The Importance of Checking Facts

Some time ago I published an article about a Celebration in Prague that Never Was. In it, I described an official visit to Poland in 1969 and mentioned traveling to Oswiecem-Brzezinka (Auschwitz-Birkenau), Treblinka and Maidanek and described them as Polish death camps.

Recently a Polish reader responded with a comment. She was upset that I had referred to “Polish” death camps, reminding me that they were Nazi camps and that Poles were not complicit in the murders of Jews.

I responded with an apology and corrected my remark indicating that the camps were Nazi camps located in Poland. But then I asked the question. Why were all the death camps in Poland and not in other occupied countries? And I went on to reply that Polish relations with Jews had been hostile for centuries. Hitler knew that there would be little opposition from the Polish people if death camps were built on Polish soil.

I also agreed that most Poles were not complicit in the deaths of Jews during the Nazi occupation and that, in fact, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem has honored 6.500 Polish Christians who risked their lives to shelter and to save Jews. More Polish Christians have been honored as Righteous Gentles than citizens of any other occupied country in Europe. Irene Sendler is one of the greatest examples. She single-handedly rescued 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto and placed them in homes of sympathetic Polish families.

I did tell her, however, of the pogroms in 1945-1946 when Poles murdered Jews who had survived and returned to reclaim their homes and possessions. Kielce was the prime example of the murder of 43 Jews.

Another reader disagreed with my comment that there were no streets in Israel named for Alfred Dreyfus. He suggested that I check Google street maps telling me he had located four such streets.

I went on Google and could not locate rehov Alfred Dreyfus anywhere in Israel. I did, however, find a street in Rennes, France which last year changed a street name and renamed it Rue Alfred Dreyfus.

My daughter has a very bright legal mind and she reminded me of the importance of checking my facts.

So, dear readers, if I have erred I sincerely apologize.
Fact-checking will now be my number one priority.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.