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April 17, 2024
Poland-Current Issues

Response to LA Times story on Poland

Dear Editor,

Your two special correspondents are doing a disservice to your newspaper, if its goal is to be a respectable, quality publication.  Marta Kasztelan and Denise Hruby wrote a shamefully shallow article filled with mendacious statements and outright lies, unpalatable and upsetting for those who are well informed on the issues addressed in the article, and misleading to the readers who would want to get informed about the issues.

The authors claim that anti-Semitism is serious and widely accepted in Poland. Against what definition of anti-Semitism are they making this conclusion? It seems that justified criticism of any Jewish person or a self- identified group of Jewish people is viewed by the authors outright as some irrational anti-Semitism. This tactic, quite widely used, always leads to the truth and lies not being exposed, justice not being done, and people and nations being harmed. The reporters should have dealt with facts rather than make blanket accusations of anti-Semitism. Among the facts missing from the report are those concerning “restitution” of property confiscated and nationalized by the communists in Poland, after WWII.

The authors of the article repeat after the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which says that Poland ” is the only major former Easter Block country to do nothing to return private property confiscated by Nazis or nationalized by the communist government.” This is simply not true.  By Polish law, rightful owners of prewar properties in Poland or their heirs, regardless of their ethnic background, therefore non-Jewish owners as well, can go to court and claim their property or compensation for it.  Many have done so and received their property back or have been compensated for it, many have been doing so, and those that haven’t done so yet can do it any time. Also, after the war Poland signed agreements with many countries, in 1960 with the U.S., according to which Poland paid those countries for properties in Poland owned by the citizens of those countries before the war. As a result, the governments of those countries became responsible for paying compensations. Moreover, Poland returned “communal properties” to various ethnic and religious groups. After the enactment of legislation in 1997, over 2500 commercial properties were granted to the newly established Jewish religious and community organizations. Nobody objective would say that all this amounts to doing “nothing”.

The authors touch upon but do not address properly the issue of “heirless” property. Some international Jewish organizations want Poland to pay them exorbitant amounts of money (they talk about $300 billion, not $30 billion, as he authors claim) for properties left without heirs by Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Those organizations have no connection other than ethnicity, to the original owners of those properties.  Besides, according to western tradition, the laws in most Western countries, in Poland as well, property left without heir escheats to the state. Polish people rebuilt their country, including Jewish heirless properties, devastated by the war and over forty years of communism imposed upon Poland by the Soviet occupation, with only about 30 years of normalcy since the overthrow of communism, and now some international Jewish organizations with no connection to the original property owners and no legal rights to it want to enrich themselves. That’s why Polish people are angry. It is not anti-Semitism.


The two special correspondents show their blatant anti Polish bias and poor quality of reporting also when they say that “a large number of Jewish people in many of the Block’s 28 countries, including Poland, feel negative treatment has increased in recent years.” They should know better than to dump Poland with the countries of Western Europe in that respect.  Poland has no incidents of violence against Jewish people, unlike many Western European countries, where it’s almost a daily occurrence. While in Western Europe armed security guards are stationed at  Jewish institutions, none of that is needed in Poland. While Jews have been leaving Western European countries out of fear for their lives, Jews flock to Poland, where they feel very safe. Not acknowledging this very significant reality is evidence that the two correspondents are incapable of thorough, unbiased reporting.

Ms. Kasztelan and Ms. Hruby seem to be blinded to the truth and reality by their extreme leftist, “progressive” world view and their strong, ideology-driven hostility toward Poland’s conservative government and relatively conservative Polish people. That hostility can be seen in numerous appalling statements and in their choice of photographs. Also, their interpretation of the November Independence March in Warsaw leaves no doubt about their blinding bias. To someone without the authors’ reality- marring bias, it’s obvious that on that day, hundreds of thousands of Polish people, average Poles, mainly families with children, old war veterans, students, and other common Poles, peacefully celebrated Poland’s independence, which the country gained only 101 years earlier, after 123 years of non- existence as a country. They wanted to show love for, and pride of, their country.  Only warped minded individuals could see the march as a gathering of “ultra-fascists and extreme right-wingers”.

This type of reporting should have no place in a respectable publication.


Ursula Oleksyn

LA Times story


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