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List otwarty do redakcji Irish Times

List otwarty FORUM POLONIA, skierowany do redakcji Irish Times w związku z opiniami dotyczącymi Polski cytowanymi w artykule, który ukazał się 9 stycznia w wydaniu papierowym gazety oraz na stronach internetowych. 

Dublin, 13th of January 2016

Kevin O’Sullivan
Editor
Irish Times

 

Dear Mr O’Sullivan

We are writing in relation to the article “Tomi Reichental: ‘We, as a human race, have to find ways to reconcile’” published in both the print and online versions of The Irish Times on 9th of January 2016.

We found this article to be very interesting and we regard it as an important testimony to the atrocities suffered by Jews during the Second World War. We have no doubt that it is vital to remind people about this very dark period of history in order to prevent this from ever happening again.

Notwithstanding, we wish to express our concern about certain parts of the article in which unfair and historically inaccurate opinions were articulated by Mr Tomi Reichental and Mr Gerry Gregg. We are specifically referring to the following three statements:

1)     “(…) the genocide in Europe and anti-Semitism after the war and a lot of things are still kept quiet in countries like Poland”.

2)     “At the start of the war a lot of massacres were committed by Polish people, massacres so perfect that you had places where maybe 10,000 Jews lived and they killed all of them. That was not the German army; that was the Poles. They brought 150 Jews to the marketplace and surrounded them and hacked them to pieces with metal bars”.

3)     “Poland has massive problems about the scale of collaboration or spontaneous pogroms. It is similar in Latvia and Lithuania

These statements assume, without any evidence presented, that  Poland collaborated with Nazi Germany, and that Poles were responsible for killing thousands of Jews at the beginning of the Second World War. We find it inappropriate that such unsubstantiated claims have been printed  without a proper explanation of the historical facts.

We wish to acknowledge the fact that these three statements were removed from the online version of The Irish Times. We would like to ask you to consider publishing in the near future an article which would elaborate on the complicated history of Poland during the Second World War. It appears to be the case that many people are unaware of what happened in Poland during both the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Furthermore, we have no doubt that  readers of The Irish Times would find interesting to read about  the Polish Army which, along with the Americans, fought in Italy and in Western countries against Nazis or about the 303rd  Division who fought bravely during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

With regards to the article, no one can dispute the fact that terrible atrocities took place during WWII and that, in particular, the Jewish community was singled out for horrific treatment at the hands of Nazi Germany. Atrocities were also committed by the many governments which collaborated with Nazi Germany as well as by individuals, including Polish citizens. There is no doubt about the latter. Poland has not avoided this very painful discussion. On the contrary, Polish historians have  been engaged in  research  of this area since Poland regained full independence from the Soviet regime in 1989. The insinuation in the article that the  scale of atrocities committed by Poles during WWII was of a big scale demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the historical facts.

No Polish government collaborated with Nazi Germany as happened in other countries occupied by the Nazis. Within a month of Hitler’s invasion, Poland was divided between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Republic. The Polish government fled to the United Kingdom and operated from there. Poland lost more than 6 million of its citizens during WWII, half of whom were Jewish. This was the biggest loss of population suffered by a single country during WWII, apart from the losses suffered by the Soviet Republic.

It must also be borne in mind that Poles were one of the largest groups of non-Jews that risked their lives to protect and save the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust. They are thus known as “Righteous Among the Nations”.

Such opinions as those presented in the article have the potential to damage the reputation of the Polish community in Ireland. We feel that those in position of responsibility, such as journalists and editors, need to take greater care when researching the facts of any story before publishing opinions without providing any commentary in relation to historical accuracy.

 

Kind regards

Barnaba Dorda

Forum Polonia Steering Committee

www.forumpolonia.org

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