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Attack on Warsaw Synagogue Increases Anxiety in Poland

An attack by six drunken teen-agers on a Warsaw synagogue last Friday has increased anxiety in Poland over the spread of anti-Semitic propaganda, especially its use in the current election campaign.

Maximilian Sznepf, a member of the Jewish community staff housed in the synagogue building, was badly beaten when he and another staff member, Pawel Wildstein, confronted the cursing, bottle-hurling youths.

Sznepf, in his mid-70s, was hospitalized with a broken nose.

Details of the incident were telephoned to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from Warsaw on Monday by Stanislaw Krajewski, Polish representative of the American Jewish Congress.

He said the teen-agers smashed bottles against the synagogue doors and shouted anti-Semitic threats such as, “There will be another Hitler for you.”

In the ensuing scuffle, two men from the synagogue seized one of the youths and locked him in an office until the police arrived. The police eventually picked up three more of the assailants, who were 17 or 18 years of age.

Krajewski, who is also a member of the newly formed Presidential Council for Polish-Jewish Relations, said it was coincidental that on the day of the attack the council, which speaks in the name of President Lech Walesa, issued a strongly worded appeal against anti-Semitism in the electoral campaign.

The attack on the synagogue, reported in the leading Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, seems to have been an isolated incident rather than part of an organized anti-Jewish campaign, Krajewski said, adding, however, that this was not certain.

“I think there is need for a public statement by the police authorities,” he said. “Incidents like these may not be very important in themselves, but they do expose an atmosphere that can become thicker, and action is needed to prevent them,” he said.

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