The passage of the new law in Poland, which criminalises mention of Polish involvement in the murder of Jews in the Holocaust, has brought to the surface worrisome evidence of the antisemitism which has been endemic in Polish society for centuries.
Some public statements have been bizarre indeed and have transparently distorted the facts in order to try to blame Jews themselves for their victimisation by Nazis and Poles alike during WW2. Even the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said on 17th February 2018 at the Munich Security Conference that the Holocaust had Polish perpetrators, just as it had Jewish ones (emphasis added).
Polish universities are not exempt either from these attempts to minimise the brutality of the treatment of Jewish Poles at the hands of fellow Poles and the Nazis. Recently an antisemitic leaflet was found in a faculty of the University of Warsaw, which, translated, echoes the theme in the previous paragraph and, in a transparent attempt to deflect from Polish complicity, alleges that Polish Jews themselves were complicit in war crimes against their own people and Poles. The tone of the leaflet is strident and seems designed to appeal, as is so often the case, to emotion rather than reason.
Under the heading “Polish death camps know the truth” for example, is the following, and the writer even refers to Hannah Arendt, whose own views were deemed controversial, to support his:
“… When the Germans began mass deportations of Jews to the death camps, the Jewish (sic) in the ghettos actively participated in the extermination of Jews. They helped, by registering all Jews in ghettos and directing them to extermination camps. Hannah Arendt, one of the most famous Jewish thinker of the twenty century, stated that without the active participation of the Judenants, [Judenrat?] the number of killed Jews would be much smaller. For Jews the role that Jewish leaders played in the destruction of their nation is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of all this grim history…”
Not content with maligning all Polish Jews living now for complicity in the murder of their own people in WW2, the leaflet then goes on to excoriate them for their alleged crimes against Poles during the Communist era:
” ….. [Jews] Do not want to speak that a significant part of the communist security in Poland were Jews. Between 1944 -1954, 37.1 % of people on managerial position were Jewish or people of Jewish origin in Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Public Security in Poland( Polish government)…”
It then lists those Jews it accuses together with their alleged crimes.
The leaflet was passed directly to Everyday Antisemitism by a concerned individual.
The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over 1,000 years and Poland had the largest, most significant Jewish community in the world for centuries. It was the centre of Jewish culture. The fall of communism there resulted in a Jewish revival which included new study programmes in schools and universities, and the work done in the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw. In the light of the antisemitic incidents described above, however, which are a few of many but the number seems to be increasing as it is in the rest of Europe, Polish Jews can hardly be blamed for being anxious about their future there.