The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland
|Author||Edward Bernard Raczyński, Stanisław Mikołajczyk, others|
|Subject||The Holocaust in Poland|
|Published||10 December 1942|
|Text||The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland at Wikisource|
The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland was a brochure published by the Polish government-in-exile on 10 December 1942 and was sent to the foreign ministers of the 26 governments who had signed the Declaration by United Nations. It was the first official document informing the Western public about the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland.:200
The brochure contained reports and documents about the Holocaust in Poland. The most important of the documents was Raczyński's Note, by Edward Bernard Raczyński, the foreign minister of the Polish government-in-exile. Based on intelligence from the Home Army's Jewish Affairs Bureau, Raczyński discussed the shooting executions that were carried out at first and then the switch to gassing methods to kill Polish Jews. It was known that Jews deported from the Warsaw Ghetto in the Grossaktion Warsaw were taken to Treblinka, Bełżec and Sobibór, correctly described by the Polish underground state as "extermination camps." Raczyński said that one-third of the three million Polish Jews had already been killed,:173 actually an underestimate.
The brochure also contained the text of the Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations of 17 December 1942, an excerpt of the statement of Deputy Prime Minister Stanisław Mikołajczyk on 27 November 1942. It was the official diplomatic note of the Polish government-in-exile to other Allied governments.:200 The purpose of the note was to draw attention to the Final Solution and discourage the Germans from carrying it out.
Although the document contained extensive information on the persecution and murder of Jews in Poland, the effect of the document was limited because many people outside of German-occupied Europe found it difficult to believe that the Germans were systematically exterminating Jews. After meeting with Jan Karski, who had made multiple undercover trips into occupied Poland and escaped to warn the Allies, Jewish U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter said that he did not think that Karski was lying, but that he could not believe him. However, the pamphlet raised awareness of the murder of Jews, and other politicians around the world were alarmed by the report.
Modern commentators have raised questions as to why the report was not published sooner, because the Polish government-in-exile had been kept apprised of the events in Poland by the underground state, the Jewish Labor Bund, and others. Emanuel Ringelblum, chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto, accused the Polish underground state of refusing to pass along information of the murder of Jews; he believed that they did so only after repeated exhortations by the Jews. However, his main complaint was with the government-in-exile, which had stayed silent about the murder of the Warsaw Jews from July to September 1942 despite sufficient evidence. According to Ignacy Schwarzbart, one of two Jewish members of the government-in-exile, the Poles feared that bringing attention to the suffering of Jews would distract the Allies from the suffering of Poles. Some historians have accepted this claim; others say it was more a matter of shock and disbelief at the news; and some have taken a middle view.:173–174
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- Wroński, Stanisław (1971). Polacy i Żydzi 1939–1945, (eng. "Poles and Jews" 1939–1945) (in Polish). Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza.
- Engel, David (2014). In the Shadow of Auschwitz: The Polish Government-in-exile and the Jews, 1939–1942. UNC Press Books. ISBN 9781469619576.
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- "Poland". Yad Vashem. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
By the end of 1942 a large majority of Poland’s Jews had been killed.
- Petersen, Hans-Christian (2010). Antisemitism in Eastern Europe: History and Present in Comparison. Peter Lang. p. 17. ISBN 9783631598283.
- Tzur, Nissan. "The man who told the world about the Holocaust – and wasn't believed". The first news. Retrieved 7 August 2018.