In his Nov. 16 op-ed column, Richard Cohen once again made unsubstantiated charges about antisemitism in Poland. Poland did have one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe before World War II, because it offered Jews the best conditions during a time when they were being persecuted and expelled from other countries.
Cohen's comments would lead readers to believe that Poles did not attempt to help their Jewish citizens during the war. That is untrue.
Documentation of Poles who died in their efforts to assist their Jewish countrymen is incomplete, but some records do exist. A sampling shows: a Limanow postman, executed for speaking out against the treatment of Jews; Aniela Koziol, executed with the family she was sheltering; a man in Mlawa, murdered for speaking out during a public execution of Jews; Jan Machulski, executed for harboring Jews; Koral Chraca, executed for providing food to Jozef Lehrer and his daughter; Koral Grzesik, executed for teaching diversion and sabotage in the Warsaw ghetto; Franciszek Raszeja, murdered while administering medical aid in the ghetto; 22 farmers in Bidaczow Nowy, executed for harboring Jews; a gardener named Ludomir Marczak and his family, shot for hiding 30 Jews.
In addition, 200 peasants were shot or burned alive in the Kielce district, 17 in the Krakow district, 40 in the Lublin district, 47 in the Rzeszow district and 19 in the Warsaw district. For helping Jews, nearly 1,000 citizens of Lwow were punished with death in the Belsen camp.
It is time Cohen and your paper acknowledged that many Poles did everything they could to save Jewish lives. Israel acknowledged the efforts of the courageous Poles when it awarded 2,000 of the 6,000 Yad Vashem medals (given to those who helped save Jews during the Holocaust) to Christian Poles. Charges of antisemitism do not apply to the entire Polish nation any more than the vandalism at a Yeshiva in Wheaton means that all Montgomery County residents are antisemitic.
With a battered infrastructure, Poles need help and encouragement, not continued scapegoating. -- Mary J. Hoferek