Pardoned Polish Jewish Soldiers Refuse to Leave Cells; Ask Transfer to British Army
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Pardoned Polish Jewish Soldiers Refuse to Leave Cells; Ask Transfer to British Army

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Nineteen of the twenty-one Jewish soldiers who were amnestied by Polish President Raczkiewicz after being sentenced to imprisonment by a Polish court-martial for leaving the Polish Army because of anti-Semitism, today refused to leave their cells unless they are allowed to transfer from the Polish forces to the British.

Meanwhile, the crisis in the Polish National Council precipitated by a motion offered by Socialist deputies last Saturday, demanding the resignation of Gen. Marjan kukiel, Defense Minister for his failure to curb anti-Semitism in the Polish Army, continued today when the Council resumed debate on the motion. The all-day debate concluded in the evening in a tense atmosphere, when the Council adjourned until Friday without voting on the motion.

Representatives of the anti-Semitic Endek Party and of the Paderewski Party told the Council that their members will vote against the motion. The representatives of the Polish Peasant Party have not indicated their stand, but it is expected that their attitude will be made clear before Friday. Emanuel Szerer, Jewish Socialist, announced that he will vote for the motion.


Members of the Polish Socialist Party are determined to press for adoption of the motion. They consider it a test case on which the future of Polish democracy depends. When the speaker of the Council, which is the Polish parliament-in-exiles, tried to rule the motion out of order, they forced its retention by threatening to withdraw as a group.

As a result of today’s debate, an important meeting of the Polish cabinet will take place on Wednesday to decide the attitude of the government on the issues, as well as what action should be taken by the cabinet if the motion is adopted.

Addressing the Council today, M. Meisner, one of the principal leaders of the Endek Party, said that the talk of anti-Semitism in the Polish Army is “meaningless,” He added that “among the Jewish soldiers are men who are no longer attached to Poland, and should not belong to the Polish Army.”

Deputy Sopicki, of the Paderewski Party, told the Council that though his party “is not known as philosemitic” it advocated the combatting of anti-Jewish slogans in Poland even before the outbreak of the war because it considered them harmful to the interests of the country. Emphasizing that his group will vote against Eukiel’s resignation, Sopicki suggested that the Polish Government initiate an “educational campaign” in the army based on the following three points, 1. Soldiers should be told of the common tragedy of Poles and Jews and of their common struggle; They should be taught that racial hatred does not conform with the dignity of the military uniform; 3. The fallacy of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” must be exposed.


An independent member of the Council, Arkabozek, told the session today that anti-Semitism is doing untold harm to Poland, “Anti-Semitism exists not only in the ranks of the army, but also among Polish civilians,” he said. “To say that it does not exist would mean not to face the facts.” He attacked the “crazy ideas” which are still held by important Polish military leaders. “There is a ‘maffia’ in the army which must be stamped out now, otherwise democratic Poland will remain an empty dream,” he stated.

Szerer, challenging the statements of the Endek Party, said that anti-Semitism among Polish soldiers and officers “is not a bogy, but a reality.” He pointed out that he opposed the transfer of Jewish soldiers from the Polish Army to the British because the Jewish Socialists in Poland consider Poland their home. This entitles them to ask for changes in the Polish military leadership, he declared.

At a mass-meeting last night called by the National Council for Civil Liberties to protest against anti-Semitism in the Polish armed forces, a resolution was adopted calling upon the British Government to arrange for the transfer of Jews from the Polish Army to the British. The meeting was attended by more than 2,000 persons, including many Allied soldiers. Tom Driberg, Independent member of Parliament, who was the first to raise the question of anti-Jewish discrimination in the Polish forces in England, was one of the principal speakers at the gathering.

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