Recently the City of New York authorized five new markers in Brooklyn’s Holocaust Memorial Park to represent five groups of non-Jews who died in the Holocaust. The new markers that were proposed honored homosexuals, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the disabled and political prisoners; Polish Catholics were ignored. The person behind this campaign was Rick Landman, co-chair of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Children of Holocaust Survivors. Dov Hikind, a New York State Assemblyman whose mother is a Holocaust survivor, strongly opposed this effort.
It is an historical farce for a Holocaust memorial to not single out Jews: they were the only ethnic group that was exclusively targeted by the Nazis. To that extent, the Holocaust was a Jewish event of monumental significance. But any time Holocaust victims who were not Jewish are dismissed altogether, it is another historical farce: Polish Catholics, for example, suffered badly.
Six million Polish citizens were killed in the Holocaust—three million of them were Jews, the other three million were Catholic. Poland was the only country where the Germans gave official death orders for any Pole who helped a Jew. And more Poles were killed for assisting Jews than anyone else in the world.
The SS did not take note of the religious affiliation of its prisoners, with the exception of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But this does not justify dismissing or ignoring Catholic victims. After all, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum pays tribute to Polish Catholics, and so should all memorials.
To put all Holocaust victims on an equal plane with Jews is wrong, but it is equally wrong to pretend that Catholics, especially those of Polish descent, were not among Hitler’s many victims.