[Photo: Front Row: Mr. Zaleski. Back row: Esther Goldberg; Father Rafal Figiel; Marta Lis; me)
I received this private Facebook message from Father Figiel (if you don’t recall, he is the Catholic Priest who introduced us to our Lis cousins and introduced me to Mr. Zaleski):
Dear Karen, I am sorry that I write only now but only now I read on your webside the speech of Shlomo. I cried. Shlomo so beautifully said all that, what necessary, true and painful. It is the truth that many people were then cruel but thank Goodness, were also such people as the family Stys. The this world was then mean. We must do all so it never would be. To speak to children, to bring up. Thank Shlomo from me for his beautiful words. My heart is with him, I think like he.
(photo: Shlomo at Yad Vashem ceremony on Jan. 15 in Warsaw)
I am so moved. This courageous Priest is standing up to the powers in his country who are attempting to create a world of newspeak that never allows mention of the brutal acts of some Polish people during the war. This is not simple for him to do.
He is standing up – not just in a private note to me. On February 7, he posted this statement on Facebook:
“New research – including mine – shows a significant direct participation of poles in murdering Jews not only in 1941, but also in 1942, 1943 and 1944 The whole occupation. The degree of commitment, motivation and effectiveness needs to be determined, but there is no question that the scale of this współsprawstwa was not an isolated or negligible phenomenon. I wonder how the authorities will approach further publications on this subject.” (Jan Grabowski).
Well, now we know how they come.
He quotes Jan Grabowski who is the author of the book I am currently devouring – Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland. This book should be required reading for every member of the Polish Parliament. It details the lives of Jews hiding from the Nazis in a rural area of Poland. It describes the extensive German-Polish collaboration in order to root out the hidden Jews. True, there were some who participated in rooting out the Jews because they truly feared for their own lives, but many participated with zealous anti-Semitism and greed.
I will write more on what I have learned from this book once I finish it, but in the meantime, I am more grateful than ever to the Stys family for helping Esther, Moishe, Chayim, Velvel and Esther during the darkest hour of the 20th century.
(Photo: Shlomo with Eugenuisz Stys)