lady painting

 

Aug 2002 Journal

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Antisemitism in a Jew-less land

Poland's Jewry, the largest in pre-war Europe, also suffered the heaviest losses. By the war's end, out of three and a quarter million barely 200,000 had survived (mainly in Russia). Over the next 20-odd years, this number was further decimated by an exodus resulting from right-wing atrocities - particularly at Kielce in 1946 - and the Communist cold pogrom of 1968. Today's community numbers between 10,000 and 20,000 in a country of 38 million.

But phantom Jews still loom large in the paranoid imaginings of the rank-and-file of the Christian nationalist party led by the Europhobe Andrzej Lepper. Grassroots party members told Joe Klein, a US journalist reporting for The Guardian, that Jews had (a) helped the Russians take over the country; (b) usurped the leadership of the anti-Communist Solidarity movement; and (c) used the media to denigrate Poland.

The media personality they targeted as chief calumniator of his homeland was none other than the cradle Catholic Andrzej Wajda, a director who single-handedly put Poland on the map of world cinema during the postwar years. As regards the Zhidokommunist canard, only few historians - of whom Professor Norman Davis, alas, is one - now subscribe to the view that Jews were preponderant in the Communist secret police.

The facts about the alleged Jewish dominance over Solidarity are these:
ex-student leader Jan Michnik is a half-Jew, and former foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek was a Jewish baby reared by a Catholic family (to whose care his Auschwitz-bound parents entrusted him). Interestingly, when interviewed, both Michnik, currently editor of the leading Warsaw daily Gazeta Wyborcza, and Professor Geremek assured Joe Klein that they felt optimistic about the future of the country with which, despite all the antisemitic slurs, they still totally identify.
Richard Grunberger

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