Jerusalem Post published on Thursday a slanderous anti-Polish propaganda story about Poles who “were as bad as Germans in maltreatment of Jews”. The story is based on a dubious report of US diplomats dating back to 1946. According to Jerusalem Post the report claims that Polish anti-Semitism “reached such dimensions in the Polish Army under General Wladyslaw Anders that many Jewish soldiers felt compelled to desert those forces and seek enlistment with other Allied armies.”
If that’s true, how is it possible that Wladyslaw Anders was dubbed ”The Polish Moses” by his Jewish soldiers? In 1941, the Polish general led Polish people out of slavery in Stalin’s gulags to the “Promised Land” of Mandate Palestine. Catholic Poles celebrated Christmas 1942 in Bethlehem and 5,000 Polish Jews travelled with the army from the frozen wastes of the Arctic to the wartime streets of Tel Aviv. Among the Jews who arrived in Mandate Palestine with Anders Army, was the future Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin. Anders, who had always been a friend of Jews, allowed 80% of his Jewish soldiers to desert from the army and to stay in Palestine. Oxford professor Norman Davies, author of scholarly works on the history of Poland described the generous general in his work “Trail of Hope – the Anders Army, an odyssey across three continents”.
Harvey Sarner, author of “General Anders and the Soldiers of the Second Polish Corps” reports that some Jews admittedly fabricated or exaggerated anti-Semitism as an excuse for deserting Anders’ Army. Other accusations of Polish discrimination against Jews proved, upon investigation, to be frivolous. One U. S. Army report concluded that anti-Semitism in Anders’ Army was grossly exaggerated. As for those he interviewed, Sarner concludes: “Jews who didn’t desert gave sharply differing opinions about anti-Semitism in the Corps. Some felt that it existed but was no worse than what they had experienced in prewar Poland and was mostly limited to name calling.” [What multi-ethnic army had ever been free of friction? Since when did name-calling rise to the level of an international incident? How many times were Polish soldiers, serving in foreign armies, called “Polacks”?].
Anna Maria Anders, the daughter of general Anders strongly condemned the libel and accused Jerusalem Post of violating journalistic standards, and aggravating the Polish-Israeli conflict. The Israeli newspaper did not publish a single piece, not even a photography of the mentioned US document – she added.
Image: Polish officers (from the left) general Władysław Anders, colonel Leopold Okulicki, general Zygmunt Bohusz-Szyszko, between 1941 and 1942. Source Polish National Digital Archive.