It has been known by historians for years that the allies helped secure the release of Jewish people from the Reich. However, what is less emphasized is the role the the Polish government in exile played in helping facilitate the release. According to recent documents from the World War II archives, it shows that Poland played a decisive, major role in the rescue operation:
The Polish government-in-exile took part in 1944 in negotiating 20 million franc bribes for Heinrich Himmler in exchange for the release of 300,000 surviving Jews from all over Europe – according to archival documents.
“After the negotiations with Himmler, our representative reports that 20 million francs could be evacuated to neutral states of 300,000 Jews in 15,000-monthly parties,” read a telegram sent in November 1944 from the Polish embassy in Bern to the Polish embassy in Washington.
The author of the telegram addressed to the Union of Orthodox Rabbis is Isaac Sternbuch, the leader of the Jewish committee of Vaad Hatzalah, whose organization, at the end of 1944, attempted to buy Jews.
In direct negotiations, the organization was most likely supported by Jean-Marie Musa, a former president of Switzerland who privately knew Himmler from before the war.
These negotiations were already largely described by historians. They were dealt with by, among others, the Canadian researcher Max Wallace in the not translated into Polish language book “In the Name of Humanity: The Secret Deal to End the Holocaust”.
According to Wallace, it is in the fact of conducting these secret talks that the reasons for detaining the gas chambers and crematoria in Auschwitz in November 1944 can be sought.
However, in historical materials that have appeared so far on this subject, the Polish theme was most often treated as secondary.
Meanwhile, the telegram No. 102 of November 21, 1944 shows that Polish diplomacy was the transmitter of the most confidential information about negotiations between Himmler and the Jewish American community, enabling the collection of money for a bribe for the Reichsfuehrer.
“We would deposit money in a Swiss bank with installments of one million francs after the evacuation of the relevant group. We have accepted the project basically; we would like to emphasize that our representative is a very serious and influential personality, “Isaac Sternbuch wrote in telegram no. 102.
Other dispatches concerning negotiations with Himmler and the participation of the Polish side in them were also present. In one of them there is information that the Reichsfuehrer under the negotiations promised to stop the extermination action in extermination camps
“(…) Mr. Sternbuch reports by telegram via the Polish delegation in Bern that the delegate of the Gentlemen brought from Berlin a proposal to pay a larger sum for the gradual evacuation of all Jews from Germany. For now, it was promised to stop the extermination campaign in the camps, except that the negotiations are in progress and Mr. Sternbuch announces soon sending details of the action. The German government confirmed the same to the Vatican for intervention by the Bernadal nunciature. He also agreed to submit to the control of the International Red Cross camps in Upper Silesia “- it was written in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs message of November 23, 1944. The document was provided with the” secret “clause. (source)
Every nation has its sins and its laudable points without exception. Something that Poland can say she had during the Second World War was that, while without a doubt there were individuals and groups who supported the pagan revivalism of the Reich, the majority of Poles abided by their Catholic Faith and refused to submit. This clearly shown by the actions of the government, for governments are reflections of the people who choose them, in how the government attempted to help people who were being persecuted by the Reich and to expose the heinous crimes which happened, of which many crimes were committed against Jewish people.
In early 2018, there was a controversy over claims of “Polish Anti-Semitism” because of a statement which said that the death camps were not “Polish Death Camps,” but “German Death Camps”. Such a statement cannot be racism (as “anti-semitism” is by its nature a racial term) or a form of “hatred” because it is a fact. Poland did not open or operate the camps that murdered countless numbers of Slavs, Jews, and other people considered “undesirable” in Germany’s plan of eugenics. Poland was active in trying to close down the camps, and exposed them to the entire world through the heroic actions of Witold Pilecki, even while there were many Jews who allied with the Reich.
But leaving particular historical details aside, the fact is that Poland without question did a tremendous amount of work in the struggle against what the pages of history show to be a consistent pattern of Teutonic expansionism, except this time in the 20th century and filled with ideas of eugenics. Poland, while conquered by Germany, did not submit to her and fought valiantly, doing what she could while in captivity. It is an egregious lie to say that Poland as a policy sought to support the death machine of the Reich because, as the historical documents show, she was against it and tried to help people who were being persecuted by her.
There is a tremendous amount of material available about the suffering of the Jews during the Second World War. It is important to remember this incident as well as all of the genocides of the 20th century, be it the massacre of the Namibian peoples by German eugenicists, the slaughter of the Armenians and Assyrians, the great starvation of the Holodomor, the death camps of Siberia, the killing fields of Pol Pot, the years following the breakup of Yugoslavia, or the great genocide in Rwanda. Man is made in the image and likeness of God, and where evil is one must not just stop it, but bring awareness to it.
The only way this can be done is to tell the truth. It does not matter how beautiful or sordid it is, because it is the truth that will bring about the end of the tragedy and allow for healing. Lies, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, only serve to further cut wounds into a sensitive issue and prevent closure.
There is much to be said about the Second World War. But Poland is not to be blamed for the genocidal, eugenicist policies of the Reich, as she was one of the victims and did what she could to help herself and others.