The March Events

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Wlodek Rozenbaum

wlodek rozenbaum



Osobom zainteresowanym głębiej podłożem i przebiegiem kampanii antysemickiej polecam mój artykuł “The March Events: Targeting the Jews,” POLIN,: A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies, vol. 21, 2008 (Oxford University, UK), 

The March Events

Targeting the Jews

Wlodzimierz Rozenbaum

T he political and social turmoils of 1956 forced more than 51,000 Jews out of Poland. Nearly 37,000 remained, adjusting to the new situation.1 The invitation by the Polish government extended to the American Joint Distribution Committee ( JDC, popularly known as ‘Joint’) and the ORT (the Russian Organization for Rehabilitation through Training) helped to invigorate the life of the Jewish com- munity by subsidizing training and co-operatives, which offered employment to those who had  lost their  government jobs. Many believed the  letter  of  the Secretariat of the Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza (Polish United Workers’ Party; PZPR) Central Committee of April 1957 on combating nationalism and antisemitism. However, behind the façade Gomulka’s team put into motion a num- ber of decisions that had a clearly restrictive effect on the Jewish community. They aimed at ‘dispersal’ (rozrzedzenie or rozge˛szczenie) of Jews by removing them from their positions or blocking promotions in the foreign service, foreign trade, secu- rity services, the military, and other key government sectors (Gomulka referred to these attempts at the Politburo meeting on 8 April 1968 mentioned below). On the political level, Jews were gradually eliminated and barred from positions of impor- tance in the party apparatus and government administration. In 1959, at the Third PZPR Congress several Jews were eliminated from the Central Committee under the pretext of struggle against revisionism (the term ‘revisionist’ was routinely reserved for Jews). They were replaced by staunch Stalinists, who had suffered a political defeat in 1956. In 1964, in turn, the Fourth PZPR Congress was carried out under the banner of promotion of younger and better-educated people to the leadership. A few more Jews were affected. The  antisemitic nature  of  these changes was publicly revealed in 1968. A high-ranking party official explained that after the arrival of younger and better-educated people in the political arena, many Poles were removed from the party apparatus, and since there was also a relatively large number of people of Jewish descent in the leadership, they had to go as well. He pointed out that ‘important personnel decisions in this respect were made particularly in recent years: with regard to the Central Committee at the FourthParty Congress, and in the central party apparatus thereafter’.

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