Germans planned the genocide and carried out most killings. But they had helpers and informants who should not be forgotten
“When you find yourself in a hole, don’t call for a bulldozer” is a useful maxim in diplomacy. The prime minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, is not a man to follow it. He seems to believe that any problem can be solved with a sufficiently powerful bulldozer. His Law and Justice party has already passed a law making it a criminal offence to suggest that “the Polish nation” was in any way responsible for the murder of six million Jews. This has infuriated opinion in Israel, and disturbed impartial historians everywhere. Worse was to come.
When an Israeli journalist asked him on Saturday whether this meant he could be jailed in Poland for writing the true story of how his mother’s family had had to flee the Gestapo because their Polish neighbours were planning to denounce them, Mr Morawiecki replied: “It is not going to be punishable to say there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators.” This was disgraceful. It blurs the morally vital distinction between those few Jews who collaborated with the Germans because they were confronted with agonising choices between evils, and those many Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and other eastern Europeans who collaborated freely, from whatever mixture of greed, bloodlust and antisemitic enthusiasm.