Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

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Karski
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Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby Karski » 08 Oct 2017 10:50

Wood and Jankowski, Karski..., 2014, p. 267 (note on p. 104), write :

A letter that Feiner sent to the Bund leadership in London reiterates many of the arguments he made to Karski and includes a postscript mentioning "the contents of the interview given to the messenger bringing the present document."
In the absence of any other messenger coming from Poland after holding an "interview" with Feiner during this period, the note must refer to Karski.


The reference for the letter is given p. 265 : Feiner, Leon. "Berezowski" letter to Szmul Zygielbojm (Bund leader in London), August 31, 1942. File A.9.III.2a/5, Polish Institute, London.

I have two questions:
1° Karski always said that he brought microfilms during his travel from Poland to England. He never said that he also brought paper documents. On the other hand, Wood and Jankowski give the impression that Feiner's letter was not microfilmed and that it is kept in its original paper form. Is it likely that Karski brought microfilms AND a letter ?
2° Was the whole content of Feiner's letter published ?

Thanks in advance for the answers.
K.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby wm » 18 Oct 2017 23:09

The letter was published in Armia Krajowa W Dokumentach 1939-1945 (ISBN 10: 0950134805 ISBN 13: 9780950134802) in 1970, it was reprinted in 1990.
It would be criminally irresponsible to carry such a letter across Europe during the occupation (in Polish to boot, and he pretended to be a French citizen). The Polish Underground was still learning how not to be destroyed quickly by the Germans (at the same time he was on his way the commander of the AK was arrested), but I don't believe they made such elementary errors at that time. There was no reason whatsoever to carry any paper documents by the couriers.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby Karski » 20 Oct 2017 11:05

Thanks for your answer. If I understand it correctly, you think that Karski didn't carry this letter, or at least you think that he didn't carry it in its paper form. But, if I'm not wrong, this letter is well kept in paper form. Thus it was carried from Poland to England as a paper document. How can this be explained if, as you say, "there was no reason whatsoever to carry any paper documents by the couriers" ?
K.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby wm » 23 Oct 2017 22:41

I suppose it was photocopied/photostated from the microfilm or most likely, copied by hand and then delivered to the addressee. It might have looked like a real letter but it wasn't, it was just a recreated copy.
The original was probably hand written too, typewriters were hard to come by in the occupied Poland for the obvious reasons, and it made no sense to make it more official, it was a personal appeal after all - between two Socialist comrades.
Karski carried many such messages between various political parties/political groups and their leaders in exile.
The most sensitive, "for your eyes only", he carried in his memory and delivered personally to the addressee. That one wasn't one of them.

The letter is an appeal for reprisals - it wasn't stated openly, but the idea was probably gradual executions of all Germans and POWs in Allied hands, especially those in the USSR, because it was the only country with a large number of German POWs at that time.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby Karski » 24 Oct 2017 08:24

Thanks for this answer. Your conjecture is plausible. It would be interesting if we had a material description of the document : is it photocopied/photostated or is it handwritten ? In the latter case, is the handwriting different from Feiner's handwriting ? I suppose these informations are not given in the book where the letter was published, since you seem to have seen this publication and you are not sure of the answer.
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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby wm » 24 Oct 2017 21:50

I don't think anybody knows that, or saw the documents, all the references from various history books I know lead to Armia Krajowa w dokumentach 1939-1945 published in 1970. And its authors are probably all dead by now.
It's just a single page from a huge, six volume publication. And in there the message no. 333 is printed, as all the thousands of the others.

Anyway this is the letter, I suppose google translate or a similar service can be used to translate it:
Nr 333
LEON FAJNER DO CZŁONKA RADY NARODOWEJ SZMULA ZYGIELBOJMA: WNIOSKI W SPRAWIE RATOWANIA ŻYDÓW
Warszawa, dnia 31 sierpnia 1942 r.
DO P. ZYGIELBOJMA
CZŁONKA RADY NARODOWEJ R.P.
w Londynie

Wnioski:
1. Konieczność natychmiastowej retorsji wobec obywateli państw niemieckich żyjących na terenach wszystkich państw sprzymierzonych z zagrożeniem natychmiastowych dalszych odwetów w razie kontynuacji rzezi ludności żydowskiej; uważać bowiem należy ten akt retorsji jako akt działania nie politycznego ale strategicznego, gdyż to co czynią władze niemieckie z ludnością żydowską jest wojną, wojną sui generis, w której jedna strona — banda hitlerowska — jest uzbrojona od stóp do głów, a druga — ludność żydowska — została przez nią, wyrafinowanie, perfidnie i ostatecznie obezwładniona, jako całkowicie rozbrojona i bezsilna stała się przedmiotem bezprecedensowych, okrutnych i podstępnych działań wojennych rycerzy spod znaku Hitlera. Społeczeństwo żydowskie jako jeden z drobnych członków wielkiej rodziny sprzymierzonych ma prawo żądania od reszty sprzymierzonych bezzwłocznej i skutecznej pomocy w tej nierównej wojnie.
2. Skierowanie przez Rząd Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej i Radę Narodową do wszystkich wolnych społeczeństw świata apelu z przedstawieniem potworności hitlerowskich dokonywanych na ludności żydowskiej pod jarzmem faszyzmu niemieckiego będącej, i wezwaniem odnośnych rządów do natychmiastowej akcji retorsyjnej (zgodnie z p. 1).
3. Wezwanie przez Rząd Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej i Radę Narodową skierowane do społeczeństwa polskiego w Kraju do udzielania wszelkiej pomocy ludności żydowskiej.
4. Apel do klasy robotniczej (fizycznej i pracowników umysłowych i inteligencji pracującej) całego świata z przedstawieniem rzezi dokonywanej na ludności żydowskiej i wezwaniem, by wywarła nacisk na swe rządy w kierunku postulatu ad. 1. W szczególności chodzi też o zwrócenie się w tym samym celu do klasy robotniczej Związku Sowieckiego, w którym znajduje się znaczna ilość jeńców niemieckich wojskowych i cywilnych. Poinformować dokładnie społeczeństwo niemieckie a faktach rzezi.
5. Przesłanie przez władze oficjalne wydatnej pomocy materialnej dla pozostałej ludności żydowskiej, zupełnie spauperyzowanej i zdanej na śmierć głodową.
6. Zwrócenie się do CKB w New Yorku i do przedstawicielstwa B. w Związku Sowieckim, jeśli takie istnieje oraz do przedstawicielstw B. w innych krajach, jeśli takie istnieją o działalność w myśl powyższych wskazań oraz o pomoc materialną.
7. Stałe porozumiewanie się z nami, informowanie natychmiastowe co w powyższych sprawach zdziałano i co ma być uskutecznione, oraz informowanie o wszystkich innych sprawach wybitnej wagi w skali krajowej i międzynarodowej. (Przesyłanie ewentualnych pism, dokumentów itp, oraz znaczniejszego sukursu materialnego podobną drogą jak pisma i dokumenty). Wszystko skierowywać do rąk pozostałego tu członka CK. Niniejsze pismo należy natychmiast zakomunikować CK w New Yorku i o potwierdzeniu przezeń odbioru tu zawiadomić.

L. Berezowski

PS. Treść interviewu udzielonego oddawcy niniejszego pisma może być zakomunikowana przezeń czytelnikom oficjalnym dopiero po zapoznaniu się Waszym i CK z nią i oddaniu jej temu.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby Karski » 25 Oct 2017 12:42

Thank you very much for the long quotation. Here is a Google translation :

Nr 333
Traduction
3251/5000
LEON FAJNER FOR THE MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL SZMUL ZYGIELBOJMA: CONCLUSION ON JUSTIFICATION
Warsaw, 31 August 1942
TO P. ZYGIELBOJMA
MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF NARODOWEJ R.P.
in London

Conclusions:
1. The need for immediate retaliation against German nationals living in the territories of all allied states threatened with immediate further retaliation in the event of the continued slaughter of the Jewish population; To consider this retaliatory act as an act of non-political but strategic action, because what the German authorities do with the Jewish population is war, sui generis war in which one side - the Nazi band - is armed from head to toe and the other - the Jewish population She was refined, perfidiously and finally disarmed, completely disarmed and helpless, and became the object of unprecedented, cruel and insidious warfare under the banner of Hitler. Jewish society as one of the minor members of the great allied family has the right to demand from the rest of the allies immediate and effective assistance in this uneven war.
2. The referendum by the Government of the Republic of Poland and the National Council to all the free societies of the world, with the presentation of the Nazi horrors made to the Jewish population under the yoke of German fascism, and the call of the respective governments for immediate retaliatory action (see p.
3. Call by the Government of the Republic of Poland and the National Council addressed to the Polish society in the country to provide all assistance to the Jewish population.
4. Appeal to the working class (physical and mental workers and working intelligentsia) of the whole world, depicting the massacre carried out on the Jewish population and the call to exert pressure on their governments towards the postulate of ad. 1. In particular, it is also about asking for the same target for the working class of the Soviet Union, which has a large number of German military and civilian prisoners of war. Tell the German society exactly and the facts of the slaughter.
5. Message by the official authorities of substantial financial assistance to the rest of the Jewish population, completely sterilized and killed for hunger.
6. Refer to the CKB in New York and to the B representative in the Soviet Union, if any, and to B's representations in other countries, if such exist in the above indications and in material assistance.
7. Constant communication with us, immediate information on what has been done and what has been done in the above matters, and information on all other matters of national and international importance. (Sending letters, documents, etc., as well as substantial material deeds similar to letters and documents). All to the hand of the remaining members of the CK. This letter should be immediately communicated to CK in New York and to confirm receipt of the notice here.

L. Berezowski

PS. The text of the interview given to the contributor of this letter may be communicated to the official readers only after you have reviewed your and CK with her and give it to her.


It seems that the book reproduced only the conclusions of the letter.

You say : "I don't think anybody knows that, or saw the documents, all the references from various history books I know lead to Armia Krajowa w dokumentach 1939-1945 published in 1970. And its authors are probably all dead by now."
I think I must disagree, for Wood and Jankowski, 2014, p. 265, give the following reference for the letter :
Feiner, Leon. "Berezowski" letter to Szmul Zygielbojm (Bund leader in London), August 31, 1942. File A.9.III.2a/5, Polish Institute, London.
K.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby wm » 25 Oct 2017 18:28

That 2014 book was originally published in 1996, but Jankowski (without Wood) in his book published in Polish in 2010 only references Armia Krajowa w dokumentach 1939-1945. It wouldn't be needed, I suppose, if he had access to the file A.9.III.2a/5 (or maybe the file only contains a part of the letter).

I assumed because of the required brevity the letter was just the conclusions, and nothing else. But I was mistaken, even the book shows the rest of the letter was omitted (in a very old fashioned way - basically invisible to the "modern" eye).

The rest of the letter, judging from available parts is a long description of the occupation as seen by the Polish Jewish socialists [Feiner was a socialist of the Marxist variety] - full of factual errors and socialist ideology is basically uninteresting so it hasn't been published yet. But why it was omitted by Armia Krajowa w dokumentach 1939-1945 I have no idea - lots of uninteresting and full of factual errors documents there.

BTW Jankowski in his book quotes verbal instruction given to Karski in Poland, and it was "in case of danger you should throw away the key, it's the only incriminating evidence [against you]". So it seems he didn't carry any other incriminating evidence with him.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby Karski » 25 Oct 2017 18:56

I'm not a professional historian, so I don't feel that I'm in a position that allows me to ask the Polish Institute for informations about its document. It would be interesting if a historian tried to know what this document is precisely : photocopy, photostat, letter from Feiner's hand, handwritten copy from another hand...
K.
P.S. I don't take Karski's statements at face value, since he often contradicted himself.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby wm » 27 Oct 2017 22:25

Public institutions serving only the chosen ones are evil, and should be roundly condemned for that.
But not this one, according to this, they will send you a copy by (very slow) snail mail - for a fee. Or you can visit their reading room and see the document yourself.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby Karski » 29 Oct 2017 14:58

Thanks for this information. I will try to ask my question by email.
K.

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Re: Karski : a letter or a microfilm ?

Postby Karski » 07 Dec 2017 13:15

The Polish Institute sent me a photocopy of the document. (The part quoted above is the last 1/9.) According to the Polish Institute, this document is "in the form of an original typescript copy". At the end of the letter, one reads : "podpis: / -/ L. Berezowski." There is no handwritten signature.
Pity that the person who deposited the document at the Polish Institute apparently gave no details about its origin.
K.


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