Letter received February 9th 2005
"Dear Sir or Madam,
Some time ago I read online Mr.Steinfeld’s article “Jødehatet, sort flekk i polsk historie.”
I must congratulate Mr.Steinfeld for his inventiveness: he invented new Poland quite different from Poland I know. I’m a naturalized US citizen, formerly a Polish Jew, born and raised in Lwow, Poland (presently Lviv, Ukraine). I lived in Poland before, during and after WWII so I have some experience.
1. First thing that surprises me is the reference by Mr.Steinfeld to my city as “Lvov”. Why? “Lvov” is the transliteration of the Russian name of present Lviv- why does he use this? Second is even stranger: to prove that there is a congregation of Polish Nazis in Lviv Mr.Steinfeld uses snippets from Polish history which according to him show that Poland was always an anti-Semitic country and therefore no wonder that there are Polish Nazis. Strange logic if you can call this logic. For me it’s a very fuzzy and biased thinking. This is like me saying that since during the war there were Norwegian Nazis, a Norwegian Legion, a pro-Nazi Norwegian government, since Norway issued pro-Nazi post stamps with “Norge” printed on them, etc., etc., etc., therefore one can refer to Norway as a Nazi country quite forgetting of Norwegians fighting for democratic Norway in Narvik and elsewhere (I visited the War Museum in Narvik, I’d suggest that Mr.Steinfeld does the same. He’d learn there also about Polish participation in the fight for free Norway) and suffering in Nazi concentration camps.
2. Last time I was in Lviv was 1942 so I can’t comment on the possibility of present existence of some small group of Polish Nazis there. But I know that even though a small right-wing party, ONR (Oboz Narodowo Radykalny ), existed in prewar Poland and that this party was occasionally enthusiastic about Hitler but I also know that some of its leaders spent the war in Auschwitz as inmates. On the other hand I saw in Lviv 1936 or 1937 an about 50 men strong group of Polish Jews marching on Batory Street which was one of Lviv’s main streets wearing Nazi brown shirts and with their hands stretched in a fascist salute. These were the Zionists- Revisionists (V.Zhabotinsky’s party) to which M.Begin and other right-wing Israeli Likud party leaders belonged. This was the same Begin whose opinions Mr.Steinfeld treats as sacred.
3. On the other hand Mr.Steinfeld claims several times that Pilsudski was a fascist (or even “brown” i.e. pro-Nazi) and anti-Semite. This is really an offensive nonsense. Many, if not most, Polish Jews considered Pilsudski to be their their friend. I vividly remember May 12, 1935, the day of Pilsudski’s death: this was the only time in my life I saw my father cry. Soon thereafter my father took me on the train trip to Krakow (it was about 8 hours ride one way) to pour a symbolic pail of dirt on being newly erected Pilsudski’s Memorial Hill- Sowiniec. No, Pilsudski was no saint and had many faults but making him an anti-Semite is a damn lie.
4. I lived in Lviv also in 1941 when the Germans came. I never heard of Poles conducting pogroms of Jews at that time. I was forced to newly created ghetto by the Nazis, escaped from there with my mother using bought “Aryan” papers and ended in Warsaw on the “Aryan” side of the city. I joined there GL WRN/PPS which was the military wing of PPS (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna; a Polish equivalent of Norwegian Arbeider Partiet). This organization counting about 40.000 fighters was subject to Armia Krajowa’s (Home Army) commando. Armia Krajowa counted about 400.000 fighters. There were also anti- Semites among them but this was London based Polish Government in Exile that dictated Armia Krajowa’s policy not some local anti-semites.
5. To summarize: there is a Polish saying: “Jak sie chce psa uderzyc to sie kija znajdzie”( If one wants to hit a dog one will find a stick). That seems to be Mr.Steinfeld’s goal: to hit the 'Polish dog'."
Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering
University of Connecticut
Union, CT, USA