WARSAW, Aug. 8 -- The editor-in-chief of Poland's largest newspaper said Thursday a U.S. author has insulted Poland by writing a New York Times opinion piece that said Poland's underground army during World War II was anti-Jewish. 'It is senseless fanaticism,' Adam Michnik wrote in an article in Gazeta Wyborcza, which accompanied a Polish translation of a piece written by historian Yaffa Eliach that ran on the New York Times' Op-Ed page Tuesday. 'The text is another publication showing Poland as a country of anti-Semites and criminals.' Eliach, a professor of history and literature at Brooklyn College, wrote that 'a band of uniformed AK (Army Krajowa -- Home Army)' soldiers killed her mother and brother in the Polish town of Ejszyszki (Eishyshok in Yiddish) in 1944. The town is now part of Lithuania and known as Eisiskes. She said there were also pogroms against Jews by the AK in the town. She said eventually, the Soviet secret police conducted an investigation, tried most of the perpetrators and exiled them to Siberia. 'Every aspect of the events of that night, as well as the other murderous activities of the Polish Home Army in Eishyshok and its vicinity, has been thoroughly documented by scholars,' she wrote. 'All the documentation notwithstanding, some Polish-American groups of Holocaust deniers have distorted and denied every aspect of what happened that night.' Polish news agency PAP said a Polish commission investigating crimes against Poland asked the U.S. Justice Department last November to allow lawyers to interview Eliach.
The commission said it got no response, but a spokesman said it will apply again. 'Eliach's testimony will provide a basis for proceedings in the case,' said Stanislaw Kaniewski, a commission director. 'If any evidence gathered points to the guilt of anyone still alive, they will be put on trial.' Eliach's article acknowledges she was approached for her testimony but said the official request was 'couched in Orwellian language' about bringing her brother's and father's murderers to justice -- which the Soviets had done 50 years ago. Polish historians do not deny the incident but contend one crucial fact is missing from Eliach's article: that her family was harboring a Soviet spy. Jaroslaw Wolkonowski, a Polish historian, says the AK group entered the town to liquidate the agent. 'The NKVD (Soviet secret police) spy could have lived in the house because Moshe Sonenson, the father of Eliach, was a supporter of the Soviet Union,' Gazeta quoted him as saying. Wolkonowski said that during the shootout, two family members were killed and the NKVD spy was wounded. He was later executed by the AK. Michnik, an outstanding anti-communist who prides himself of being of Jewish descent, said the AK was a large army and individual anti-Semitic excesses could have happened. 'But it is shocking and out of place for a professional historian to blame everyone for a crime committed by one individual,' Michnik said. 'The AK army was part of the anti-Nazi coalition and went down in history as a heroic fighter against Nazism.'