Tekst jest traktowany jako integralna całość, można go cytować, ale zgodnie z prawem z podaniem źródła, tzn. autora książki i jej tytułu, osoby udzielające wywiadu, no i tłumacza amatora:). Tłumaczenie jest moje (z pomocą Google Translate), dlatego jest pewnie w nim dużo błędów:), pro publico bono, całkowicie bez wynagrodzenia.
Only the truth is interesting
with Maciej Pawlicki
In films such as “History of Kowalscy”, “Life for Life”, ”Priest from All Saints”, or “Stella”, for which you received the 2015 main prize of Janusz Krupski at the VII “Niepokorni, Niezłomni, Wyklęci” Festival, you raise the topic of Poles saving Jews during the Holocaust. What prompted you to engage in the theme of the Polish Righteous?
I don’t use the phrase "Polish Righteous" because I am making films about those who are not Righteous because they haven’t been honored with the "Righteous Among the Nations" Medal by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. So far, around 6.5 thousand medals have been awarded to Poles, but the vast majority of Poles involved in saving Jews didn’t receive these medals. I know from Professor Tomasz Strzembosz and many other historians that Poles saving Jews were much more. According to the former head of the Jewish Historical Institute, Prof. Feliks Tycha, Poles involved in the rescue Jews were two hundred thousand, according to Władysław Bartoszewski, maybe three hundred thousand. Professor Strzembosz and several other historians of the Institute of National Remembrance even speak about a million Poles. Certainly it was several hundred thousand, and therefore those 6.5 thousand Polish "Righteous" with Yad Vashem medals constitute only one hundredth part of all Poles saving Jews. The Yad Vashem Institute has its rigorous criteria for the selection of relationships and its procedures. He has the right to do so. These are, however, the criteria and procedures of the State of Israel, and the Polish state should honor Poles who saved Jews using their own criteria and own procedures. So I am careful in using the term "Polish Righteous." However, it can’t be concealed that the problem exists. I have talked about it many times with prof. Jan Żarynem, who totally shares my view that the current nomenclature is insufficient and, unfortunately, diminishes the Polish participation in saving Jews. My friend Wojciech Tomczyk has written a series about it, which he called “Who saves one life ...” but TV changed him title to “Righteous”. Another friend of mine, Grzegorz Górny, wrote about the Poles who saved the book the title of the Righteous, although he writes about very many Poles who didn’t receive this title.
Also the film directed by Michał Szczerbic is entitled Righteous. The titles of such documentaries as the “Righteous Among the Nations of the World” by Dariusz Walusiak, “Polish Righteous” by Juilia Popławska, or the documentary by Janusz Kidawa from 1968, the “Righteous”, can still be cited here. There is also a documentary directed by Mariusz Pilis “Ulma - the Year of the Righteous”. Although he has received no funding from the Polish Film Institute, but President Andrzej Duda took his patronage of the, so it should be completed. In any event, despite the ever new books and films about Poles who save Jews, whose titles use the term "Righteous", Poles still die in the mass of other Righteous Among the Nations, and thanks to the film by Steven Spielberg, Schindler's List, for the symbol All the Righteous are Germans, Oskar Schindler, who wasn’t only threatened with the death penalty for helping Jews, but also for a long time he drew profits from their forced labor. The Institute of Remembrance of Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust puts Oscar Schindler in one line with Irena Sendler or Jan Dobraczyński, who rescued Jews completely unselfishly and which was punishable by the death penalty.
It is true. The world doesn’t know that in the West, saving of Jews was reasonably safe, there were rarely any unpleasantness, and in Poland it was possible to be burn alive with children. And we entered this story and use the word "righteous" to describe the whole phenomenon. However, it doesn’t - without bad intentions - but radically diminishes the image of Poles' commitment to saving Jews. At the Jewish Historical Institute or the Museum of Polish Jews, there are different categories of help given to Jews. They call them "The Rescuers". They weren’t recognized as "Righteous" because there are no direct Jewish testimonies, the Jews they saved didn’t ask for it, or - most often - these Jews simply didn’t survive. Knowledge about this is documented, but too slowly breaks through also to the public.
Maybe we should create our own term that would fully reflect the phenomenon of saving Jews by Poles who were threatened with the death penalty? Or maybe the term already exists?
Certainly, the Polish state, officials, historians and politicians should use the Polish historical narrative, speaking about the Poles who saved Jews. Yes, as the Museum in Markowa talks about.
We certainly would like a public debate on this topic. Currently, the Poles who were the first to defend themselves against Hitler and didn’t collaborate with the Third Reich of the government, and were the first to notify the world about German crimes on the Jews and additionally fought against the Third Reich on all fronts of the Second World War, are accused of being Hitler's allies in the extermination of Jews. It is hard to find a nasty calumny and a greater historical schizophrenia. However, similar things are heard even from the mouths of political elites, such as the mouth of the head of the FBI.
That's why I took care of this topic. When I was in the United States in the years 1989-1990 I saw how extremely harmful, even disastrous, there is the image of Poles and Poland. I came across such a monstrous ignorance and such horrible distortions about the behavior of Poles during the WW2 that I decided to act. I was aware that historians know how it was, only information on this subject doesn’t break through to international opinion and even to the Polish public. I decided to make films about it. The direct impulse was my friendship with David Preston, an American journalist, son of a Polish Jewess, Halina Wind, who was saved by Polish workers in the municipal sewage system in Lviv. At David's request, I translated his letters from Polish into English, which she wrote in 1946-47 to her brother in the USA and in this way I got to know this story. Twenty years later, Agnieszka Holland made a film about the story “In the darkness”. David's mother, traveling for years with lectures around the United States, repeatedly told about her saviors Leopold Sosza and Jan Wróblewski, who in the canal for a dozen or so months kept her and a dozen other Lviv Jews. I decided to tell these stories and translate them into a universal language understood by the broad audience, in the form of a film. I wanted to show a picture of the heroism of thousands of Poles, a picture in the West completely unknown.
The actor of the main role in the film Laszlo Nemesa, “Son of Saul”, Géza Röhrig, responding to the question about Polish anti-Semitism, said "Fact": is an unfair and stupid stereotype that I often hear in America. I am outraged when people say such unjust things that the Poles were worse than the Germans, I am correcting them. This is due to ignorance. The President of the United States spoke about Polish death camps a few years ago. Hungarians, the Austrians just let the Germans in, and you fought, shed a lot of blood, you should respect. If any country suffered, it was Poland. (...) I believe, however, that the world slowly learns the truth and someday stop repeats the stupidity that Poles are genetic anti-Semites". For the world to know the truth, the first thing you need to do is try to reach it through movies and books. For this, a well-thought-out and efficient historical policy is needed. As a Polish director and creator, do you feel somehow responsible for shaping and implementing Polish historical policy?
Of course. The notion of "historical policy" wasn’t so fashionable when I started, but I think that this is the very purpose, tomorrow I will participate in the meeting of the National Development Council with the President of the Republic of Poland, where Andrzej Nowak asked me to speak on this subject. I am trying to participate in the creation of Polish historical policy, but I think that this term doesn’t reflect the essence of the task ahead: historical policy sounds like a past, and meanwhile, referring to the past, we talk about our future. for rebuilding Polish identity, for rebuilding what in the last twenty-several years with the great effort of Gazeta Wyborcza and its satellites has been devastated. The pedagogy of shame was practiced in relation to Poles, telling them that they were murderers, evil histories, fools, that they were a worse, ugly maid. That they are a filthy part of Europe that must be ashamed of itself. This is absurdly the total reversal of characters. It is Poles who have a decent, honorable and just behavior on this scale, a gigantic advantage over the majority of European nations, certainly over the neighbors from the west and east, but also over the French, Italian or Dutch who flocked to the SS. A propaganda war has begun with us. In particular, our Western neighbors, who want to throw off their responsibility for war crimes and push it towards the Poles, make up for it. The German mass propaganda of lies requires our very strong reaction. Not only should this be done internationally, but we should also do it in the hearts of our children and adolescents so that they know who they are and know how their fathers behaved. How it all looked against the background of everything the world did in the 20th century. And that they would be proud of the behavior of the Poles and build their future and their ambitions. That they would build a place for themselves, which they are worthy, and not filled with a sense of guilt and shame.