We are so busy in Poland waging our daily struggle for our most elementary rights as citizens that we ourselves have failed to realize how in the midst of the struggle we have gradually slipped further downhill every day, how low we have sunk, we Jews in Poland.
Day after day we find ourselves faced with this or the other restriction, with attempts to impose discrimination or humiliation upon us, and we have to take them up, we concentrate on details, and we lose sight of the question as a whole, we tend to forget the broad basic fact that not this right or the other matters, but the general principle that we are equal citizens of the country, whose equality of rights is officially recognized in the Polish Constitution and solemnly guaranteed in the international treaties.
Let us forget for a moment our various grievances, this, that or the other, the separate wrongs that are committed against us with or without official cognisance, and let us compare our position to-day in the lump with what it used to be years ago, and it becomes terrifying to see how far back we have gone since before the war, and before the reconstitution of the Polish State, in spite of all the fine phrases about liberty and justice, civilization, liberalism, minority rights, etc.
Long before the world war, there were in that part of Poland which is called Galicia, and which did not belong to Russia, free and independent municipal administrations. They were not found in Congress Poland, which was under Russian rule, but they were a real fact in Galicia. The population of the Galician towns appointed from among themselves the town administrations, right up to the head of the town, the Town President.
This applied to every town, hamlet and village, and to all citizens without any distinction, and since in many towns the Jewish population was overwhelmingly in the majority, the Jews, as a matter of course, in the most natural way in the world, and with no attempt to hinder them, conducted the affairs of the town. Thus there were also many Jewish Town Presidents, who held the reins of town Government in their hands. There were towns in which the Jewish majority struck one in the eye, so to speak, where it was so unmistakeable and so constant that it never occurred to anyone to suggest anything else than a Jewish Town President. No one disputed or questioned it. Such big towns in Eastern Galicia as Stryj, Sam-