Poland wanted to send Jews to Madagascar?

This is one of those posts that starts out as a bit of fluff and then gets more interesting the deeper you dig. It has now got so interesting that plans are rapidly being put together for Polandian to send a roving reporter to the mysterious isle of Madagascar with instructions to sneak among the baobab and commune with the lemur until they get to the bottom of exactly why the island has such a strange attraction for the Poles.

What first drew my attention to the Poland-Madagascar connection was the article about the a book backed by the Russian government that claims Poland wanted to solve an “overpopulation” problem (nod nod, wink wink) by sending Jews to settle on the island. An idea subsequently investigated by Hitler as part of his ‘final solution’ and therefore not something anyone these days wants to own up to being involved in.

“The book is pure science fiction,” says Lukasz Kaminski from Poland’s state-backed Institute of National Remembrance.

The article leaves one with the impression that the Polish authorities of the 1930’s were not involved in any plan to move Jews to Madagascar, nor were they cooperating with Nazi Germany in any way. One might be tempted to just laugh the whole thing off, produce a funny cartoon and move on.

shalom

However. A little Google research shows that a surprising amount of detail is available about the 1937 commission that Poland sent to the island of Madagascar, headed by Major Mieczyslaw Lepecki, to determine the feasibility of forcing Jews to move there. So either people like About.com, the Jewish Virtual Library and others need to edit their texts or it is somewhat deceptive to claim that the whole idea is “pure science fiction”. (I’m not commenting here on the cooperating with the Nazis claim.)

Amazingly, the crazy idea of moving Eastern European Jews to Madagascar has cropped up more than once. It was first put forward in 1885 by a violently anti-Semitic German, Paul de Lagarde (sounds French but he’d changed his name). Later, in 1926 & 1927 the idea was revisited by both Poland and Japan as a way of solving their ‘overpopulation’ problem. One has to assume that means they thought they had too many Jews? Or perhaps that the Jews were the easiest to export? Who knows what they were thinking! The idea was then, apparently, seriously considered again by Poland in 1937 leading to the commission being sent over to check the place out. Finally the Nazis took the idea for their own and, when failing to secure the British fleet to help with transportation, moved on to write the disgusting end to this story we all know so well.

The resistance of the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain and Germany’s failure to achieve a quick victory by September, were the ultimate causes of the Plan’s collapse. The British fleet would not be at Germany’s disposal to be used in evacuations; the war would continue indefinitely. Mention of Madagascar as a “super ghetto” was made once in a while in the ensuing months, but by early December, the Plan was abandoned entirely. When the British and Free French forces took over Madagascar from Vichy forces in 1942, this effectively ended all talk of the Plan.

On the other hand, you might look at Wiki’s article on the Madagascar Plan where there is no mention of the Polish commission at all. There is mention of “Żydzi na Madagaskar” being a slogan of pre-war far-right Polish organisation, the ONR, but that’s where the Polish implication ends for Wiki. They do mention the Paul de Lagarde mentioned earlier, as well as a couple of British far-right anti-Semites of the time – Henry Hamilton Beamish and Arnold Leese as being historically interested in the plan but despite adding an interesting “…and others” to the text, Wiki leaves you in no doubt that the only people involved in investigating the feasibility of this plan were the Nazis. Considering that Poles are extremely active in the Wiki project, would that suggest the “…and others” is done deliberately to avoid mentioning the Polish commission or that the whole story of the Polish commission is not true? I find it quite intriguing.

So does Poland have strange and sinister links with Madagascar or not? Were Major Mieczyslaw Lepecki and every other Pole who visited Madagascar as part of the commission simply a bunch of far-right anti-Semitic lunatics, or did they truly represent the Polish authorities of the time? Is it inconsequential that the DreamWorks Animation films were such a huge success in Poland? Was Paweł’s April-Fool post just a coincidence or does he have access to files that we all need to see?

Of course all this ignores the real question of “Why Madagascar?”.

As you can see, the need for us to dispatch a correspondent to the island is strong. Any volunteers?

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59 thoughts on “Poland wanted to send Jews to Madagascar?

  1. island1 says:

    The idea of sending Jewish people into exile in Africa has a long, long history in Europe. In one example I came across the Portuguese forcibly relocated the children of Jewish families to the island of São Tomé and Príncipe in the 1490s.

  2. Radek says:

    Don’t forget the British! Madagascar was also being considered as the new location of the Israeli state after the war. In the end though, Palestine won out… I’m not quite sure what the poor Malagasy thought of all this, but there you are then…

  3. Pawel says:

    I cannot comment on any thoughts of sending Polish Jews to Mdagascar by Polish government, as I have never heard of it before.

    What I would like to comment is where I got the idea for my own April fools’ day article, that you mention. It referred to the plans of setting up a Polish colony on the Madagascar. I have read about expeditions/commisions sent to determine whether it was possible.

    I have to say that it is very popular to attribute some special kind of anti-Semitism to the Poles. I think that articles like this one, that aren’t properly researched, and don’t show any socio-historical background, are really unnecessary. As they don’t bring any factual knowledge, but combine hearsays and unverified information, putting it together so it continues to place some unclear anti-Semitism in the same line as the Poles.

  4. guest says:

    Jews in Cyprus

    After World War II, the impact of British opposition was devastating to Displaced Persons (refugees), recently saved from Hitler’s ovens but now in limbo created by international unwillingness to accept them as refugees. The one destination they preferred above all others was Palestine, but entry there was blocked by the British policy. Between August 1945 and the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, 65 “illegal” immigrant ships, carrying 69,878 people, arrived from European shores. In August 1946, however, the British began to intern those they caught in camps in Cyprus. Fifty two thousand Jews were interned and 2200 babies were born on Cyprus between 1946 and 1949 on the island. Most of the fifty two thousand displaced people were between thirteen and thirty five years of age.

    h ttp://www.kypros-cyprus.com/jews.html

  5. Scatts says:

    Well you can see that my poorly researched post started with the Polski Radio News article, so I’m not going out of my way to make these things up.

    Then I find the preferred spin is that this is all “science fiction” when there is evidence out there to the contrary and so I just get more and more curious.

    If Polish news wishes to avoid this special kind of Antisemitism then they either shouldn’t publish articles such as the one I linked to OR they should give all the facts and not try to sweep things under carpets, as might be claimed when facts are avoided.

    Was there a Polish commission as mentioned, or not? Can’t be too hard to verify.

  6. Scatts says:

    I never forget the British and people here aren’t shy to remind us if we do but to list the interfering in other people’s lives that has been done by Britain would take months.

  7. Scatts says:

    Is this by way of another example of Jews on strange islands or having a go at Britain?

    Lets not forget that the Kielce pogrom was a major factor in creating all those displaced persons in the first place.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kielce_Pogrom

  8. guest says:

    Now, thats a really serious pogrom. 42 death people. Probably a 2nd holocaust. The Krakow “pogrom” was even worse 1 death and 5 injured, WOW. I hink twice as many Poles died in the UK and it is time to write a wiki site about “british pogroms agains Polish workers” or something like that. Just to show the absurdity of such antipolish BS.

    Pogrom is this

    h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponary_massacre
    h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogrom

    And Poland is this

    h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BBegota
    h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_III_the_Great

    ————————————————

    Before the IIWW Poland was a very young independent state after 120 yrs of slavery against Poles and Poland. The antisemitic russian Tsar sent hundreds of thousands Russian Jews to Poland during the partitions and these Jews were a poblem for the young Polish state after the IWW and the October revolution in Russia. Most of them became communists (probably because the bolshewiki killed the antisemitic tsar family which send them to Poland) and a Polish independent state or a Polish Lwow was not what they wanted. Many of these Jews wanted an Europe wide communist revolution and they were fine with it if Lenin occupies Poland in 1920 and Poland loses its independence and becomes part of a Russian bolsheviki empire.

    And THIS was the reason why SOME groups of Jews (or better “communists form Russia”) were seen as a problem for Poland. And this is the reason why indeed there were plans to send this group of 50.000-60.000 Jews out of 3.000.0000 !!! to Madagascar or back to Russia.

    If someone compares it to Hitler or antisemitic crimes then he needs a really serious treatement…

    And last but not least, please read this Scatts, and change “Poland” with “England”

    h ttp://www.worldsocialism.org/articles/luxemburg_and_the_national.php

    then you will probably understand/feel all these things a little better.

  9. Jorge Sousa says:

    I would not see much of wikipedia to confirm such idea like: “Jews in Madagascar”, but it maybe was some kind of idea partidary (extreme-right), when Poland was trying to buy Madagascar colony from France, or a part of it.

    “Jews in S.Tomé & Principe it lacks also facts, especially documents from that time, not some 1923 book, that is not available to see also sources, as I read somewhere.”

    I can already think about of “Madagaska Wyspa” :D

    Why? Didn’t the french and british controlled half of world? Why Poland should stay out? It has sense back then.

  10. Jorge Sousa says:

    Ironically if they would be deported to there (many if’s here), they would have better chances to survive than holding on Poland during WW2

  11. Scatts says:

    guest – thanks for that. I have to admit falling asleep halfway through the Luxemburg article but after a couple of espressos I managed to finish it.

  12. Ania says:

    Hi, guys,

    I used the Wikipedia entry as well, and followed the link to Polish site. It’s all there, and even though Polish is a difficult language, you an make out phrases as:

    70 tysięcy Żydów – 70 thousand Jews
    charakter antysemicki – AntiSemitic character
    krytykowane przez środowiska syjonistyczne, które postulowały osadnictwo żydowskie na terenach dzisiejszej Ugandy – criticised by Zionist environment, who posited Jewish settlement in today’s Uganda
    francuskiej kolonii – Polsce — French colony to Poland
    krytyka w prasie zarówno lokalnej, jak i francuskiej, — criticized in local and French press

    In the end the whole idea ended in the discussion stadium.
    The Polish entry is there. A lot of Polish history material is available only in Polish, and nobody seems interested enough to ask for a translation. As Poland is the anti-Semitic cloaca of the world and guilty of attacking Germany, threatening Russia and offending the USA. Right?

    The story: It was suggested by the French, for obscure reasons, that they would transfer their rights to the Madagascar to Poland, Polish rightists jumped at the thought and started salivating. The nationalistic corner (kind of a BNP) thought they would have a colony and colonize it. There was an expedition, and after much criticism in the press the idea had been abandoned as idiotic.

    It really makes us worse than Hitler – except that Hitler didn’t give a broken shilling for the press. Er, it looks a bit like freedom of speech!
    (Did I mention that Jews had and have today their own media in Poland? Poland is the only country outside of Israel where there is a Hebrew radio)

    After Poland had abandoned the plan, Germany wanted to be the recipient of Madagascar. Nobody knows what happened to this plan.

    One more article about Anti-Semitism of Poland please. Never enough.

    I have a thought: maybe you can understand the issue if it is put this way:
    Poland was a multinational, multi-faith, multi-racial etc society. Poles were about 20% of the make-up. The Kings were foreigners since 15th century. Each group had their interests and verbalised them.
    It is like in GB – there are English, Scottish, Welsh, righ? Angles, Saxons, Normans, Celts and the original Spaniard settlers. Each group has their interests, and the Kings are Germans.

  13. Ania says:

    Ironically – yes.

    Poland refused to pact with Hitler, against our own interests. The Jewish minority had made that impossible in the face of persecutions in Germany. Jews controlled the Polish Army at the time, but nobody wants to remember it now. Not a word about Yiddish speaking soldiers fighting against the enemy in Polish Army. Funny, eh?

    After this refusal, Hitler decreed Slavs were Slaves, and no had longer restrained himself. Pity. If we had pacted, we would be treated like Romania, France, Ukraine, Latvia – nobody blames them for the war, or for Jewish pogroms. It’s always Poland who is guilty.

    If Poland had sided with the Nazi Germany – perhaps there would have been no need to war? Would you have pacted with Hitler?

    So by refusing to side with him, our Jewish minority had made it worse. Holocaust would not have happened. (Did you know that Jews who had passports and run from the GG
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Government)
    to Hungary were not killed? The Hungarian Jews were killed, but not foreign citizens. Germans obey laws).
    ((On a side note – I also wonder why is the Holocaust called with a Greek word for a burning offering?))

    Later, in 1945, Jews came back to Poland on Soviet tanks, and taken posts in the UB. That is also fiercely Anti-Semitic of us to have died in torture chambers of the UB, set up specifically to exterminate partisans and soldiers of AK (Armia Krajowa).

    But, wait…. it’s actually the American Jews who were the partisans, I’ve seen a film about them!

  14. kuba says:

    I don’t think that siding with any dictator who wants to wipe out a certain sect of individuals is responsible.

    I never heard the Jew minority in the Polish Army and what references do you have about the Jews participation at the beginning of the war?

    Yes, the Americans did it…..

  15. kuba says:

    From the Washington times.

    Walking along a gravel pathway that took them from crematoriums to barracks, they began an animated discussion about who was to blame for the Holocaust.

    “It was the Germans,” said one young man.

    “No, it was the Nazis,” corrected Achikam Zipkis, a 16-year-old from Haifa. “It was the Nazis.” And what about the Poles? Did they carry any blame? In unison, the group said they harbored no ill feelings toward the Poles.

    “We can’t forgive, but we don’t hate,” said Shirel Ben Harroush, also 16. “The Poles suffered, too.”

  16. Scatts says:

    Ania, I didn’t look at the Polish version on Wiki but I normally do and should have done this time.

    This plan does seem to be have a favourite of fascist anti-Semites, Paul de Lagarde and the Brits certainly fall into that category and have exposed as such in the texts. The crucial evidence I am missing is to know that the Polish commission was also nothing official but just a bunch of fascists. That would close the case for me but it seems to be hard to prove exactly who Major Mieczyslaw Lepecki was and on what authority he conducted his survey of Madagascar. Don’t bother Googling the name because this post is now top of the ranking and those below all repeat the same limited information.

    I wish I could get to the bottom of why people want me “to understand the issue” better than I do. What is it I’ve written that shows a general lack of understanding? Or is it just that I’ve raised the issue at all? ;)

    Anyway, we’re still left wondering what it is about Madagascar that drives people to come up with such wild plans for its colonisation!

  17. guest says:

    “….but just a bunch of fascists”

    Scatts you still do not get it.

    If i paint my house blue and Adolf Hitler does the same a couple of years later then i am NOT Adolf Hitler or a facist or a mass murderer. So please do not call everyone a facist because it is NOT what Poland was before the war.

    Facists were Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Vichi and a couple of other guys. They hated and (would have-) killed ALL Jews because of their RACE. They were indeed facists and antisemites.

    In Poland the situation was different. But i see that it makes any sense to explain it over and over. Not the 1st time BTW…

  18. Steven says:

    I do not know about all that business, but I have to ask, what did you think of the visual ? Also, I would have loved to send my ex wife, Virginia, to Madagascar.

  19. kuba says:

    Now there is a thought worth investigating sending all ex wives to Madagascar.

  20. Steven says:

    Blast it ..where is my jr. college history book, I can,t find anything perky to add.

  21. Steven says:

    hmmm. scatt with teeth…..I like it.

  22. Ania says:

    I’d like to bring your attention to this part:

    Zionist environment, who posited Jewish settlement in today’s Uganda

    Zionists were looking for a place to set a country up on. Madagascar was one of the options, as was Uganda, before Palestine.

    All this discussion has started after the little book by Drozżin. The generous Russia helpfully sticks this little book up for everyone to enjoy – look here! it’s not just that we are guilty, everyone is guilty! Poles too!

    However, life is not so simple, and you can’t just paint the world grey and be happy at the solution. ‘Everyone was guilty a little’. Historians have copies of orders from the Prime Secretary of the USSR initiating the Kielce pogrom, UB agents delivering it, be means of provocation and violence. In the end the outcome was that yet more Polish people had been murdered by the UB and by Criminal Judges.

    What I’m trying to convey in many comments is that the environment of Poland has always been very, very diverse. It’s not as simple as – in Polish country the Polish majority persecuted Jews. We were not a majority for a large part of history, until the II Republic. Jews were not unified – there were Jewish Mosaist orthodox people, there were Chasydzi – I would draw a parallel with the Sufi here – there were Jews in Socialist movement, AND Bolshevik Jews, which is not the same. Jewish converts who were naturalized. Jews who didn’t speak the language of this country.

    The same with Poles – NOT a unified society – the two largest forces before the war were National Democracy with Dmowski and the Piłsudski camp, long after his death. But also a monarchist movement. The peasants were very different from the townsfolk, and those different from city people, intelligentsia and szlachta. The majority were and are Catholic, but a lot are Lutheran, Orthodox, Mariavite, Muslim people; by nationality the Ruthenian neighbours, Ormians, Tatars, Germans, Austrians, Russians, descendants of Scottish immigrants
    Żydzi i Szkoci w Polsce w XVI-XVIII wieku, Zenon Guldon
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenians_in_Poland
    http://www.emito.net/?q=pl/kultura/historia/49381.html
    http://www.linkpolska.com/?/dokument/1757/polskie_el_dorado

    So really to say that Poles were doing something to someone here is saying too much. You can say that Poles were one of the groups fighting for recognition, or that Catholics were tryin to use their numers to secure privileges, or that the Polish language was the most commonly spoken one – but nothing more. We don’t even have a state religion, just registered churches,

    I talk this much because it personally hurts me that Jews have so much evil to say about Poles. Remember when I told you that my Mother’s side was Jewish? I am not able to prove that my dark and curly Grandfather was a son of a mixed marriage, and there is a very good reason for that – in Łódź, among proletarians, this just did not matter. They didn’t care. So I will just have to entertain the thought.

  23. Ania says:

    The Americans finished it. They came at the end of the war, after Hitler had lost tons of metal in Poland and milions of lives on the road to Stalingrad. They hadn’t ‘done it’

  24. Scatts says:

    You’re right. Let’s not go there again because I’m obviously never going to “get it”.

    If Major Mieczyslaw Lepecki was not a fascist what was he?

  25. wu/tee says:

    Ania? Would you like to know why many folks think that Poles are anti-semites?

    Then read your post again.

    I’m a Pole and I wouldn’t blame Jews for WWII. It’s a theory that’s gone too far.

    And btw. I’m proud that we didn’t collaborate with Hitler – we may have suffered for that enormously, but at least we have a relatively clear conscience.

  26. Raf says:

    Yes, I’ve heard this ‘evil’ rumour a few times but of all the material I’ve read absolutely no mention is given of this. Not a smidgeon! Methinks it’s those evil rumour-mongers at it again. ;-)
    Raf
    http://uzar.wordpress.com/

  27. island1 says:

    I love the graphic by the way, forgot to mention.

    In answer to your question as to whether the Polish commission really existed I offer this link, which says that it did:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=82ncGA4GuN4C&pg=PA395&lpg=PA395&dq=Polish+commission+Jews+madagascar&source=bl&ots=wmP8iGOuP6&sig=g6fdURZqQKu06FANhoDaMMvMTCU&hl=en&ei=63ulSs2lO4SCmgPslZGpAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6#v=onepage&q=Polish%20commission%20Jews%20madagascar&f=false

    And this snippet from an interrogation of Eichmann in Israel which doesn’t:

    LESS: Have you heard of a report by a Polish commission of inquiry that
    visited Madagascar in 1937?

    EICHMANN: No, never, never, never. I got the idea from Theodor Herzl.

    LESS: Are you aware that Madagascar had previously been investigated by this
    Polish commission, for instance—

    EICHMANN: No, I am not, no, I didn’t know.

    Source: http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/e/eichmann.adolf/eichmann.002

    Also some interesting stuff here:

    http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/Total/Polish%20Antisemitism.htm

    which includes some pretty damning statements about official Polish antisemitism in the late 1930s.

  28. wu/tee says:

    [PL]Muszę się do Ciebie odezwać po polsku, bo chyba nie rozumiesz po angielsku… Człowieku – co Ty w ogóle robisz na tym blogu? Zdecydowanie czytasz zupełnie inne teksty niż ja.

    guest, Ania – mam nadzieję, ze wyjdziecie kiedyś z tej swojej dziwnej skorupy i zrozumiecie, że ludźmi, którzy tutaj “don’t get it” jesteście Wy, z tym swoim absurdalnym, wojowniczym usposobieniem.

    Nie mamy już prawdziwych wrogów, pozostaje nam tylko rozliczyć się z własną historią – ale na pewno nie zrobimy tego, zrzucając winę na innych czy odparowywać “atak” atakiem w stylu kamikaze. Nic dziwnego, że nie jesteśmy traktowani na poważnie, skoro mamy takie zaściankowe zagrywki – nie wywalczymy swoich racji agresją i gadaniną typu “ty tego nie rozumiesz”, bo chodzi właśnie o to, by dojść do porozumienia[/PL]

    Scatts – I think Madagascar was interesting for Poland, because France seriously considered giving Madagascar to Poland then – it was probably the only moment in the entire Polish history, that it could have a real colony, just like the biggest countries of that time.

    As I understand from here:
    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolonie_Rzeczypospolitej#Madagaskar
    (polish only, sorry)
    Mieczyslaw Lepecki went on Madagascar to check it as a potential location for Polish OR Jewish colonies (or, as I read at one forum – historycy.org – some wanted that island to be simply opened for immigrants).
    I am unsure if it was intended as a ghetto for Jews or as sort of plan to get rid of Jews from here – it is the truth that we had conflicts and unfriendliness towards Jews (and vice versa) rised not once or twice in our long history together, but there was always a place for Jews in Poland.
    Mieczyslaw Lepecki seemed to be working closely with Józef Piłsudski (at least for some time), and Józef Piłsudski is considered by many as a “filosemite”, as he was the one who have restored full civil rights to Jews in Poland (now, who could be bothered by that?).
    My guess is that he didn’t want to send all Jews away from Poland – so perhaps the plan was to give those who want a patch of land, which they could call a “home away from home”? (since many Jews did treat Poland – or at least specific parts of it – as such?).

    IF that’s the reason, then I can see little wrong in it – that is, of course, as long as I don’t take into consideration what native residents of Madagascar thought about it.
    But my guess is that nobody at that time had bothered to ask them.

  29. adthelad says:

    wrong wu/tee. reading Ania’s post will not the reason ‘why many folks think that Poles are anti-semites?’

    They reveal the reason why many Poles think that people are anti-polish and anti catholic. That’s ok after all. And that is clearly because Poles are tarred as anti-semitic despite exemplary behaviour towards the Jews over history or for reasons that pale into insignificance when compared with the deliberate actions of other nations and their governments. Ania’s sarcasm has been lost on you.

  30. adthelad says:

    I don’t understand wu/tee why you are happy for comments like ‘an official Polish commision or just a bunch of fascists’ to go by without some understanding at the hurt caused by the blase insinuation in that statement. Didn’t matter who they were, if they were Poles there motives were fascist.

    I personally would prefer scatts refrains from equating an official Polish commision from ‘just a bunch of fascists’ since as you say the reasons were possibly (and more probably) for mutual benefit. As one comentator once said, if we had bought madagascar we would have had somewhere to form a Polish state outside of Poland, and the Jews would have had somewhere to live as a nation or to flee to in their millions when the allies refused to take any large numbers. Many expelled from Germany prior to the war went to Poland.
    Not withstanding, there were obviously some people not well disposed to Jews, but since resettling is not necessarily commensurate with fascism, I would request scatts use caution when using the word ‘certainly’ when trying to connect the dots, if he doesn’t mind.

  31. adthelad says:

    Yes there are plenty of Polish sites which go into the growth of nationalistic paranoia on the side of the right in Poland during the inter war years, being less unequivical with regard to the baslck and whiteness of the matter. There is some nod at least that the Poles, having been stripped of self governance for so long, and having to grow into a state with home grown elite were somewhat blinkered as a result. Post Piłsudski’s death there was apparently no holding back the right and anti jewish policy was not disguised. Most unPolish given our recent and distant history. Still, xenophobia and rascism were the calling cards for many a european civilised democracy long before it got a greater hold of some Poles in between the wars, and long after as well.

  32. adthelad says:

    I would ony add to cheer Ania up that is that the fascist epithet is used bsocialists to describe consevative policy at the drop of the hat. A typical example is when Michael Howard as Home Secretary of the Uk Conservatives suggested immigration control he was blasted as fascist by ‘New’ Labour, the entire liberal and socialist popular press (i.e. the majority) as fascist but when the Labour party does calling it border control, and bring in 24hr surveillence, identity cards and and anti terrorist law (to be used whenever it takes their fancy without proper cause) everyone turns a blind eye and carries on calling Poles anti semitic.
    You have to laugh.

  33. Scatts says:

    Ad, I don’t understand what you’re talking about on this “hurt caused” track?? Did you see the word “or” in there? Why are you (and perhaps guest also) jumping to the conclusion that I’m calling all 1930’s Poles fascists?? Or was Major Cos-Tam your great grandfather?

    In “longer winded more time wasted thinking about wording because people are so friggin precious” mode – the question is whether Major Cos-Tam was a perfectly sane member of an official part of the very sensible and lovely Polish authorities of the time OR was he a splinter group, extremist, pseudo-Nazi, psycho, Jew-hating lunatic out on his own with no official backing? Trying to establish whether this was genuine, official and widely supported Polish initiative or whether it was the equivalent of a publicity stunt by the BNP.

    You (and perhaps guest) appear to be accepting that this was an official Polish action but would prefer it to be seen as a humanitarian aid mission rather than a way to expel Jews. And certainly there were no fascists or right wing nutters in Poland at the time, or even ever. Right?

    The only use of the word ‘certainly’ was in reference to the Brits being nutters. Maybe one of those was your great grandfather? ;)

    wu/tee – that’s actually helpful! Thanks a lot.

  34. Ania says:

    too many links?

  35. Ania says:

    Wu/tee, this topic had been discussed some time ago, the theory expressed by historians that if Poland had done what Hitler wanted, he would not have attacked.

  36. Ania says:

    Cheers!
    The peak of nationalistic festival was the bench ghetto. It meant that the Jews had to sit apart in universities – not die, be stripped of property, prohibited from studying etc.
    It also limited the number of Jewish students. Later, in the People’s Republic, there was a similar action to increase the number of country kids in the Unis.
    This is exactly the same in idea as limiting the number of males to make room for females, limiting the number of whites to make room for blacks, or forcing public schools to accept kids from council estates.
    To me – that’s basically wrong, I am against the ‘parytet’.
    But this is still so much less than in Ukraine, Norway and the USA. ( people report that in the USA Jews had troubles at work late into the 1960s)

    I have no information weather the Madagascar idea was Government-supported or not. I have to take that possibility into account.

  37. island1 says:

    “xenophobia and rascism were the calling cards for many a european civilised democracy”

    Certainly. As far as I can make out pretty much everyone was antisemitic in the 1930s, I’m not suggesting this was unique to Poland.

  38. island1 says:

    I went ahead and googled his name anyway. The Polish Wikipedia page on him says the commission was “government-led”:

    “W 1937 r. kierował rządową misją na Madagaskar…”

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mieczys%C5%82aw_Lepecki

  39. Scatts says:

    Great collection of links there, O’Linkmeister!

  40. Scatts says:

    Thanks. I do think it’s important to know to be able to put the Polish Madagascar Plan into context with others.

  41. adthelad says:

    Hey Aniu – it’s well worth going to the links Island posted in this comment – most informative.
    It’s also interesting to compare the onfo on the first link and for example it’s summary of the refugee situation in 1939 (see start of page 381 – shame there’s no page 380 in the available preview) and the 6th bullet point in the last link. What a different picture they both paint.

  42. guest says:

    BTW, Alan has some nice new videos.

    h ttp://www.youtube.com/profile?user=alanheath&view=videos

    And especially this video is dedicated to Michael and Island :D

    h ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQYF8Os-cA8&feature=channel_page

    You know why :D

  43. Pawel says:

    I think that some crazy Russian claims are not enough to make such accusations tiny bit credible. Especially if you compare it to other crazy claims they have been making lately.

    The fault of the Polskie Radio is to translate this as it was braodcast to the Polish audience. Foreigners might not get the context.

    As this is the first time I hear such a story, and since it comes from a source I think is least credible, I wouldn’t give it any thought.

    Was there such a commission? I don’t know. Worth to check. It’s probably like in this old Russian Joke: Did you hear Vladimir bought a car? Not Vladimir but Igor, not a car but a bike, and he didn’t buy it, bu it was stolen from him.

    Is it a good idea to puch such a story forward before you know whether such commision existed? And if there was, what was it exatcly, who backed it, what were its aims and why? Mhmm.

    If someone is not a historian, its best to refer to credible historic research. I am serious here Scatts, why don’t you contact Norman Davies and ask him? Or to refer to someone who researched this subject.

    If these accusations are true, then fine. You would be giving the facts and everyone would be nodding on the pre-war anti-Semitism. But now these are just unverified hearsays, and “domysły”.

    I have no influence on anyone’s texts on this blog, but this post, as it is, made me cringe. I wouldn’t like to identify myself with it.

    But I do love the graphic.

  44. Nikodem says:

    I had a recollection of a conversation I had with an Israeli friend of mine about the Jewish State. The subject was about the Jewish relocation from European countries to a Jewish State which was promoted by Zionist Jews. Obviously The Zionist movement was already going strong before WWII, but one thing that is surprising to people is that Palestine was not the only place they had considered. Argentina was seriously considered by many Zionists. Unfortunately this promotion of relocation and a Jewish State gave the anti-semites fuel for the idea of deportation of Jews (e.g. “something they already want to do anyway”)

    Obviously, I wasn’t going to give you a link to a Wiki page which would link to about.com. Hope the link works.

  45. adthelad says:

    I wasn’t trying to say that your comment was intended to be assumptive it’s just that sentence structure can create implication whether intended or not. Your opening statments makes clear that the plan to move Jews to Madagascar was a favorite of ‘fascist anti Semites’ (unfortunately this word has heavy connotation with Nazi). Logically therefore could it have been a favorite of some non fascists, say xenophobes or racists?
    Or is anyone who is either of the latter a fascist anti Semite? Because accepting that the idea may not have been due to fascism is part of wanting to find out the truth. The word ‘certainly’ informs that one is commensurate with the other however unintended.
    Next, the following statement regarding ‘The crucial evidence I am missing is to know that the Polish commission was also nothing official but just a bunch of fascists.’
    Connected with the introduction, we so far have the following information: A favorite ‘fascist antiSemite’ plan was considered either by the Polish government or just your usual Polish fascists.
    Now I know you didn’t intend to lead a reader to think that is what you know for certain, but it didn’t stop Ania from being a bit miffed. Hence why I stated what seemed the obvious in my first post. Poles have seen too many ‘Polish concentration camp’ bylines, and the like, not to have highly tuned antennae in this matter (somewhat like many Jews, if I may be allowed to generalise, and who can blame either of them?).

    What I prefer is that anyone tip toeing around certain subjects do so in the spirit of ‘presumed innocence’. As I’m sure you do. Maybe I was a little ascerbic with respect to you and really it was because I felt wu tee’s ditty in Polish was somewhat misguided saying that given Ania’s response, it’s not surprising Poles are not taken seriously (Poles wouldn’t get uptight at loaded and unintended faux pas if they didn’t keep repeating over and over and over…). Sorry.

  46. Scatts says:

    If Polskie Radio found this fit to broadcast then I don’t see raising it here as being unduly mischievous.

    There are times I raise things here precisely to find out more about it, get other opinions, rather than to present a fait accomplis. That’s why I use things like question marks.

    There is plenty of other evidence out there to suggest that the story has some truth to it. That there was a commission, not the motivation behind it. If you wish to ignore that because it’s not written by a professor of Polish history and stick with the crazy Russian theory then I can’t stop you.

  47. dev says:

    The main goal of the commission was examination of taking over the Madagascar. Yes it was official government commission. But… Suggestion that the aim of this venture was expulsion of Jews is IMO damnable.
    What would You say about French government, which wanted to give us Madagascar? They were fascist too? Did they work in cooperation with Polish ‘fascists’ and plan to get rid of Jews and send them to Madagascar? It’s just insane.
    Of course Narodowcy had this wonderful idea – if we get Madagascar then why won’t we send Jews there. Also some Jews were looking for new places to live (Uganda mentioned above) and new Madagascar ‘opportunity’ could be interesting for them. Were they ‘fascists’ too?
    If You claim that Polish state had such ‘ghetto’ plans regarding Madagascar, then You have to prove it. Claims need proves, not the opposite.
    In the 30’s there were many people with beliefs that don’t fit today’s standards. There were many facts that are shameful for Poles (e.g. bench ghetto). But these beliefs had it’s origins (extreme poverty, uneven distribution of wealth, lack of education, lack of knowledge what racism is capable to do). I don’t say that these grounds were rational but – in my opinion – You have to understand complexity of society processes of that time and You have to see the difference between the ‘bench ghetto’ and for e.g. Nürnberger Gesetze.
    Polish government in 20,30’s was moderator and tried to protect all minorities, the government which had to fight with Narodowcy’s ideas in many other cases – not only Madagascar.
    What I am tiring to say is that comparison of Polish government and society to fascists is not in place.

  48. Scatts says:

    dev, thanks for the comment but I really need to say (again) that I never said or suggested that the Polish government or society were fascists. If everyone would just read what I said then this is clear.

    As for suggesting the aim was to send Jews there then I was repeating what is already claimed, or stated as fact, in many other places and asking whether this was true. Hence the question marks.

  49. adthelad says:

    of course in my gabbling above I meant guest got miffed and not Ania. This is what comes from reading this blog in the middle of the night – fuzzy headedness. I’ll shut up now

  50. […] the rescue of hundreds of Czechoslovak Jewish children by Sir Nicholas Winton in 1939. Polandian writes about “the crazy idea of moving Eastern European Jews to Madagascar” that was […]

  51. Szymon says:

    Here’s some more on the subject (PL only):

    http://wiadomosci.onet.pl/2078335,11,1,1,,item.html

  52. Kickin77 says:

    Can someone please relocate me to Madagascar?!

  53. madagascar_3 says:

    Just to say, I seem to recall my high school history teacher telling us about this idea (I’m Polish) during classes. There seems to be some substance to many of the issues your article is concerned with. As a Pole, I find this problem shameful and interesting at the same time. Having said that, I find your concluding remarks:

    “is it inconsequential that the DreamWorks Animation films were such a huge success in Poland? Was Paweł’s April-Fool post just a coincidence or does he have access to files that we all need to see?”

    very very far reaching, slightly silly (no offence) and an example of, perhaps unconscious, attempt at creating yet another conspiracy theory.

    Anyway, good article!

  54. Fran SA says:

    The whole discussion is one big BULLSHIT.
    Has anyone here, on this blog, ever heard about a Transfer Agreement of 1933?
    Has any of the Poles contributing to this discussion ever read any of the books by Arkady Fiedler? A Polish Jew from a very old Jewish bookshop owners familiy????? NO??
    Arkady Fiedler, a Jew, was in the Madagaskar Commission. (was he a fascist??) Read his book: Wiek meski, wiek kleski’ and stop being so concerned about Polish antisemitism as if Germans never existed!
    Has any of the contributors to this absolutely disgusting, racially motivated discussion ever read a book ‘Znaczy Kapitan?” by Burhardt? Of course not!.
    So go back to the books and read the memoirs of famous Polish and Polsih Jewish people who admitted in their works helping Jews!!!!!!
    POlish ships were transporting Jewish famillies to Palestine right after the Transfer Agreement.
    No need to crucify Ania! She is right!
    If she were a Jew attacked in the same way there would be a public outcry over the treatment of the fine lady who has the same right to speak out as the whole bunch of you , morons. You have the Internet, you have access to official information… and you are still peddling LIES!! Bloody rasists! Read about the Transfer Agreement, first. Then go to the Jewish homeland, Birobidjan, the size of Switzerland, given to the Jews by their lovely friend, Stalin. It is still there, under the Jewish administration.
    Read about the Jews and Patagonia- South America, the Jews for Kimberley- Australia.
    It was a very rich Czech Jew, Bata, who bought a huge land in Patagonia for a Jewish settlement (was he a fascist??) – now it is only a trouble there.
    Once you do your homework, come back and apologise to Ania.

  55. scatts says:

    Fran, in case the few words of substance between all the insults are of some value I’ve decided to leave your comment rather than follow my instinct and trash it.

  56. Bart P says:

    reading this old article I though I would add something with several references.
    Firstly there is now more information on the madagascar plan. But a few sources can be found: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_attempts_by_Poland
    I qoute:
    “Madagascar: another plan for acquiring the French colony of Madagascar by the Polish government was discussed in 1926, but the idea was deemed to be unfeasible.[10] The idea was revisited in the 1930s, when it was proposed that Polish Jews, who were perceived to dominate the Polish professions, be encouraged to emigrate. At one point, Polish foreign minister Józef Beck bluntly proposed that Madagascar be used as a “dumping ground” for Poland’s “surplus” Jewish population.[11] The Polish government proposed the concept of Jewish emigration to Madagascar to the League of Nations in 1936 and sent a delegation to evaluate the island in 1937.[11] France, seeking to strengthen its ties with Poland and discourage Polish-German cooperation, participated in the venture,[11] which included the French official Marcel Moutet. Warsaw sent a special delegation to Madagascar, under major of the Polish Army Mieczyslaw Lepecki. The plan is variously described as having come to nought shortly after the 1937 expedition [12] or as being terminated by the German Invasion of Poland in September 1939.[13]

    11^ Jump up to: a b c Vicki Caron (1999). Uneasy Asylum: France and the Jewish Refugee Crisis, 1933-1942. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4377-8.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=zTyNa9yrNBQC&pg=RA1-PA148&dq=Poland+madagascar+plan+delegation&as_brr=3&client=opera#v=onepage&q=Poland%20madagascar%20plan%20delegation&f=false

    12^ Jump up to: a b Joseph Marcus (1983). Social and political history of the Jews in Poland, 1919-1939. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-90-279-3239-6
    http://books.google.com/books?id=82ncGA4GuN4C&pg=PA394&dq=Poland+madagascar+plan+beck&as_brr=3&client=opera#v=onepage&q=Poland%20madagascar%20plan%20beck&f=false

    13 Jump up ^ Michal Jarnecki, Madagascar in Polish Colonial Ideas and Plans, published in Nationalities Affairs (28/2006)
    http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/issuedetails.aspx?issueid=c8a6d085-ff90-11da-9828-0080ad781d9c&articleId=b8d7b64b-0695-11db-9828-0080ad781d9c

    this last one is perhaphs best source to engage since it can be easily accessed online.

    to this sources I want to add the book of the only surviving jewish elder Bejamin Murmelstein.
    http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ABenjamin%20Murmelstein

    Murmelstein knew eichmann personally for 7 years. Rececntly a documentary ‘ last of the unjust’ has been released with interviews with him in the past. In this documentary the reference about Madagascar in connection to Poland and the commission is made as well there it is called the diet commision from Warsaw

  57. Bart P says:

    Next to the my previous reply. It strikes me that there are so many violent responses. I would argue that any presence of Jews in any of the European country is rooted in old history of being displaced from their original homeland. First to the southern European countries, later slowly spreading to the rest and then in the times of the big expulsions between 1016 ( the Krim) till 1593 (rome papal state) going to safe places like the Ottoman Empire, Poland, Netherlands etc. So the shtetl has it’s root as being a safe place for persecuted people in the first place. Since the Jewish people do not leave their original cultural aspects of their religion (usually the most unshakable), they were not evaluated as being assimilated. Of course may tried and even refuted their religion etc. But the sad truth is that within the ethnic roots of the Jews there are always opposing interest, but the end result is that as and ethnicity you are blamed as a whole, not only the guilty are blamed.

    I was born in the Netherlands. But neither I nor anyone in the world has a choice of being born in the first place, let alone where to be born. Of course now the situation is a little different. There is Israel, anyone with Jewish heritage in the diaspora can go there.

    The presence of the Jewish people in Poland backfired in WW2 when evil came to Poland like a magnet.

    The country that once came to rescue Europe at Vienna against the Ottoman Empire, being a safe place for Jewish population, was now being raped in WW2. It is no surprise that some pointed or blamed their misery to the Jews. But what could they do? Most of them were very poor, unable to go anywhere but live their lives as any other tribe could do.

    The rise of nation states with lines drawn around an ethnicity added to the problem.
    But with the European Union we are again drawn into a multiethnic union. When we strongly defend our national policies do we think about how much countries have given up to join EU?

    I would be advisable that when someone responds, they should consider their history and try to understand the integral cause of things. Not just take a few particular events and forge their own story out of it.

    The truth is more important than your own feelings.
    The Netherlands was once one of the safe places for jews. but the survival rate one of the lowest http://dadaviz.com/i/2273. Does it mean Dutch people hated Jews? In the 30s of the previous century the Dutch government stated that anti semitism was not appropriate for The Netherlands. Perhaps this was said because the Netherlands had a history of immigration or perhaps because it was a country for a long time and did not need to define their ethnicity. Nevertheless as a citizen I am ashamed that it was not possible to protect a minority during war time. When similar times occur, what would I do different?

    I would encourage to read as many non-fiction books as possible. preferably from different countries. Do read news-papers to much, as they have a commercial interest informing you with doubtful academic background.

  58. scatts says:

    Bart, thanks for your informative and interesting responses!

    Ian

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