Following Ronald S. Lauder’s open letter (“It’s Time to Dial Back the Rhetoric”) about the Holocaust and recent anti-Semitic developments in Poland, another open letter has appeared (also in The New York Times). This one is signed by 50 Polish citizens, “the remaining living Righteous representing the 6,850 Righteous Poles” who have been recognized by Yad Vashem, the World Holocast Remembrance Center in Israel, for taking great risks to save Jews during World War II. Read their letter here. They say, among other things:
We were all victims, and we have all been carrying this burden to this day. There were also — as in every nation — ignoble Poles. They acted on their own behalf. . . . And we too were afraid of them. … We the Righteous Poles, who carry the burden of eye-witnessed truth about the Holocaust along with the Jews, its victims, ask everybody for empathy, judiciousness, and thoughtfulness when creating laws, [we ask] for responsible media coverage, and for honest and independent historical research. Only then can the issues that need to be explained, be explained. We ask for dialogue and kindness.
William Osborne’s comment of the other day is worth noting here. He asked how, “in Trump’s America, people would react if an overwhelming and cold-blooded military force came into communities and used experienced and brutal techniques to blackmail people into collaborating in the mass murder of a group of people. . . . How much persuasion would it take? How much would it take to persuade people who are simply trying to survive along with their families, and how much would it take for people already oriented toward participation? I keep thinking of those torch-lit parades we saw not long ago.” Those are not rhetorical questions.