Interview June 13th 2005
1. It is necessary to remember that the collective killings on Jewish population in Lviv, were mostly done by Ukrainian nationalists. To compare Nazism to verbal Polish anti-Semitism, either before or after the war, is nonsense. It does not reflect the historical truth.
The shocking story of the small town of Jedwabne, where Poles during the war in a bestial way murdered their Jewish neighbours, should be treated as an exception, and never be used as an example of Polish anti-semitism.
2. Any reference to racist laws in Poland before the World War II is baseless. There is no evidence for or reason to claim that the laws were racist. They were not. The only tendency could be found in a law proposal to forbid ritual slaughter. Although based on pragmatic argumentation it was in fact indirectly aiming at the rights of the Jewish population. The proposal was however put aside and not treated for the vote.
3. There were other types of discrimitation,that is true. There were the so-called "numerus clausus" and "bench ghetto" applied to Jews at some of the universities. Young people of Jewish origin could have problems with getting admitted to the higher education, and if they succeded they would risk to be forced to sit at special seats in the auditoria, assigned to them by their fellow students.
However, this had nothing to do with the country´s legislation. The universities had traditionally been autonomic and ruled by their own laws. The state - at that time - did not intefere.
4. The problem of "missing help" from the underground resistance to the fighters of The Ghetto Uprising in April 1943, also needs to be nuanced. The lack of serious smuggling of weapons over the ghetto wall by Armia Krajowa does not have to be proof of lacking interest or wish to help, nor anti-Semitism.
In the situation of armed resistance against the occupant, the leadership of the underground army had to think in a strategic way, which was truly not surprising. Everyone knew that the fight in the ghetto was not about a possible victory but about dignified death. The chances to get out of there were close to zero. Smuggling weapons would mean losing them. That was the position which the underground headquarters felt obliged to take.
One should know the historical facts before one interprets them. And the interpretation should not exclusively reflect the worst thinkable version.
Biographical note: Professor Feliks Tych is director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland, and himself of Jewish origin. He lost his parents and family members in the Holocaust, while himself, as a child, had been smuggled out of the ghetto to the "Aryan" part of Warsaw. He lived through the war camouflaged as a relative in a friendly non-Jewish family. Feliks Tych has written a series of books, and has recently edited and contributed to a text book on Holocaust which in these days is beeing distributed to the high schools throughout Poland.