The first volume of the index published on Thursday by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) includes 333 descriptions of documented acts of repression committed by the Nazi Germans on the territory of Poland against 654 Poles who were providing aid to Jewish people during WWII.
The results of the research conducted by the IPN can serve as another argument in the international discussion about the role of Polish citizens in saving Jews during WWII, especially in the wake of recent allegations by Russian authorities, according to whom Poland colluded with Hitler to “solve the Jewish problem”.
According to the IPN researchers, it is only the first volume, and more are expected “as the scope of repressions was remarkably larger”, and the findings included in the newly published index are only the tip of the iceberg.
“This index is a great monument to those who were saving Jews and were persecuted for that,” said deputy IPN head Mateusz Szpytma, whose field of expertise is Polish-Jewish relations.
Tragic aftermath of helping Jews
The document features data on the people repressed, the synopsis of the causes, circumstances and type of repressions, as well as the list of literature that served as the reference for preparing the document. Mr Szpytma stressed that only those cases which were scrutinised and ultimately proved to be legitimate had been included in the index.
Among the 654 Poles affected by German repressions whose cases were described in the index, 341, including children, lost their lives. The remaining ones suffered from other forms of repression, such as penal, civic and administrative sanctions, while 70 percent of the German repressions followed attempts to hide people of Jewish descent.
Current estimations show that from 700 up to a few thousands Poles on the territory of occupied Poland were killed as a result of aiding Jews. The IPN database is constantly being updated; as it stands, it includes about 20,000 names of Polish citizens who helped Jewish people, and 30,000 names of those who were eventually saved.
Apart from the list of repressed Poles, the publication includes a study on Polish-Jewish relations during the war, which highlighted the diverse attitudes of local communities towards the tragedy of the Holocaust.
"The reality of the German occupation was extremely complex and was marked with terror, crimes and widespread fear. It had a significant impact on the attitudes adopted by citizens living on the occupied territory, as well as on Polish lands incorporated into the Third Reich", it was stressed.
“An underground state unlike any other”
Mateusz Szpytma pointed out that the Polish Underground State carried out a few dozen death sentences on the snitchers who would hand Jewish people to Nazi German authorities or inform them about hiding locations.
“This data requires further verification. Many cases were delayed, as in the reality of WWII it was sometimes difficult to accurately conduct an investigation,” he said, adding that sometimes these executions might have met with German retaliation.
“However, I have not heard about any other underground state in Nazi German-occupied Europe that would launch various actions against those whose attitude towards the Jewish communities was clearly negative,” he stressed.