09 February 2011
Anti-Jewish sentiment in Poland has been decreasing significantly over the past years, a study commissioned by the major newspaper ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ has found. According to the survey, only 22 percent of Poles today hold the view that “the Jews have too much influence” in their country, compared with 43 percent in 2002. For the first time since 1967, when the first study of this kind was done in Poland, more Poles now say they are sympathetic to Jews than unsympathetic (34 v. 32 percent).
The newspaper quotes experts as argueing that Polish society today was more mature and stable, and there was less need to look for “scapegoats”. The sociologist Ireneusz Krzeminski said that Poles were today proud of the success and felt less of an urge to blame others for their problems.
Meanwhile, a Polish publishing house has defended its decision to publish a book that has sparked controversy in Poland with its argument that Poles actively profited from Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. ‘Golden Harvest’ by Jan Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross argues that Poles plundered wealth from Jewish graves and profited in other ways from the suffering of Jews under Nazi occupation. The book's cover shows a photograph purportedly of Polish peasants digging up human remains at the Treblinka death camp just after the war in a search for gold or other treasures Nazi executioners might have overlooked. Scattered in front of the group are skulls and bones.
The thesis challenges a widespread view among Poles that their nation, which was occupied by Nazi Germany throughout World War II, by and large behaved honorably during that time. However, Henryk Wozniakowski, the head of publishing house Znak, said the book aims to make the public aware of "cruel and often difficult facts." At a press conference in Krakow, he said that the book "challenges our collective memory" and was an attempt to seek some justice for Holocaust victims.
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