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by Edward J. Moskal

According to the opening words of its Homepage on the Internet, "The March of the Living is a yearly journey where thousands of primarily Jewish teens from around the world gather in Poland and Israel to mark two of the most significant dates on the modern calendar: Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel Independence Day. The purpose of this trip is to give students a first hand look at history and the evils of mankind."

In actuality, each year in May, on a day commemorated by the Jewish community as"Holocaust Day," Poland surrenders a bit of its sovereignty. On that day in Oswiecim, the Polish town situated near the German-created World War II concentration camp of Auschwitz, Jewish organizers and Israeli agents control the streets, while thousands of young Jews hurl insults and epithets at those Poles who dare come upon the scene.

A self-proclaimed "March of the Living," the parade from Auschwitz to the neighboring Birkenau camp, has become something more akin to a "March of Hate." Ostensibly held to educate the young about a Holocaust they did not experience, it has evolved into an opportunity for Jews to claim singular suffering at the hands of the Nazis and to inculcate anti-Polonism within the participants.

The foregoing statement may seem extreme ... until one is faced with examples of the advertising that lures young Jews to the march. "Everywhere we will be surrounded by the local Polish people," stated the bulletin of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and "We will hate them for their involvement in the atrocities."

Not content to hold Poles as eager collaborators with the Germans, the proponents of the hate-march anxiously contend that they are abused and persecuted at every step. The recurrent allegation is that the marchers are spit upon by the Polish populace, while all they wish to do is peacefully honor victims of the Holocaust.

The facts are somewhat different, however, than the allegations. Despite the fact that marchers carry photographic equipment, video cameras and tape recorders, there are, of course, no photos, no videos and no audio tapes of enraged, spitting Poles. Despite the fact that the event is planned and executed with the military precision of leather-clad Israeli agents, there is no pictorial or auditory evidence to support the claim. Despite the fact that armed Jewish guards control the vicinity, no one was able to capture the alleged despicable actions of Poles on film or tape.

Other facts, though, are well documented on videotape, available for the world to see. It is documented that Jewish youth shouted obscenities at any Pole who dared observe the march. It is documented that mean-spirited marchers signalled vile gestures to Polish media. It is documented that demonstrating Jewish leaders and their supporters forced a Catholic Church near Auschwitz to bar its doors in the face of danger.

Respect for the suffering and beliefs of others? Abandon the thought. Participants repeatedly demand that crosses be removed from the site of the death camp, calling them an obscenity on hallowed Jewish ground. This, in the face of the reality that only Poles died at Auschwitz at its opening in 1940 and that the first Jew died there in 1942. Polish lives, apparently, are unworthy of recollection of honor. Poles are worthy only of derision.

Young people who participated in the march understandably returned to their homes with negative views. Forcibly isolated from the Polish people, many of whom would have wished to discuss our similar experience, young Jews were purposefully inculcated with anti-Polish viewpoints. "Poland," they said, "was horrifying" and "If not for the Polish people, the Holocaust would not have happened."

Naturally, we, as Poles, can easily become incensed by all the foregoing, knowing it to be a miserable distortion of the truth. Our righteous anger, however, does little to correct the falsifications. Our question must reasonably be "Why ... Why do Jews, who were our neighbors, friends, associates, even relatives, and fellow victims, look upon us with such disdain, judging us to be partners with the German Nazis, who were also our enemy?"

I have searched for an answer long and hard with little success. The best explanation has come, perhaps, from a watchful John Radzilowski, who has taken the trouble to answer reports of anti-Polish Jewish bigotry via the Internet. He suggests, with appropriate logic, although with more subtlety than I, that Jews are engaged in a mighty struggle for the glories of martyrdom. Poles, who also lost millions to the German's Nazi furor, are logical competitors for first place in Holocaust "honors." It is always conveniently forgotten that of Poland's six million murdered, half were Christian Poles.

Perhaps it is possible for Christians, who also revere death for the sake of faith, to comprehend why the martyrdom of fellow believers is so important to Jews. The glory is compounded because they died, not only because of their beliefs, but, even worse, simply because their blood made them members of the group.

It has also been suggested that Jewish memory has been "clouded" by the billions of dollars granted to Israel by Germany as reparation. Some would even allege that the vast sums acted as a sort of bribe, resulting in misplacement of blame on Poles. The ferocity of the Jewish attacks on Poland add credence to what might otherwise be an outlandish allegation.

I have just returned from Poland and I can attest that anti-Semitism in that nation, although claimed to be rampant by youthful Jews, purposefully taught to recognize it in every innocent word or gesture, does not exist in any appreciable measure. We suffer, as well, in America from these mindless persons who are deaf to the command that one must "love his neighbor."

As Radzilowski so well explains in his discussions on the Internet (perhaps today's most effective manner of interaction,) Jews are fearful of losing their youth to assimilation. They have, therefore, turned the Holocaust into the central element of Jewish identity, but with Holocaust survivors becoming extinct, it becomes necessary to recreate that "all-important feeling of victimization." In other words, Jews can maintain their identity and ethnic cohesiveness only by constantly recalling their suffering, much as we, as Poles, were long motivated and united by the hope of removing the communist oppressor.

There is, however, a massive difference. We blamed no other ethnic group for the sins of the Soviets, whom we unabashedly referred to as Russians. The oppression of Poles, which included imprisonment, suffering and death, was endured for decades, but it never led us to place blame upon the innocent. We even remained silent about the complicity of our Jewish neighbors in Poland's suffering, until their hate-filled voices became so strong that we have been forced to answer. It is with heavy heart that we have replied in truth to malicious falsehoods.

Let us hope that our Jewish brethren will soon understand that it is not necessary to use Poles as whipping boys. The reality of the Nazi attempt at genocide, whether of Jews, Poles or others nationalities, is sufficiently horrid to excite the sympathy of any people. The German people, themselves, have expressed revulsion at the acts of their forefathers, and their present generations also deserve a respite from hatefulness.

If there is any sense left anywhere, and I am convinced that there is, let the "March of the Living" be transformed from "A March of Hate" into a "March of Love." That, after all, even more than preserving the memory of those who died so needlessly, is what we should best bestow upon tomorrow's generations.


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