Destruction of the Jewish existence in Poland
[5.3. Structure of criminal anti-Semitism in
Poland in the 1930s: Church - economy - nationalism]
[1930s: Three elements of
anti-Semitism in Poland]
Polish anti-Semitism in the 1930s drew its inspiration
from three sources:
-- the traditional, historic enmity of a Catholic people
to the Jewish minority;
-- economic competition exacerbated by crisis conditions;
-- and a virulent form of nationalism that was influenced
by Fascist models.
[There was already an anti-Semitism before 1929. So, with
the world wide economic crisis since 1929 anti-Semitism in
Poland is rising to a level during the whole 1930s which
is in Nazi Germany reached only in 1938].
[The propaganda of the
Polish Catholic church against the Jewish population]
The historic element was most clearly expressed by the
which exercised a tremendous influence and used it to
agitate in fairly extreme terms against the Jews. Although
paying lip service to its abhorrence of "the eruption of
human passions" generally, a statement by the Catholic
Press Agency in early 1936 declared the Catholic belief in
"the cultural separation of Poles and Jews".
It thought that Jewish youth was generally "badly brought
up, which sets a bad example for Christian youth". Jews
were accused of having Communist leanings. "As to other
negative traits of the Jewish character", the statement
continued, "even writers of Jewish origin do not fail to
emphasize them. In the forefront of the fight against
Christianity in Poland, there too Israel's sons are being
Anti-Jewish boycotts were justified because it was no sin
to defend the laborer against exploitation.
(End note 16: 46-reports 1936/7-Catholic Press Agency
statement, 1/25/36 [25 January 1936],
Moskowitz-Schneidermann report, March 1937)
"The Jews are ulcers on the Polish body", declared a
Polish paper, and another Catholic writer thought that
while "no power will be able to stop" the hatred between
the Jews and Poles, "this hatred is highly beneficial to
our Polish trade and to our country."
(End note 17:
-- Lukomski in Sprawy
, Lomza, 11/10/36 [10 November 1936],
-- and Kerwalski in Gazetta
, no. 2915 (1936);
Traditional anti-Semitism could also be discerned in
aristocratic circles, as in the newspaper Czas
, which was under
the influence of Prince Radziwill and Prince Lubomirski.
The peasant leaders declared that they opposed
anti-Semitism radically, "but they could not ignore the
importance of polonizing industry and relieving the
peasant from exploitation by the Jewish traders."
(End note 18: CON-17, 7/1/38 [1 July 1938], memo by
Raymond L. Bull of the Foreign Policy Association to the
American Jewish Committee)
desaster in anti-Semitic Poland provokes poverty of
traders and farmers - measures against the Jewish
One can see in these opinions the overlapping of the
economic and nationalistic aspects of anti-Semitism with
the more traditional element. The peasants were hard hit
by the crisis, which caused agricultural prices to fall
from an index of 100 in 1928 to an index of 34 in 1934,
whereas government and private monopolies in industries
contrived to prevent a similar decline in prices of
manufactured goods, which only fell to 82.
(End note 19:
-- R14, Kahn material, November 1936;
-- Raphael Mahler: Jews in Poland between the Two World
Wars (Hebrew); Tel Aviv 1968, p. 15)
These fluctuations in prices affected the small Jewish
trader no less than they did the peasant, for indeed the
economic decline of the peasant was the root cause of
Jewish rural poverty. Of course, the peasant leaders
failed to see this. On the other hand, the crisis
increased cutthroat commercial and industrial competition.
In this (p.186)
area the Polish middle class was supported by the
government in its violent attack on Jewish competitors.
Committee working in Poland helping the Jews]
Essentially, therefore, it was the task of JDC as the
major Jewish aid organization to fight a rearguard action
to protect the helpless Jewish trader and artisan as afar
as possible against the combined onslaught of government,
mob, and economic competition.
[Since 1937: Anti-Semitic
Poland copies the Nazi laws against Jews of the Third
Economic and nationalistic anti-Semitism was clearly
Nazi-influenced. Revocation of Jewish equality in Poland
became a declared Endek [National Democrat] policy in
April 1937. Boycott measures and pressure on Jews to
emigrate referred constantly to the German example.