Friday, August 28, 2009

Poles think of themselves as WWII heroes

The Polish Hero, one who saved Jews and fought the occupier is the most prominent image that Poles have of themselves from World War II, according to a poll by Pentor.

A majority also think that that Poles suffered more than even Jews during Nazi occupation.

Eighty-five percent said that Poles were engaged in fighting occupying forces and 75 percent say that Poles refused to collaborate with the enemy. Eighty-one percent of respondents think that Poles helped Jews and 85 percent are of the opinion that Poles helped one another.

The majority say the history of World War II is something that Poles can be proud of, especially pointed to heroes such as General Wladyslaw Sikorski, General Wladyslaw Anders and Saint Maksymilian Kolbe and to those involved in the Warsaw Rising and the September Campaign immediately after the Nazis invaded in 1939.

In terms of events that were embarrassing for Poles, the poll shows that memory does not serve so well. Rather than believing that Polish people were responsible for the deaths of several hundred Jews at Jedwabne in 1941, respondents claim that German soldiers were responsible for the pogrom. Poles also consider themselves to have suffered the most of all nationalities in Europe during the war and even more so than Jews.

“That is not reality. Poles suffered more than many nationalities but Jews were completely set for total extermination,” stated Pawel Machcewicz, historian and director of the to-be-completed Museum of the Second World War. He added that “there are breaks in national consciousness which make it hard to remember painful truths.”

Only 31 percent of Poles consider Poland to have been victorious at the end of WWII and the same percentage consider Poland to have lost the war.