On the Thanks Giving day in Sarasota, Florida, a group of elderly Poles were invited to celebrate the occasion in a hospitable home of a decorated veteran of the Home Army, who during the tragic Warsaw Uprising was ordered to assist a group of Jews who tried to save themselves outside of the ghetto on the Arian side. During an after dinner conversation one of the ladies asked her family friend: “Are you an anti-Semite?” and in return she was asked: “How do you define an anti-Semite?” Then it was recalled that professor of theology and one of the foremost authority on the Bible at the University of Cardinal Wyszyński in Warsaw, Monsegnior Waldemar Chrostowski convincingly defined an anti-Semite as “a person disliked by some Jew.”
“Salon 24,” an independent forum printed a review of Professor Chrostowski’s scholarly volume entitled: “The Church and the Jews in Poland,” in which he faced bravely the reining terror of political correctness in post-Communist Polish society. The author clearly states that Jews are not responsible in 100% for the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. However, professor Chrostowski is accused of anti-Semitism, because he dares to discuss Jews normally, the same way as he discusses non-Jews – a fact which caused him to be condemned by the now reigning “political correctness” and evicted from the participation in “theological discussions” in the Tygodnik Powszechny. This condemnation is answered by the motto of his book: “It is enough not to let oneself be intimidated,” in the present era of “anti-Semitic-phobia.”
Naturally prof Chrostowski condemns the idea very popular in Israel, that in Poland babies sock anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk. However, he mentions that traditionally the Jews attached a great value to their Jewish identity and did so at high cost of causing suspicion of their conspiratorial behavior. This was very much the case when Soviet Army invaded Poland and recruited disproportional amount of Jews to serve in the Soviet terror apparatus and the Communist Party. Thus, unjustly many victims of Soviet oppression created a stereotype that “every Jew in Poland is a communist.”
Unfortunately, there are symmetrical prejudices, which were cultivated among Polish Jews against Poles and Catholics. Professor Chrostowski was aware of very many examples of this phenomenon while working for years as the co-president of the Council of Christians and Jews in Poland and as a member the Commission of the Episcopate of Poland for the Dialog with Judaism. The obstacles experienced in this dialog, after several years, caused the resignation of professor Chrostowski of his functions in both of these programs. He gave a very credible version of events related to the eviction of the Monastery of the Carmelite Order from the vicinity of Auschwitz. His version was very different from the common version of Tygodnik Powszechny and Communist controlled Television.
Professor Chrostowski noticed that in Poland in Auschwitz, Rabin Wiess could behave in such a provocative manner that would cause his arrest in any western country, but not in Communist Poland, where the government thrived on exploitation of religious and ethnic antagonisms in a country in which communists experienced many ideological difficulties.
Already in 1920 during the battle for Lwów, Stalin wrote a memorable plan for creation of Soviet Empire composed of Soviet republics and of subjugated satellite states. Stalin wrote that he believed that it would be easier to put a saddle on a cow than to install communism in Poland.
In an earlier article on “Calming the winds of war” I have cited Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991), a winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, who recognized a longstanding separation between Jews and Poles in Poland. Singer wrote an article titled "Jews and Poles Lived Together for 800 Years But Were Not Integrated." The article appeared in the New York-based Jewish newspaper Forverts on Sept. 17, 1944 under the pen name Iccok Warszawski. He wrote: "Rarely did a Jew think it necessary to learn Polish; rarely was a Jew interested in Polish history or Polish politics." Referring to the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939) he continued "Even in the last few years it was still a rare occurrence that a Jew would speak Polish well. Out of three million Jews living in Poland, two-and-a-half million were not able to write a simple letter in Polish and they spoke [Polish] very poorly. There were hundreds of thousands of Jews in Poland to whom Polish was as unfamiliar as Turkish."
Singer later wrote in Forverts, March 20, 1964 "My mouth could not get accustomed to the soft consonants of [Polish] language. My forefathers have lived for centuries in Poland but in reality I was a foreigner, with separate language, ideas and religion. I sensed the oddness of this situation and often considered moving to Palestine." (The above quotations are from Chone Shmeruk's Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bruno Schultz published in the Polish Review. Vol. XXXVI, No. 2, 1991: 161-
Thus coming back to the after dinner conversation in which one of the ladies asked her family friend: “Are you an anti-Semite?” she was properly asked: “How do you define an anti-Semite?” Then it was recalled that professor of theology at the University of Cardinal Wyszyński in Warsaw, Monsignior Waldemar Chrostowski, convincingly defined an anti-Semite as “a person disliked by some Jew.”