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Polish Partisan Witold Pilecki Infiltrated Auschwitz. How Come You've Never Heard of Him?

Poland is often thought of as "the Christ of Europe" or "Christ of nations," and the country sees itself as a victim of countless historical tragedies in which Poles are brutalized by their stronger, more aggressive neighbors. This view of history isn't entirely wrong, though it has been almost comically obscured in the global imaginationas demonstrated most recently by President Barack Obama's widely quoted malapropism in referring to "Polish death camps" when he awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to the Polish World War II hero Jan Karski. In turn, the confusion of Poles with their wartime tormenters is cited by devout Polish nationalists as yet another example of their country's eternal victimhood.

Still, the fact remains that the Nazi squelching of the Polish resistance makes the Western European experience of World War II look gentle by comparison. Poland's wartime casualties accounted for 16 percent of the entire Polish populationa larger share of the population than in any other European nation, surpassed only by the destruction of the Jewish and Roma communities of Europe during the Holocaust.

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Author:Davidzon, Vladislav
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Date:Mar 12, 2013
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