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Response to “Remembering the Holocaust’s 5 Million Others”

“Remembering the Holocaust’s 5 Million Others”
Catholic League N.Y.
Times April 23, 1999


Yes, during World War II there were millions of civilian “others” who were victims of Nazi Germany’s barbaric executions, massacres, and vengeance. They were victims of Germany’s brutal occupation and laws only because they did not obey them. Especially heroic were the Poles whose valiant resistance to the Germans we all admire. But they had a choice. They could have chosen not to resist…. and in doing so, most of these non-Jewish Polish victims would have survived. WHILE JEWISH CHILDREN WERE BEING SHIPPED TO THE GAS CHAMBERS, POLISH CATHOLIC YOUNGSTERS WERE ATTENDING SCHOOL. The same was true in Paris or Saloniki or Amsterdam.

The Jews had no alternative but to perish. Whether aged 1 or 100, a good Jew was a dead Jew. My grandma Masha had 20 grandchildren. My grandma Hannah has eleven. I alone survived. In the 1980s I was interviewed on Polish television and challenged to find one non-Jewish family where, from thirty grandchildren only one survived. AMONG JEWS THERE WERE THOUSANDS OF GRANDMOTHERS THAT LOST ALL THEIR GRANDCHILDREN, from Warsaw to Budapest to Vienna to Riga or Milan. That was the Holocaust.

I and my 30 cousins begged to be slaves, but let us live. We would convert, but let us live. We would become refugees, but let us live. Having no such options, Jews perished for what they were and not for what they did. That is the Holocaust!

It was as well unique because it was perpetrated and organized not by an ignorant tribe in Uganda or Afghanistan, but by a leading Western Christian nation, a direct consequence of more than 1000 years of persecution.

Were Catholic clergy victimized by the Nazis? Yes, but not because they were members of the Church, rather because they were patriots resisting the oppressors. In Flossenberg where I was incarcerated, there were young Polish priests. Some were my friends. Some were there being punished for helping Jews, not for being priests. There were thousands of such noble Poles that lost their lives for helping Jews and in that way, they vindicated the Polish nation which is too often unjustly accused of biting antisemitism.

Fifty-six years ago, as a sixteen year old Jewish boy, I stood on the roofs of Muranowski Square and stared endlessly at the blue sky. Around me was a sea of flames of the bombed, burning Warsaw Ghetto. I had no hope for help, but I prayed for only one Allied aircraft – NOT ARMADAS OF STEALTH PLANES, B-52S OR B-29S – JUST ONE SMALL PLANEto drop a few leaflets which would tell us that somewhere in the world we have a friend that cares. It would have been easier to die. WE JEWS WERE POLITICALLY UNIMPORTANT AND EXPENDABLE. We were not as lucky as today’s Albanians, Bosnians, and Croatians whose fathers were notorious Jew-killers.

I do not seek revenge. Please help the refugees – but not with the killing of more people. We Jews have the unique experience of total extermination, the Holocaust. I hope and pray that we will remain unique forever and that no other nation or religion will ever be “fortunate” to join our exclusive club.

Jack P. Eisner
Founder, Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization (WAGRO)

Mr. Jack Eisner

Mr. Jack Eisner, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust, would like to respond to the paid advertisement by the Catholic League in the New York Times with the one of his own shown above. Mr. Eisner has been a leader in the survivor organizations for the past 35 years. His autobiography “The Survivor of the Holocaust” has been a best seller. A play based on his book was on Broadway in 1986 and MGM produced the movie in 1987. Mr. Eisner has lectured extensively for many years. He also is active in Christian-Jewish relations and he has been received by Pope John Paul II on several occasions. Mr. Eisner was the leader in organizing the “Day of the Holocaust” in the Vatican in 1994 with the Pope’s participation. Mr. Eisner has been recieved by US Presidents Nixon, Carter, and Reagan in conjunction with Holocaust survivor delegations.