Events scheduled for at least two Brooklyn-based churches featuring Ewa Kurek, a Holocaust historian who espouses a theory that Jews in Poland were complicit with the Nazis and that they “had fun in the ghettos,” were cancelled under activist pressure on Monday.
Kurek was scheduled to appear at St. Frances de Chantal on June 8 at 6:30 PM in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on June 7 at 6:00 PM.
Brooklyn Diocese spokesperson Adriana Rodriguez confirmed the cancellations to TPM.
“Bishop DiMarzio was unaware of these events,” she said. “As soon as he was made aware, he took the appropriate action so these controversial figures would not be permitted to speak at a Diocese of Brooklyn Catholic Church.”
Kurek is also scheduled to speak at the Church of St. Theresa in Linden, New Jersey on June 9 at 11:30 AM, per the church’s weekly bulletin. Activists also believe that she was, at least at one point, scheduled to make an appearance at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in East Harlem. It is unclear if those events are going forward.
None of the individual churches responded to TPM’s requests for comment.
Victoria Cambranes, a Polish-American and “lifelong Greenpointer,” said she spearheaded the movement to get the events cancelled.
“They were displaying some pretty anti-Semitic behavior at the protests, waving dollar bills in people’s faces, it was generally considered pretty shameful, hardcore rightwing conservative,” she said. “I was seeing posters plastered everywhere in Greenpoint, in front of churches and along different avenues.”
Soon after, Cambranes said she saw a flyer advertising Kurek’s upcoming appearance at St. Stanislaus.
“Before we start protesting and potentially creating chaos — the last thing we want is another Charlottesville happening in Greenpoint — I wrote a letter to the Bishop asking him to do right thing,” she said. “That was this morning, and by this afternoon, the Brooklyn events were cancelled.”
According to Cambranes, Polonia United is trying to find alternative locations for Kurek to speak at. She said that in a video posted in Polish by Witek Rosowski, a member of the group, he promised that the East Harlem and Linden events would go forward as planned, and that backup locations would be chosen to replace the Brooklyn stops. She says that he called Kurek’s speeches “more important now than ever.”
Polonia United did not immedietely respond to TPM’s request for comment.
This week won’t be the first time Kurek brings her Holocaust distortion to American shores.
According to the Associated Press, she was to be the recipient of a the Polish-Jewish Dialogue Committee’s humanitarian award named for Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter who risked his life during the Holocaust to rescue Jewish people, in 2018. Polish government officials eventually intervened to prevent an uproar.
Kurek made other pit stops around the states at the time, mostly at events sponsored by Polish groups, including one at the school connected to St. Stanislaus.
At the time, Kurek was making her American tour against a background of tumult in her home country, as Poland had recently passed a law criminalizing claims of Polish responsibility for the Holocaust sparking outrage from Israel, according to Tablet Magazine.
Her lecture circuit seems well-timed this trip too.
The beginning of April saw a rash of rallies, including those spearheaded by Polonia United, throughout the United States protesting a Senate bill introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) centering on the Holocaust reparations.
This trend isn’t new. In the age of President Donald Trump, incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise. Per the Anti-Defamation League, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the United States rose a whopping 67 percent from 2016 to 2017. In this new climate, it’s no wonder that someone with Kurek’s ideas is being given multiple pulpits.