To the Editor:
I happen to hold a rather low opinion of the present Polish government and its chauvinistic ideology, but the recent outcry about the projected Polish law against calling the death camps which were established and maintained during World War II in Poland by the German occupying regime “Polish death camps” needs to be corrected as a bit of knee-jerk anti-Polishism. (Sorry, I had to invent the word since it did not yet exist — I wonder why?)
It happens to be the plain historic truth that the death camps were not a Polish idea. I happened to be in Germany during WWII, and I saw plenty of Polish slave laborers working in German industry and on farms, in place of the Germans who had been drafted into the war. By coincidence, I also learned during the war of the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Polish educated classes in order to leave a population of helpless manual labor for the Reich.
Yes, it is true from all we know that there were anti-Semites in Poland at the time — but they did not hold power in their occupied land.
And I am sorry to have to remind everybody that there have been and are anti-Semites in many other countries, occupied or not. Anti-Semites have been known to exist even in the United States of America.
Would it therefore be right to blame all these countries for the Holocaust? I think not.