Customer Reviews


9 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An objective yet moving study of a long ignored subject.
Having been brought up in the Polish community in Birmingham amongst brave Polish men and women who survived the attrocities of WWII I have always been a little concerned by the fact that their courage and strength, and the plight of the Poles under occupation in general never seems to receive any coverage. As a result, this book was something of a gem of a find. Dr Lukas...
Published on 10 Mar. 2003 by Miss A E Usewicz

versus
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Questionable conclusion
A book about the Polish sufferings that dedicates 2 out of 5 chapters to the relationship between Poles and Jews and fails to mention the July 1941 Jedwabne pogrom, makes you doubt any conclusion the writer had reached - especially the one that in general, the Poles helped the Jews as much as they could.

In this village, the Poles turned on their Jewish...
Published 23 months ago by Sugar and jam


Most Helpful First | Newest First

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An objective yet moving study of a long ignored subject., 10 Mar. 2003
By 
Miss A E Usewicz (Brighton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Having been brought up in the Polish community in Birmingham amongst brave Polish men and women who survived the attrocities of WWII I have always been a little concerned by the fact that their courage and strength, and the plight of the Poles under occupation in general never seems to receive any coverage. As a result, this book was something of a gem of a find. Dr Lukas tackles the subject matter in a thorough yet sympathetic manner, redressing some common misconceptions without preaching or laying any blame.
The book deals with the tragedy that befell the Polish nation during the war - an umbrella term which covers, as it should, not only ethnic Poles, but the Jews, Gypsies, and other ethnic minorities which made up the fabric of the country at the time. By not focusing on any one group in particular, as previous works have done, Dr Lukas offers a far broader picture of the state of the country at the time. He gves a rare insight into the interaction of the persecuted ethnic groups and gives credit where credit is due to the bravery of various people at the time, regardless of race.
The way Dr Lukas deals with the political issues is thorough, yet succinct enough for someone like myself, who is not that politically minded to be able to follow and understand without getting bogged down. He remains impartial and objective throughout, which is important as it lends a far greater sense of credibility to the work. This is reflected in the extensive bibliography which shows the amount of research that went into this book.
For someone with prior knowledge of the subject, this book will serve to clarify and enlighten even further. For the reader who thinks that the Holocaust was a purely Jewish phenomenon, or that the Poles during wartime were an anti- Semitic race, this book will be an eye opener. A must read for anyone with any interest in the subject.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary, 10 Feb. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The general reader of a book like this is probably not in a position to realise the poisonous academic spat that exists around the contentious subject of (Christian) Polish/ Jewish relations during the Second World War. At its simplest, the situation boils down to the status of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust: were they Polish Jews or Jewish Poles?
On the one hand, we have authors like Norman Davies and Richard Lukas, whose position is that the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were treated as well as they could be by their Christian Polish neighbours, given the circumstances. On the other hand, there are a number of historians who advance the proposition that the Poles were simply only too happy to see ‘the enemy within’ exterminated: these historians tend to be American and/ or Jewish. Into this mess are stirred implicit accusations of anti-semitism (against the former group) and Zionism (against the latter). A third group of historians leaves well alone, simply ignoring the issue (eg. Adelson, ‘The Lodz Ghetto’), which severely degrades their work.
Each side proffers its arguments: the ‘Polish Jews’ school points to comparable participation in atrocities by Jews in association with the communists at the end of the war - indeed, the great Norman Davies was refused a chair at Stanford for pointing this out; the ‘Jewish Poles’ point to the Jedwabne massacre (1941), when Christian villagers, with a nod from their Nazi overlords, killed some 1,600 Jewish neighbours.
Personally, I find the ‘Polish Jews’ argument more convincing. By and large, Christians had a tolerant attitude towards Jews, and one can fairly easily run off a list of examples: that King Kasimir, who invited the Jews into Poland in the middle ages, is the only Polish king known as ‘the Great’; that the Jews usually ran village taverns, and it seems unlikely that such an occupation would give rise to unpopularity; that Poles, who pride themselves on their courtesy and good manners, would descend to the vulgar abuse of Jew-baiting; the refusal of Polish politics in the ‘20s and ‘30s to descend into anti-semitism. Mickiewicz, the Polish national poet, had a Jewish mother and Marshal Pilsudski a Jewish wife. On the other hand there were undoubtedly areas of friction; largely based on the issues of Jewish clannishness, which could be particularly provocative in those areas where they controlled the entire local economy. The ‘Jewish Poles’ argument seems to me to rely too much on selective quotations from Jews who were under the most dreadful strain; generalisations and over-simplification. At its worst, this leads to - frankly - unhistorical rubbish like Leon Uris’s books in which Jews are characterised as noble helpless victims, and everyone else as anti-semitic neanderthals.
And so to the war, and the Holocaust. Dr. Lukas begins his book by pointing out the immediate descent into Nazi brutality: mass arrests - intellectuals, priests - and shootings - including Boy Scouts and passers-by in the street. The first victims were not necessarily Jews at all - they were herded into ghettos - but any individual around whom a resistance could form. Much of this initial stage of repression appears to have been based on brutality to cow the remainder of the population. Statements by Hitler and Hans Frank (the Gauliter of the Cracow region) make it quite clear that the objective was to exterminate any opposition; to destroy the Jews and leave a helot race of uneducated Polish ‘untermensch’, who would in their turn be exterminated. As Frank put it, in time the Vistula river valley would become as much a part of Germany as the Rhine. Almost any form of opposition, down to not making way for a German on the pavement, was punishable by death. In fact, collective punishments and round-ups - sealing both ends of a street and shooting everyone in-between - were widespread and terrifying in their randomness.
The punishment in respect of helping Jews, however, was even worse: the annihilation of one’s entire family - the appendix gives heart-rending accounts of grandmothers to babies in the same family - if one lived in a block of flats, the manager and caretaker were killed too; in the country the farmhouse and any barns were burnt down. Lukas estimates that each individual helping a Jew extended the potential retribution to 9 others.
Unfortunately, the situation was not helped by the attitude of the Jews themselves: the Lvov Jews appear to have had a strong streak of both pacifism and fatalism, often refusing offers of help. (It is worth pointing out, at this point, that Simon Wiesental had moved to Lvov: in 1943 his wife was smuggled out of a Lvov labour camp with the help of a German supervisor, Adolf Kohlrautz, and Polish partisans, who provided her with forged documents: Wiesental escaped a year later, was hidden by the underground, but recaptured.) There were tragic instances of captured Jews being promised their lives if they denounced their helpers - promises never kept, of course. The ‘fighting Jews’ of ZOB, who took the main part in the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising, were also socialists/ communists: in other words, the very people who had supported the Soviet Union when it attacked Poland from the East in 1939: it is no wonder that there was certainly an initial element of reserve when ZOB approached the AK (Home Army) for arms. Another huge cause of friction was the propensity of Jews under Polish arms abroad to desert: the worst example, perhaps, being Corporal Menachim Begin, who promptly began a guerilla war against the British in Palestine.
What was the attitude of the Christian Poles? The AK did what it could to help ZOB, but it simply did not have the heavy weapons necessary against tanks; it risked informers, blackmailers, and agents provocateurs - Nazis pretending to be escaping Jews. The Gestapo dogged the AK, arresting senior officers and uncovering arms caches. Nonetheless, Polish Christians must have been only too aware that they and Polish Jews had a common enemy, and that the fate of the Jews was merely a foretaste of what was to planned for them. Militarily, in 1943, just as in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the underground was too ‘light’ to engage the Germans in anything other than targeted assassinations and other guerilla activities; its forte was in activities such as espionage, organising escape routes, and propaganda. It is extraordinary, really, that anyone thinks that the Polish underground could have done more, given that it was far and away the most effective resistance in occupied Europe, its limited resources offset by huge popular support: one only has to compare it with the minimal activities of the Czechs, or the French who were operating under considerably more favourable conditions.
The tragedy of the Holocaust in Poland is that its historiography has degenerated into a profoundly distasteful name-calling. These were horrific times, during which individuals were forced to weigh up their consciences; some behaved horribly, some chose to protect their families at the expense of the stranger: but ultimately a heart-warmingly majority chose to resist.
Finally, back to Dr. Lukas’ book; the good points: well-written, well chosen, if horrific, photographs, and properly referenced. Bad points: the references are often to secondary sources rather than the original, and, ideally, the references would give some indication as to when the events noted took place; the book covers five years and it can be difficult to put some of the references into a chronological context. However, this is a major work, interesting to both the specialist and general reader: I would particularly recommend reading it alongside Norman Davies’ ‘Rising ‘44’ (about the Warsaw Uprising).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book, 5 April 2002
I have never read a book like this one. I am Polish myslf and i am young and i want to know more about what happened to the poles in WWII. This book has taught me alot of what i wanted and needed to know. The author shows you what kind of horrors went on during that time under the Nazis and how harsh the laws were compared to all the other countries. It tells you what people did to help free Poland and their fate. Also how the names were changed from Polish to German and the plan to turn Poland into another German state. My father has been reading this book as well as i have and he finds that its a really good book. I hope to pass this on to some of my engish friends so they can understand what my people went through, insted of them thinking that we didnt go through alot, as many people think. Holocaust is not just a word, describing what happened to the Jews, but includs all the other peoples that died or were murdered by the Germans. It is a fact that the Jews were not the only race to be exterminated by the Germans but as were Polish, Gypsies, Russians, Disabled and Slavs. I recomend this book to anyone who wants the know about the forgotten part of the holocaust.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignored Holocaust against Catholic Poles, 25 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Poles were the first victims of the German invasion and were persecuted, terrorised and murdered from the opening moments of the 2nd World War.

About 2 million were deported to Germany for slave labour, hundreds of thousands were ethnically cleansed from western territories and dumped in the "General Government" area to make room for German colonists.

An incredible 200,000 Polish children were kidnapped for purposes of aryanisation, those that did not pass the nordic test were sent to concentration camps. This is a horrific crime that is virtually unknown in the West.

Lukas's companion book deals with the topic of the specific persecution of Polish and Jewish children. Did the Children Cry: Hitler's War Against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-45

The terror inflicted on the Poles has been substantially downplayed, skimmed over or ignored and it is to Richard Lukas's credit that he was writing about these events many years ago.

His work has been backed up by academic heavyweights such as Norman Davies, Timothy Snyder and more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 30 Jan. 2013
By 
atticusfinch1048 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For me this was a trip into my family history and the little known story of how the polish people were also systematically murdered by both the Nazis and Soviets during WW2.

It is an excellent record of what happened in Poland in addition to the murder of Jews that Poles were being killed at the same time.

I would recommend this for anyone with an interest in 20th Century European History.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A long ignored subject, 3 Jun. 2014
At last! I have long wondered whether WWII was really all about fascists trying to exterminate the Jewish people. It just didn't seem possible, although this is what we are fed in schools, literature, documentaries. This book gives a much more complex and credible picture. Well researched and written.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unacknowledged holocaust, 7 July 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You cannot forget something which is little recognised as happening. The title is evocative, but 'unacknowledged' would be more accurate. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to know about the Polish war experience. That's all you need to know.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Questionable conclusion, 26 May 2013
A book about the Polish sufferings that dedicates 2 out of 5 chapters to the relationship between Poles and Jews and fails to mention the July 1941 Jedwabne pogrom, makes you doubt any conclusion the writer had reached - especially the one that in general, the Poles helped the Jews as much as they could.

In this village, the Poles turned on their Jewish neighbours (the village had 1,200 Jews out of a population of 2,000), next to which they had been living for centuries, and after a series of beatings, herded them into the barn of the village's baker, before setting it on fire. When the Germans asked the mayor to spare a few Jewish craftsmen and their families to support the German war effort, the mayor responded that there were enough Polish craftsmen available and "no Jew should stay alive".

The author does acknowledge that there had been cases of Poles assisting the Germans in rounding up Jews and in committing atrocities against them; yet his argument is that these cases were relatively few and unique. We know about the Jedwabne pogrom because a few Jews managed to escape it, with the help of Polish friends; we do not know, however, how many pogroms like this one took place without leaving any survivors.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My opinion, 20 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The book contains some mistakes and it meets all well known clichés about that period of history. Notworthy to be read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews