A Holocaust survivor has stirred controversy over his remarks during a ceremony for the Righteous Among the Nations held on Thursday in Warsaw, Poland. Edward Mosberg, 93, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp who lost his family in the Holocaust, made a parallel between Polish and Jewish collaborators with the Nazis, as Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had done the previous year.
“They had good Polish people and bad Polish people,” he said. “The same thing with the Jews. There were good Jews and bad Jews. And I as a Jew am ashamed of those Jews who collaborated with the Germans and I ask the Polish nation to be ashamed of the Polish collaborators.”
Mosberg acknowledged the tense diplomatic relations between Israel and Poland around the historic and political debate over Poland’s role in World War II. However, he said, “Poland really doesn’t need Israel. Israel needs Poland more.”
Historians reject the comparison between Polish or other non-Jewish Nazi collaborators and the Jews who collaborated with the Nazi regime, explaining that most of the Jews who served in the Jewish police, as kapos or in other roles were ultimately murdered by the Germans. They didn’t do so voluntarily or with joy, but rather out of coercion, a lack of choice, due to starvation or in the vain hope that they could save their families and loved ones. In any event, they say, there is no comparing a “collaborator” who is on a Final Solution extermination list and members of other nationalities, who had other motives, such as anti-Semitism, to collaborate.
At the beginning of his speech, Mosberg directly attacked Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz for repeating last February the words of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said that Poles imbibed anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk. “This is an insult not just to the Polish people in Poland,” he said. “This is an insult to all Christianity around the whole world. And I decided that as long as that person does not apologize, I will never go back to Israel.”
He later said of Katz: “I nominate him for the Nobel Prize for stupidity.”
The event was organized by From the Depths, a Holocaust remembrance group founded by Jonny Daniels, a British Israeli. Former legislator Hilik Bar, the secretary general of the Labor Party who previously served as chairman of the Israel-Poland Friendship Association, was persent, as was the group’s president, Avraham Grant.