Court Martial of Polish Jews Seeking Transfer to British Army Opens Today
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Court Martial of Polish Jews Seeking Transfer to British Army Opens Today

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Jewish soldiers who left the Polish Army because of anti-Semitic mistreatment and came to London to request a transfer to the British armed forces will be placed on trial tomorrow before a Polish court martial, it was announced here today.

The number of the Jews to be tried is not disclosed, but it is assumed that the accused are the group ‘arrested early this month in London, which was estimated by members of Parliament to number “between thirty and fifty.” About 200 Jews serving in the Polish Army in England were accepted by British units after it had been established that life was being made unbearable for them by their Polish officers. Approximately another 600 Jewish soldiers are now seeking to transfer from the Polish to the British forces as a result of the anti-Jewish manifestations in the Polish units.

The Representation of Polish Jews in England today stated that it will soon publish a summary of the anti-Semitic incidents in the Polish Army. It emphasized that a detailed report of these incidents has been submitted to the Polish authorities. The contents of this report will not be made public while the court martial proceedings are going on, since the leaders of the Representation of Polish Jews are bound to secrecy.


Tom Driberg, independent member of Parliament, disclosed that he has received from Jewish soldiers in the Polish Army numerous written complaints of mistreatment. “I have a whole drawerful of personal testimonies to the kind of thing they are experiencing, written out laboriously in Polish, or, pathetically, in broken English,” he said. He expressed the belief that the orders-of-the-day of the Polish military command directed against anti-Semitism “have not only not had the desired effect, but they even have aggravated the situation.”

“I have talked with Jews who left their units some time after the orders-of-the-day against anti-Semitism were issued,” he declared, “and they said that these orders-of-the-day had made very little difference, except perhaps that it was not done so noisily. Man after man said: “Now they say, these bullying Polish sergeants or non-commissioned officers, we cannot do anything in this country, because Churchill, as we all know, is in the pay of the Jews; but you wait until we get you on the continent of Europe; the moment we get you there, at the second front, then every Pole has two bullets- the first for a Jew and the second for a German.’ I have been told that more of that sort of thing has been said to the Jewish soldiers by the noncommissioned officers and others since the Polish orders-of-the-day condemning anti-Semitism have appeared.”


One of the Jewish soldiers who left the Polish Army and came to London to seek a transfer testified that he joined the Polish forces in March, 1942 and had been constantly mistreated. He said that the whole unit in which he served ridiculed the Jews. The common remark that was heard among the Polish soldiers was that “Hitler is


Members of Parliament pointed out today that the court martial of the thirty or fifty Jewish soldiers on charges of “desertion” is not justified since the Polish Government itself permitted 200 Jewish soldiers to leave the Polish ranks because of anti-Semitism and to join the British forces. Why is the situation of the accused men not precisely the same as that of the 200, they asked. Mr. Driberg stressed that “this act of ‘desertion’ was endorsed or condoned by the action of the War Office and of the Foreign Office in accepting these men.”

Another member of Parliament, William Gallacher, summarized the feelings of many of his colleagues by stating: “Supposing the Washington Government gave a bunch of Englishmen power over a mixed bunch of Englishmen and Scotsmen, and the Englishmen started ill-treating the Scotsmen, would not the Sootsmen be entitled to go to Washington and say ‘You have given the power to the wrong people?'”


London newspapers today demand that Foreign Minister Anthony Eden ask the Polish Government for full details on the sentences which the Polish court martial will impose, or may have imposed, on Jews who left the Polish Army to join the British forces. The papers also demand that the verdicts be published in the official proceedings of Parliament.

The discrimination against Jews in the Polish Army is the subject of editorial comment today in numerous provincial newspapers, including the Yorkshire Post which is considered the organ of Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, and the widely-read Birmingham Gazette.

“It is clear,” the Gazette writes, “that not only Germany will have to be re-educated after the war, but we may be faced with an anti-Semitic Poland almost as urgently in need of re-education as Germany itself. If after four years of fighting side by side with our own people, a considerable section of the Polish Army learned nothing and is still fighting not for freedom, but for a conception of nationalism as narrow and as arrogant as the German, then the process of re-educating Poland is evidently likely to be long and difficult.”

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