Polish President Andrzej Duda pulled out of a major Holocaust commemoration event in Jerusalem, the 5th Holocaust Forum, scheduled for January 23. Duda wanted to give a speech there, but he was not invited to speak. That was the official reason.
But there can be an unofficial reason as well, which is even more important. Apparently, Duda does not agree with the view presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who cast Poland as an anti-Semitic country that welcomed the Nazi dictator’s plans to destroy Europe’s Jews. However, Warsaw may feel uneasy in the view of facts and archive documents that can be made public on Thursday or right after the commemoration event.
A number of governments distort their countries’ Holocaust past, including Lithuania, Poland and Hungary, but there are “vocal minorities in other places as well”, where people insist that the Germans, not they themselves, were responsible for all anti-Jewish violence, Yehuda Bauer, a professor emeritus of history and Holocaust studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The Times of Israel in an interview in Jerusalem. Bauer is going to deliver the keynote address at a dinner for about 45 leaders from across the world Wednesday evening at President Reuven Rivlin’s residence in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Many Polish Jews were killed by their non-Jewish compatriots. This is undeniable. A former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski acknowledged in 2001 the guilt of Poles in the massacre of several hundred Jews in Jedwabne in July 1941. However, current Polish authorities try to wipe clean history to make it look more convenient.
Therefore, some facts that may shatter the unblemished image of Poland of 1935-1938 are worth reminding. However shameful, the truth will be the truth. And here is a list based on the detailed information thoroughly collected by The Jewish Virtual Library, a project by the prominent American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE). The article does not allow for every detail to be published. Yet, the attitude of the Polish authorities to Polish Jews before WWII, in our view, can be clearly seen.
Polish dictator Józef Piłsudski dies. From here on Jews will experience more anti-Semitism in Poland. The government and most Polish political parties will call for discrimination, economic boycott, expulsion, and physical violence against Jews. The Polish Catholic Church, most priests, the Catholic press, and schools will sanction discrimination and/or violence against the Jews.
Anti-Jewish riots occur in Grodno, Poland.
Anti-Jewish riots erupt in Polish universities. Jewish students restricted to special seats.
Poland models its policy regarding Jews on that of Nazi Germany. Jews are attacked throughout Poland. Tens of thousands of Polish Jews emigrate to Holland, France, Belgium, and Palestine.
August Cardinal Hlond, the head of the Polish Catholic Church, considered less anti-Semitic than many Polish clergy and a careful follower of Vatican policy, issues a pastoral letter advocating discrimination against Polish Jews “so long as they remain Jews.”” He writes that Polish Catholics “ought to fence themselves off against the Jews’ harmful moral influence of Jewry” and “ought to separate themselves from its anti-Christian culture.” He states that Polish Catholics “ought to boycott the Jewish press” and other “demoralizing Jewish publications,” although “Catholics should not assault Jews.”
Anti-Jewish pogroms occur in Poland. Polish Cardinal Hlond speaks out against Jewish “usury, fraud, and white slavery.”
Jews are killed and injured during anti-Semitic riots in Przytyk, Poland.
Mass demonstrations of Jews and left-wing and liberal Poles protesting the anti-Jewish riots in Poland.
Polish Jews strike in protest against anti-Semitism.
Poland’s Ministry of Commerce orders all small businesses to display the owners’ names as the names appear on the birth certificates. The directive is intended to expose Jewish-owned businesses.
350 incidents of physical assaults against Jews are recorded this month in Poland.
Other important events:
Poland investigates the possibility of deporting resident Jews to Madagascar.
The Polish government threatens to revoke the citizenship of Polish Jews who are living in Germany.
Anti-Jewish riots spread across Poland.
Jews are killed and injured during an anti-Semitic pogrom at Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Poland.
Jews are killed and injured during an anti-Semitic pogrom in Wilno, Poland (present-day Vilnius in Lithuania).
The Polish government revokes passports of all Jews who have lived outside of Poland for more than five years, rendering them stateless.
Germany expels Jews with Polish citizenship to the Polish border. Poles refuse to admit them; Germans refuse to allow them back into Germany. Seventeen thousand are stranded in the frontier town of Zbąszyń, Poland.
American Joint Distribution Committee aids Jewish refugees in Zbąszyń, Poland.