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Israeli Historian Admits the Jewish Atrocity Against the Poles of Koniuchy

Israeli Historian Admits the Jewish Atrocity Against the Poles of Koniuchy




This book covers Kovner’s life in pre-WWII Vilna (Wilno, Vilnius), the Soviet and German occupations, the German-Nazi shootings of Jews at Ponary and the later destruction of the Vilna Ghetto, Kovner’s partisan organization and its affiliations and actions, the postwar gatherings of Holocaust survivors, and the decades of Kovner’s postwar life in Israel. Interestingly, Kovner was part of an immediate-postwar revenge plot which, if successful, would have led to the deaths of millions of Germans. (pp. 234-236).

The Soviets invading Vilna in 1939 were welcomed by Jews as “saviors from the Germans”. (p. 17). Then historian Porat implicitly undercuts this stereotyped exculpation when she alludes to the fact that the local Jews were not then particularly afraid of the Nazis: “Among themselves, [Hashomer Hatzair] members noted the fact that Hitler had been in power in Germany for six years and that nothing terrible had happened to the Jews there.” (pp. 24-25). Furthermore, “The Jewish movements and leaders made no similar effort to understand Nazism and to read the works of its founders, although the Jewish people were a main issue, standing at its very center.” (pp. 26-27).

For a time, Kovner and some of his fellow Jews hid from the Nazis among Catholic nuns near Vilna–“a strange alliance…between leftist atheists and Catholics.” (pp. 45-53). Local Poles aided Jews in other contexts. (p. 56).

Unfortunately, Porat repeats standard Polonophobic slurs against the Polish Underground AK (A. K., or Armia Krajowa), accusing it of being anti-Semitic and out to kill fugitive Jews. (pp. 98-99; see also p, 167, 178). Porat, a historian, should know better. [For the truth, see the following scholarly work by the historian Chodakiewicz: Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947].

However, Polish suspicions of the broad scope of the Zydokomuna (Bolshevized Judaism), and specifically the AK’s characterization of Kovner’s movement being essentially Communist (p. 98) were well-founded, as tacitly noted by Porat: “The Jewish leftists in the Zionist movement and the public at large, in Eretz Israel and in Europe, delved into Soviet ideology with a will, investing most of their efforts therein at a time when the leadership of the Soviet Union turned a deaf ear to Zionist and Jewry was but one of a thousand issues facing it.” (pp. 26-27; for details on the Kovner-Communist connection, see especially p. 78-on, 124, 146, etc.).

For a long time, the Jewish massacres of Poles at places such as Naliboki and Koniuchy had been dismissed as “Polish nationalist” or “obscure Jewish” notions. Now Jewish historian Porat admits arson but not murder: “Sometimes the partisans took revenge on villages that were particularly hostile and had caused them loss of life of were the home base of the murderers of Jews in Vilna. For example, about twenty partisans, Jewish and non-Jewish, razed and then set fire to the village of Konyuchi [Koniuchy], having received orders from partisan headquarters in Rudniki to destroy it. The Germans photographed the ruins of the village with the intention of showing the world the true face of the partisans, `the red bandits’. Kovner mustered his men, announced the operation had been successful, and praised the fighters who had distinguished themselves.” (p. 159).

But just a few paragraphs earlier, Porat makes it obvious why Poles would sometimes kill and denounce Jews: The Jews were engaged in banditry. Although, according to Porat, this banditry was to be constrained by need, it went beyond that: “Because it was hard to resist temptation, especially if the farm belonged to a Pole or German, and because there was no way to monitor them, often the Jewish partisans did not follow orders, no matter how much Kovner preached.” (pp. 158-159). [If so, what happened to military discipline? In any case, the reader should not forget that Poles also had to eat to live.]

Whether it was arson or arson/murder, the perceptive reader will realize that the Jewish atrocity at Koniuchy partook of collective revenge. No attempt was made to distinguish those Poles who may have harmed Jews in self-defense from those who did it out of malice; still less those Poles (notably children) who were totally uninvolved in anti-Jewish actions. Recall that, in the wake of Jan T. Gross and the Jedwabne “revelation”, Poles were excoriated for taking collective revenge against Jews for their earlier Jewish-Soviet collaboration. [Will the media now raise the same hullaballoo over Jews-Koniuchy as it did over Poles-Jedwabne? Maybe in some other universe.]





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Israeli Historian Admits the Jewish Atrocity Against the Poles of Koniuchy




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