|JERUSALEM—“While it is true that Judaism has witnessed a revival in Poland since the downfall of communism, the fact that thousands of young Poles have parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents who had to hide their Jewish identities for decades is proof that Polish society was permeated with hatred of Jews,” said Michael Freund, the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that has been working for nearly 15 years with the hidden Jews of Poland,
As Poland considers passage of a controversial new legislation that would make it illegal to describe Holocaust-era death camps as “Polish,” Freund warned that “regardless of this attempt to obfuscate history, Poland cannot hide from its anti-Semitic past.”
Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Poland was home to more than 3 million Jews. Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews officially registered as living in Poland, but according to experts there are tens of thousands of people throughout the country whose forbears chose to hide their Jewish identities due to the persecution they suffered under Nazism and communism.
In recent years, a growing number of such people, popularly known as the “Hidden Jews of Poland,” have begun to explore their connections to Judaism and the Jewish people – and many have returned to Judaism.
Freund added: “Poland’s attempt to rewrite the history of the Holocaust is morally obscene and historically obtuse. There is a reason why the Germans chose to build many of the death camps on Polish soil: they knew that their fiendish actions would meet little in the way of resistance from much of the country’s populace.”