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A. Rudzienski

Anti-Semitism in Poland

(24 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 36, 9 September 1946, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

August 24, 1946

“Since 1925 and above all since 1926, anti-Semitic demagogy, well camouflaged, unattackable, goes hand in hand with symbolic trials against avowed pogromists.”

Thus Leon Trotsky defines the anti-Semitic politics of Stalinism in his article On the Jewish Problem. (Fourth International [1], Dec. 1945.)

There is no better key to decipher the phenomenon of the anti-Semitic pogroms in Poland, especially the pogrom in Kielce, than this opinion of the old master.

The pogroms which are now taking place in Poland are the greatest in our tragic history. As is known, the first pogroms were “imported” to Poland by the “Black Hundreds” of Tsarism to combat the growing socialist movement in Poland. Polish reaction, then personified by the National Democratic Party, which stood for the submission of Poland to Tsarism, embraced the pogroms as its very own and as an excellent instrument to combat Polish socialism. The pogroms reached their climax in the process of decline of the 1905–06 revolution in Russia and Poland. The second wave of pogroms broke out in the independent Polish republic when reaction, frightened by the specter of the socialist revolution, loosed the pogroms in Lwow. But none of the pogroms of that period, or of the period of the Bonapartist dictatorship of the colonels, went to such lengths or covered so many victims as the pogroms under the “democratic” and “left-wing” government imposed on Poland by Stalin.

The tragic pogrom in Kielce confirms completely the point of view of Trotsky. According to the New York Times of July 6, the crowd began to assemble at 8:30 a.m. in front of the building of the Jewish community in Kielce, growing in half a day to several thousands. The crowd, according to the same source, could not enter the building; but the officials who arrived from the Polish army (Stalinist) entered the building and under false pretext took the Jewish victims outside and handed them over to the mob. The official version of Warsaw is that the “bandits of the NSZ” (national armed forces) assaulted the city and killed the Jews.

It is only too clear to us that the mob assembled without any intervention of the militia or the Russian and Polish armies, for the space of a few hours, in a city department (Woyewodia) where there are strong Russian and Polish garrisons, several kinds of police and militia and the notorious “security” police of Radkiewicz, controlled by the NKVD. There is no doubt of the intervention of the Stalinist officials on the side of the mob.

Furthermore, the circles of exiled Polish socialists inform us that Kielce has always been the fortress of the Socialist Party and that the democratic and progressive population of Kielce never knew pogroms there. These same circles contend that the Kielce pogrom was the work of agents provocateurs of the “security” police to counteract the reports of the foreign press on the referendum fraud and to appear in the eyes of proletarian opinion as “defenders” of the oppressed Jews against the reactionary Polish opposition, underground and legal, the latter represented by the party of Mikolajczyk.

This thesis is certainly confirmed by the earlier pogroms which occurred in Lodz, the most industrial city of Poland, and in Cracow, the old capital, in broad daylight under the noses of the “Red Army” – which declared in answer to passers-by that it could not intervene in the “internal affairs” of Poland. The judicial hearing before the military tribunal in Cracow revealed that the Polish soldiers accused of intervening in the pogrom declared that they had been instigated by the police agent Skrypek, who had been absolved.

The “demonstration” trials in Kielce which terminated with shootings only confirm the thesis of Trotsky, i.e., they serve as a camouflage. Beneath this camouflage are enacted the biggest and bloodiest pogroms in the history of Poland. The government reactionaries have; tolerated the pogroms “unofficially,” but the police, however sympathetic to the anti-Semites, intervene against the anti-Semites under the pressure of “the “left.” The notorious minister of Pilsudski, Slavoy-Skladkowski, has been widely attacked for his statement that the economic fight against the Jews will be tolerated, but not the pogroms; the Stalinist “democrats” instigate the greatest pogroms without public opinion or the free workers’ and peasants’ press being able to intervene and unmask the Machiavellian puppets. Under .the reactionary governments there were three and a half million Jews in Poland – and the Jewish press attacked the anti-Semitism of the Right and the government. Now there are only 150,000 Jews. There is a government of “Judophiles,” and the Jews hear beautiful declarations against “anti-Semitic reaction,” but behind this curtain of smoke occur the greatest pogroms organized by the police agents provocateurs, reminiscent of the times of Stolypin and his “Black Hundreds.”

What Do the Rulers Want?

Many readers will ask, “What ends does the Warsaw government pursue with the pogroms, which lower the prestige of the government itself?”

In the first place, they utilize the pogroms in the fight against the legal opposition of Mikolajczyk and his peasant party, supported by the worker masses who are outside the reach of the Stalinist party machine, and also by the bourgeois opposition. The presentation of the worker-peasant opposition as “reactionary” and “anti-Semitic” in its entirety and its identification with the nationalist and reactionary opposition will facilitate for Stalin the “liquidation” of the Peasant party, the introduction of the totalitarian police dictatorship in Poland and will justify the occupation of Poland by Russian troops and direct military intervention in the case of a civil war against the occupiers and their puppets.

In the second place, the toleration of the pogroms causes an exodus en masse of the Jewish population, which pleases the traditionally anti-Semitic bourgeois rightwing and reconciles it with the Stalinist regime. The Stalinists are bringing to a conclusion Hitler’s work of exterminating the Jews in Poland and east-central Europe. This point of view is confirmed by the exodus of the Jews from Russia itself and the mass desertion of the Jewish soldiers from the Russian army.

In the third place, they serve the ends of Russian international politics which wants to foment an exodus of the Jews of Europe to Palestine, in order to cause difficulties to British politics. The recent declarations of LaGuardia that the Russian agents in UNRRA are fomenting and organizing the Jewish emigration from central and eastern Europe confirm this thesis. And on the other side the Russian government foments Arab resistance against the Jewish immigration and Arab anti-Semitism, declaring that they should open all the frontiers to the Jews, with the exception of those of Russia and its sphere of influence in Europe.

The Polish nationalist reaction and the Catholic Church in part assist the Kremlin in this reactionary policy with their declarations and their attitude. But this role is secondary; their master and director is in the Kremlin. In the armed underground movement only the NSZ (armed nationalist forces) professes any anti-Semitism. But these forces number scarcely 1500 men and in the past their principal centers were liquidated. This organization is very easy to liquidate. The fact is that the Stalinist police tolerate, facilitate and instigate its anti-Semitic excesses in order to “repudiate” them politically. The “Home Army” (Cracow Army), the remainder of the powerful Polish underground army, condemns anti-Semitism officially. The declaration of Cardinal Hlond which tries to justify the pogrom – by the presence of the Jewish Stalinist executions in the Warsaw government – only adds grist to Stalin’s mill, and corresponds to the point of view of the old rightist reaction in Poland, which also collaborated with Tsarism and embraced the anti-Semitism of the “Black Hundreds.” But it is necessary to add that the majority of the Jews saved from the ghettos have survived thanks to the aid of the workers, the Polish peasants and many of the Catholic clergy which hid the Jews in convents and churches.

The anti-Semitic pogroms in Poland are the best proof of the counter-revolutionary politics of Stalinism. History does hot know mass pogroms effected against the will of a regime. Pogroms exist in Poland because the Stalinist regime permits them and desires them. The anti-Semitic politics of this regime is proof that it is the advance guard and the main body of reaction in Poland, with the old clerical and anti-Semitic nationalist reaction playing a secondary role as instrument of the Kremlin in order to facilitate the complete domination of Poland.

The international left wing of the working class must open fire against Stalinist anti-Semitism, visible to the eye in Poland, thus aiding the fight of the working class and the peasantry of Poland and defending the Jewish victims.

* * *

Footnote by ETOL

1. In the printed version incorrectly “New International”.

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