Dear Barbara and Wladek;
I share your concerns but unfortunately everything is relative.
Considering a massive anti-Polish bias among American 'mainstream' historians,
Bloodlands represents a progress.
Please note that if he had chosen a more pro-Polish position he would be
finished off as a 'revisionist' at once.
He succeeded in proposing a slight revision to the prevailing view without being
I consider it a door-opener for the truth to begin to come out. Let's build on
From: Barbara Scrivens <scrivs@...
Sent: Sat, February 26, 2011 4:20:44 PM
Subject: RE: [Kresy-Siberia] Re: Bloodlands
Thank you for your post. My first reading of the book had many pencil marks in
the margins and now that you have given us your numbers, I will print out your
post and use it as a bookmark for my second reading.
I completely agree with you that critical reading is paramount. Statistics are
so easily manipulated, I have a huge difficulty in deciding which ones to
believe. Even in Andersâ€™ An Army in Exileâ€™, calculating how many Poles died
in the USSR, depends on how you read his explanation on page 116:
Fewer than 115,000 left the USSR. Half of those left he considered had already
If 1,500,000 were deported and half of those died, if you take 1,500,000,
divided by two, minus 115,000, you get 635,000 dead.
However, if you take it as meaning after the 115,000 left, half of the balance
had died, then 1,500,000 minus 115,000 divide by two, is 692,500. Thatâ€™s a
He previously states that between 1,500,000 and 1,600,000 were deported, so
already those numbers are on the lower side of the scale.
Iâ€™d like to know which you consider are reputable statistical sources. So far,
apart from Gen Anders, Iâ€™ve only really trusted those I can add physically,
like the lists of evacuees, or the Polish army lists.
As for Prof Snyderâ€™s descriptions of Poland after the Soviets invaded, I can
see how easy it is for lazy people to take a quote out of context, that is not
explaining the previous however many pages, and end up giving the wrong
impression. For instance, it could be construed from the book that Poland did
not exist after September 1939. Other countries, he called â€˜occupied Soviet
Ukraineâ€™ or â€˜occupied Soviet Belarusâ€™, even â€˜occupied Soviet Unionâ€™
when the Germans were moving east but Poland was seldom called that. Poland
becomes Russian, General Government or Reichkommissariat on maps pages 255 and
229. To add insult, on page 318, he uses the term â€˜Polish campsâ€™.
Wladek, I would love it if you would read the book and give your critique. We
need writings to be assessed by knowledgeable people. Iâ€™d love it if book
reviewerâ€™s credentials were available, so we could assess for ourselves, how
much credence to give a review. Must say in Bloodlands, the 82 pages of
bibliography and notes are impressive by their bulk and his acknowledgements
show that he had many researchers. But how many people are going to scrutinise
all the notes and researchers?
Behalf Of Wladekor
Sent: Saturday, 26 February 2011 12:58 p.m.
Subject: [Kresy-Siberia] Re: Bloodlands
Hi Maria, Bozena, and Dan:
As yet, I have not read "Bloodlands" so my comments are not meant as a criticism
of the book but rather of previous writings by Timothy Snyder. I am encouraged
by Maria's review since I have a rather negative view of Prof. Snyder's
scholarship. I hope that indeed he has changed his attitude towards Poland and
My opinion of Prof. Snyder's scholarship and objectivity is based on his thesis:
"To Resolve the Ukrainian Question once and for All; The Ethnic Cleansing of
Ukrainians in Poland 1943-1947". He expressed strong anti-Polish bias and
absence of any critical thinking in his selection of sources. Secondly, his
recent Jan 27th article in the nybooks.com entitled "Hitler vs Stalin: who was
worst" in which Prof. Snyder uses the `Bloodlands" as a source. I was somewhat
startled by such a title, and it reminded me about the arguments that I, as a
nine year old in Lebanon and an adolescent in England, had with my classmates
and friends as to who was worse, Hitler or Stalin? With time, I learned that all
forms of extreme evil are equal.
There were many red flags in his thesis and the second article. At this time I
will only comment about the second one. He dramatically downsizes Soviet crimes
apparently using the "new" NKVD-KGB documents released in the early 1990s as
part of Gorbachev's effort to rehabilitate the Communist Party and the 70 year
old evil empire. The latest documents may be new, having been produced by some
Soviet intelligence officers at Gorbachev's request, but are no more truthful
than all the other NKVD-KGB documents. Why so many Polish and Polish-American
historians have embraced it? I think that they bought into the idea that there
is a need for reconciliation with Russia and a common version of history, which
seem to trump justice for the victims. Truth is the only justice which is left
for those victims.
Rather than make my arguments at this time, let me urge you that you read
`Bloodlands" with a very critical eye. For example is admitting that Russian
Communists murdered 22,000 Polish POWs an accurate statement? What happened to
the other 220,000 thousand POWs? Only 25,000 were found alive in December of
1941. In the panic killings in June of 1941, was the number 9,817 as Snyder
states? Or was it 10,817, or 20,000, or what I believe to be a more accurate
number anywhere from 30,000- 40,000. He mentions the ethnic cleansing of Poles
in 1937 from pre-1939 borderlands in Belarus and Ukraine, but does he mention
that in 1930-31, that Poles in those borderlands were the first victims of mass
deportations and what was the beginning of ethnic cleansing of many Soviet
Republics? Ukrainians were next, then Tatars, then the Turkish speaking peoples
of Central Asia, the Caucasus etc.
My point is that he is downsizing Soviet crimes, and I suspect minimizing
OUN-UPA crimes. The reason I am concerned about the downsizing of crimes against
the Polish nation, is that there is no one speaking for the Polish victims. The
current Polish government, meaning the PO and the President and his cohorts,
would readily accept the downsized numbers. I often wondered why in the West
there was such tolerance of crimes against Poles only to realize that there the
same tolerance in the present Polish government as it was and under all
post-Communist Polish governments between 1989-2005.
I hope I am wrong, and indeed if Prof. Snyder stops apologizing for OUN-UPA
crimes and does not downsize Soviet crimes, then I will change my mind about his
With best regards,
--- In Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
Maria Szonert <mszonert@...> wrote:
> In case you are interested in the Polish review of Bloodlands
> here it is:
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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