What do you imagine when you read these two headlines? "The 80th Anniversary of The Jedwabne Massacre" versus "The 80th Anniversary of The Great Synagogue in Białystok Burning Down.”
They’re two entirely different ideas, right? Mass murdered human beings on one hand and a burned building on the other. You’d actually have to read the entire second story to find out the shocking truth. People were herded by force into that Białystok synagogue where barrels of gasoline had been placed earlier, the doors were then locked, and the building intentionally set on fire. At least 700 Jewish men and boys –– some sources claim well over a thousand –– were killed.
However, the title never mentions any of this, as if burning a building represents a more impactful headline than burning people alive. Unfortunately, this seems to have become the Left media standard, with noticeably few exceptions; mass murder in Jedwabne is titled a "massacre” or “pogrom,” while mass murder in Białystok is "a synagogue burning down.” Where does this subjective discrepancy come from?
It was just two weeks ago that the 80th anniversary of these similar and exceptionally horrific crimes came and went. Yet the difference in their details and descriptions was astounding.
The first massacre was at least 300 Jews burned alive in a barn in the small town of Jedwabne by about forty locals, all recruited from nearby neighborhoods, representing the very worst of that region’s residents. An investigation carried out between 2000 and 2004 demonstrated that Polish residents of Jedwabne (and the region) had directly and complicitly participated in the murder of the Jewish population. The Institute of National Remembrance established that Poles were the perpetrators of the crime, although its instigation had been designated to “German inspiration.” Eighty years have passed since that day on July 10th, 1941.
The second massacre was at least 700 Jews burned alive in the Białystok synagogue by murderers from the 309th Order Police Battalion –– Ordnungspolizei –– consisting of about 550 men representing the German state, or the Third Reich, that occurred during Operation Barbarossa when the German Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union. This atrocity happened just thirteen days earlier on June 27th, 1941. And obviously, eighty years have passed since that day as well.
Nonetheless, there’s a profound difference in the media coverage of these two massacres. And the litmus test is quite simple: probably everyone in Poland knows about Jedwabne, but how many of us have ever heard about the German war crime in Białystok?
And that’s not everything, not even close. Because while the 80th anniversary of the Jedwabne massacre was a widely discussed topic throughout the Polish press, just a few marginal and non-specific articles appeared in the German media about war “incidents” having “occurred” in Białystok. And when they were mentioned here and there, they’d only specify the role of a single German officer involved. The conclusion is painfully simple: Poles have discussed and chronicled Jedwabne for many years, yet Germans remain silent about Białystok. It’s intentional, it’s accepted, and now it’s a national “fait accompli.”
I haven’t even mentioned the subsequent mass murders –– approximately 200 people on July 3rd, 5,000 on July 12th, followed by another 300 on July 13th. Regardless, let’s not forget the profound substantive difference: the massacre in Jedwabne was the consequence of an accidental local mob mentality, while the war crimes in Białystok were committed by official army units –– acting under direct orders and on behalf of the Third Reich –– appointed for one specific purpose: the mass murder of innocent human beings.
So while the Jedwabne crime has been a consistent topic in the world media (although I admit somewhat marginal), there’s been complete silence about the burning of Jews in the Białystok synagogue. Even the Israeli media follows suit –– extensive references to the anniversary of Jedwabne, seemingly intentional disregard for Białystok.
And we honestly shouldn’t overlook the explicit differences in the importance and meaning of Jedwabne versus Białystok. German and Israeli embassy representatives in Poland were present at the Jedwabne commemorations in full force, yet I’m currently unable to confirm any Białystok attendance.
These two crimes simply aren’t treated equally. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that immediately after the synagogue burned down, at least another 1,000 Jews were shot by Germans in the surrounding streets. The bottom line is clear. In Jedwabne and Białystok, people were trapped and killed in burning buildings. While these two anniversaries commemorate identical human tragedies, they represent two profoundly different reactions.
The atrocities of one crime don’t diminish the impact and intentionality of another similar crime. That should be obvious. It’s not about making genocide subjective or “relative.” So as we analyze today’s responses to these mass murders, let’s make sure to examine them closely and carefully because if they’re not being treated identically –– and they definitely aren’t –– then there must be deep root causes for those differences.
First and foremost, crimes committed by invading armies are obviously not the same as those by fellow citizens. That makes sense, but it’s not the issue here. In this case, I’m asking if that’s the only reason German war crimes are seemingly intentionally hidden behind titles like “synagogue burning down.”
Or let’s look at it another way. How about we reverse the perspective, consider the crimes from the other side? Do victims of German war crimes deserve less respect after eighty years than victims of Polish crimes? Is that truly why these two mass murders are treated so differently? Is it really just that one’s German and the other’s Polish?
There’s now numerous indications proving that’s exactly what’s going on. The responsibility of the German state –– and therefore the German people –– for the Holocaust is losing its clear connection every day, and as the postmodern Holocaust narrative takes shape, the role of common Germans is being relegated to the background. At the same time, we’re hearing more and more about Polish responsibility –– even Polish complicity –– in the Holocaust. The perpetrators are now just “the Nazis,” intentionally deprived of nationality, yet their supporters are explicitly labeled as distinct nations, among whom Poles are now assigned a prominent role.
And that's probably why so few people will ever learn that on June 27th, 1941, a German battalion under the command of Police Major Ernst Weis –– who’s never been held responsible in post-war Germany –– set fire to the synagogue and methodically shot people trying to escape through the windows. Unfortunately, the dozen or so massacre survivors were found a few days later and killed, so perhaps that’s why we’ve never known such crucial details. Yet fittingly, the only reason those people survived the massacre in the first place was because a Polish janitor, Józef Bartoszko, helped them escape through the synagogue’s back door seconds before they’d have been engulfed in flames.
It’s no longer acceptable or “politically correct” to share stories where Germans murder innocents systematically while Poles save lives selflessly –– especially when they’re true. The media’s shaping two distinct profiles, two redefined national identities. There’s the decent German people terrorised by Nazism, an ideology alien to their mentality –– maybe even the true "victims of Nazism" because they had to “embody” it –– and those primitive Poles, cultivating their own age-old collective traits: ferocious anti-Semitism, savagery, and greed.
This postmodern revision is the outrageous process of separating Germany from its own history –– the literal de-Germanisation of the Holocaust. Germany is where explicit anti-Semitism based on racial criteria arose, Germany is where the majority of its population knew the implications of anti-Semitism, and Germany is where mission statements like Mein Kampf became the political reality of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 and the radicalism of Kristallnacht in 1938. The Germans knew what awaited the Jews –– they expected it, supported it, and ultimately participated in it with enthusiasm and purpose.
We’re observing the gradual release of Germany and the German people from Holocaust responsibility –– from its theoretical design and practical implementation. The distortions necessary to de-Germanise the Holocaust aren’t about false information per se; it’s about “re-imagining,” even “selectivity.” Marginalising the inconvenient facts and emphasising the politically necessary ones. Exaggerating some truths, erasing others.
That’s the new media’s biased message. That’s the way they create it because that’s what they want you to see.
With these trends taking over, a crucial question looms over us, clearer than ever: Will German crimes against humanity even be remembered on their 100th anniversary?