This is the second of a series of there striking reports on the Polish Jewish situation by the chief European correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The reports are based on a survey of conditions in Poland recently completed by Mr. Smolar. The final article will appear in tomorrow’s Jewish Daily Bulletin.
Polish Jewry is losing confidence in the present Polish government.
There was a timeâ€”up to two months agoâ€”when all Polish Jewry was highly patriotic, was devoted, body and soul, to Poland, to the Polish language and Polish interests, and to all that is Polish.
That time is passing. The Polish government is killing Jewish patriotism by its own policies. The government alienated the devotion of its Jews by disgracing itself in the terrible days of the Nara pogrom on Jews; by failure to stop these pogroms; by police allowing the stabbing of Jews on the streets, and permitting to continue unchecked the brutal treatment of Jewish women and children.
Only now that the anti-Semitic party has been suppressed because of the murder of Minister of the Interior Pieracki, can it be ### that when the Polish government is desirous of suppressing something, it has means and sufficient power to do so in its hands. It wanted to liquidate the Nara party because the government did not want the danger that other Polish Ministers also might be murdered. So it was done rapidly. In the course of twenty-four hours the government put an end to the Nara party.
POGROM HANDLING DIFFERENT
Different, however, was the stand taken by the government against the anti-Semitic Nara party during the bloody days of the anti-Jewish excesses. Those days, the Jews in Poland will not forget for a long time. Who knows how long those days might have lasted and how much Jewish blood might have been split, had not the tragic murder of the Polish Minister of Interior taken placeâ€”a case in which Nara members were suspected of the murder and which revealed to the government that it had tolerated the Nara terror too long.
The days of Nara excesses are discussed with horror among the Jews in Poland even now. They remember that period as one of catastrophe, with a feeling that is reminiscent of the times of the Czarist pogroms in Russia and of the Ukrainian pogroms of Petlura.
The worldâ€”both Jewish and non-Jewishâ€”will never know the whole truth about the number of Jewish people who fell every day in the various cities of Poland. The toll of Jews stabbed in the streets and the number of Jewish children crippled will never be definitely known. The number of robbed Jewish stores will never be fully listed. It is extremely unfortunate that among Polish Jewry there is no organized apparatus to gather facts and figures about those disastrous days.
The Polish government, however, well knows the number of Jewish victims. It knows Jews would not have been killed had the police received proper instructions. The Polish government knows it and the Jews know it.
And because the Jews know that the police did not have the necessary instructions from the government to protect their lives, and because they know that the government had purposely and quite knowingly allowed the Nara members to be merry at the expense of the Jews, the disappointment among them is very great, the feeling of security for the morrow is slight and confidence in the government has dwindled. There is little belief that the present government is really interested in the protection of its Jewish inhabitants, as the Jewish people deserve, both as citizens and as true patriots of the Polish Republic.
In “those days”â€”when Jewish mothers were fearful of sending their children to school, when Jewish blood was being spilt, when Jews locked themselves in their homes and feared to go out into the streetsâ€”in those days a Jewish delegation risked their lives and presented themselves to the leader of the Government party, Colonel Slawek.
“Save us,” was the plea of the delegation.
The Jews in the delegation were all good Polish patriots. They were members of the parties which support the present administration. They were members of Colonel Slawek’s own party.
The answer which the Jewish Government-supporters received from their Polish party leader was a bitter one: “The Jews,”â€”the man who created the political policies of the present regime declared cynicallyâ€””are now hated all over the world. Poland is no exception. I am sorry but I can do nothing for you.”
REFLECT ON ANSWER
Colonel Slawek’s answer is now being discussed all over Poland. His reply will long be remembered in Jewish circles. At a time of great distress, the head of the Polish Government party not only failed to fulfill his duty but failed even to display the necessary tact to give his own Jewsâ€”members of his own partyâ€”a few soothing words.
“The world is anti-Semitic and Poland is no exception!”
The Jewish leaders who came to their Colonel seeking protection and who received from him instead this slap in the face, are ashamed to reveal that one of their group lost consciousness when this phase was thrown in their faces. His nerves shattered by the bloody events in the streets, he fainted on hearing the stand of his own party-leader with regard to those events.
And in Jewish circles in Poland, when the question whether the Jew can depend upon the present administration is brought up, Slawek’s sentence is mentioned much as the statement made to a Jewish delegation which requested the government not to invite Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels into Poland, is always quoted. That delegation was composed of Jews who deserved the right to speak by virtue of their service in the campaign which Poland waged against Hitler during the early part of his regime. Now these Jews came to the Polish government asking it not to betray them; not to disgrace the Jews by bringing Goebbels to such a community as Warsaw, where more than 300,000 Jews live, and not to aid in the anti-Semitic propaganda which Goebbels would undoubtedly spread in his speech if he came to Warsaw.
The reply from the Polish government to this Jewish request was not only cynical, insulting and disappointing but it was outspokenly pro-Hitler. Immediately after this reply was delivered the Jewish press in Warsaw received orders not to print anything which might offend Goebbels. It was hinted to Jewish organizations that the government would not tolerate any anti-Goebbels expressions, neither in demonstrations nor leaflets. Jewish papers were confiscated for not being careful with regard to their remarks on Goebbels. All this took place after the Polish government had utilized the Jews as much as possible in its campaign against Hitler’s Germany.
This chameleon-like brand of politics played by the Polish governmentâ€”using the Jews when necessary and spitting in their faces when they are no longer neededâ€”is self-evident that there can be no feeling of confidence among Polish Jews in the present regime. Especially after the bloody days of the Nara excesses. Especially after the reply the Jews received from Colonel Slawek. Esspecially after the Jews saw that when the government wanted toâ€”when the Nara became too terrible, not for the Jews, but for the governmentâ€”it was able to liquidate the entire anti-Semitic Nara organization within twenty-four hours.
PEACE FOR THE MOMENT
Once more now, there is peace in Warsaw. In Warsaw, and in all Poland.
Will this spirit last long, however? Are Jews in Poland now finally safe from new excesses?
When you speak to Jewish leaders in Poland, you do not perceive this feeling of security. You do not feel faith in the government. You do not feel confidence in the government. It is possible that tomorrow another anti-Semitic organization will be formed and new anti-Jewish excesses will break out. Tomorrow the Nara members may wear new shirts and may once more stab Jews in the streets. Tomorrow if no more Polish Ministers are terrorized, the government may again look through its fingers at anti-Jewish outrages.
The Jews have no certainty now with regard to their government. This is certainly a tragedy for the three million Jews in Poland. Nor is it such a big asset to the Polish government. Three million people are ten per cent of the entire population of Poland. The Polish government will have to reveal itself in a very different light now, if it hopes to regain the confidence of these three million citizens.
To be concluded tomorrow