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Chapter 16: Closing Additions



Please consider this to be another section of my diary. I will be answering questions and informing you about what I do to promote this book.




Answering seven questions received from readers of my 2009 book

*** Q1: Is your 2008 book, entitled "Hell On Earth: Brutality And Violence Under The Stalinist Regime," also freely available online?

*** A1: Yes, it is at:

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/father2/introduction.html


*** Q2: How can your transformation from a devoted Stalinist to an active anti-Stalinist be explained?

*** A2: Three important factors were: (a) Khrushchev's speech at the 20th Party Congress, (b) my discovery of high standards of living in capitalist France, and (c) brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolution by the Red Army. But this was probably only part of the story. Equally important were the unjustified arrest of my father, and stories I heard in the orphanage for Polish children who had survived deportation to Soviet concentration camps (the Gulag). I had no doubt that their stories were true. One such story can be read online at:

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/kazia.html

The author, Dr. Kazimiera Cottam, is a childhood friend from the Polish orphanage in the USSR. I knew that all of us were affected by the same evil. Their family members were anti-communists killed by the same brutal force that killed my father. Yes, despite these emotions, which I kept hidden, I went on to become an active communist in Poland. How can I explain this paradox? I cannot. No reflections on that subject could be found in my diaries.

*** Q3: Is it OK to share the Internet addresses of your books with other people?

*** A3: Yes, I would appreciate this. The following four lines can be pasted into your mail messages to them:
Ludwik's 2008 book-- about Stalinist brutality and violence
        http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/father2/introduction.html

Ludwik's 2010 book-- his unusual autobiography
        http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/biography/intro.html
*** Q4: Are you familiar with similar autobiographies written by disappointed Young Nazis?

*** A4: No, I am not. But I know that such people existed, as illustrated in a recent OpEd (The New York Times May 5, 2010): The German author wrote:“From that time on, [deportation of a neighbor] I had to live in a state of mental schizophrenia being a Hitler Youth functionary and an anti-Nazi at the same time.”

Let me share a parenthetic reflection triggered by this OpEd. Suppose the autobiography of this anti-Nazi were self-published.
Would it sell better than my book? Probably not. Market players (bookstores, libraries, reviewers) discriminate against self-published books. That is what I have been discovering recently. I contacted editors of most well known journals but not a single one was interested in reviewing my 2009 book. Why was it so? Because I am an unknown author of a self-published book. To avoid consequences of discrimination I decided to publish this book on-line.

*** Q5: What are you now, Polish or Jewish?

*** A5: I am essentially Jewish. It feels good to be what one really is. In saying this I am thinking about the ancient roots mentioned by Tunia's friend Susan. That was on my third day in Paris. My ancestors were Egyptian slaves. Did my father think about this when he was a slave in the first country of proletarian dictatorship? He died as a Gulag slave, somewhere near Magadan. A friend who visited that Siberian town, several years ago, brought me some small stones. I scattered them around our Jewish cemetery.

But I am also Polish. And sometimes I behave as if I were a Russian. I still sing Russian songs and recite Russian poems. In fact, the only languages in which I appreciate poetry are Polish and Russian. The language in which I am thinking, however, is definitely English. I am happy to be an American, after living in this country for 46 years, and after being with American-born Linda, for nearly 44 years. This book would not have been produced without her help.

*** Q6: What do you think about today’s defenders of Stalinism?

*** A6: Instead of answering this difficult question let me show how it was answered (in 2005) by Vladimir Putin, then president of Russia. Suppose by Stalinism we mean a political system implemented in the Soviet Union by Stalin. That is an acceptable definition.

Referring to people of Russia, Putin said: “those who do not regret the collapse of the Soviet Union have no heart, and those that do regret it have no brain.” Suppose “defenders of Stalinism” are identified with “those who do regret the collapse of the Soviet Union.” That is also acceptable. Right?

In other words, defenders of Stalinism should be called brainless, according to Putin.

*** Q7: Why did you write this book?

*** A7: This question has been answered, at least partially, in the second paragraph of the Introduction. I became aware that the issues confronting me were important and I described them for those who might be interested. An inner voice told me to write and I wrote. My age--I am going to be 79 in October-- has probably something to do with this.

A designer of a web site is expected to know the audience to be reached and the goal to be accomplished. In writing my 2008 book

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/father2/introduction.html

I was thinking about American students unfamiliar with Soviet history. My goal was to share with them what I know about Stalinism. This time, however, I am not able to identify the audience, or the goal to be accomplished. I do not expect any particular audience and I do not have any well defined purpose.



*** A note to myself, August 2, 2010

I told participants of the Memoir Writing workshop at Tenafly Senior Center today that my two books do not sell very well. I asked them why it might be so. They read my second book--“Tyranny to Freedom: Diary of a Former Stalinist.” Most of them think that it is too difficult to read. Our teacher suggested that I rewite it. The central topic, according to one participant, should be political disillusionment of communist idealists. Another participant thinks that quotations from the diaries should be selectively chosen to illustrate the general topic. Long diary extracts, all by themselves, he added, are boring.

I really appreciate these honest statements. But am I able to accomplish what they suggested? A book organized chronologically and a book organized thematically are two very different things. To write about political disappointments of communists in general one has to be a sociologist and a historian. The only thing I can do is to provide an illustration. I believe that the value of my book is its authenticity. Let more knowledgeable people make their own generalizations. I do not think that rewriting the book will make it more attractive to people whose interests are not connected with my story.



*** A note to myself, September 19, 2010

1) A week ago, responding to someone on a thread about religion, I wrote that “many people have no problem with being both scientific and religious. Scientists do not validate claims by referring to God, and they do not try to explain God by using science.” This was posted on Richard Dawkin's website; it was removed by the moderator.

So much about the mutual tolerance and respect which many of us cherish. The same happened when I posted something at a communist website

www.soviet-empire.com

My message was removed. This is censorship, not moderation. The role of the moderator is to make sure that all points of view are discussed politely. Ideally, the purpose of a discussion, for example, about global warming, is to resolve a controversy. But this makes sense only when each side shares the same methodology of validation of claims. Two scientists can logically discuss a controversy relying on experimental data. Two theologians can also logically discuss a controversy, relying on books which are holy to them.

In both cases a controversy can be resolved, at least in principle. But what about theologians who do not share the same holy books? And what about discussions between religious people and atheists? The only possible outcome of such a discussion would be to agree to disagree.

2) Another rejection episode occurred yesterday afternoon (9/20/2010). I found a website with the following self-description (on the main page): We are ”a global community of teachers with a shared passion for our featured subjects. Enliven your lessons, inspire your students and save many hours of time by visiting www.tutor2u.net regularly”. I registered and posted the following introductory statement:

“Hello, I am a new subscriber. Why is the USA missing from the list of countries? I had no choice but to select ‘others.’ I hope it does not mean I am not welcome on this list. By the way, the USA is not the only missing country, as you can verify by going to the popup menu at: www.tutor2u.net/blog/index.php/site/registration/ “ Then I replied to a message to a teacher from Glasgow who asked for the meaning of the word “concept.” The introductory message and the reply remained on the website for several hours. Eleven people read the first one but no one responded. But my posts were no longer there this morning. Someone deleted them without any explanation. My attempt to login resulted in the “this user name is not in the database.” I read some of their messages; they were strongly anti-American. This is apparently a recruiting website; my presence would interfere with their goal. Why should I be surprised? It is a private website and their goal is to win, not to debate. They do not want to agree to disagree. I understand this; I was like this.

3) Three days ago, a reader of my on-line autobiography asked: "Did you choose to rediscover your roots and embrace Judaism to fill a void from the loss of your previous beliefs? Or did you somehow feel guilty?" My reply was: “I rediscovered my roots and I do not feel guilty. But your observation about the need 'to fill a void' is also a good description of reality.”

I was thinking about this yesterday, during the Yom Kippur service. I am a scientist who certainly does not refer to God to justify published results. But the opposite --not thinking scientifically about God--is often difficult. Why is it so? Probably because I did not learn about God as a child.

4) “What does it mean that God created us on his image”? asked one reader. It means that we are expected to be on the same moral (spiritual) level as God. Yes, I am thinking about the Commandments; we are expected to follow them. On the material level, on the other hand, we are not like God; God is not a material entity. On that level people created God at their own image.



*** Notes, October 10, 2010

1) As I mentioned earlier, editors of many American newspapers and magazines were not interested in reviewing my book. That is very unfortunate; a review in The New York Times, or Boston Globe, for example, would produce many readers. Even a negative review is better than total indifference. What else can I do to promote this book?

2) I was also not successful in attempts to have the book translated and published in Poland and Russia. Here is a typical letter, addressed to the editor of a reputable publishing house:

......................................................................

Dear Editor. (a) Let me introduce myself. I am the author of a recently-published book. It occurred to me that the book is worth translating (from English to Polish) and publishing in Poland. The entire English text is at:

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

(b) Here is how two of my friends reacted to the idea:

X wrote: “Your translated memoirs could be a best seller in Poland, in my opinion, so translating them is a good idea. If they sell well, there may more than enough to compensate the translator. I think that your memoirs are quite unique, considering that you were in a sense a victim of your parents' ideology.” That Polish Canadian friend is a historian.

Y. wrote: “I think that it is a very good idea. I am convinced that a large number of Polish people would find your unusual life story interesting. More importantly, your book is a rare document, which illustrates and enables understanding of the complex reality in the "socialist" Poland.”

(c) Naturally, these two persons are not familiar with practical aspects of bookpublishing. Is the current supply and demand situation (for books of that kind in Poland) favorable for the project? Your comments and advice would be highly appreciated. Please reply to this message in Polish, if this is more convenient. All Polish letters are clearly displayed on my computer screen. But I cannot type them.

(d) I agree with Y; my ideological evolution from one extreme to another, from a devoted Stalinist to an active anti-Stalinist, is likely to interest many Polish readers. And what if my memoir does sell very well in Poland, as anticipated by X? In that case I would like to donate all royalties (from selling the Polish version of my book) to an orphanage in Poland--Nasz Dom. (to byl “moj dom” przez wiele lat, na Bielanach w Warszawie). Personal satisfaction from making a small contribution to Polish literature would be a sufficient award for me. The book would be dedicated to all victims of Stalinism, including my parents.

(e) As the American owner of the copyright, I would be glad to give permission to translate, publish and sell my book. But I expect to be advised about how to do this properly. I am a retired physicist, not a businessman. Two things, however, are clear. (a) translation of my short book will cost nearly 7000 pln (according to Katarzyna Marszalkowska in Warsaw), and (b) more money will have to be spent initially. As a retired person I am not willing to invest in this project or be involved in managing it. It is my understanding that all initial expenses would later be recovered by the publisher. Please chose a strategy which will make the price of the book as low as possible, considering the costs of production, etc. My overall goal is to maximize the number of readers. Needless to say, you can count on my informal cooperation; I will help you as much as I can.

(f) To avoid possible confusion, I would like to make one thing clear. I actually have two nearly identical books. The first book, “Tyranny to Freedom: Diary of a Former Stalinist,” published in 2009, is commercially available at www.amazon.com. Several readers posted very favorable reviews at www.amazon.com. But this did not produce the expected results. The number of books sold in the first quarter was negligible.

Highly disappointed, I made the book freely available on-line in 2010. The new book benefitted from comments and suggestions made by reviewers of my 2009 book. Changes were not numerous but essential. They were sufficiently important to justify a new title: “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.” The on-line book is definitely better than the one that was printed . Do not confuse these two books (based on the same diary); it is the on-line book that I want to be translated and published in Poland.

Ludwik Kowalski
Professor Emeritus
Montclair State University (USA)

kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu

......................................................................

Why are they not interested? Is it a matter of economy (people do not buy books during hard times) or does it have something to do with politics (for some reason my book is not wanted)? I have no idea how to answer the question.



*** Notes, November 18, 2010

1) Linda and I often talked about what to do with the original diaries (on which this book is based) after my death. She did not like my suggestion to bury them with me. Fortunately, the problem disappeared. A sociologist who read this on-line book, and who is associated with the Hoover Institution (at Stanford University), suggested that I send the original diaries to them, as an archive item. That is exactly what I did, yesterday. In that way the original diaries will be available to future historians.

2) To promote my book I contacted a website forum for researchers specializing in oral histories. Two of them expressed interest in interviewing me. A face-to-face interview has already been conducted and recorded on a CD. The second interview is being slowly conducted by email; it will probably be published in an on-line magazine. These two publications (audio and text) will be freely available at my website. Links will be inserted here, probably in two or three weeks.

3) Section 1.1 of this book has been expanded. But I do not want to change anything that has already been posted. The link to the enlarged version is:

http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/dedenievo2.html



*** Notes, November 24, 2010

And how can avoid adding this story. J found me, 50 years later. Yes, we were lovers in Paris; we even lived together. But then each of us followed a different path. I am 79 years old, a grandfather in the USA; she, only three years younger, is a grandmother in France. There is nothing unusual in this.

In October 2010 my wife and I were in France for a family gathering. Too bad that I decided not to read all my email messages while there. A very large number of them accumulated, and at home I started deleting most messages without reading. And suddenly I noticed a familiar name. Can it be she, I asked myself. Probably not; many French women share these first and last names.

But it was J; I recognized this as soon as I started reading. I had a dream about you, she wrote, and this prompted me to search for you on Google. I typed Ludwik Kowalski and found your book; it informed me about your life. Needless to say, this message excited me. I showed to Linda (my wife) and responded at once. But that reply was lost. After waiting several weeks I sent another one, asking for the telephone number. This time her reply arrived quickly. I called J, and introduced her to Linda, who also knows French. Our speaker phone conversation was very emotional, on both sides of the ocean. J cried a little; my eyes were also wet.

She told me that her partner--they've been together for more than 30 years--did not know about this conversation. Why is it so, I asked. Because he might be jealous, she answered. It did not take me too long time to convice her that this was not good--that he must also know about everything. The next day all four of us participated in a telephne conversation, in French. Then we exchanged photos, also via the Internet. Her partner, a handsome gentleman of about the same age as me, also wants us to become friends. I hope it will happen.



*** Notes, December 12, 2010

Yesterday I visited a website owned by communists

http://www.politicsforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=124570&p=13575053#p13575053

Here is a little fragment--discussion with K.

1a) On 12/11/2010 K wrote: "There was an internal struggle of a bureaucratic caste in Russia, due to the civil war. The bureaucracy won the struggle, and as a result, Stalin succeeded Lenin instead of Trotsky. Stalin was the choice of the bureaucracy."

1b) My reply: "Every society (slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, etc.) needs bureaucracy, i.e. people who plan and organize activities of large groups. Why is bureaucracy often treated as it were a social class? Bolsheviks were capitalists, in my opinion; they were owners of capital, pretending otherwise. That is what Marx would probably say.

2a) Responding to the above, K wrote: "It was a caste, not a class. ..."

2b) My reply: Yes, you can call them caste, strata, group, layer, leaders, organizers, promoters, etc. This does not change the fact that they were owners of means of production. If you disagree then tell us who owned means of productions in the USSR.

3a) K also wrote: "And the interests of the bureaucracy are inevitably hostile to the interests of the working class ..."

3b) My comment: Marx would probably replaced your word "bureaucracy," by capitalists (owners of collective farms, factories, mines, rail road, boats, airplanes, etc).

4a) K also wrote: " The russian revolution overturned property relations and violently destroyed russia's weak ruling class, and established the first workers' state, which, ..."

4b) My reply: Yes VERY VIOLENTLY. What fraction of millions of Soviet citizens killed were productive peasants? What fraction of them were productive workers, teachers, scientists, engineers, etc.? I lived in that country; my father was one of those millions. He wanted to help in building heaven on earth but died as a Gulag slave in Kolyma. Details are described in my ON-LINE autobiography at :

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/info.html

Have you read it? I suspect you think that this book is "imperialist propaganda." Have you read my earlier ON-LINE book at:

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/father2/information.html

I suspect you think that what is described in it is also a product of my imagination, that I was payed by CIA to write this book, etc. etc. Please correct me if I am wrong. I do not wish anybody, you included, to live under proletarian dictatorship.

Ludwik Kowalski, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Montclair State University, NJ, USA
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5a) K responded: "Dear Ludwik Kowalski. I don't think we are on the same page. It [proletarian dictatorship] won't be that bad. The stalinist degeneration will not repeat in Rich America. "

5b) My reply: "I see no answer to my question--who were the owners of means of production in the USSR?"

5c) K responded: "The working class, of course. That isn't the issue. The workers had ownership, they just did not have an independent political expression, because no outlet outside of the stalinist Comintern, besides the fourth international, could allow them to exert that power. That is why Trotsky called for a political revolution to overthrow the bureaucracy and allow the masses to democratically administer the state. And that's why he was assassinated.

But as I said, that was due to the particular conditions and circumstances that existed. Things will surely go differently in the 21st century. There will be no 1984 outside of the 1984 that is happening right now under capitalism. Assuming that the ICFI [International Fourth Communist International]is the only revolutionary party with the correct political line."

That is enough for me. I do not want Emily, my 5 months old granddaugher, experience proletarian dictatorship.



*** Notes, May 12, 2011

Time passes, but my book is still waiting for more readers. This is not surprising; it is promoted only via the Internet. Every email message that I send contains a signature file with a link to this book. The same is true for items that I post on various websites. The only significant event was an interview that Aaron Elson conducted with me. He is a journalist interested in oral histories of WWII veterans. I can now make copies of his CD and distribute them to family and friends. The interview can also be heard on-line. I plan to translate the transcription into Polish and post the link on several websites in Poland. What else can be done? Any advice would be appreciated. My email address is:

kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu


***, Notes May 2, 2013

The above note was appended two years ago. A year later my book has been translated into Polish by Dorota Tukaj. Here is how our cooperation was described in the Polish version of Chapter 16:

On July 13, 2012 I received an e-mail message from Dorota Tukaj. She read the English verision of my online book and thought that the book was worth publishing in Poland. She wrote: "After living so many years in the United States, you are probably no longer accustomed to literary Polish. Do you want me to this for you?" Needless to say, I was delighted. That is how our cooperation started.

Asked to introduce herself to readers, she wrote that her daily preoccupation consists of medical translations. ... "I am also interested in history, especially modern Polish history, art history, nature, and music. Occasionally I play bridge and practice cross country skiing. And I am impressed by people able to change viewpoints, like the author of this book." The book was translated in only four months; it has been online since December 2012. I am now trying to publish a printed version in Poland.



***, Notes May 5, 2013

Here I want to show you what some Polish readers wrote about my book.

1. Comment

I am not ready to write a long review, but I liked the book. The only criticism I have is that the book is too short.

2. Comment

I just finished reading moving letters of a father to his wife and son. In reading them I involuntarily think about my own family, and about what would happen if I were suddenly separated from it for many years, as it was in your case. I admire this beautiful testimony of love and struggle. ... I will read the rest later, probably not very soon. Best regards.

3. Letter from Jedrzej

... Assessing from a personal perspective is more important than any assessment by historians. These evaluations result from such stories about the fate of individual people and their families. I'm very impressed with your descriptions. And I am deeply grateful for allowing me to understand, even partially, the world around me, and the laws governing it. I think that you are a brave and honest man. I can read between the lines. At least I think so.

I might as well be your grandson. But regardless of the country of residence, lived fates, and historical epochs that had happened in the meantime, I feel one thing between us: we are united by the country of origin, i.e. a common language, culture, and history which succeeding generations should remember. I hope they will.

Mr. Ludwik, the work of your life cannot be forgotten, and in my opinion should be presented to the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. I am convinced that it can help to create an image of reality in Europe and Eastern Europe, in the nineteenth and part of the twentieth century. I have the impression that only such work (unfortunately rare), by people of your generation, can contribute to understanding of history.

Nobody has the right to judge you; the only thing one can do is to read, to think, and to say nothing. Here you have a lot of humility. At the end you ask for a few words of review. I am not trying to do that. I can only think and say nothing. In my opinion--with God's help--the work should be sent to The Institute of National Remembrance in Poland, and it should be made available in print.

4. Questions from Adam, and my replies

Question 1
You write (as a student): "I was a true communist, believed that brutality and terror are justified, when class enemies are targeted." Did any of your friends suffer because of their anti-communist beliefs, perhaps inadvertently expressed in your presence? You traveled and studied. Did you, loyal to the ideas of communism, report at the same time on your colleagues--the enemies of the system--because of their "reactionary views"?

Reply
I've never reported on the anti-communists who expressed their views in my presence. And in no other way did I contribute to persecution.

Question 2
Do you still sometimes think about your peers, who were denied access to higher education because they were declared enemies of the system, or were of undesirable class origin?

Reply
They were victims of the ideology of "proletarian dictatorship." Now I am doing everything I can to expose that ideology. It is my moral obligation to all the victims. My previous book "Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under the Stalinist Regime," unfortunately in English,

http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/ ~ kowalski/father2/introduction.html

was written for this purpose.

Question 3
Your diary often has three dots, indicating that something was not included. Did you also write reflections on the widely publicized (by the communist press and radio) show trials of Polish patriots called by the communists "bandits"? The trials took place when you, a devoted communist, were about 20 years old. What did you think about these people?

Reply
Such comments would certainly have not been omitted. What was omitted were repetitions and descriptions of a personal nature. I cannot check it now; my diaries are in the historical archive of Stanford University. What did I think about Polish patriots from the Home Army (AK), the National Armed Forces (NSZ), etc.? Most likely I believed the Communist press.

Question 4
You wrote that you are a Pole. How can this be a valid claim? The environment in which you were raised, your surrounding, the family, the propaganda, to which you were exposed, the activities of your parents, and finally communism itself, that so charmed you ... All this was the denial of Polishness. Do you feel partly Pole because of the language which was used at home?

Reply
I do not have a full answer to this question. Language is only one of the factors. Besides being born in Poland (as were my grandparents and their great grandparents), I studied in Poland (as did my father and mother), I remember and love Polish forests, mountains and lakes. How one feels depends on many factors. Jews lived in Poland since the 13th century.

Question 5
I wondered what your father would have done in the post-war Poland occupied by the Soviets and their collaborators (from the so-called Union of Polish Patriots). Many among the idealistic communists who were not killed in the 30's by other communists, went, after 1944, to the Security Service (UB) and murdered Polish patriots. Do you think that your father could have been one of them?

Reply
No, I never speculated about this. He could have become a UB person, or a victim of UB. Or he could have emigrated immediately after returning to Poland, to escape from the Soviet Union with General Anders, after the 1942 amnesty for surviving Poles. Who knows what else could have happened to us after the end of the war?

Question 6
It's strange to look at some of the photos. One of your relatives, for example, was an accountant in UB, and probably also calculated salaries of murderers - investigators and executioners. Smietanski (poorly educated communist executioner) was receiving 1,000 zlotys for a shot in the head of a Polish patriot. His victims were from the elite anti-German and anti-Soviet resistance, often only the anti-German. Did the smiling person, shown on one of your pictures, calculate his monthly salaries?

Reply
I have no information on this subject.

Ending
I hope you are not offended by my questions. I would ask similar questions of a person descended from a family of active members of the Nazi Party, who became involved in the criminal system, and then rejected it.

Reply
No, I'm not offended. Do you know any book in which the child of an active Nazi Party activist has written about his evolution from one extreme to the other? If so, please share information about such a book. I would read it with great interest. The description would probably be similar to mine.

Belonging to the Communist Party and my party work in ZMP, indicate that I was involved in the criminal system. That is why it is my duty to expose communist ideology and practice. I do this in the previously mentioned book "Hell On Earth: Brutality And Violence Under The Stalinist Regime."

P.S. A book of that kind would become widely known, even if it were poorly written. Why has my book been ignored by publishers, and by editors of journals whom I asked to review it? That question puzzles me.

5. Comments

Below are posts (late November 2012) from six other readers.

I found them on the History forum: http://forum.historia.org.pl

(1) Mister Ludwik, I never thought to be able to read "this kind" of a book. It deals with the historical period in which I am not at all interested. What attracted me was your illustrations, not the content of the book. But then I kept reading, page after page, without stopping, up to the end of the sixth chapter. Unfortunately, I cannot evaluate political events of 1950s. But I am strongly attracted to what I read. I am honestly surprised, puzzled and intrigued.

I like the laconic simplicity of your notes. Selecting the most relevant parts was probably very demanding. You did it with great sensitivity, in my opinion. You have succeeded in stirring up my normally quiet life. I am in a state of some kind of unexpected anxiety. It seemed to me that I knew what communism was, from home, school, and the environment in which I was growing up. Now, reading your old reflections, I am discovering how little I know, or - how little I wanted to know. Thank you very much for helping me to make this discovery! I would be interested in the description of events from your future life.

(2) Earlier you wrote about McCarthyism. Did it touch you in any way? You came to the US from the other side of the Iron Curtain and you were a leftist.

(3) I am puzzled by human irrationality resulting from blindness of very primitive ideology. How could his parents, surely intelligent people, be so naive and leave for the USSR. This neighboring country, and the conditions that prevailed there, were widely known in Poland. I do not think that the majority of our intelligentsia was thinking in the same way as his father.

Another observation has to do with the complete absence of your independent thinking. How to explain that you practiced the cult of personality without being aware of it? What else were you bombarded with since early childhood? And how to understand an educated adult who could not figure out what was going on before it was exposed at a Soviet Communist Party Congress?

Mr. Ludwik, I am sorry for my honesty; your description is really shocking. My grandmother was a simple woman. But an eye-to-eye contact with Soviets (in 1939) was sufficient to form a long lasting opinion; she used to say that she prefers to kiss a German ass than a Russian mouth. Her wisdom was gained from personal experience, not from going to meetings or reading stupid propaganda material.

The fate of your distant family is also interesting. Contrary to what some users of this forum write, they did not become victims of Poles collaborating with Germans. Polish nuns saved your cousin; his father fought in Home Army. And it is good.

(4) Unlike you, I am not surprised. A person raised in a given environment, and not able to confront his own experience with anything else will have only one point of view. It will penetrate him deeply and prevent him from seeking any changes. So much about Ludwik.

More puzzling figure is his mother. She left Poland as an adult; she suffered so much in the Soviet Union, after losing her husband. And then, after returning to her own country, she stubbornly sticks to the same ideology. How can such inconsistency be explained? Inertia ...? A sense of futility ...? I was also amused by Ludwik's reasoning about maintaining contact with family in corrupt capitalistic France.

(5) I am sure that all readers of Ludwik's book will come to the same conclusion: it is better to be a professor of physics in the rich and democratic United States than a simple bread eater in a poor and totalitarian Soviet Union. But this should also be obvious without reading the book.

Undoubtedly interesting is the description of inner emotions and thoughts of a man who had the opportunity to compare two worlds - the wealthy western world and the poor communist (call it socialist, if you wish) world. However, I think that it would be much more interesting if the author went from the Stalinist USSR not to France and the United States, but, for example, to Chile in the Pinochet era. And if these two countries, Chile and USSR, were compared with each oter. The conclusion of such a book would probably be more complex than the simple statement that the U.S. is more pleasant country than Stalin-land.

(6) I can understand Ludwik, who was raised in this system. But to understand his mother? She reminded me of the infamous comrade Wasilewska, who also rationalized the murder of her husband in terms of the need to fight deviations (Trotskyism, etc.)

This type of reasoning makes me think about a nightmarish cult, where an infallible guru takes coercive measures against members. He primitively explains wickedness in the same way.

The approach of European "intellectuals" was not very different. They blindly supported primitive views. The ideas they promoted, instead of being based on political economy, were nothing more than some sort of stultifying religion.

6. Here are four brief comments from am atheist forum http://ateista.pl

(1) Mr. Ludwik, with all due respect ... You never were an atheist; you were a communist and that was your faith. You just changed one god for another. Under the influence of age, experience, or other events. ... I read your book, of course. Such personal recollections are priceless.

(2) Atheism fortunately is not tantamount to communism. I read your book, very interesting. My only "complaint"--like that of another reader-- is that the book is too short. It certainly could have been longer, considering so many years.

(3) I agree with the above opinion. The title makes it clear that this work is non-fiction.

(4) Evolution from militant communism into active anti-communism was typical in Poland. In fact, most of our opposition leaders were ex-communists and ex-socialists. I know this because I grew up in this environment.

7. A question from another forum, and my answer

Question:
I am reading your autobiography. ... Is the earlier book also available in Polish?

Answer:
No, the first book is available only in English. The title is "Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under the Stalinist Regime." Google will help you to find the link. Events described in that book are well known in Poland; that is why I think that translating it into Polish would not be justified. In America, however, the book serves a very useful purpose. The majority of young Americans are illiterate when it comes to Soviet history. This was confirmed by results of my own survey of university students (see Chapter 4 of my first book).

8. Comment from another forum

Ludwik, I glanced into your book at four in the morning, while putting my two-month old son to sleep. He fell asleep but I kept reading the fascinating story of your life. I stopped when the little prince woke up again. ... What I have read so far allows me to say that the book is not only interesting but also very informative.



***, Notes May 7, 2013

9. Comment from X

How can one say that regimes of Hitler and Stalin were identical? Soviet prisoners were able to send letters home (yes censored). ... And how to understand nostalgic feelings toward communism, most obvious in Russia, and now in our country? Those who feel this way are numerous; they are not dethroned leaders, they are common people. This is a good indicator that their lives in communist Poland were not terrible; they are suffering now. ...

You are probably not in position to compare the two systems. Most of your time was spent in the West; what you know about communist reality comes mostly from literature. ...

10. Comments and questions from from Y, and my answers

Ludwik Kowalski wants to know what we think about his book: "Diary of a Former Communist ..." Why not, how often do we encounter people confessing their communist past? ... As a youngster he wrote poems glorifying Stalin (and Lenin). It is easier to forgive a child than an adult who publicly supported the communist government and Comrade Stalin. Ludwik's love of communism came with his environment (family, kindergarten, scouting, school, organizations, and work). When should awakening take place?

What did he think about the system that imprisoned, and later killed, his father? It is hard not to ask this question. Why didn't this shake his belief? Was it because his mother decided not to talk about this, for his own good? Was it because he was accusing people rather than the ideology? I am also puzzled by quotations from diaries; they are full of illusions and convictions about superiority of the communist system over the capitalist system, especially abot the moral superiority ....

Ludwik was not raised in the Jewish culture, religion was contrary to the materialistic worldview. ... Questions about morality are frequent; as well as question marks. But the author did not talk about these dilemmas with the closest person, his mother. Was this his reason for turning to the diary?

In fact, everything in Ludwik's life was related to serving the communist system. Departure to Paris (in 1957) was considered as temporary; one had to come back with the adequate knowledge and scientific contributions. In France he was also surrounded by communists, in Frederic Joliot-Curie's laboratory... Despite the possibility of staying in Paris Ludwik returned to Poland, after his doctorate, in 1963. Several months later he went to a scientific conference in the USA and decided to remain there. At first he worked at Columbia University, then he become a professor at a nearby Montclair State University. Ludwik retired in 2004.

Should his autobiography be seen as an account settling with the past? Was it a kind of auto-therapy? When did he really start noticing moral emptiness of communism? The diary shows the great influence of wife and family--once again his attitude was formed by closest people. But this time decisions were undertaken by an adult able to evaluate his entire life, his mistakes, and degeneration of the communist system.

Ludwik's national origin, and his slow return to the faith of Jewish ancestors, are often discussed in the diary. He also asks: "Why should all Ukrainians and Poles be hated because some of them helped Germans to kill Jews? Why should all Germans be hated because of Nazis crimes? Why should all Jews be hated because some of them were Bolsheviks? Such generalizations are nonsense and unfair. ..."

And here are four personal questions:

a) Were you still a communist when you arrived to the US? I am asking this because the moment at which you became an anti-communist is not specified in the diary.

My answer:
I definitely was not a communist upon arrival to the U.S. The groundbreaking date was the speech of Khrushchev, in 1956. But I still believed that the system would improve. The formal break occurred in 1963, after returning to Poland, when I decided not to ask for the return of my party membership card.

b) Did you encounter difficulties connected with the departure? Were you later asked to serve interests of communist Poland again?

My answer:
After returning to Poland, in 1963, I started working in a research institute at Warsaw University. Yes, the decision to break with the country was undertaken when I was not allowed to go to the conference in the US. And no one asked me to "serve interests of communist Poland again."

c) As a former communist, did you encounter difficulties in trying to remain in the US? I know that you wrote about this. But did some communist or anticommunist, organizations tried to get in touch with you?

My answer:
I had no problems of this kind. And no one tried to contact me.

d) Did you think about telling someone the whole truth about Polish communism?

My answer:
The idea of writing about what I think about communism occured to me in 2004, after I retired.

P.S. For many years, I deliberately avoided political conversations. Almost no one knew about my communist past. Only family members (and not all of them) knew about this. The situation changed suddenly in 2002, when I realized that I must become an active anti-communist. This "breakthrough moment" is described in the introduction to my first book, "Hell on Earth: the Brutality and Violence of Stalin's regime," published in 2010. Here is a machine translation (with my corrections) this admission:

The idea to write about Stalinism appeared after a chance meeting. In July 2000, while vacationing in Alaska, I noticed the word Magadan, the name of the Kolyma, in the gift shop in Anchorage (Alaska). This name was engraved in my memory in 1939, when I was eight years old and lived in Russia. My father, arrested years earlier, died in a concentration camp, not far from Magadan, at the age of 36 years.

Not too many Americans know that the number of victims of Stalin's death camps, near Magadan (between 1930 and 1960), was comparable to the number of victims of Auschwitz. My wife and I bought a souvenir. A young woman who sold it to us was an immigrant from Magadan. She said that "Magadan is fast growing, and becoming an industrial city. It has a great future. Buchta Nagayevo has high buildings and a disco." At this point, I told her why I was interested.

She immediately knew what I had in mind and expressed sympathy giving me a T-shirt with the inscription "Magadan Anniversary 1939-1994." She told us that Magadan is now the sister-city of Anchorage. Not knowing details, she directed us to the City Hall. There I found a brochure in which it was written that Magadan, now a modern city, used to be a "peaceful village" on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. The Stalinist history of the town was not mentioned. This angered me. ... "

Let me add that I often thought about my father, while walking along stony beaches of Alaska coast, and looking in the direction of Russia, across the Bering Strait. It was then that I decided to write about Magadan's history, and to send my essay to the City Hall of Anchorage. I did this after returning home. But they did not answer.

Then the enlarged assay, entitled "Alaska Notes" was published on the discussion forum Montclair State University. The discussion of Stalinism lasted for several days, generating over 30 comments. One of the professors, an American Communist, accused me of spreading Cold War propaganda. That was a confirmation that my decision to break the silence was correct; I started writing about crimes committed under the red banners of proletarian dictatorship.



May 16, 2013 What is new.

1) My book has been translated into Polish; it exists in two versions: online (http://ludkow.info/byt ) and traditional (printed). The 26 books I initially paid for have been delivered, four to me and 22 to the translator. She will be sending books to potential reviewers. It is time to start working on French and Russian translations; I hope they will be available online next year.

2) And now I am reading a very different book, published this year in Poland. The author is Stefan Zgliczynski; the shocking title is "How Poles Helped Germans Kill Jews." On page 12 the author writes" I am not comparing crimes committed by Germans and Poles; this would be absurd--first because the scale and situations were not comparable, second, because Poles, like Jews, were victims of criminal Nazi ideology." Zgliczynski's goal is to expose the paradox--one group of victims helps Nazis exterminate another group.

I was not aware that Germans did not dissolve Polish Police, after they occupied Poland in 1939. Usually supervised by Nazis, the Police were actively involved in murdering Jews. Here is the description of one such activity, found on page 197. "In many regions Polish Police acted independently. ...They searched for Jews, and they murdered them. ... In hunting Jews they were usually helped by peasants, often those who were neighbors of victims. Peasants benefited in two ways, by robbery and by killing those to whom they owed money."

I was also surprised to learn about attitudes of most Polish peasants toward those rare individuals who were hiding Jews during German occupation, even after the war was over. They were often criticized for helping ememies, those who killed Jesus. Frequent killings of Jews who survived the war were also new to me. I do remember the years 1946-1947, when newspapers described NSZ killings, nearly each day. But victims were labeled as communists, not as Jews returning to places where they lived before the war. Only killings in Kielce were described as an anti-Semitic pogrom. The description of this event, and its aftermath, starting on page 246, is also new to me. Who started the rumor that triggered the pogrom--ritual killing of a Christian child by Jews?

Maj 20 , 2013:
Continuation

What a book! I am not surprised that, as stated by Zgliczynski, "most people to whom the title of my book was shown reacted violently--they were insulted." Blaming the entire Polish nation for crimes committed several generations ago, just as accusing Jews of participating in the murder of Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago, is ridiculous. But I do believe what this Polish author wrote. His book should be widely read and discussed in Poland, particularly in high schools. How else can the vicious cycle of hate and distrust be ended? "I am not a historian, " writes the author, "my goal is to popularize knowledge available to historians. ... That knowledge should be in textbooks.

What for? Mostly to disarm Polish nationalists who cynically promote (in parliament, in the media, and in churches) the myth of our innocence." Plans to get rid of Jews, who lived in Poland since the 13th century, were formulated by nationalists such as Dmowski shortly after Poland regained its independence in 1918. I was not aware that Goebbels, Nazi minister of propaganda, was invited by Warsaw University to talk about the "Jewish Problem" in 1934. The only way to break with traditional Polish xenophobia is to do what was done in Germany, to openly acknowledge and discuss past wrongdoings, not to hide immoral acts of those who are no longer among us. What else can be done to accomplish this? The attitude of victims should be "forgive but do not forget, and act accordingly."

3) What I am writing now is no longer a book; it is a set of notes for myself, and for those who might be interested. I started writing a diary (at the age of 15) and I will continue to do this here. Entry #2 above is an illustration. But I will be happy to receive questions and to provide answers, as I did at the beginning of this chapter.

July 7, 2013:
Continuation





The Russian translation of my book is in progress; the online version of it will probably be posted in October. This very long chapter will be subdivided into four chapters. I was tempted to do the same here. But that would not be appropriate; what exists should not be reorganized. This chapter will continue to grow in this version, in the form of an online diary. Printed books are static; online books can grow gradually, giving the author an option to continue interactions with readers.

I am reading interesting comments about communist morality, in a book devoted to Judaism, published in 1975. The authors are two rabbis, D. Prager and J. Telushkin. A Catholic or Russian orthodox theologian would probably make similar observations.

Marxists and theologians, they write, "are both motivated by the desire to perfect the world and establish a utopia on earth. ... Both promote all-encompassing worldviews. But they diametrically oppose one another in almost every other way." The authors remind us that communists rejected "all morality derived from nonhuman [i.e. God] and nonclass concepts," as stated in 1920 by Lenin. ... "Marxist morality sanctions any act so long as that act was committed in the interest of [economic and political] class struggle." Nothing that Stalin, and Mao did was immoral, according to such ideology. Theologians, on the other hand, hold "that morality transcends economic, national, and individual interests." God's commandments are objective rather
than subjective. Evil human acts are condemned, no matter what economic or political gains are derived from them. That is the essential difference. Greed in human nature, they emphasize, "may have helped create capitalism, but capitalism did not create greed in human nature."

Theologians also deplore social injustice. But they reject brutal proletarian revolutions because "the roots of evil and injustice lie not in economics or society but in man himself." This has to do with the concept of freedom. "For Marxism, which conceives of the world in materialist terms, bondage is defined solely as servitude to external sources such as slave owners, capitalist bosses, or other forms of material inequality. Freedom is liberation from such servitude." People, as stated in the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels, must get rid of economic chains binding them. Then they will automatically cease to be evil.

Theologians, on the other hand, see two kinds of liberation, from external and from internal bonds. "Once liberation from external servitude takes place, one must then liberate oneself from internal domination, the domination of one's life by passions, needs, irrationality and wants." The conflict between theologians and Marxists "is not economic, it is moral." Proletarian dictatorship was practiced in several countries; the results show that "when Marxist revolutionaries attain power they are at least as crual as their predecessors."

Philosophical differences about morality, among different kinds of theologians, are minimal, as far as I know. But not all God-based moralities are equally successful promoting internal freedom. Why is it so? What can be done to improve the situation, to bring our reality a little closer to "utopia" dreams?




July 12, 2013 I am rich

I came to the US almost 50 years ago, with a good profession. The economic situation in 1964 was much better than it is now. My teaching career began in 1969, soon after we married. A couple of years later we had enough savings to make a down payment on a home, where we raised our daughter. We sold that home after I retired in 2004, and now live in an apartment. During the 35 years I taught, we saved a lot of money. This is clear to me now, as I am involved in the writing of our wills. How did we manage to accumulate so much?

One of the factors is that the present value of the dollar is about ten times lower than when I started working. This is a rough estimate, based on comparison of prices of food, houses, vacations, cars, etc. Another factor was our constant resistance to spending money unnecessarily. I was always afraid that something bad could happen. My mother instilled this attitude in me. Linda's early-widowed father of three daughters was not a rich man; Linda knew how to save money on food, to pay for more important things. We never had two cars, or two homes, like many of our friends and associates. And our expenditures on movies, theaters, restaurants and hotels were also much lower.

We would certainly have retired with much less if all our money had been kept under the mattress. But our money was constantly invested (in saving certificates, municipal bonds, mutual funds, IRAs and pensions), without taking high risks. All this would not have been possible without Linda, who managed our finances. She understands them much better than me; she is a good organizer and record-keeper. She is also in charge of paying taxes, doing this very honestly and all by herself. Most people we know hire accountants to do this. And she is now deeply involved in the updating of our will. I will be 82 this year; Linda is nine years younger. The will we are updating was prepared about twenty years ago. The popular saying "you can't take it with you" is a call for action.

At that time we decided that most of the estate after our deaths would eventually go to our daughter, through a trust while she was a minor, while the rest was to be divided among our relatives (in Israel, France and the U.S.) and several charities. This time our estate is considerably larger and our extended family has grown. We decided not to gift our cousins, but instead to gift their children (about fifteen adults). Each of them will receive several thousand dollars. The lawyer helping us suggested that our cousins' children should receive money now, while we are still alive. We agreed, and will make the gifts in the near future. The bulk of my estate, however, will be assigned to Linda, if she survives me. Then it will go to several charitable institutions and our daughter. The daughter will have to pay taxes, about 45%.

Is this the correct way of sharing the estate? I think it is. The large tax to the US government will be a way of saying thank you for giving me the opportunity to be useful and happy.




July 15, 2013 Dear Mother

Let me show the last letter from my mother; I found it while cleaning and reorganizing storage boxes. It was written in February 1967, in Paris, where she lived with Tunia, the youngest sister of my father. It was a reply to my letter about our engagement, and to our invitation for her to come to the U.S. She died less than one year later in Warsaw, after participating in our wedding and returning to Poland.

Dear Ludwik!

I find it difficult to answer your last letter, received today. I hope you will understand my concerns. My constant hesitations about how to react [to your invitation] have to do with desire not to create problems for you. The most reasonable choice is to return to Warsaw; I hope the apartment is still mine. Suja [her sister in Poland] has not written to me recently. Today I sent her a postcard; let me see what the reply will be. The idea of being independent gives me some moral support.

I realize that you are not yet established, and have to deal with many problems. Why should I create another problem for you? Staying in Paris has one good thing; at least we can correspond with each other [without fear of censorship]. I read each of your letters several times, trying to penetrate. You seems to be tired. How's your health? I am glad that you eat mostly at home. Constant eating outside does produce negative effects, sooner or later. But who prepares these meals for you? I want to know everything that concerns you; please do not be surprised.

It is unfortunate that we cannot talk to each other frequently. Please make me happy by writing more often. The friend you mentioned did not call us, otherwise Tunia would tell me. Henio [my uncle from Israel] was here only for one day; he looks and feels good. Henry and Tunia are happy in the bigger apartment. How are your relations with the person you are sharing the apartment with? What is his name? Can I write to him, when I return to Poland? Probably not. ...

Good marital relations, and job satisfaction, are very important to make one happy. I hope you will find them. And I understand your hesitations. This has something to do with your age. But being older also has positive sides. Later marriages are usually better matches; and they are more durable. Education, habits and similarities of characters should also not be ignored.

Teenage marriges, on the other hand, often disintegrate after initial excitement. Older people pay more attention to companions of life in terms of maturity, both spiritual and intellectual. Unfortunately, it is not given to me to get to know your future wife. But I wonder what impression she made on Beatrice and Oscar [my father's older sister and her husband]. I do not even have a good photo of her. And I know nothing about her. How advanced are her studies? How useful are they, both scientifically and practically?

Ludwik, if you really have time and desire to write back to me do not put it off, and write immediately. Otherwise it might be too late; my decision will have to be made as soon as I get the reply from Suja [from Warsaw]. I will return home if the apartment has not been taken away from me.

Kisses and best wishes to all.

Dear Mother,

I cried reading your last letter, written 47 years ago. How right you were that marrying later is likely to be better. I often see you in my dreams. My life turned out to be lucky; your contribution to this was very important.




July 20, 2013 Back to my article about God


My article, "Futile confrontations between theists and atheists," was published in the journal American Atheist (February, 2013). Reading it again I discovered one of its weaknesses. Summarizing position of S.J. Gould (1), I wrote:

"The first step toward mutual respect between theists and atheists should be the recognition that most people on Earth live in two different worlds: material and spiritual. Methods of validation of claims made by theologians specializing in spiritual doctrines are very different from those used by scientists exploring our physical world. God is not a material entity, and attempts to refute God's existence by performing scientific experiments are not appropriate. The same is true for attempts to refute scientific claims, such as the age of the earth, on the basis of disagreements with holy books.

Theology is like mathematics, not science. Mathematicians start with axioms (initially accepted truths) and use logical derivation to justify consecutive claims, called theorems. Once proven, a theorem cannot be rejected, unless a logical error is found in the derivation. Science is very different. Here, claims are justified, in the final analysis, by experimental observations, not by pure logic. A scientific claim becomes valid after it is confirmed in reproducible experiments. Furthermore, scientific validations are always tentative; scientists know that future experiments might result in rejection, or partial rejection, of what has already been accepted. Scientific truth is not claimed to be eternal."

I still do not see anything wrong with the definition of God as a spiritual (not material) being. There are many paintings of God but the Bible describes Him as invisible. The difficulty, to accept Gould's NOMA stance (Non Overlapping MAgesteria.) will be in something else. Theologians claim that God directs everything that happens in our material world. I see such statements each week, in our prayerbook. They would have to be modified by theologians before they accept the attitude of NOMA. The "non-overlapping" refers to mutual independence of theology and science. But one of our prayers gives this advice: "Pray as if everything depended on God; act as if everything depended on you." The phrase "as if" is very important, in this context.

Quotes

1) Gould, S. J. (1997). "Nonoverlapping magisteria." Natural History 106 (March): 16-22. And also: at www.stephenjaygould.org / library / gould_noma.html

*************

"An English university professor wrote (on July 24): "You have had a fascinating life, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading it online. My first question is whether you have organized it as well as you might have. What was the thinking behind the organization?"

My answer: "I was afraid to lose readers in too many details; that is why I chose the spiral approach. First, present my entire life in a short introduction, then a little more and finally everything in chronological order. The spiral approach also works teaching physics, when students come totally unprepared. First, cover a chapter (or a set of chapters) at the layman level, then the same at the high school level, and finally at the university level, if time is left. Thank you for the comment, and for your interest."




September 10, 2013 Additional two evaluations of my book.

In a private email message (received on 9/9/2013) one American reader wrote: "I very much enjoyed reading Tyranny to Freedom. What an interesting man you are! What a life you've led! It was fascinating to watch your thinking shift along the way. Your perspective is one I haven't seen anywhere else. It's beautifully presented. [...] I wonder if you've thought about expanding the story. Confining yourself almost exclusively to the redacted diary entries is simple and pure, but also leaves a large part of the story out.

I have a plethora of questions, of a kind that might be explained in an expanded version, so don't feel you need to answer them unless you're so inclined.

For example, how did your parents come to be in the Soviet Union to begin with? Did they come from non-practicing Jewish backgrounds, or had they abandoned their parents' Judaism to embrace communism? How, why, and what happened to your father when he was arrested and murdered? Did you and your mother find out/know anything more than what the diaries reveal? How did the experience affect you and your mother? Little is indicated in the diary, but the experience must have impacted you and your thinking? Why did your mother decide to return to Poland? [...] Thanks for an interesting read."

Why did my mother returned to Poland after our wedding? It was probably a mixture of two factors--desire to remain in familiar environment (lingustically, culturally, etc.) and fear of being a burden to us.

How and why did my parents embrace communism, and what was their religius upbringing? I will ask these questions of Tunia, my father's younger sister, whom I will see in Paris next April, for her 100th birthday. She is now reading the printed version of my autobiography, translated and published in Poland, several months ago.

And I agree that "expanding the story" would be useful. Yes, what I did was relatively easy, in comparison with the task of a broader and deeper analysis of facts and feelings. I did what I could.

What a coincidence. A formal online review of the English version of my book was sent to me on 9/8/2013. The link is:

http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=12591

The reviewer also expected more than the book delivered.




Appended on November 4, 2013

1) What can I say about the new Polish film "Aftermath," that I have seen this afternoon? The story is fictional, but it is probably based on what really happened in Jedwabne. Two Polish brothers, about 40 years old, discovered that their parents, together with other peasants cooperating with Germans, murdered 26 Jewish families (120 people) who had been living in the same village before the war.

The most interesting part, as far as I am concernrd, was the dilemma they faced--what to do after the undeniable evidence became available to them. One brother thought that it would be better to keep quiet; he was afraid foreign media would use the evidence to darken Poland's reputation. The other brother felt morally bound to share the discovery with the entire world.

I think most people in the world have no doubt that Nazis initiated the Holocaust and were totally responsible for numerous crimes. They are fully aware that Polish people, like Jews, were also victims of German racism. Yes, Nazis did have local collaborators, in various countries, including Poland. Yes, incidents like those in Jedwabne did happen in Poland. Likewise, people are aware that numerous Poles saved Jews, risking their lives and lives of their families. The majority of people, in Europe, at least 95%, did all they could to survive the horrible occupation. Generalizations, like "most Jews or most Poles, or most Germans," are racist, are ridiculous.

2) Last week I discovered three Nazi-like documents written by Polish racists. They show that such people do exist. This is dangerous. That is why I translated these documents into English and posted the translations at my university websites:

http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/racism/racism3.html

I hope that by translating and posting these documents I am not helping racists to spread their ideology of hatred. The readers will easily recognize the murderous purpose of their propaganda.




December ... 2013
(For future additions)

This is Chapter 16.

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