The Tragic Death of a Night Porter
In memoriam of Dariusz Ratajczak
by J. P. Bellinger
On June 11, 2010, a badly decomposed body was discovered wedged in between the seats of a parked ve-hicle in a shopping center located in Karolinka, Opole, in Poland. The cadaver was decomposed beyond recognition, and DNA tests turned out to be inconclusive in establishing the identity of the vic-tim. However, papers and docu-ments discovered inside the vehicle led police to conclude that the de-ceased individual was Dariusz Ra-tajczak, a professor of history who formerly taught at the University of Opole. He was 48 years old at the time of his death. Family members confirmed the fact that the decedent was indeed Dariusz Ratajczak. After being questioned, a number of witnesses told the po-lice that the car had only recently been parked there. In fact, just prior to his demise, Ratajczak had been planning a business trip to Holland, where he had been hired to work as a translator.
In fact, Dariusz Ratajczak’s troubles began with the publication of his booklet, Dangerous Topics, in March 1999. The treatise was self-published and limited to only 320 copies, but gave credence to the old maxim that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Ratajc-zak’s essay provoked a firestorm of criticism among his contempora-ries. In the month following the book’s publication, a rather sur-prised Ratajczak was summoned to the editorial offices of the Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading Polish news-paper, where he was sneeringly told, “We’ll trample you into the ground for the little book, and the little sub-chapter on the Holo-caust.”
True to their word, the editor of the newspaper proceeded to do just that. The Gazeta Wyborcza insti-tuted a smear campaign of harass-ment and intimidation calculated to ruin the man’s life and livelihood—and it succeeded beyond their wild-est expectations. Ratajczak was charged under Poland’s “Holocaust denial” law, which had been passed by the legislature as a result of pressure from the Jewish lobby. Even though the court eventually dismissed the charges against him, the smears, lies and libels emanat-ing from the media continued to dog him with the fanatical persis-tence of an Inspecteur Javert. In-stigated by the media assault, oth-ers joined the chorus to expel Ra-tajczak from his teaching position.
The director of the Auschwitz Museum referred to him as a “Na-zi,” and the spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Poland, Michael Sobelman, publicly expressed his “surprise” that “such a man works at a Polish university.” Unsurpri-singly, the Simon Wiesenthal Cen-ter joined in the chorus, accusing Ratajczak of being an “anti-Semite,” to which the professor responded rather phlegmatically:
“At present, the charge of anti-Semitism has become a sort of ex-ceptionally brutal weapon, which the ‘Establishment’ uses ruthlessly against independent-thinking men (for the greater fun of it, also against Jews, such as Dr. Israel Shahak). Write, in accordance with truth, about the almost racist cha-racter of the state of Israel, and you will be an anti-Semite. Point to Si-mon Wiesenthal, his errors of the past, or rub Mr. Adam Michnik and his Gazeta Wyborcza up the wrong way, and you will be an anti-Semite. Write a few words of truth about all those Wiesels, Kosinskis, or a few anti-Polish Australian liars of Jewish extraction, and you will be an anti-Semite, of course... And so on, on, on. Sheer paranoia, or—and here we are going back to the source—an important element of political correctness.”
Perplexed by the ferocity and persistence of the attacks launched against him, Ratajczak com-mented:
“What hurts me most is that I found myself in a group of histo-rians who have been muzzled. Af-ter all, please see: from 45 years to now the number of Jews murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau has dropped from six million to less than one million. It's official data. Indeed, even if they had killed one man, that would be a tragedy. But how is it that some historians may legitimately question the numbers of the Holocaust, and others can not? How is it that some people can reduce the six million to less than a million and nothing bad is happening to them? How is it that some people are not allowed to ex-amine this subject and even be wrong, while other historians are allowed all this?”
Expelled from his teaching posi-tion at the University of Opole on charges of “denying the Holo-caust,” he was compelled to seek work as a menial laborer. Prior to being dismissed, Ratajczak suffered the indignity of being ordered by his superiors at the University to submit to psychiatric treatment for presuming to question any aspect of the holocaust. A colleague ad-vised him that the only option available to him would be to move out of Opole and change his identi-ty. The slander campaign became so unbearable that it alienated his spouse and destroyed his marriage, and the once celebrated professor was reduced to penury and destitu-tion. Wherever he applied for work, prospective employers would receive telephone calls from “yel-low” journalists informing them that the applicant was a “holocaust denier,” and that hiring him would be “bad for business.” The hint alone sufficed to induce employers to subtly drop his application into the nearest wastebasket.
In the weeks preceding his death, Dariusz Ratajczak turned into a phantom of his former self, abandoned and shunned by family, friends, and former colleagues alike. The disturbing news of Ra-tajczak’s death shocked traditional-ist and patriotic organizations in Poland, whose spokespersons lam-basted Ratajczak’s detractors as people having the blood of an in-nocent man on their heads.
For them, Professor Ratajczak’s death prompts a serious moral di-lemma: Is questioning the holo-caust, or holocaust “denial,” of more intrinsic worth than the life of any human being?
In a moral sense, what possesses greater intrinsic value? Maintain-ing the mainstream version of the Holocaust at any cost, or the life of a single human being whose only offence was to engage in historical research in a quest for the truth? Disturbingly, there are those who would stop at nothing to silence any and all independent inquiries into the historical event known to historians as the Holocaust, a fact best illustrated by the response of those who supported the willful and malicious persecution of a man for exercising his God-given right of intellectual freedom. Unfazed by the news of his death, Ratajczak’s detractors gloated over his demise, intractable in their cynical hatred for the man. One critic mockingly commented that he “lived off his wife and could not find a better job than a waiter and a night porter. He lied, and had mental health problems, and led a miserable life and had a miserable death.” As if lying, personal misfortune and mental health problems warrant a miserable death for anyone!
Moreover, the obvious point was deliberately overlooked: The man was once gainfully employed, and highly respected, and his “men-tal problems” did not exist until the usual merchants of sleaze and smear sank their hooks into him, but by resorting to this process of vilification, the victim is dehuma-nized and condemned, and the as-sassins are cheered and comforted.
The reader may catch a glimpse of Professor Ratajczak’s profound insights and spontaneous genius as revealed during the course of an interview where he proffered an assessment of “politically correct” establishment historians:
“It is they who, deliberately, convert history into a handmaid of current political interests of equally morally and intellectually cheap ruling elites. Finally, it is they who decide which fact or historical fig-ure to make prominent, and about which to keep silent to the death. Of course, they do it from the angle of current political usefulness….
“Everywhere half-truths, lies, propaganda. But it is not at all madness, but a method leading to the destruction of historical con-sciousness, to the cutting off from the truly Polish historical heritage, without which the nation cannot exist. A nation is, after all, past, present, and future generations. If we break the first element of the triad, the whole starts making no sense. And that is where the ‘crea- tivity’ of the politically correct cor-rectors of history is leading.
“If there is an uninvestigated historical fact, I investigate it, whether somebody likes it, or not. If there is a problem which requires at least reporting about, or ex-pounding, I report about and ex-pound it. Regardless of whether they accuse me, for instance, of breaking the law. Because of this, I am an easy target for attacks. Such is the lot of a man not caring about censorship (the communist one be-fore, and the politically correct one today). Good God, I didn't become a historian to write between lines. A historian has one basic role to perform. It is to reach the truth. In essence, truth is a historian's only friend. A historian ought to know that truth has no hues; truth is al-ways clear, and one.”
Professor Ratajczak’s death was ruled a “suicide,” but skeptical people, perhaps bearing in mind the recent arrest of a Mossad assassin operating in Poland, are asking how a person in an advanced stage of decomposition was able to drive to a public parking lot and park a car?
In the preface to his prescient treatise, Dangerous Topics, Profes-sor Ratajczak opined:
“Writing about Polish-Jewish relations is a risky activity. Espe-cially for the Pole, who believes that these relations should be pre-sented on the basis of truth. It's easy then—paradoxically—to be exposed to charges of extreme na-tionalism, xenophobia and Anti-Semitism. The consequences are often sad: a social boycott (every-one has those friends they deserve), racial and publishing blacklisting. In the end—occupational death.”
Unfortunately, and certainly un-foreseen by Professor Ratajczak, “occupational death” transformed into physical extinction.
Prior to his unforgivable trans-gression, Professor Ratajczak was feted as one of Poland’s most bril-liant historians, and highly re-garded by his students. He leaves behind a wife and two fatherless children. His funeral was held in secret, without notifying the public, and the results of a mandated au-topsy are said to be forthcoming.
What may be said as his epitaph? Dariusz Ratajczak shall most likely be remembered as the victim of a cruel, relentless fate at the hands of cruel, relentless people who used his book, Dangerous Topics, to drive the nail into his coffin. On the day Dariusz Ratajczak died, free speech in Poland died with him.