The Last Eyewitnesses: Children of the Holocaust Speak, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1998, pp.120–23.; Małgorzata Niezabitowska, Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland, New York: Friendly Press, 1986, pp.118–124.
  86. ^ a b c d Ellen Land-Weber, To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp.204–206, 246.
  87. ^ Nechama Tec, Resilience and Courage: Women, Men, and the Holocaust. Ibid., pp.224–27, p.29.
  88. ^ Natan Gross, Who Are You, Mr Grymek?, London and Portland, Oregon: Vallentine Mitchell, 2001, pp.248–49. ISBN 0-85303-411-7
  89. ^ Komunikat dot. postanowienia o umorzeniu śledztwa w sprawie zabójstwa obywateli polskich narodowości żydowskiej w Jedwabnem w dniu 10 lipca 1941 r. (A communique regarding the decision to stop investigation of the murder of Polish citizens of Jewish nationality in Jedwabne on 10 July 1941) from 30 June 2003
  90. ^ Bogdan Musial (Apr 11, 2009). "Neighbors"The Pogrom in Jedwabne: Critical Remarks about Jan T. Gross' . The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland. Antony Polonsky, Joanna B. Michlic. Princeton University Press. pp. 323–324. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  91. ^ Dorota Glowacka, Joanna Zylinska, .Imaginary Neighbors University of Nebraska Press, 2007, p.7. ISBN 0803205996.
  92. ^ Insight Into Tragedy at the Wayback Machine (archived March 5, 2012). The Warsaw Voice, 17 July 2003 (Internet Archive). Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  93. ^ Joanna Michlic, The Polish Debate about the Jedwabne Massacre Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Current Trend in Antisemitism Series.
  94. ^ Sławomir Kapralski. The Jedwabne Village Green? The Memory and Counter-Memory of the Crime. History & Memory . Vol 18, No 1, Spring/Summer 2006, pp. 179-194. "...a genuine memory of a traumatic event is possible only in a de-centered memory space, in which no standpoints are privileged a priori."
  95. ^ Ruth Franklin. Epilogue. The New Republic, October 2nd, 2006.
  96. ^ "Ghetto". 1940-04-30. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  97. ^ a b c
  98. ^ a b Joseph Kermish, The Activities of the Council for Aid to Jews (“Żegota”) In Occupied Poland. Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. PDF direct download, 139 KB. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  99. ^  
  100. ^ a b Andrzej Sławiński, Those who helped Polish Jews during WWII. Translated from Polish by Antoni Bohdanowicz. Article on the pages of the London Branch of the Polish Home Army Ex-Servicemen Association. Last accessed on March 14, 2008.
  101. ^ a b  
  102. ^ Joseph Kermish. ) In Occupied Poland."Żegota"The Activities of the Council for Aid to Jews ( Yad Vashem Shoah Resource Center. Pp 1-26. Submitted to "Rescue attempts during the Holocaust, proceedings of the second Yad Vashem international historical conference" in 1977; edited by Yisrael Gutman and Efraim Zuroff, Jerusalem. Pages 367-398.
  103. ^ "Irena Sendler". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  104. ^ a b c  
  105. ^ a b c Delegatura. The Polish government-in-exile underground representation in Poland. Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. PDF direct download, 45.2 KB. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  106. ^ a b Your Life is Worth Mine: How Polish Nuns Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children in German-occupied Poland, 1939-1945 By Ewa Kurek
  107. ^ a b c John T. Pawlikowski, Polish Catholics and the Jews during the Holocaust, in, Google Print, p. 113 in Joshua D. Zimmerman, Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath, Rutgers University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8135-3158-6
  108. ^ Cesarni and Kavanaugh. "Holocaust", pg. 68. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  109. ^ a b c d e f Zofia Szymańska, Byłam tylko lekarzem..., Warsaw: Pax, 1979, pp.149–76.; Bertha Ferderber-Salz, And the Sun Kept Shining..., New York: Holocaust Library, 1980, 233 pages; p.199.
  110. ^ a b "L.S.I.C". 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  111. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mordecai Paldiel "Churches and the Holocaust: unholy teaching, good samaritans, and reconciliation" p.209-210, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2006, ISBN 0-88125-908-X, ISBN 978-0-88125-908-7
  112. ^ Michael Phayer; The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965; Indiana University Press; p.117-
  113. ^ a b c d e f g h i Al Sokol, "Holocaust theme underscores work of artist," Toronto Star, November 7, 1996.
    ^ Władysław Bartoszewski and Zofia Lewinówna, eds., Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, Second revised and expanded edition, Kraków: Znak, 1969, pp.741–42.
    ^ Tadeusz Kozłowski, "Spotkanie z żydowskim kolegą po 50 latach," Gazeta (Toronto), May 12–14, 1995.
    ^ Frank Morgens, Years at the Edge of Existence: War Memoirs, 1939–1945, Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1996, pp.97, 99.
    ^ Władysław Bartoszewski and Zofia Lewin, eds., Righteous Among Nations: How Poles Helped the Jews, 1939–1945, London: Earlscourt Publications, 1969, p.361.
  114. ^ John T. Pawlikowski. Polish Catholics and the Jews during the Holocaust. In: Joshua D. Zimmerman, Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath, Rutgers University Press, 2003
  115. ^ Nahum Bogner The Convent Children: The Rescue of Jewish Children in Polish Convents During the Holocaust. Vad Yashem Shoah Resource Center.
  116. ^ a b c
  117. ^ Norman Davies, Europe: A History, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-820171-0., Google Print, p. 1023
  118. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dariusz Stola. The Polish government in exile and the Final Solution: What conditioned its actions and inactions? In: Joshua D. Zimmerman, ed. Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath. Rutgers University Press, 2003.
  119. ^ a b c David Engel.Facing a Holocaust: The Polish Government-in-exile and the Jews, 1943-1945. University of North Carolina Press, 1993.
  120. ^ Yad Vashem. The Righteous Among the Nations. Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.
  121. ^ Scheib, Ronnie (2011-03-07). "The Karski Report - Entertainment News, Film Reviews, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  122. ^ Waldemar Piasecki, Interview with Elim Zborowski, President of International Society for Yad Vashem: "Egzamin z pamięci" (Memory Exam). (Polish) Forum Polacy - Żydzi - Chrześcijanie. Quote in Polish: "Kiedy w lipcu 1943 roku raportował mu w Białym Domu tragedię żydowską, prezydent przerwał i zapytał polskiego emisariusza o sytuację... koni w Generalnej Guberni."
  123. ^ Michael C. Steinlauf. Poland. In: David S. Wyman, Charles H. Rosenzveig. The World Reacts to the Holocaust. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. pp 98; 105.
  124. ^ Robert Alexander Clarke Parker, The Second World War Published by Oxford University Press. Page 276
  125. ^ Inflation Calculator: The Value of a Dollar based on the Consumer Price Index
  126. ^ David Cesarani, Sarah Kavanaugh, Holocaust Published by Routledge. Page 64.
  127. ^ Grzegorz Łubczyk, Henryk Slawik - the Polish Wallenberg. at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007) Trybuna 120 (3717), May 24, 2002.
  128. ^ "Unsung Hero". Warsaw Voice. 2004-01-28. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  129. ^ Premiera filmu "Henryk Sławik – Polski Wallenberg." at the Wayback Machine (archived September 2, 2007) Archiwum działalności Prezydenta RP w latach 1997-2005. BIP.
  130. ^ Maria Zawadzka, "Righteous Among the Nations: Henryk Sławik and József Antall." Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Warsaw, 7 October 2010. See also: "The Sławik family" (ibidem). Accessed 3 September 2011.
  131. ^ a b David Engel. In the Shadow of Auschwitz: The Polish Government-In-Exile and the Jews, 1939-1942. University of North Carolina Press. 1987.
  132. ^ Michael C. Steinlauf. Poland. In: David S. Wyman, Charles H. Rosenzveig. The World Reacts to the Holocaust. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. pp 98; 104-105.
  133. ^ Joseph Kermish. The Activities of the Council for Aid to Jews (“Żegota”) In Occupied Poland. Yad Vashem Shoah Resource Center. Pg 28.
  134. ^ a b c d Michael C. Steinlauf. Bondage to the Dead. Syracuse University Press, p. 38.
  135. ^ David Engel.Facing a Holocaust: The Polish Government-in-exile and the Jews, 1943-1945. University of North Carolina Press, 1993. Pp 138ff
  136. ^ Robert Moses Shapiro. Why Didn't the Press Shout?: American & International Journalism During the Holocaust. KTAV Publishing House, Inc./Yeshiva University Press, 2003.
  137. ^ a b c Stanisław Salmonowicz, Polskie Państwo Podziemne, Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne, Warszawa, 1994, ISBN 83-02-05500-X
  138. ^ a b Teresa Prekerowa. The Just and the Passive. In Antony Polonsky, ed. 'My Brother's Keeper?': Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust. Routledge, 1989. Pp. 75-76
  139. ^ Marek Jan Chodkiewisz, .Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947, Lexington Books, 2004. pp. 154; 178.
  140. ^ Joshua D. Zimmerman, "The Polish Underground Home Army (AK) and the Jews: What Survivor Memoirs and Testimonies Reveal" Yeshiva University
  141. ^ Joanna B. Michlic. Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present. University of Nebraska Press, 2006. Pages 153-156.
  142. ^ Israel Gutman. The Jews of Warsaw, 1939-1943: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt. Indiana University Press, 1982.
  143. ^ (Polish) Jakub Mielnik: "Jak polacy stworzyli Izrael" (How the Poles created Israel), Historia, May 5th 2008 (see Part six: II Korpus palestynski)
  144. ^ A considerable portion of the quoted list of Polish settlements engaged in collective rescuing of Jews originates from: "Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy. The Testimony of Survivors" at the Wayback Machine (archived July 1, 2007) compiled by Mark Paul, with selected bibliography; published by the Polish Educational Foundation in North America, Toronto 2007
  145. ^ Paul 2007, p. 77.
  146. ^ a b c Paul 2007, p. 78.
  147. ^ a b Paul 2007, p. 79.


See also

A cross marks the Polish villages razed in various pacification operations during World War II, and no longer existing in that form. For more information see: Pacifications of villages in German-occupied Poland or the aftermath of the Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia and the Zamość Uprising among others.
Settlement Area Settlement Area Settlement Area
Białka Parczew Sterdyń Sokołów Bolimów Skierniewice
Główne [72] Sierpc Ozorków [72] Sierpc Borkowo [72] Sierpc
Dąbrowica [72] Ulanów Głupianka Otwock [72] Osiny Łuków
Wola Przybysławska [81] Lublin Jabłoń [82] Parczew Kańczuga Przeworsk
Czajków [84] Staszów Zdziebórz [79] Wyszków Parczew Ostrów
Rudka [70] Lublin Jedlanka [70] Łuków Makoszka [70] Dębowa Kłoda
Tyśmienica [70] Gmina Parczew Bójki [70] Ostrów Niedźwiada Opole
Mętów [78] Głusk Gołąbki [76] Lublin [78] Króle Duże Ostrów
Dąbrowa Rzeczycka [86] Stalowa Wola Kępa Rzeczycka [86] Stalowa Wola Wola Rzeczycka [86] Stalowa Wola
Rzeczyca Okrągła Stalowa Wola Głuchów [71] Łańcut Mulawicze [80] Bielsk
Drzewica Opoczno Ceranów Sokołów Poniatowa Lublin
Bielsko [113] Upper Silesia Dziurków [113] Radom Olsztyn Village [113] Częstochowa
Korzeniówka [113] Grójec [85] Łaskarzew [113] Garwolin Sobolew [113] Garwolin
Wilga [113] Łowicz [113] Siedlce Masovia Wielki Las Pisz
Lendowo Brańsk Teresin [73] Chełm Powiłańce Lida
Kajetanówka Lublin Ożarów [109] Kielce [66] Ignaców [109] Lublin
Szymanów [109] Masovia Grodzisko [109] Leżajsk [109] Białka Parczew
Sterdyń Sokołów Okopy Kisorycze Rokitno Wołyń
Tarnopol Tarnopol V. Berecz † Wołyń Huta Werchobuska † [67] Złoczów
Zahorze † Łachwa Dubeczno Lublin Kozaki .
Stara Kubra Radziłów Bełżec Tomaszów Sobibór Włodawa
Treblinka Małkinia Serock Warsaw Sikórz Płock
Urzędów Lublin Milanówek Warsaw Mielec Rzeszów
Goszcza Miechów Gawłuszowice Mielec Chrząstów Mielec
Majdan Nepryski Bełżec Głowaczowa Dębica Grodzisk Warsaw
Wołomin Warsaw Zabłudów Białystok Nowosady Brańsk
Baranki Białystok Araje Białystok Zawyki Białystok
Niedźwiada Opole Lubelskie Runów Grójec Gorzyce Dąbrowa
Przydonica Nowy Sącz Ubiad Nowy Sącz Klimkówka Nowy Sącz
Jelna Gródek Słowikowa Nowy Sącz Librantowa Chełmiec
Piszczac Biała Podlaska Kolonia Dworska Piszczac Rożki Krasnystaw
Zamość Lublin Radzymin Wołomin Otwock Warsaw
Miedzeszyn Warsaw Praga Warsaw Żoliborz Warsaw
Obórki Brodnica Woronówka † Ludwipol Kościejów Bełżec
Kulików Bełżec Bar Gródek Zawołocze † Ludwipol
Bereźne Kostopol Korzec Wołyń Stara Huta [69] Szumsk
Kosów Kołomyja Międzyrzec Równe Niżniów Czortków
Ułaszkowce Czortków Hanaczów Lwów Ostra Mogiła † Skałat
Konińsk † Sarny Borowskie Budki Kisorycze Świnarzyn Dominopol
Bereźne Kostopol Janówka Tarnopol Wólka Kotowska Łuck
Huta Stepańska Wołyń Przebraże Wołyń Zdołbunów Bereźne
Huta Brodzka † Lwów Adamy Lwów Netreba Wołyń
Karaczun † Kostopol Złoczów Rakowiec Pańska Dolina Wołyń
Kurdybań Wołyń Bortnica Wołyń Zameczek Wilno
Żeniówka Wołyń Wsielub Nowogródek Mieżańce Raduń
Dźwinogród Buczacz Huta Stara[65] Buczacz Hołosko Wielkie Lwów
Berecz † [63] Wołyń Matejkany Wilno Białozoryszki Wilno
Potok Górny Tomaszów Bybło Rohatyn county Jazłowiec Buczacz
Dołha Tarnopol Słonim [65] Nowogródek Hucisko Oleskie Tarnopol
Anin [111] Białołęka [111] Chotomów [111] Międzylesie [111] Płudy [111] Sejny [111]
Muranów [134] Warsaw [110][134] Vilnius [111] Vilnius district [106][107] Turkowice [111] Żyrardów [85]
Kolonia Wileńska [145] Nieśwież [146] Tyniec [146] Staniątki [147] Kraków [146] Nowogródek [147]
Settlement Area Settlement Area Settlement Area
For list of settlements and their gminas in alphabetical order, please use table-sort buttons.

Below is the partial list of Polish communities engaged in collective rescuing of Jews during the Holocaust, as described in literature mentioned. Spelling of some of the names of settlements and counties has been revised in accordance with the currently available geodata. Occasionally, the below links lead to disambiguation pages listing villages known by the same name in the same geographical area of prewar and postwar Poland.[144]

Partial list of communities

The Home Army units under the command of officers from left-wing Jewish Military Union forming an integral part of the Polish resistance.[143]

Poland, with its unique underground state, was the only country in occupied Europe to have an extensive, underground justice system.[137] These clandestine courts operated with attention to due process (obviously limited by circumstances) and as a result it could take months to get a death sentence passed, much as in regular judicial systems.[137] However, Prekerowa notes that the death sentences only began to be issued in September 1943, which meant that blackmailers were able to operate undeterred for 3 years from the time of the sealing of the Jewish ghettos in Autumn 1940.[138] Overall, it took the Polish underground until late 1942 to legislate and organize non-military courts which were authorized to pass death sentences for civilian crimes, such as non-treasonous collaboration, extortion and blackmail.[137] According to Joseph Kermish, among the thousands of collaborators sentenced to death by the Special Courts and executed by the Polish resistance fighters who risked death carrying out these verdicts,[138] very few were explicitly blackmailers or informers who had persecuted Jews.[42] This, according to Kermish, led to increasing boldness of some of the blackmailers in their criminal activities.[42] Marek Jan Chodakiewicz writes that a number of Polish Jews were executed for denouncing other Jews. He notes that since Nazi informers often denounced members of the underground as well as Jews in hiding, the charge of collaboration was a general one and sentences passed were for cumulative crimes.[139]

Szmul Zygielbojm, a member of the National Council of the Polish government in exile, committed suicide in May 1943, in London, in protest against the indifference of the Allied governments toward the destruction of the Jewish people, and the failure of the Polish government to rouse public opinion commensurate with the scale of the tragedy befalling Polish Jews.[136]

However, according to Michael C. Steinlauf, only on rare occasions did appeals to Poles to help Jews accompany these statements before the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943.[134] Steinlauf points out that in one speech made in London Sikorski was promising equal rights for Jews after the war, but the promise was omitted from the printed Polish version of the speech.[134] According to David Engel, the loyalty of Polish Jews to Poland and Polish interests was held in doubt by some members of the exiled government,[119][131] leading to political tensions.[135] Overall, as Stola notes, Polish government was just as unprepared to deal with the Holocaust as were the other Allied governments, and that the government's hesitancy in appeals to the general population to aid the Jews diminished only after reports of the Holocaust became more wide spread.[118]

[133], the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces, signed a following decree and called upon the Polish population to extend aid to the persecuted Jews:Władysław Sikorski General [42]The Polish government and its underground representatives at home issued declarations that people acting against the Jews (blackmailers and others) would be punished by death.

[132][118] On top of its relative weakness, the government in exile was subject to the scrutiny of the West, in particular, American and British Jews reluctant to criticize their own governments for inaction in regard to saving their fellow Jews.[131][119][118], the government-in-exile primarily concerned itself with the fate of Polish people in general, reestablishing independent Polish state and establishing itself as an equal partner amongst the Allied forces.Daniel Stola According to David Engel and [118] Regrettably, the great number of Polish Jews had been killed already even before the Government-in-exile fully realized the totality of the Final Solution.[116] Also, in 1943 a Jewish affairs section of the Underground State was set up by the [118] With two members on the National Council, Polish Jews were sufficiently represented in the government in exile.

Polish Delegate of the Government in Exile residing in Hungary, diplomat Henryk Sławik known as the Polish Wallenberg,[127] helped rescue over 30,000 refugees including 5,000 Polish Jews in Budapest, by giving them false Polish passports as Christians.[128] He founded an orphanage for Jewish children officially named School for Children of Polish Officers in Vác.[129][130]

Diplomat Henryk Sławik, the Polish Wallenberg

The supreme political body of the underground government within Poland was the ŻOB and ŻZW), particularly from 1942 onwards.[118] The interim government transmitted messages from Jewish underground to the West and gave support to their requests for retaliation on German targets if the atrocities are not stopped – a request that was dismissed by the Allied governments.[118] The Polish government also tried, without much success, to increase the chances of Polish refugees finding a safe haven in neutral countries and to prevent deportations of escaping Jews back to Nazi-occupied Poland.[118]

In July 1943, Jan Karski again personally reported to Roosevelt about the plight of Polish Jews, but the president "interrupted and asked the Polish emissary about the situation of... horses" in Poland.[121][122] He also met with many other government and civic leaders in the United States, including Felix Frankfurter, Cordell Hull, William Joseph Donovan, and Stephen Wise. Karski also presented his report to media, bishops of various denominations (including Cardinal Samuel Stritch), members of the Hollywood film industry and artists, but without success. Many of those he spoke to did not believe him and again supposed that his testimony was much exaggerated or was propaganda from the Polish government in exile.

Similarly, Jan Karski, who had been serving as a courier between the Polish underground and the Polish government in exile, was smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto and reported to the Polish, British and American governments on the situation of Jews in Poland.[120] In 1942 Karski reported to the Polish, British and U.S. governments on the situation in Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust of the Jews. He met with Polish politicians in exile including the prime minister, as well as members of political parties such as the Polish Socialist Party, National Party, Labor Party, People's Party, Jewish Bund and Poalei Zion. He also spoke to Anthony Eden, the British foreign secretary, and included a detailed statement on what he had seen in Warsaw and Bełżec. In 1943 in London he met the then much known journalist Arthur Koestler. He then traveled to the United States and reported to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London but the British authorities refused AK reports on atrocities as be a gross exaggerations and propaganda of Polish government.

Holocaust resistor Witold Pilecki

Polish government was the first to inform the Western Allies about the Holocaust, although early reports were often met with disbelief even by Jewish leaders themselves; then, for much longer, by Western powers.[100][101][104][117][118][119]

[116], issued a following declaration based on reports by Polish underground.Polish Underground State, part of the Directorate of Civil Resistance. The government often publicly expressed outrage at German mass murders of Jews. In 1942, Great Britain residing in Polish government in exileLack of international effort to aid Jews resulted in political uproar on the part of the

Jews and the Polish government

"The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland", note of Republic of Poland addressed to United Nations, 1942

Some officials in the senior Polish priesthood however, remained hostile toward the Jews – a theological attitude well-known from before the war.[19][114] After the war, some convents were unwilling to return children to Jewish institutions that asked for them and refused to disclose the adoptive parents' identities, forcing government agencies and courts to intervene.[115]

Historians have determined that in some villages, Jewish families survived the Holocaust by living under assumed identities as Christians — with the knowledge of their neighbors, who did not betray their identities. This has been confirmed in the villages of Bielsko (Upper Silesia), in Dziurków near Radom, in Olsztyn Village near Częstochowa, in Korzeniówka near Grójec, in Łaskarzew, Sobolew, and Wilga triangle, and in several villages near Łowicz.[113]

Warsaw Ghetto with social worker and catholic nun, mother provincial of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary - Matylda Getter. The children were placed with Polish families, the Warsaw orphanage of the Sisters of the Family of Mary, or Roman Catholic convents such as the Little Sister Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate[110] at Turkowice and Chotomów. Sister Matylda Getter rescued between 250-550 Jewish children in different education and care facilities for children in Anin, Białołęka, Chotomów, Międzylesie, Płudy, Sejny, Vilnius and others.[111] Getter's convent was located at the entrance to the Warsaw Ghetto. When the Nazis commenced the clearing of the Ghetto in 1941, Getter took in many orphans and dispersed them among Family of Mary homes. As the Nazis began sending orphans to the gas chambers, Getter issued fake baptismal certificates, providing the children with false identities. The sisters lived in daily fear of the Germans. Michael Phayer credits Getter and the Family of Mary with rescuing more than 750 Jews.[112]

[109], the Jewish children were cared for by Catholic convents and by the surrounding communities. In these villages, Christian parents did not remove their children from schools where Jewish children were in attendance.Leżajsk near Grodzisko, and Szymanów, Ignaców, Ożarów In the villages of [105] Systematic recording of testimonies did not begin until the early 1970s.[105] The convent leaders never disclosed the exact number of children saved in their institutions, and for security reasons the rescued children were never registered. Jewish institutions have no statistics that could clarify the matter.[107] itself.Vatican These efforts were supported by local Polish bishops and the [108] Two thirds of all nunneries in Poland took part in the rescue, in all likelihood with the support and encouragement of the church hierarchy.[107][106]), played a major role in the effort to rescue and shelter Polish Jews, with the Franciscan Sisters credited with the largest number of Jewish children saved.Sister Bertranda In particular, convents of Catholic nuns in Poland (see [19] The

Jews and the Church

[104] was Żegota Perhaps the most famous member of

[102] asserts that a number of Polish sources overestimated the levels of support Żegota provided to Jews, saving perhaps only a few thousands of Jews (although this lower figure only counts those saved in Warsaw rather than all of occupied Poland); nonetheless the study concurs that the activities of Żegota "constitute one of the most brilliant chapters in the efforts to extend relief to Jews."Joseph Kermish In his 1977 study [101] with various forms of assistance – financial, legalization, medical, child care, and help against blackmailers.Żegota estimates that about half of the Jews who survived the war (more than 50,000) were aided by Tadeusz Piotrowski Polish sociologist [98][54] concentrated its efforts on saving Jewish children toward whom the Germans were especially cruel.Żegota [100][54] Among those, [99] Several organizations were created and run by ethnic Poles and Jewish underground activists, dedicated to saving the Polish Jewish community.

Żegota members at the 3rd anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising.

Organizations dedicated to saving the Jews

Ten percent of Warsaw's Polish population was actively engaged in sheltering their Jewish neighbors.[19] It is estimated that the number of Jews living in hiding on the Aryan side of the capital city in 1944 was at least 15,000 to 30,000 and relied on the network of 50,000–60,000 Poles who provided shelter, and about half as many assisting in other ways.[19][98]

The Polish Underground urged the Poles to support smuggling.[97] The punishment for smuggling was death, carried out on the spot.[97] Among the Jewish smuggler victims were scores of Jewish children aged five or six, whom the German shot at the ghetto exits and near the walls. While communal rescue was impossible under these circumstances, many Polish Christians concealed their Jewish neighbors. For example, Zofia Baniecka and her mother rescued over 50 Jews in their home between 1941 and 1944. Paulsson, in his research on the Jews of Warsaw, documented that Warsaw's Polish residents managed to support and conceal the same percentage of Jews as did residents in other European cities under Nazi occupation.[39]

In Poland's cities and larger towns, the Nazi occupiers created [97]

Irena Sendler smuggled to safety 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto

Jews in Polish cities

Nonetheless there were cases were Poles who saved Jews were met with a different response after the war. Antonina Wyrzykowska from Janczewko village near Jedwabne managed to successfully shelter seven Jews for twenty-six months from November 1942 until liberation. Some time earlier, during the Jedwabne pogrom close by, a minimum of 300 Polish Jews were burned alive in a barn set on fire by a group of Polish men under the German command.[89] Among the Jews rescued by Wyrzykowska was Szmuel Wasersztajn who, without seeing anything that happened, later falsely accused many innocent Poles of the crime.[90] Wyrzykowska was honored as Righteous among the Nations for her heroism, but left her hometown after liberation for fear of retribution.[91][92][93][94][95]

In tiny villages where there was no permanent Nazi military presence, such as Dąbrowa Rzeczycka, Kępa Rzeczycka and Wola Rzeczycka near Stalowa Wola, some Jews were able to openly participate in the lives of their communities. Olga Lilien, recalling her wartime experience in the 2000 book To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue, was sheltered by a Polish family in a village near Tarnobrzeg, where she survived the war despite the posting of a 200 deutsche mark reward by the Nazi occupiers for information on Jews in hiding.[86] Chava Grinberg-Brown from Gmina Wiskitki recalled in a postwar interview that some farmers used the threat of violence against a fellow villager who intimated the desire to betray her safety.[87] Polish-born Israeli writer and Holocaust survivor Natan Gross, in his 2001 book Who Are You, Mr. Grymek?, told of a village near Warsaw where a local Nazi collaborator was forced to flee when it became known he reported the location of a hidden Jew.[88]

Impoverished Polish Jews, unable to offer any money in return, were nonetheless provided with food, clothing, shelter and money by some small communities;[83] historians have confirmed this took place in the villages of Czajków near Staszów[84] as well as several villages near Łowicz, in Korzeniówka near Grójec, near Żyrardów, in Łaskarzew, and across Kielce Voivodship.[85]

In some documented cases, Polish Jews who were hidden were circulated between locations in a village. Farmers in Zdziebórz near Wyszków, by turns, sheltered two Jewish men who later joined the Polish resistance Armia Krajowa (Home Army).[79] The entire village of Mulawicze near Bielsk Podlaski took responsibility for the survival of an orphaned nine-year-old Jewish boy.[80] Different families took turns hiding a Jewish girl at various homes in Wola Przybysławska near Lublin,[81] and around Jabłoń near Parczew many Polish Jews successfully sought refuge.[82]

Two decades after the end of the war, a Jewish partisan named Gustaw Alef-Bolkowiak identified the following villages in the Parczew-Ostrów Lubelski area where "almost the entire population" assisted Jews: Rudka, Jedlanka, Makoszka, Tyśmienica, and Bójki.[70] Historians have documented that a dozen villagers of Mętów near Głusk outside Lublin sheltered Polish Jews.[78]

The forms of protection varied from village to village. In Gołąbki, the farm of Jerzy and Irena Krępeć provided a hiding place for as many as 30 Jews; years after the war, the couple's son recalled in an interview with the Montreal Gazette that their actions were "an open secret in the village [that] everyone knew they had to keep quiet" and that the other villagers helped, "if only to provide a meal."[76] Another farm couple, Alfreda and Bolesław Pietraszek, provided shelter for Jewish families consisting of 18 people in Ceranów near Sokołów Podlaski, and their neighbors brought food to those being rescued.[77]

Jerzy and Irena Krępeć rescued over 30 Jews on their farms in Gołąbki and set up homeschooling for all kids, Christian and Jewish together

A number of Polish villages in their entirety provided shelter from Nazi apprehension, offering protection for their Jewish neighbors as well as the aid for refugees from other villages and escapees from the ghettos.[70] Postwar research has confirmed that communal protection occurred in Głuchów near Łańcut with everyone engaged,[71] as well as in the villages of Główne, Ozorków, Borkowo near Sierpc, Dąbrowica near Ulanów, in Głupianka near Otwock,[72] and Teresin near Chełm.[73] In Cisie near Warsaw, 25 Poles were caught hiding Jews; all were killed and the village was burned to the ground as punishment.[74][75]

Jews in Polish villages

Additionally, after the end of the war Poles who saved Jews during the Nazi occupation very often became the victims of repression at the hands of the communist security apparatus, due to their instinctive devotion to social justice which they saw as being abused by the government.[66]

Entire communities that helped shelter Jews were annihilated, such as the now-extinct village of Huta Werchobuska near Złoczów, Zahorze near Łachwa,[67] Huta Pieniacka near Brody[68] or Stara Huta near Szumsk.[69]

The imposition of the death penalty for Poles aiding Jews was unique to Poland among all Nazi occupied countries, and was a result of the conspicuous and spontaneous nature of such an aid.[2] For example, the Ulma family (father, mother and six children) of the village of Markowa near Łańcut – where many families concealed their Jewish neighbors – were executed jointly by the Nazis with the eight Jews they hid.[59] The entire Wołyniec family in Romaszkańce was massacred for sheltering three Jewish refugees from a ghetto. In Maciuńce, for hiding Jews, the Germans shot eight members of Józef Borowski family along with him and four guests who happened to be there.[60] Nazi death squads carried out mass executions of the entire villages that were discovered to be aiding Jews on a communal level.[18][61] In the villages of Białka near Parczew and Sterdyń near Sokołów Podlaski, 150 villagers were massacred for sheltering Jews.[62] In November 1942, the Ukrainian SS squad executed 20 villagers from Berecz in Wołyń Voivodeship for giving aid to Jewish escapees from the ghetto in Povorsk.[63] According to Peter Jaroszczak "Michał Kruk and several other people in Przemyśl were executed on September 6, 1943 (pictured) for the assistance they had rendered to the Jews. Altogether, in the town and its environs 415 Jews (including 60 children) were saved, in return for which the Germans killed 568 people of Polish nationality."[64] Several hundred Poles were massacred with their priest, Adam Sztark, in Słonim on December 18, 1942, for sheltering Jews in a church. In Huta Stara near Buczacz, Polish Christians and the Jewish countrymen they protected, were herded into a church by the Nazis and burned alive on March 4, 1944.[65] In the years 1942-1944 about 200 peasants were shot dead and burned alive as punishment in the Kielce region alone.[66]

In an attempt to discourage Poles from helping the Jews and to destroy any efforts of the resistance, the Germans applied a ruthless retaliation policy. On November 10, 1941, the death penalty was introduced by Hans Frank, governor of the General Government, to apply to Poles who helped Jews "in any way: by taking them in for the night, giving them a lift in a vehicle of any kind" or "feed[ing] runaway Jews or sell[ing] them foodstuffs." The law was made public by posters distributed in all major cities.[58]

Announcement of death penalty for Jews captured outside the Ghetto and for Poles helping Jews

Punishment for aiding the Jews

The fact that the Polish Jewish community was decimated during World War II, coupled with stories about Polish collaborators, has contributed, especially among Israelis and American Jews, to a lingering stereotype that the Polish population has been passive in regard to, or even supportive of, Jewish suffering.[19] However, modern scholarship has not validated the claim that Polish antisemitism was irredeemable or different from contemporary Western antisemitism; it has also found that such claims are among the stereotypes that comprise anti-Polonism.[57] The presenting of selective evidence in support of preconceived notions have led some popular press to draw overly simplistic and often misleading conclusions regarding the role played by Poles at the time of the Holocaust.[19][57]


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