polskieradio.pl | 20May2009 | (mg/pg)

Polish farmers collaborated with Nazis, says Der Spiegel
This week’s edition of Der Spiegel accuses Poles and other nations of having collaborated with Nazis during World War II.

The accomplices: Hitler’s European helpers in the Holocaust reads the headline of the front-page article, accompanied by a photo of Hitler.

The article names Polish farmers, among others, as accomplices of the Nazis during World War II.

The article tells the story of John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian SS-officer, who was recently extradited from the US to Munich to stand trial for war crimes, including the death of at least 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in southeast Poland during WW II.

Demjanjuk served as a guard at the Treblinka, Sobibor and Majdanek death camps and was known as “Ivan the Terrible” by the prisoners because of his extraordinary violence.  

Der Spiegel cites the case of Demjanjuk to prove that it was not only Germans who were responsible for mass murder during the Holocaust. If it had not been for Ukrainian gendarmes, Latvian auxiliary policeman, Romanian soldiers, Hungarian railway workers, Polish farmers, Dutch land register officials, French mayors, Norwegian ministers and Italian soldiers, the Nazis would not have been able to mastermind the Holocaust, claims the weekly.

Historian Dieter Pohl, quoted by Der Spiegel, estimates that more than 200,000 non-Germans were involved in war crimes, which almost equals the number of Germans and Austrians responsible for the Holocaust.

The weekly gives reasons why it thinks non-Germans collaborated with the Nazis, mentioning fear, perversion, anti-Semitism, and a willingness to help the presumed victors of the war.  

Der Spiegel claims that while Italians and the French are aware of the scale of collaboration with the Nazis in their countries, Poles fail to admit it. According to the weekly, this is surprising, considering the fact that in Poland hatred for Jews is “deep rooted” and pogroms took place in Poland even after WW II was over.

Most countries, especially from Central and Eastern Europe, have to take the responsibility for the Holocaust instead of throwing the blame entirely on Germans, claims Der Spiegel.  

Spiegel divides Polish politicians

“There is freedom of press in Germany, as there is in Poland,” said Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, commenting on the article by Der Spiegel, accusing Poles of collaboration with the Nazis.

Unlike Sikorski, however, the head of the Law and Justice party (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is outraged at Der Spiegel’s claims. “Germans are trying to free themselves from taking responsibility for the major crimes of Holocaust,” said Kaczynski and added that, to his horror, some circles in Poland support the opinion.

“If we allow Germans go in for this sort of practice, in the future we will have to pay damages to German soldiers who died during the Warsaw Uprising,” said the head of PiS.


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