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Andrzej Rudzienski


A Reply to a False Charge

(August 1947)

From The New International, Vol. XIII No. 6, August 1947, pp. 191–192.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear Editor:

I am in complete agreement with your correct reply to the criticism, or more accurately speaking, the misunderstanding displayed by Comrade Findley toward my article on anti-Semitism in Poland. Although your reply exhausted the matter, I desire to contribute some points of clarification which can help in the understanding of this thorny and bloody problem. Comrade Findley reproaches me for my “generalizations,” “simplifications,” and “distortions” of the anti-Semitic problem in Poland. I, as well as your readers, would welcome proof demonstrating the accuracy of his easily made and more than abundant charges.

The strongest accusation made against me by Comrade Findley is that I underestimate the anti-Semitism of the Polish petty-bourgeoisie and even the Polish proletariat. It seems to me that my entire work demonstrated the growth of this anti-Semitism as a historic process among the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie of Poland. The greater part of my work dealt with pre-Stalinist anti-Semitism. Any desire on my part to underestimate, hide or defend anti-Semitism would be a grave disservice to the Socialist cause. My intention was to uncover, analyze and condemn it, but not in the form of a moral, ecclesiastic and idealistic anathema, but in a scientific and materialistic form, laying bare its roots and historic development. Unfortunately, many Marxists are more in love with moral preachments than with the surgical scalpel of historical materialism. This and the accusation of Stalinism as the principal factor in the Kielce pogrom (and not only in Kielce) brought Findley to some conclusions and accusations which seem to me to be hasty and unjust.

Findley puts himself in the easy position of identifying my point of view with that of the PPS and then of putting “us” in the same line with Stalinists under the rubric of the “theory of provocation.” In the first place, the Stalinists never propounded such a theory, but accused the Polish people in general of being responsible for the pogroms in almost the same form as Findley. In the second place my point of view differs fundamentally from that of the PPS since the latter really underestimates anti-Semitism as a historic process and reactionary sentiment of the petty-bourgeoisie, reducing it to a question only of Stalinist provocation, while I affirm that in the present phase the principle factor in the pogroms is Stalinist provocation and tolerance without underestimating “spontaneous anti-Semitism.” And Findley himself supports my thesis saying,

“For seven hours, this mass, calmly and without haste, in broad daylight and in the center of the city, sadistically tortured to death several dozen Jews who had been disarmed and turned over to the mob by the Stalinist militia without interference or intervention by any police, military or political agency.”

A Government Policy

History shows that there never were and there are not now· pogroms without the tolerance and intervention of an anti-Semitic government. The pogroms of Czarist Russia were instruments of struggle against the proletariat. The pogroms in Rumania, Poland and Germany were tolerated and even instigated and prepared by the respective governments in accordance with its degree of fascization. I state that the recent pogroms in Stalinist Poland were carried out with the toleration and preparation of the government and the GPU. The reactionary Stalinist government uses them as a weapon against the spontaneous workers movement which has an anti-Stalinist character. The Stalinist government skilfully took advantage of the organic anti-Semitism of the nationalist bands of the NSZ, giving them free reign and lending them the collaboration of its army and militia. Kielce is the capital of the province with a military garrison and many police. To demand the intervention of the Peasant party in a city, or of the illegal PPS against the Stalinist militia is difficult under a Stalinist regime. The Stalinist party should have intervened but did not. Why? The answer is easy.

However, without the existence of established “spontaneous anti-Semitism” the tragedy of Kielce would not have been possible. But “spontaneous anti-Semitism” is not a monopoly of either Poland or Russia; it exists in England and the United States, in Latin America, in France, etc. If the United States government had a political stake in preparing pogroms in the Jewish sections of New York, it would find the mob ready for this purpose. The agreement between the Stalinists and the important section, almost the main section, of the NSZ confirms my thesis. The top leaders of this organization, few in numbers when compared with the other sectors of the armed underground (3,000 men as against 200,000 of the A.K.–Home Army), Piasecki and Dziarmaga now edit a legal paper which collaborates with the government, It should also be pointed out that the commander of the NSZ collaborated with the GPU and was a Stalinist tool. In a series of political trials, the “repentant” accused of the NSZ accused the opposition of contact with the NSZ and of collaborating in the anti-Semitic pogroms directed against the “popular Polish Democracy.” Does Findley prefer to put faith in the GPU before accepting the criticism and analysis of a comrade?

Biological Anti-Semitism?

Comrade Findley considers it demagogy to refute the notion of the biological anti-Semitism of a people. And in refutation presents as an argument the lack of documents and acts demonstrating Polish workers’ solidarity with the Warsaw ghetto, an argument that indeed falls short of the truth because there is abundant documentation to prove the contrary. The PPS and the underground unions not only solidarized politically with the martyrs of the ghetto, but did everything possible to provide them with arms, ammunition and even military instructors, not to speak of the refuge given en masse to the Jewish victims. Ignorance of these facts is not to be condemned, but Comrade Findley can request the indicated documentation from Felix Gross, Jewish member of the PPS, and author of the Polish Worker who resides in New York. Findley is not convinced by the almost complete absence of anti-Semitic pogroms under the German occupation in spite of all the efforts cf the Nazis to organize them. Does not Findley know that the guards and militia in the Ghetto and death camps were, aside from the Jews, the Ukrainians, the Letts and Lithuanians, the German storm troopers, and not the Poles?

My intention, dear Comrade Findley, was not to underestimate, or worse still, to hide or defend Polish anti-Semitism, but to seek it out and accuse the principal evil-doer, criminal Stalinism. And along this road, I was preceded by no-one less than the “organizer of the proletarian victory,” Leon Trotsky, himself of Jewish descent. In order to accuse reactionary and criminal Stalinism, I had no other recourse than to set it on the first plane. It is to be regretted if Findley understood it in any other fashion. I know the anti-Semitism of the provincial Polish bourgeois and petty-bourgeois very well indeed, since I have spent most of my life fighting it, struggling without truce against the bourgeois reaction and now against the Stalinist reaction. The nationalism of the Stalinist press in Poland constantly foments anti-Semitism, and reminds one greatly of the period of the National-Democratic anti-Semitic press. However, they carry it out much more “skilfully” and subtly than did the bourgeois beasts.

I consider Comrade Findley’s article hasty and unjustified. I would gladly accept his criticism as a compliment and deepening of my work were it not so poor in ideas and so rich in prejudice.

Andrzej Rudzienski

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