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Feb 27, 2024

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WWII And Holocaust: Just A Big Joke
At Disney’s ABC-TV

Brooklyn, N.Y. .. The Anti-Bigotry Committee of the Polish American Congress issued a protest letter to the Disney-owned ABC-TV network after late-night host Jimmy Kimmel recently decided to use a series of anti-Polish ethnic jokes and ridiculed the effort of the Polish cavalry to fight back against Hitler’s invasion of Poland which began World War II.

In the past, Polish Americans frequently expressed their objections when the entertainment industry made them a favorite target for this type of ethnic putdowns.  Kimmel did not conceal he loved Polish jokes so much that he might consider using them again on his future shows.

The Polish American Congress formed the Anti-Bigotry Committee thirty years ago at the time Michael Preisler, a Polish Catholic survivor of Auschwitz, was president of its Downstate New York Division.  He feels it is more appropriate to call such malicious jokes “untermenschen” jokes, the German word for “subhuman” or “inferior” which the Nazis used to denigrate their Polish or Jewish prisoners.  Now retired, Mr. Preisler holds the title of Honorary President of the NY Division.

The biggest Nazi joke, in his opinion, was Adolf Hitler’s claim Poland started World War II and the Germans had to defend themselves against Polish aggression.

The Anti-Bigotry Committee feels its protest letter should find a sympathetic ear at the Walt Disney Company since it has a Jewish CEO, Robert A. Iger, “whose ethnic group has often been a target like us.”

This is the protest letter sent to ABC-TV and Disney:

Ms. Anne Sweeney, President
Disney-ABC Television Group
77 West 66th St.
New York, NY 10023

Dear Ms. Sweeney:

Re: Jimmy Kimmel Show 12/04/13

We were led to believe the problem of anti-Polish bigotry on the ABC network had been permanently resolved when we concluded our conference with Ms. Chris Hikawa held at your New York office over a decade ago.  The Drew Carey show was our agenda then.

Regrettably, Jimmy Kimmel just introduced a series of Polish jokes and expressed his desire to continue them on future shows.  We call this to your attention since we are of the opinion ABC has not authorized him to set broadcast standards for your organization.

As the new year approaches, please bear in mind the world will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of World War II which began with Hitler’s invasion of Poland September 1, 1939. Although the power of Germany’s military machine eventually conquered Poland, the Polish people were the first to resist the Nazis.  Despite their loss, they continued to fight the Nazi hordes by providing the Allies the largest and most effective underground resistance in all of German-occupied Europe.

One of the derisive jokes Mr. Kimmel offered to denigrate their anti-Nazi struggle is based on deliberate German misinformation given news reporters when the first battles of the war were taking place.  The exuberant Nazis embellished the story of their victory by claiming the Polish cavalry was “so stupid” that its horsemen were ordered to attack the German tanks with nothing more than just a lance in their hands.

It is a matter of record the story has long ago been discredited as being Nazi misinformation and typical German propaganda intended to humiliate and demoralize their enemy.  Also, to impress their own German soldiers with a belief their superior German blood makes them forever invincible against their inferior foes.  Polish veterans who survived the war and joined the Polish American Congress after emigrating to the United States are some of those authorities who challenge this German propaganda.

Hitler’s racist and xenophobic campaign was most intensively directed against the Jewish and the Polish people.  Every German was to believe he or she was part of the “Master Race” and Jews and Slavic people like the Poles were “untermenschen,” the German word for “subhuman” or “inferior.”  Mr. Kimmel, himself, described us as “stupid” when he was ridiculing us on his show.  His was as much an “untermenschen” statement as one which would have come from the mouth of an arrogant Nazi death camp guard who had become accustomed to regularly calling Poles “swine” and Jews “vermin.”

We offer this historical background because a book published this year, “The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler” charges America’s major movie studios of allowing Nazi propaganda in films they produced in the years leading to World War II.  Many spokespersons for your industry are vehemently trying to deny such charges at this time.  Nonetheless, a stigma remains and overshadows the image of the industry in which Disney-ABC Television is prominent.

It may be in the interest of Disney-ABC Television to seriously consider the implications of Mr. Kimmel’s revival of ethnic degradation which goes beyond the parameters of acceptable ethnic humor and enters the sphere of a racial philosophy not much different from what the Jewish and Polish “untermenschen” had to face when Hitler and his Nazis established their reign of terror in Poland nearly 75 years ago.

We trust you will be able to assure us Mr. Kimmel understands he represents himself as well as the Disney name when he appears before your cameras.  His personal prejudices should remain his own and you would do well to  prohibit him from discrediting the great respect the Disney name had accrued in the years that preceded his association with the Disney organization.

Sincerely yours,
Frank Milewski

cc:  Mr. Robert A. Iger, CEO
Walt Disney Company
500 S. Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521