Skip to comments.AntiSemitism and Racism in Poland
Posted on 02/27/2006 8:21:37 PM PST by jb6
Several violent antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2003/4 and the trend of violence against Jewish institutions in Wroclaw continued. Widespread disillusionment with the Social Democratic government was exploited by extreme right and nationalistic parties.
the jewish community
There are some 5,00010,000 Jews in Poland out of a total population of close to 40 million. The majority live in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Krakow and Lodz, but there are smaller communities in several other cities. There are virtually no Jews in the eastern part of Poland where once large, important communities existed, such as those of Lublin and Bialystok.
The Union of Jewish Religious Communities (Zwiazek Kongregacji Wyznania Mojzeszowego), or Kehilla, and the secular Jewish Socio-Cultural Society (Towarsztwo Spoleczno-Kulturalne Zydowskie), or Ferband, are the two leading communal organizations and these, together with other Jewish groups, are linked by membership in the KKOZRP, which acts as a roof organization. There is a Jewish primary school in Warsaw maintained by the Lauder Foundation, which has been active in rehabilitating Jewish life in Poland, especially through youth projects. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is also active in Poland, particularly in social welfare activities. The leading Jewish publications are the monthly Midrasz, Dos Jidische Wort, Jidele for youth and Sztendlach for primary school children. Significantly, all of these publications appear in Polish, except for Dos Jidische Wort which is published in a bi-lingual Yiddish-Polish edition.
Important institutions are the Jewish Historical Institute, with its revamped museum, the E.R. Kaminska State Yiddish Theater in Warsaw and the Jewish Cultural Center in Krakow. There are centers for Jewish studies in Warsaw University and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. The Polish government supports plans to erect a hi-tech interactive Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The institution is to be built opposite the Ghetto Monument in Warsaw and funds are being raised to advance this project.
In April 2001 President Kwasniewski vetoed legislation that would have provided for the restoration of private property to Polish citizens only clearly discriminating against Jewish claimants, the great majority of whom are not domiciled in Poland and are not Polish citizens. In the absence of legislation, no mechanism yet exists that would provide for the return of private assets and the matter continues to be a subject of national and international debate. The restoration of communal property to the Jewish communities and to the Foundation for the Preservation of the Jewish Heritage in Poland continues (see ASW 2002/3). Polish and Israeli youth participated jointly in 2003/4 in preservation work on Jewish cemeteries.
parliamentary ORGANIZATIONS and extra-parliamentary groups
The year 2003 and the first half of 2004 were marked by a deterioration of the political climate in the country. Widespread disillusionment with the Social Democratic government (which has been in power since 2001) was exploited by extreme right and nationalistic parties. The League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin LPR), for example, whose members have frequently expressed antisemitic sentiments, more than doubled their share of the vote in the june 2004 European Parliament election, from 7 per cent in the 2001 national election, to 15 per cent.
The LPR won nine seats in the European Parliament, joining the UK Independence Party (UKIP), among others, in the Democracy and Independence bloc. The alliance with the far right LPR embarrassed the UKIP, which has tried to avoid accusations of extremism (see Searchlight, Aug. 2004; for a similar situation, see also Greece). Among newly elected LPR MEPs is Wojciech Wierzejski, until recently a leader of the resurrected All-Polish Youth (Mlodziez Wszechpolska MW). The MW continues the tradition of the violent antisemitic youth organization of the same name, which was active in the 1920s and 1930s. Today it is composed largely of skinheads and tends to use violence against political opponents, notably gay and feminist groups. (For example, on 8 May 2004 football hooligans and activists of the MW and LPR violently attacked a peaceful gay rights march in Krakow.)
In March 2003 an MP representing the LPR, Bernard Wojciechowski, led a campaign against naming a primary school in Warsaw after Janusz Korczak, the Polish-Jewish educationalist who perished with the children in his care in Treblinka. Wojciechowski authored an open letter in which he referred to Korczak by his original Jewish name, Goldschmitt, and quoted notorious pre-war antisemites Jedrzej Giertych and Lucjan Zarzecki, who accused Korczak of not representing national and Christian values.
It is worth mentioning that the radical antisemite Jedrzej Giertych, who wrote from the 1930s on, continues to have a profound influence on the ideology of todays LPR and MW, a fact officially acknowledged by party leaders on numerous occasions. The LPRs presidential candidate Professor Maciej Giertych is Jedrzej Giertych's son, while the main spokesman of the LPR, Roman Giertych, is his grandson.
According to the influential center-right daily Rzeczpospolita, the LPR is likely to enter a new governing coalition with conservative and liberal parties after the parliamentary election scheduled for 2005. It has already formed an alliance with the conservative Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc PiS) in the Warsaw city council. The conservative mayor Lech Kaczynski accepted the demand of the LPR to build a monument to Roman Dmowski in the city center. Dmowski was the ideologue of the nationalist antisemitic movement Endecja in the 1920s and 1930s. In February 2004, Jan Maria Jackowski, a leader of the LPR, was elected chairman of the city council. In one of his books he warned against Poland becoming a land reserve for one of the sides in the Middle East conflict, alluding to potential Jewish settlement in Poland.
The other dynamic antisemitic party, National Rebirth of Poland (Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski NOP), is active on the street level, among skinheads and football hooligans. It organizes annual training for neo-fascist groups from different countries and is closely linked to the Italian neo-fascist Forza Nuova. It published many eulogies of William Pierce, leader of the US neo-Nazi National Alliance, who died in July 2002. The party openly supports Holocaust denial and its publication Szczerbiec (distributed by the state-owned company Ruch) includes a regular column written by the British Holocaust denier David Irving. Despite numerous calls in the media and by the Never Again Association to ban the NOP (on the basis of Article 13 of the country's Constitution) and to stop distribution of Szczerbiec at state-owned newspaper kiosks, the NOP continues its activities unhindered. The NOP has increasingly exploited the Middle Eastern conflict in its propaganda, expressing support for Islamic terrorist groups. Interestingly, the notorious antisemitism of the NOP did not prevent Jerzy Kropiwnicki, who was subsequently elected mayor of Lodz, from forming a coalition with this party. Kropiwnicki has occasionally expressed his readiness to further relations with the Jewish Diaspora, but he has failed to change the image of the city as a stronghold of organized antisemitic activity.
The government-owned Ruch also sells hard-core antisemitic literature of Leszek Bubel, a veteran antisemitic publisher who has produced, among others, pocket editions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) condemned the wide circulation of racist propaganda in its March 2003 report on Poland.
Andrzej Lepper, leader of the populist Self-Defense (Samoobrona) enjoys some 10 per cent of support among the Polish population. He has repeatedly made enthusiastic references to Göbbels propaganda skills and Hitlers economic policy. According to Polands main daily, the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza, Lepper's party is financed by Jan Kobylanski, a Uruguay-based millionaire. Kobylanski was reportedly prevented from entering the US due to his alleged wartime collaboration with the Nazis. Kobylanski is also closely linked to Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, operator of Radio Maryja, which continues to disseminate thinly veiled antisemitic propaganda, an activity tolerated by the Catholic Church. In 2004 Radio Maryja ran a campaign in defense of Father Henryk Jankowski, a notorious antisemite who has been accused of pedophilia. Jankowski himself publicly attributed the accusations to a Judeo-communist plot. In February 2003 the Polish National and Radio Council granted a television station license to the Catholic Lux Varitatis Foundation, also run by Rydzyk.
The level of antisemitic activity in Poland remained fairly stable. Several violent antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2003/4 including, in December 2003, desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Oswiecim (Auschwitz), where ten tombstones were overturned. The trend of violent antisemitic activity in Wroclaw continued (see ASW 2002/3). In September 2003 the windows of the new Jewish school were broken and antisemitic slogans found on the walls of the buildings. The principal of the school received an anonymous phone call threatening that this was only the first stage in a war [against the Jews].
In October 2003, six high school seniors from Israel, who were part of a delegation to Poland, were ejected from a restaurant in Krakow after one of the workers asked if they were Jews.
Following reports in December 2003 that a Church shop near the central synagogue in Warsaw was selling antisemitic literature, former Prime Minister Tadeus Mazovetsky and some members of the Church asked that the sale of antisemitic books be stopped in Church book stores. Cardinal Joseph Glemp said there had been no complaints and that he would not restrict freedom of speech (see also ASW 200O/1).
responses to racism and antisemitism The activity of non-governmental organizations has been an important antidote to antisemitism in Poland. For instance, the Never Again Association has run a successful campaign against antisemitism and racism in football stadiums (in the framework of Football against Racism in Europe) as well as on the Internet (in the framework of the International Network against Cyber Hate). As part of this campaign, 32 Polish football teams took part in a tournament at the Przystanek Woodstock rock festival in August 2003, with 300,000 participants. Anti-fascist booths distributed literature and collected signatures asking the Polish Football Association to take steps against racism in football stadia. The festival was held again in July 2004 with 250,000 participants.
In March 2004 the Council of Ministers approved a National Action Program against Racism. It is hoped the Program will strengthen the implementation of existing legal provisions against hate speech and organized racist activity.
In January 2003 a Day of Judaism was inaugurated by the Polish Catholic Church at the Nozyk Synagogue, attended by many clergy. Material promoting the need for respect and cooperation between the Church and Judaism was distributed among 7,000 churches.
The state prosecutor has demanded prison terms in the case of two Poles charged with libel in a Bialystok court for shouting antisemitic remarks at Shevach Weiss, former Israeli ambassador to Poland, who appeared at a book-signing ceremony in September 2002.
An investigation of four men trained by the Nazis at Trawniki was begun in January 2003. The men, of Ukrainian origin (including John Demjanjuk who was tried in Israel in the late 1980s), who live outside Poland, are suspected of having been involved in the murder of many Jews in Sobibor, Treblinka and Belzec and in the liquidation of the ghettos at Lublin and Bialystok between 1942 and July 1944.
Seems a report from Israel on Polish neo-nazi groups gets dropped under Weird Stuff. ???
Wouldn't want folks to know the truth or anything.
"We decide you report (to us)."
Very good book about the Polish Jews pre WW2
Thanks. I am going to look for it.
Looks like these teenagers made up the story - maybe the restaurant refused to sell them alcohol?
You know I dont even read this leftist trash which jb6 and other Soviets spread on the FR. Nice to see that he officially joined George Soros's campaign against Christianity. You can take jb6 out from the Communist Party but you cannot take comunism out of jb6.
Yes, how dare those damned Joooosss document anti-semitism and fascist incidents in victim Poland's land of the pure? Even with almost no minorities, you still have large scale fascism. But then again, Poland was the first fascist dictatoriship in Europe in 1926 while it was busy sending Ukrainian and Belrussian leaders into concentration camps and burning Orthodox churchs....ooops there we go again, disrupting your Victim Charade. We wont' even mention Poland's alliance with Hitler in '38 to dismember Czechoslavakia.
As for communist crap, you're the mouth piece/apologist for all things EU. You even dropped all pretense of caring about Poland when you defended Estonian nazies, never mind what the Estonian SS Legion did to Warsaw.
The only one who spreads socialist tripe is you. You constantly attack, as an agi-prop, those who point out the socialist policies of such men as Yushchenko or Saakashvili and you've never said a word against even the most socialist policies of the EU. The only thing you ever protested is when the British got tired of paying Poland's welfare bill and wanted out of that obligation.
You may want to check out this site:
Only you would find it honorable to be called a fascist.
From your Soviet mouth - myself as well. With pleasure.
How would you like it if I stated every Pole or Ukie I have met in my 63 years was a homosexual or lesbian? I could repeat that mantra over and over until some on Free Republic would believe it. we could play the same tactics we have seen your side use against Russia for the last couple of years. Hopefully, some are smart enough to see nobody will win if those tactics are used.
I wouldn't like it.
But I really have no idea why you're asking me such a question.
Have I said anything like that about anyone, any nation?
I presume, that you mean the Russians. But please - go through keyword "Russia" and find any article posted by me, that would suggest something comparable to your question.
Or any, single comment posted by me.
Take your time, as I'm going to bed now.
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