Charge Polish Embassy in Washington with ‘cynical’ Attempt to Exploit Ghetto Film
Menu JTA Search

Charge Polish Embassy in Washington with ‘cynical’ Attempt to Exploit Ghetto Film

Download PDF for this date

The Embassy of Poland was today charged by a spokesman for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations with “cynically attempting to exploit a television film on the Warsaw Ghetto.” Meanwhile, persons invited to a special showing and party arranged by the Polish Ambassador on Dec. 3 began declining invitations.

Polish diplomats had decided to stage a propaganda showing of a National Broadcasting Co. “Eternal Light” program on Nazi atrocities in the Warsaw Ghetto because of rising American criticism of current Government-sponsored anti-Semitic policies in Poland. Andrej Konopacki, first secretary of the embassy, has publicly taken the position that Poland is “anti-Zionist” and “anti-subversive” but not anti-Semitic. Polish Ambassador Jerzy Michalowski invited leaders of the Jewish community and press-TV media to the embassy for Dec. 3 party.

The spokesman for the Conference of Presidents voiced “shock over the arrogance of the embassy in exploiting the martyrdom of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto at the very time that the Peoples Republic of Poland is preparing show trials of an anti-Semitic nature reminiscent of the Stalin era. The very same embassy, during the 25th anniversary of the Ghetto uprising, issued propaganda deprecating and minimizing the courage and heroism of the Jewish freedom fighters. The Warsaw Government even made it difficult for Jews in Warsaw to memorialize the martyrs on the 25th anniversary. The Conference has confidence that American Jewry will see through this hypocritical attempt to confuse and mislead the U.S. Jewish community” he said.

An NBC spokesman said the network had borrowed some film footage of the Ghetto battle for use in the “Eternal Light” program. “A Record of Remembrance.” The program is produced under the auspices of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. When NBC returned the borrowed historical strips, used as inserts, the network sent the Polish Embassy the complete show as a conventional courtesy. The NBC official explained that had footage been borrowed even from North Vietnam the same courtesy would have been extended to Hanoi to show the context in which the loaned material had been used.

But the Polish Embassy decided to make a big production of the presentation of the film print to Ambassador Michalowski. A gala cocktail reception was scheduled and invitations issued. Mindful of the growing shock in America over the revival of anti-Semitism, under the guise of anti-Zionism, the Polish Government apparently seized upon an opportunity to obscure the present issue by denouncing Nazi policies of the past.

Herman Edelsberg, director of the international affairs department of Bnai Brith, said today that “it is infamous that this same Polish Government that defamed the Warsaw Ghetto martyrs a few months ago as part of its continuing anti-Semitic campaign should now try to exploit a film memorializing the Jewish uprising. It is a case of the thief seeking to divert attention from himself by crying ‘stop, thief.’ The new-type Nazis are pointing a finger at the old Nazis.” (Warsaw authorities recently issued a list of uprisings by Polish patriots against the Nazis. The Jewish revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto was omitted.)

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund