– We don’t want to veil the crime of pogrom by recalling the Righteous. While recalling the pogrom, we shall not forget the Righteous and while recalling the Righteous we shall not forget the pogrom – explains Bogdan Białek, the president of the Jan Karski Society.
Prepared by Avigail Moshe
ADAM le’ADAM: Israeli-Polish Education-Encounter aims to promote novel identity-forming encounters for young Israelis with Poland, Poles and Poland’s Jewish past and present life. ADAM le’ADAM’s main mission is to enable young Israelis, through these encounters, to supplement their self-concept as victims and their one-dimensional view of Poland and the Poles. They might, then, open up to the Polish discourse on the Holocaust. We believe that the more Israelis undergo this process, the better - for them, for Israeli society and for the remembrance of the Holocaust.
ADAM le’ADAM offers educational programs, seminars, events, study tours, and volunteering projects. These programs are all based on encounters of young Israelis and Poles as part of a significant stay in Poland. All the programs include intensive pre-travel preparation meetings and activities. These meetings provide participants with an environment to examine their assumptions and conceptions of Poland and Poles and the role the Holocaoust plays in these attitudes. Avigail Moshe, Founder and Director of ADAM le’ADAM, has expertise in inter-cultural and inter-religious encounters and is certificated to guide tours to Poland.
The Menorah Monument in Kielce - which is dedicated to the memory of the Kieltzer Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Second Word War - has an unusual shape. This sculpture is thought provoking. Passing by it one could surmise its meaning and symbolic. The half of the candlestick sticks in the ground and it is sloped. It symbolizes what happened to the Jewish culture and traditions during the Shoah.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War one of three residents of Kielce was of the Jewish origin. Here the Jewish trade and industry developed, the synagogue was build. Till today one can notice the remains of the Jewish culture – for instance the trace of the mezuzah in the door-post, the apartment house where before the war a Jewish family lived, the Jewish house of Prayer of Herszel Zagajski. The Jewish residents of the town – a highly respected merchant Mojżesz Pfeffer, Eli Rebełe who prayed so ardently that ordinary Jews thought he was almost a tsadik and Hanka Goldszajd who wrote the letters from the ghetto – they all remain in our memories.
Mr. Mayor, members of the clergy, distinguished guests and friends, I am here today, representing the descendents of the once thriving Jewish community of Kielce that have their home in the U.S. This is my first time here. I carry with me a painful legacy.
My parents, like so many Jewish survivors, could never bring themselves to return, although a number of them did come to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the pogrom. For them Poland will forever remain a huge unmarked graveyard soaked with the blood of their families. My father was born in Bialogon, lived here in Kielce and worked in our family’s tannery. My father lost his entire family, including his wife and 4 yr old son, who were deported from the Kielce ghetto August 22, 1942 and sent to Treblinka, where they were immediately murdered.
When the war ended, those that somehow managed to survive the Nazi death camps, were liberated. The enemy was defeated but hatred and intolerance towards Jews, were not defeated. Sadly, prejudice and hostility remained.
President of Jan Karski Society
Dear Mr. Bogdan,
On behalf of the Kieltzer Society of New York, I wish to thank you and Mr. Wojciech Lubawski, the Mayor of the city of Kielce, for your very strong and enthusiastic support in making this commemoration such a moving and significant event. Without your active encouragement and participation, this would memorial would not have happened.
That the pogrom lasted an entire day in a large urban center and hundreds of Poles of all ages and economic backgrounds join in should never be forgotten. Men in uniform lured the Jews out of their barricaded homes and handed them over to the mob.
One of the most important Catholic writers of this century warned that when we view the Nazi murderers as insane or inherently evil, this leads to the false belief that ordinary people could never have committed such horrible crimes. The real horror, however, is that those who participated in this pogrom were not insane or suffered from some mental disease. They were ordinary people.
I was glad to read Richard Cohen’s „What Helen Thomas missed”, setting the record straight on why Jews could not, after WWII, just „go back to Poland” and elsewhere in Central Europe, as the veteran White House correspondent had suggested. I was dismayed, however, to see Cohen qualify the violence against the Jews there at that time as “a mini-Holocaust”.
The Holocaust was a once-only, stand-alone event; it does not come in different sizes. It had ended on V-E Day, with the end of the Nazi regime which had made the genocide of the Jews one of its main objectives.
To suggest otherwise, to refer to killings of Jews by Poles, or Slovaks and Hungarians, or by Arabs, after that date and outside the Nazi framework, as Holocaust, mini or not, unavoidably legitimizes the use of the term to refer to other mass killings.
If Kielce and other post-WWII murders of Jews in Poland were a “mini-Holocaust”, then surely, say, the recent mob violence in Kenya was one as well. The term “Holocaust” would then become just another synonym of not only genocide, but indeed mass murder.