I thought I would add a largely unknown part of Katyn which is particularly poignant for me because of my Polish-Jewish ancestry.
Simon Schochet, an historian and survivor of Dachau has identified approximately 800 Polish Jewish officers murdered at Katyn (over all camps).
Jewish officers at Katyn
Included within the 'arithmetic' of Beria's letter to Stalin was a Jewish tragedy which has only recently received its proper hearing and whose dimensions, like those of Katyn itself, are yet to be fully evaluated. Simon Schochet, an historian and survivor of Dachau, has recently made a major contribution to the question of the Jewish victims of the massacre in particular, and to Katyn studies in general. In a paper entitled 'An attempt to identify the Polish-Jewish officers who were prisoners at Katyn', and starting with the list of names compiled by the historian Adam Moszynski, as well as the list compiled by the German investigators in April 1943, he has been able to shed light on one of the less known aspects of the Katyn story.8 In so doing, he has honoured the memory of the brave men who were executed.
8 Schochet, 'An attempt to identify...prisoners in Katyn'.
Even though many of the remains at Katyn and elsewhere were found without sufficient identification, and misspellings and omissions made a correct count difficult, Schochet was able to identify 262 names of Jewish officers from the Kozielsk internment camp alone, about 5 percent of the officer population. The work was not easy and is still incomplete. Schochet has estimated that there were at least 700 and perhaps as many as 800 Jewish officers in the three internment camps which, in addition to Kozielsk, included Starobielsk and Ostaszkov. The presence of many Jewish officers was verified from the names, both first and family, among the dead, although obviously the names of Jews which were of German origin or names of assimilated Jews made a precise count impossible. The religion of the soldiers was not noted on either the Officers' Almanacs or the list compiled by the Germans. The only reference that touched on the Jewish faith was that of Major Baruch Steinberg, Chief Rabbi of the Polish Armed Forces, who was originally imprisoned at Starobielsk and was deported on Christmas Eve 1939 from Kozielsk with a group of clergymen from the other two internment camps. His name appeared on a list of men sent to their deaths on 9 April 1940, being thus among the first victims of the massacre. His remains and those of his fellow clergymen have never been found.
Major Baruch Steinberg, Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army, with Polish Army officers, presumably Jewish, at the Postępowa [Progressive] Synagogue, Kraków, on 5 September 1935. In the photo he is holding what looks like a memorial tablet. Jewish Polish Army veterans of the War of Independence met in Kraków on 5 September 1935 to offer a collective prayer for Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, who died in May.
Wikipedia entry - Baruch or Boruch Steinberg (1897–1940) was a Polish rabbi and military officer. He was Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army during German invasion of Poland in 1939 and was murdered in the Katyn massacre by the Soviet Union in April 1940.
Baruch Steinberg was born on 17 December 1897 in the town of Przemyślany (now Peremyshliany, Ukraine) to a Polish Jewish family with tradition of rabbinical service (his father and grandfather were rabbis and three of his brothers would also become rabbis).
During the First World War his family moved to Vienna; there in 1916 he was elected a rabbi, passing the required examinations in the following year and returning to Przemyślany. He joined the Polish Military Organisation, providing services for Polish Jewish soldiers. In November he volunteered to join Polish forces in the Polish-Ukrainian war, he fought alongside the Polish forces in the battle of Luftwaffeów and remained on the frontlines until Polish forces took control of Przemyślany in May 1919.
In 1922 he officially joined the Polish Army (first the reserves), becoming a rabbi chaplain. His applications for full service were rejected, the reasons cited were his lack of formal education (he didn't finish secondary school) and opposition from the Orthodox Jewish faction, as Steinberg was seen as a member of a zionist camp. In 1927 Steinberg passed his matura exams and started studies at University of Lwów in oriental studies (which he would finish in 1933).
In 1928 he was accepted into active service in the Polish army, with the (chaplain) rank of professional rabbi (rabin zawodowy), becoming the Chief Rabbi of the Third Corps Region of the Polish Army (in Grodno, now Hrodna, Belarus). In 1929 he was promoted to rabbi, first class (rabin pierwszej klasy - equivalent of a captain rank). A few years later he would be promoted to older rabbi, second class (starszy rabin drugiej klasy - equivalent of a major rank).[a] In 1931 he was moved to First Corps Region in Warsaw, in 1932 he also served on the Fifth Corps Region in Kraków (Cracow).
In 1933 he replaced Chaim Elizjer Frankl as the chief of Main Office of Judaism Chaplainship (szef Głównego Urzędu Duszpasterstwa Wyznania Mojżeszowego), first on a temporary basis, from 1935 on a permanent basis. In 1936 he becomes the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army.
Steingberg was highly respected and commended by his superiors. He was also known as a supported of Polish statesmen Józef Piłsudski and his policies, organizing on 11 November (from 1937 the official Polish Day of Independence) religious services in the intention of Poland (and after Piłsudski's death, in his intention as well). He was a supporter of active Jewish participation in Polish state.
In September 1939 he was one of the seven rabbi chaplains in the Polish Army. During the Polish September Campaign he was the Chief Chaplain for Noncatholics in the Army Kraków and chief rabbi of the Polish army. He was taken prisoner by the Soviets after the Soviet invasion of Poland in late September, becoming a prisoner of war. He was imprisoned in the camp in Starobilsk.
In Starobilsk he organized services for his fellow inmates, which were also attended by non-Jewish Poles; survivors note his emphasis on unity of all Poles, regardless of religion.
In Starobilsk Steingberg was arrested by NKVD together with other Polish priests and chaplains during Christmas of 1939 and transported to a prison in Moscow. He briefly returned to Starobilsk in March 1940, and then was moved to Yukhnov and later to Kozelsk camps. Steingberg was eventually murdered in the Katyn massacre, probably on 12 April 1940.[b]
During his lifetime, Steinberg had received the Cross of Independence, Silver Cross of Merit, and the remembrance medals "For War of 1918-1921" and for "10 years of Polish independence". In 1991 he was commemorated on a plaque in a garrison Church of Saint Agnes in Kraków. In 2007, he was posthumously promoted to lieutenant colonel.
a ^ Sources vary with regard to his promotion. Polish Wikipedia gives an unreferenced date of 1934. PSB states that he was nominated for the rank of older rabbi, second class in 1932, but doesn't say he was awarded it. It also states that he achieved the rank of major in 1938. A book on Katyn states he became a major in 1934.
b ^ PSB doesn't give a date of his death, but states he was shipped from Kozelsk on 9 April and murdered afterwards. Polish Wikipedia gives an unreferenced date of death as 12 April. It is estimated that approximately 450 people of over 20,000 murdered in Katyn were Polish Jews, serving as military officers in the Polish Army.
The Biuletyn Katynski of the Katyn Institute, an underground organization founded in Cracow in 1978, dedicated its June 1990 issue to Major Steinberg and his fellow Jewish officers. It estimated that Jewish officers comprised 15 per cent of all the Katyn victims, a percentage higher than that of Jews in the prewar Polish population. An issue of the Bulletin published in 1992 carried a biography of Rabbi Baruch Steinberg, largely a product of Schochet's research." Rabbi Steinberg was born in 1897 into a family of rabbis. Of his four brothers three were rabbis and one a doctor. A highly educated man, he not only completed his studies at the Stefan Batory University in Wilno, but also studied Arabic, an interest he continued some years later at the Oriental Institute of the Jan Kazimierz University in Lwow. He volunteered for and fought against the Russian armies in the 1919-20 campaign. In 1928 he was called upon to serve as a rabbi with the rank of captain in the Third Corps District in Grodno. In 1932 he was appointed with the rank of major to serve as the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Armed Forces. He resided in Warsaw and received many commendations for exceptional service.
There were just a few references to Rabbi Steinberg in the contemporaneous accounts of the imprisonment. On 11 November 1939 he had apparently taken part in a secret commemoration of Poland's independence in the prison camp. Schochet's research has given Rabbi Steinberg a posthumous recognition. In 1991 a tablet honouring him was dedicated in Cracow.
The fact that many of the officers were members of professions such as medicine, law and engineering (more than 50 per cent of Poland's prewar physicians were Jewish) accounted for a disproportionate number of Jewish officers compared to their numbers in the general population. Schochet's research has had the quality of detective work as he has sought out every clue in the deaths of people whose remains could not be found or identified. His conclusion was that there were approximately 462 Jewish officers among the prisoner population of Kozielsk and Starobielsk, the composition of the prisoner population at Ostaszkov making it unlikely that there was an appreciable number of Jews among them.9
In August 1990, the year that Gorbachev first made the lists of Polish prisoners and some related documents available to the Polish government, Schochet traveled to Poland to meet with other scholars who were now able to conduct their research in the open. The Russian lists provided to President Jaruzelski on 13 April 1990 were more extensive than any lists previously available. They provided the first names of the prisoners' fathers, which made the identification of the Jewish officers easier.
In November 1990 Schochet published further results of his research. He was able to add more names to the list of Jewish officers murdered by the NKVD in 1940. 10 But while his analysis had revealed some of the factors motivating the NKVD in classifying Jewish officers as members in prewar 'counter-revolutionary' organizations (associations of lawyers, Polish Zionist movement, etc.), his investigations were still far from complete. The almost total destruction of Polish Jewry, and the lack of documentation and corroboration from family members, made his work extremely difficult. Still, Schochet's verified list of approximately 800 Jewish officers was impressive. The largest group was that of doctors, followed by lawyers, engineers, pharmacists and dentists. Most were first and second lieutenants. The highest rank, that of Colonel, was held by Jan Wladyslaw Nelken, a psychiatrist."
Schochet's appeals for information in periodicals, newspapers and on Radio Free Europe resulted in his obtaining more materials, including photographs of Jewish officers executed by the Russians. He received six photographs of the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Armed Forces, Rabbi Baruch Steinberg. One photograph in particular was striking. It showed the celebration of the Passover seder led by Rabbi Steinberg. Around the table sat high-ranking officers of various faiths and officials of the Warsaw government.
Schochet has emphasized that the presence of Jews in the Polish armed forces was not exceptional, and that 'from the days of Berek Joselowicz the first Jewish officer in the Polish army [the Kosciuszko uprising], to the January Insurrection of 1863...to the men who joined Pilsudski's Legion and who fought for Polish independence', there was a tradition of a Jewish presence in the armed forces.
My Grandfather could have had been taken to Katyn (or one of the other camps) as an Officer or NCO in the Electrotechnical (engineers) or Signals branch of the army, if he had still been in Poland, this makes us think how lucky we were to know him for so many years, reflecting bitterly on those whose lives were brutally and illegally cut short for being patriotic Poles and feel their families and the whole Polish nation's pain like our own.
Here is two links to a two books written by two of the few Polish Jewish officers to survive Katyn -
The Road to Katyn: A Soldier's Story: Salomon W. Slowes, Wladyslaw T. Bartoszewski: 9780631179672: Amazon.com: Books
The 79th Survivor by Bronislaw Mlynarski
We were born as brothers, lived as brothers, fought as brothers and survived or died as brothers.
"Never forgiven, never forgotten".
Justin, you may be interested in this web site about Jewish Polish soldiers by Benjamin Meirtchak:
B. Meirtchak: "JEWISH MILITARY CASUALTIES IN THE POLISH ARMIES IN WWII"
Hi justin1939 thanks for a very interesting post Although for me it might have been better just to post an intro para and the link to the main wiki page rather than paste the entire wiki article especially as the footnote links are left on the wiki page?
Polish historian Zibigniew Siemaszko calculated that between 20-25% of all those Poles deported by the Soviets from Eastern Poland to the camps and settlements in "Siberia" were Polish Jews—a very high percentage in terms of Jewish representation in the overall population of Poland. But it is entirely consistent with the proportionally high percentage of Jews in the "professional class" such as medical doctors, lawyers etc. as well as business and land ownership and the within the so-called intelligentsia. It demonstrates how closely the fate of Polish Christians and Jews were often bound together.
I collect, therefore I am.
Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.
I would like to know where did You get the numbers from: the more than 50% of pre War Polish physicians were Jewish ?
Before the outbreak of World War II, there was a thriving social and cultural life of Jews in Poland. A well-developed Jewish press circulated newspapers in Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish. There were more than 30 dailies and more than 130 Jewish periodicals. More than fifty percent of all physicians and lawyers in private practice in Poland were Jewish because of the discriminatory laws against civil service.
URL: Poland: Virtual Jewish History Tour
The Jewish Virtual Library web page gives the sources to the article from which I copied out the above information so I assume this statistic will be in one of those sources.
* * * * * *
There is also reference to the numbers here:
Interview May 2010, with Aleksander Skotnicki: As a physician, and a professor at the Medical Faculty of the Jagiellonian University,
AS: It’s a very important issue – making people aware of how the Jewish community, especially in Krakow, was so assimilated. They became active members of the local community. They accounted for maybe 70 percent of lawyers, 60 percent of doctors, they were teachers in Polish schools (as well as in Jewish schools), professors at the Jagiellonian University, businessmen, bankers, architects, poets, journalists. So they created a sort of intellectual elite in Krakow.
* * * * * *
The Lesser of Two Evils: Eastern European Jewry Under Soviet Rule, 1939-1941 By Dov Levin
More than 50 percent of all private physicians in Poland were Jews, including 73 percent in Wolhynia and 58 percent in the Eastern Galician areas of Tarnopol....
* * * * * *
Whitewashing FDR's Holocaust Record
An Analysis of Robert N. Rosen’s
Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust
.....Rosen’s comment seems to almost justify Roosevelt’s statement: “His allusion to the high
percentage of lawyers and doctors in Germany was mistaken, but in fact the percentages of Jews in
the professions in prewar Berlin and Warsaw, respectively , were 40 percent and 50 percent, and this
was Nogues’s perception.” (pp. 259-260)
* * * * * *
There are more but I hope this was helpful
Was your question asked because you have a different source and number for the percentage of physicians in Poland that were Jewish and find the 50+% not credible?
I collect, therefore I am.
Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.
Sure. Who are you looking for? I will have some time tomorrow.
russian and german fighting each other,reason is stalin and hitler were to much alike.[twins].