Who Were the 5 Million?
Books, Videos, Audio Cassettes & DVDs
List of 700 Polish Rescuers Killed
of Charity - A Christian
and Jewish Response to the Holocaust
by Dr. Waclaw Zajaczkowski
I would like to strongly recommend "Martyrs of Charity"
The book lists the names of 3,000 of the more than 50,000 Christian Poles killed
by the Germans for assisting Jews during the Holocaust.
Menlo Park, CA
Victims of the Holocaust · Six
Million Polish Citizens Died · 3 Million Jewish· 3 Million Non-Jewish
6 MILLION CITIZENS DEAD
(3 MILLION CHRISTIANS and 3 MILLION JEWS)
best-kept secret in the U.S. about the Holocaust is that Poland lost six million
citizens or about one-fifth of its population: three million of the dead were
Polish Christians, predominantly Catholic, and the other three million were Polish
Jews. The second best-kept secret of the Holocaust is the greatest number of Gentile
rescuers of Jews were Poles, despite the fact that only in Poland were people
(and their loved ones) immediately executed if caught trying to save Jews. The
Yad Vashem museum in Israel honors "the Righteous Among the Nations" and Poland
ranks first among 40 nations with 5,503 men and women, almost one-third of the
total, honored for their "compassion, courage and morality" and who "risked their
lives to save the lives of Jews."
HOLOCAUST BOOKS IN PRINT AND ONLY A FEW MENTION THE NUMBER OF POLES
Why the Polish Holocaust is rarely recognized by American media
and wire services or mentioned in Holocaust literature has baffled Polish Americans
and Poles, especially since so many books and articles have been published about
the Holocaust. Amazon.com currently lists over 5,000 books published (an average
of a book a day!) about the Holocaust and only a few of them even mention the
Polish victims. The Polish Christian losses are occasionally mentioned in general
reference books, somewhat camouflaged in the country profile of Poland in the
annual The World Almanac and Book of Facts. The relevant sentence reads, “During
the war, some 6 million Polish citizens, half of them Jews, were killed by the
Nazis.” But note the nuance of the wording -- it is as though the words “three
million,” “Polish Christians,” and “dead” cannot be mentioned in the same sentence
in anything written about the Holocaust. Even direct mail pieces from the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum cannot acknowledge the Polish dead -- their annual direct
mail piece reads, “You see, the Nazis tried to wipe out not only the Jews but
also the physically and mentally handicapped, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals,
Gypsies, Soviet POWs and people who didn’t agree politically.” No mention of three
million dead Poles, as if they didn't even matter to the major Holocaust organization
in the U.S.!
NOT POLES EYES, HANDS, ORGANS...? IF POLES ARE POISONED, DO THEY NOT
Holocaust Remembrance Week was approaching this year, the first news release ("Israel
Re-Examines Holocaust Story" 4-29-00; 12:24 p.m. EDT) from the Associated Press
read, "The new Yad Vashem museum will also deal with the persecution of other
groups targeted by the Nazis, including Gypsies, homosexuals, the handicapped,
Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses and others." Again, there was no mention of three
million dead Polish Christians who, by the way, vastly outnumbered the combined
number of dead Jehovah’s Witnesses (2,000), Gypsies (400,000), homosexuals (10,000
at the most, according to Peter Novick in The Holocaust in American Life), handicapped,
etc., usually cited in Holocaust literature. Are these three million Polish Christian
souls not worthy of honor at Holocaust remembrance ceremonies and in Holocaust
literature? Hath not Poles eyes? Hath not Poles hands, organs, dimensions, senses,
affections, passions? If Poles are poisoned, do they not die?
"THE DESTRUCTION OF POLAND IS OUR PRIMARY TASK"
historical record clearly indicates that Hitler had a specific master plan for
Poles, whom he hated almost as much as he hated Jews. Poles were regarded as Untermenschen
or subhumans and their land was slated to provide Germany with Lebensraum (living
space). Before the Nazis invaded Poland, Hitler announced, “The destruction of
Poland is our primary task.” He also commanded, “Kill without pity or mercy all
men, women, and children of Polish descent or language. Only in this way can we
obtain the living space we need.” Hitler’s head of secret police, Heinrich Himmler,
promised that “all Poles will disappear from the world.” Was this Nazi policy
not a clear prescription for the genocide of an entire country?
POLANSKI’S MOTHER, A CHRISTIAN, DIED IN A GAS CHAMBER. HIS JEWISH FATHER
Richard C. Lukas (The Forgotten Holocaust) observed that “So many Poles were sent
to concentration camps that virtually every Polish family had someone close to
them who had been tortured or murdered there.” A cursory look at the lives of
prominent Poles through the years corroborates this phenomenon. Former Prime Minister
Mieczyslaw Rakowski’s father was executed by a Nazi firing squad. Tadeusz Mazowiecki,
another prime minister of Poland, lost his brother in a Nazi concentration camp.
Former premier Josef Cyrankiewicz spent a total of four years in prison. And Lech
Walesa’s father barely survived his internment in a Nazi prison camp, was released
in bad health, and died eighteen months later. Of course, there were military
casualties too. Film and theater director Andrzej Wajda’s father, a career cavalry
officer, was killed in combat at Katyn (admittedly by the Russians, but dead nonetheless).
And movie director Roman Polanski’s mother, part Christian, died in a gas chamber.
(His Jewish father, by the way, survived Mauthausen.) Most of the three million
dead Christians, of course, were ordinary citizenry, not just “Polish intellectuals,”
“political dissidents,” priests, etc., as the Polish dead are usually described
by the media and by authors.
conspicuous silence about the millions of Christian deaths has also troubled writer
William Styron, who extensively studied Holocaust literature before he wrote his
powerful novel Sophie’s Choice. Styron, whose wife is Jewish, said in an interview
when asked about the deaths at Auschwitz, “... if you are talking about the non-Jews
who died in exactly the same way as the Jews, in the gas chambers, two and one
half million Jews and about one million non-Jews.” Styron added, “All this is
on the historical record.” About other non-Jewish deaths, he noted that they “were
dying in their own particular way... they were slaves who were being starved to
death, and they died just as verifiably as those who went to the gas chamber.”
AT AUSCHWITZ WERE MOSTLY POLES
In the early years, most prisoners at Auschwitz were Poles, not
Jews. As historian Martin Gilbert pointed out, of the first 611 people who died
at Auschwitz, 591 were Poles and 20 were Jews. In the vast body of Holocaust literature
little sympathy is ever extended to those 591 victims, and the subsequent 2,999,409
Poles who followed them to their graves. Polish Nobel Prize-winner Czeslaw Milosz
expressed his concern about the forgotten victims, lamenting, “when the meaning
of the word Holocaust undergoes gradual modifications, so that the word begins
to belong to the history of the Jews exclusively, as if among the victims there
were not also millions of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and prisoners of other
nationalities.” Echoing the sentiment, William Styron warned, “To ignore the existence
of these victims -- even if it is certain that Jews suffered more than the others
-- is to minimize the Nazi horror. It is to underestimate dangerously its totalitarian
LIVES OF THREE MILLION POLISH GENTILES WORTH LESS THAN THE LIVES OF
THREE MILLION POLISH JEWS?
When Poland lost
six million people it was, according to Professor Lukas, “the highest
ratio of losses to population of any country in Europe.” The country
was devastated and almost destroyed. Poland, in effect, became a Holocaust
survivor -- a pathetic skeleton of a country, soon to be further ravaged
by the Communists. Why are the media and Holocaust organizations afraid
to recognize Poland’s losses? Were the lives of three million Polish
Gentiles worth less than the lives of three million Polish Jews? Holocaust
literature and news coverage to date sadly seem to indicate so.
2000, 2001, 2002 Edward Lucaire - All Rights Reserved
a freelance writer, was researching a book about the Holocaust’s effect
on Poland and its Christian and Jewish citizenry before he passed away
in 2002. An earlier version of this article previously appeared in Zgoda,
the official publication of the Polish National Alliance of North America.
Lucaire encouraged readers to send copies of this article (and any other
similar ones) to local school officials and local media to ensure that
annual Holocaust remembrance events acknowledge Poland's losses, Christian
and Jewish. A graduate of Amherst College, Lucaire served in the U.S.
Army with the United Nations Command in Seoul, Korea.
A Concise Overview of the 5 Million Forgotten Victims of the Nazis
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