Addendum 1 -- Problems with Content and Tone of the Production and Producer

Jon Avnet, the executive producer and director of this mini-series, was interviewed by Jewish Telegraphic Agency in the October 28 edition.  In that interview he made the statement that "I wasn't nearly as tough on the Poles as I could have [been]."   That has an odd tone; almost as though being tough on Poles is a “good thing.” 

Avnet also mentioned that had it not been for Polish collaboration with the Germans, "many thousands of Jews could have been saved...".  This is backwards; collaboration by Poles was infinitesimal compared with Polish resistance, and many Jews were saved specifically thanks to Poles.  Of all occupied nations, only Poland had a covert organization officially recognized as having the purpose of helping; it was called “Zegota”.  The assistance provided by Poles is all the more remarkable considering that in occupied Poland, and only in Poland, was there an immediate death sentence for giving aid to Jews. Despite that, one third of the Righteous Gentiles honored at the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem are Polish.

Avnet’s interview with JTA also mentions other scenes included in the program that can only be considered to be blatantly anti-Polish. A scene is included in which a Roman Catholic priest shuts the windows of his church as the Ghetto burns.  This could just as easily have been replaced by a historically true scene in which the Carmelite Sisters provided shelter to especially endangered leaders of the Jewish underground organizations. 

If the roll of Catholics needed to be included, wouldn’t the following have been a better choice, rather than fabricating priests closing windows?  Chaim Lazar, another chronicler of the Warsaw ghetto revolt, recorded the assistance provided by the Polish Catholic clergy to the Jewish Military Union (ZZW):

"This gave rise to the idea of digging a tunnel from the ghetto to the church (of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary), through which Jewish children could be evacuated. The tunnel would also be used by the Jewish Military Organization for transferring men, supplies and arms, and as a means of communication with the Aryan side. The tunnel was dug from a building near the church on Leszno St. under the crypt of the church, where a large bunker was excavated.”

The program includes a scene suggesting the Polish underground was refusing to aid the Jewish fighters. This is historically false. Not only did the Polish underground provide weapons, it also provided direct manpower assistance.  On the 19th, 20th, 23rd of April units of the Polish resistance engaged the besiegers at different locations outside the walls, and attempted to breach the ghetto. On the 27th of April, an 18-member unit of the AK penetrated the cordon of the ghetto at Muranowska street and together with forces of ZOB engaged German forces having artillery and tanks in a heavy pitched battle lasting several hours.

Finally, according to Marian Fuks, who analyzed Polish help to Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto in the bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland (July-December 1989) as stated on p. 44:

“It is an absolutely certain fact that without help and even the active participation of the Polish resistance movement it would have not been possible at all to bring about the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto."


Mark Sokolowski