Izraelczyk potrzebuje pomocy – cos dla historykow

Shmuel (Sam) Tal
Dear Friends,
I’m following your blog for some time as a grown in Wrocław Polish Jew living now in Israel.
I’m conducting a study about Jews in the Communist UB in years 1944-56 as a graduate student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Blatman.
At this stage of my research, I came to some conclusions that are contradicting others and definitely opposing the antisemitic line that is very popular in Poland now and blaming the Jews for the  Communistic crimes conducted against Polish people.
I have a short summary of my research (in English) and would like to publish it on your blog hoping readers will be interested and respond.
I’ll be glad to pass the summery to you for your decision.
Many thanks,

Shmuel (Sam) Tal

P.O.Box 53095
Tel Aviv, 6153002, ISRAEL

Jews in key positions in the Communist Polish security forces 1944-1956

Shmuel Tal, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary  Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Isaac Flaishfarb became Józef Światło, Yosef Goldberg became Józef Rójański and Menashe Grinshpan became Mieczysław Mietkowski.

Was this only a cosmetic change of a name, or did it have deeper personal and national significance? What was the course of the journey these figures took from being the sons of orthodox Jews or of prominent leaders of the Zionist movement in Poland, to becoming heads of divisions and deputy ministers in the communist security services in Poland after World War II?

As the World War was nearing its end, the Soviet Union took control of Eastern Europe. The huge military force headed west and did not encounter any real resistance of the western powers, as the Soviet Union closed in on Poland and the non-communists weakened. This military conquering was disguised by the Soviet Union as collaboration with the Polish communists that supposedly returned as liberators and established an „independent” government. These Polish communists came from amongst those that fled to the Soviet Union from the German occupiers in 1939. This was a group of veteran communists that proved their loyalty to the Soviet Union between the two world wars and during World War 2. In the Soviet Union they were trained to run their country, after the German army would be driven out. In 1944, with the liberation of Poland, they returned as victors and established the new government institutions in the country and held key positions in them. The fact that this loyal core was very small opened up limitless possibilities for them in all the governmental institutions, mainly in the two central areas the Soviets controlled- the Communist party and the security institutions.

Just as the Jews had a significant role in the Polish communist party before the war, they also played an important role in the institutions of the new government after the war. With great determination and with unquestionable loyalty to the Soviet Union, they led the effort to establish the government institutions, according to the Soviet model and were appointed to key positions in them.

My MA thesis studies a group of figures, of Jewish origin, that served in key positions in the Polish security institutions (the UB) between 1944 and 1956, when the majority of them were dismissed from these positions.

These figures, born at the start of the 20th century, became Polish communists as youth, were raised in the party’s youth movement, toughened in Polish prisons, were trained in the Soviet Union during the war and returned to Poland to establish the new government institutions that they held key positions in.

This paper, using biographies written about some of them and documents that are gradually being revealed, analyzes who they were, how they reached key positions and discusses their Jewish identity. What did their Jewish origin mean to them and was this identity expressed in any way in their development and in the key positions they held in the new government? Did these figures share a joint Jewish common ground, or did the fact that they were communists from an early age dismiss any Jewish characteristic from their lives, with their Jewish origin having no effect on their lives?

Since they were young these figures distanced themselves from their Jewish backgrounds. Their communist ideology led them to be completely alienated from their origin and as security services commanders, they persecuted and imprisoned Jews and non-Jews alike. They fought against Jews wanting to leave Poland, with the belief that communist Poland was their home. During the years of the new Polish regime, they fought against the „HaBricha” an underground unit of the Zionist movement that acted to transfer holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe to Israel just as they fought those opposed to the communist Polish regime. In the internal struggles within the government and in the different cleansing operations, I did not find any Jewish impact or any privilege given by those who came from Jewish origins to non-communist Jewish groups. I did not find any documents indicating a Jewish communist conspiracy or connection, as some people in Poland today claim. The behavior of those leaders did not changed even after they were dismissed from their powerful positions. Their Jewish identity that was secular and assimilated from the start, evaporated when they became loyal communists and never reappeared.

This study is conducted by Shmuel Tal, under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Blatman

Kategorie: Uncategorized

9 odpowiedzi »

  1. I’ll definitely appreciate any help and contact. Kids of the UB leading group must be now in their seventies and I would be more than happy to be in touch with them. Jozef Kratko and Światłos’ wife, Justyna, and children emigrated to Israel in 68 and any contact with them (and others) can help very much my research.

  2. Wyrosłem w środowisku KPP. Znałem osobiście wielu byłych członków tej organizacji. Był i członek Kominternu, który po spotkaniu ze Stalinem powędrował w Tajgę na 20 lat. Znam ich drogę od Hashomer do komunizmu. Wiem, jak reagowali na partyjny antysemityzm lat 1967-68. Możliwe, że mógłbym być w czymś pomocny, ale nie na odległość. Za jakiś miesiąc będę mógł podać panu źródło informacji dotyczące postaw i motywów tych ludzi przed wojną. Czasy powojenne mogę jedynie opisać przy osobistym spotkaniu. Nie wykluczone, że polecę za ciepłem do kraju mlekiem i miodem płynącym.
    Temat pańskiej pracy jest b. ciekawy i chyba mało zbadany. Tych ludzi już nie ma (sami pisali mało). Pozostały dokumenty, również bardzo skąpe i ich dzieci (te które coś wiedzą) , a niedługo i ich nie będzie.
    Zyczę powodzenia w pracy

  3. Antisemitism was only one of the motives that pushed young Jews to become communist. Most of the Polish Jews suffered discrimination but only about 5% of them became communists. Other motives were high social sensitivity, an influence of Marxist literature and in most cases a personal example of a friend or relative.
    This research is about few of whom Jeff Schatz call „The Generation” people that prove their absolute loyalty to the communism between two world wars, strengthened in Polish prisons, trained in the Soviet Union during the WWII and returned to Poland to fulfill their communist dream and mission. How much left from their Jewish roots? Almost nothing!

  4. Very interesting study. But maybe trying to give all those individuals one characteristic or one motivation is not the right approach. They were many but not an organized group. One should look at each such person’s motivations and actions separately. They were different people. They came from different Jewish backgrounds and experiences during the war. One thing they did have in common; they all had to answer themselves one basic question; what now? How to continue life with no fear, with no persecution? Many chose to leave Poland but many decided to stay, change names and live as Polish. Usually with high education and leftist connections soon they became part of the communist apparatus. In such positions they of course influenced for good or for bad. I am not surprised that Polish people try to blame those Jews for their own mistakes, they always did it. All those Jews had already died, interesting will be to know whom Polish people will blame now?
    I would like to read the whole study. Possibly I could contribute more

  5. Nie należy zapominać o praźródle zjawiska: Ta młodzież żydowskiego pochodzenia, która przed wojną wchodziła w szeregi KPP pod hasłami internacjonalizmu była na pewno w bardzo dużej mierze motywowana sprzeciwem wobec antysemityzmu. Let’s not forget the primary cause of the phenomenon: This youth of Jewish origin who before the war joined the ranks of the Polish Communist Party under the calls of internationalism was certainly to a great extend motivated by opposition to antisemitism.

  6. All the people that I’m researching (except one that emigrated to Israel) remained in Poland after being dismissed from their posts. All of them remained in Warsaw and are buried there (most of them in non-Jewish cemeteries). Possible knowing that they’re under surveillance they did not keep contacts with other Jews. As their pensions were at risk they remained silent and disciplined. Noone of them gets back to his Jewish roots and mostly continue to consider themselves as good communists.

  7. A poza tym mam nadzieję, że także w Polsce będzie można przeczytać publikację tych badań. Bardzo chciałbym się z tym zapoznać.

  8. To naprawdę interesujące badania, interesujące wnioski. W Polsce kilkadziesiąt lat temu tym tematem zajęła się Alina Cała. Mnie zaciekawiło to czego w tym krótkim streszczeniu nie było. A mianowicie: co stało się z tymi polsko-żydowskimi stalinistami? W miarę gdy system coraz bardziej odchodził od internacjonalizmu i komunizmu i coraz bardziej do głosu dochodził nacjonalizm (z kulminacją w 1968 r.) oni, którzy zerwali żydowską kulturą a przez Polaków nie byli traktowani jak swoi, stali się kozłem ofiarnym odpowiadającym za stalinowskie zbrodnie. Wyjeżdżali do Izraela i co dalej? Czy wrócili do swojej religii,wrócili do praktyk, stali się żydowskimi ortodoksami, czy też zasili szeregi izraelskiej lewicy?

  9. Wnioski wyglądają na poprawne. Wprawdzie nie spotkałem tych najważniejszych ale kilku terenowych. U tych ich korzenie były wstydliwe i o o których nie mówi się w przyzwoitym towarzystwie, Zresztą obecne pokolenie post-żydowskie w Polsce, w większości potomkowie tych twardogłowych bolszewików, wspomina swoje korzenie tylko jako argument popierający ich pseudo-liberalne tezy, nigdy jako członkowie normalnego, oddychającego narodu. Powodzenia, panie Szmuelu, w najbliższej przyszłości Doktorze S. Tal.

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