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The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust Hardcover – 31 Dec 1993
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Unfortunately, his portrayal of prewar Poland exhibits an obvious anti-Polish slant. At least part of the reason can be found in his "For further reading" section (p. 384). His sole source of information on prewar Poland is C.S. Heller's rather Polonophobic book, ON THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION. A more objective book, from a Jewish viewpoint, is Joseph Marcus' SOCIAL AND POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE JEWS in POLAND, 1919-1939. For a Polish viewpoint, see Giertych's book, IN DEFENCE OF MY COUNTRY.
Paldiel touches on the Karaites, a Jewish sect. The Karaites were generally not persecuted by the Nazis because they were not considered to be racially Jewish (p. 244). This adds further refutation to the claims of the Holocaust-uniqueness advocates, who insist that the Nazis intended to exterminate ALL Jews and to obliterate ALL traces of Jewish culture and religion.
Although Paldiel doesn't mention the fact that 2-3 million gentile Poles (including roughly half of Poland's prewar intelligentsia) were murdered by the Germans in addition to the Jews, he does state the following: "The premeditated and constant harassment of the Polish population led to an unremitting reign of terror, which stands out as exceptionally ruthless and severe by contrast to other occupied countries, and which lasted for the full duration of the occupation." (p. 177). In other contexts, he alludes to the fact that the German occupation of Poland had been more severe than that of Lithuania (p. 238), the Ukraine and Byelorussia (p. 265), and especially western Europe, including the Netherlands (p. 96).
Paldiel would have the reader believe that the eventual fate of the conquered Poles was merely relocation much further east (p. 176). But then he gives away the store when he acknowledges the fact that "relocation" was a common German code word for extermination (p. 206).
In common with many others, Paldiel believes that anti-Semitism had been less severe in western than in eastern Europe. However, according to Paldiel (p. 3), this did not generally translate into proportionally more rescue efforts on behalf of Jews in western Europe.
When one reads about the much-celebrated Danish rescue of Jews (pp. 369-370), one may be astonished to read that the Danes had the luxury of two weeks of time in which to ferry the Jews across the Baltic to neutral Sweden. Moreover, "Not a single one [boat] was intercepted by the Germans or sunk, and all told some 7,200 Jews were saved." (p. 370). Considering the intensity of wartime German security in general and the monitoring of Baltic traffic in particular, one may ask how many Germans sat silent during this time.
Paldiel provides examples of the German-imposed death penalty deterring Polish aid to Jews (p. 207, 224). This refutes the silly argument, advanced by some, that the death penalty was too commonly applied to influence Polish behavior. He also comments: "In no other occupied country was aid to Jews punished with such severity as in Poland." (p. 185). He also acknowledges the fact that the Germans could massacre an entire local community for a single person helping Jews. For this reason, neighbors were often not supportive of an individual in their midst giving aid to Jews (p. 185). However, the unfriendliness of neighbors towards a local rescuer of Jews, much emphasized by Jan Thomas Gross in his recent (2006) book FEAR, was only true of some neighbors (p. 191).
Paldiel concludes: "The threats faced by would-be rescuers, both from the Germans and blackmailers alike, make us place Polish rescuers of Jews in a special category, for they exemplified a courage, fortitude, and lofty humanitarianism unequaled in other occupied countries. When to these dangers are added the severe economic hardships experienced by the population, the uniqueness and outstanding humanity of those that decided to help, in spite of such unbearable risks, are the more praiseworthy and their deeds close to legendary." (p. 185).
of gentile rescuers during the Holocaust. He writes comprehensively, clearly, and is well-researched. His introduction is particularly poignant.
His interviews are personal and detailed. This is a must-read for serious
students of the Holocaust.
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