This is the last of a series of three 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.
Hard days loom ahead for Polish Jewry. Days of need and of uneasiness. Uneasiness regarding possible anti-Jewish occurrences.
Polish Jewry is not organized. It is split into many factions. It can do nothing to prevent possible anti-Jewish outrages.
However, the leaders of the various Jewish factions in Poland realize that these outrages are to be expected. They realize that even though the anti-Semitic Nara party is suppressed, there is no safeguard against the creation of another anti-Semitic organization, which will be tolerated by the government as was the Nara group, and which will break loose with new anti-Jewish excesses, just as the Nara did.
The air in Poland is permeated with anti-Semitic hatred; with a thirst for Jewish blood and Jewish destruction. This feeling of hatred grows stronger from day to day. It is openly stimulated by the strong Polish political partyâ€”the National Democratic party, commonly called the “Endeks.”
The Endek party is not similar to the Nara group. It does not consist of youngsters who can be dispersed easily. It is strong and solid. It is actually the terror of the ruling government party. It possesses a great intelligence. It has at its service a rich and powerful press. This party makes no secret of the fact that it is only waiting for Pilsudski’s death to seize power easily and without bloodshed.
GOVERNMENT FEARS ENDEK
The present Polish administration hates the strong Endek party but it must reckon with it. The administration must listen to the demands of the Endek organization. Of course, the government does not act always as the anti-government party would like it too, but it disregards some of the actions of the Endeks and deems it wise to maintain silence.
One of these actions is anti-Semitic propaganda.
The Endek party carries on an intense and widely spread anti-Semitic propaganda campaign which hints of possible pogroms, both in the press and in the open, at secret meetings and at public gatherings. Never do the leaders of the Endeks allow an opportunity to slip by without inciting the public against the Jews. The spreading of this anti-Semitic propaganda is one of the underlying principles of the party. The war on Jews is one of the Endek’s chief commandments.
Never before in the history of Poland has a Polish government been as strong as the present one. It has the power as never before to suppress disturbances and maintain order. Should the present government so be determined, it could remove the menace of Jewish attacks and curb the anti-Semitic press overnight.
However, the Polish Government, although bitterly opposed to the Endek party, does not attempt to check its anti-Jewish agitation in the least. The Polish Government never finds it necessary to confiscate even one issue of the Jew-baiting Endek press. The government is afraid to wage a campaign against the Endeks because of their antiSemitism. It is afraid to appear in the light as a government opposed to anti-Semitism.
WHAT TO BE EXPECTED
Under these circumstances, when even the government fears to say a friendly word for the Jews, what can be expected of the political parties whose very program are unrelentingly anti-Semitic? What can be expected of the Endeks? What can be expected of those sports organizations around whose banners the members of the forbidden Nara party are now rallying? What can be expected of the average Polish citizen who is continually fed this anti-Jewish propaganda, and who is really beginning to believe that the Jews are the cause of his troubles?
The Jewish leaders in Poland know full well that danger to Polish Jewry is imminent. They can do nothing, however. They are divided and split into different faction and parties and cannot find a solution on which they all can agree.
At a recent conference called by an enterprising group in Warsaw to organize a strong representative Jewish body comprising the leaders of the several parties, one could hear such statements as “Polish Jewry stands on the brink of martyrdom.” Pessimistic speeches by some made one’s hair stand up. All the speakersâ€”important leaders of Polish Jewryâ€”were in accord that within a few months severe and even bloody days for the Jews in Poland are to be expected.
Nevertheless, a strong united Jewish body was not organized. The various factions found it impossible to agree on a modus operandi.
TRAGIC SPLIT IN RANKS
This split in the ranks of Polish Jewry is at present the most tragic episode in the lives of the three million Jews in Poland. This disunity is certainly not in the interest of these three million unprotected Jewish citizens. It plays right into the hands of the anti-Semites and into the hands of the government, which prefers a broken and separated front to a united Jewish front.
As a result, the great Jewish community in Europe now stands in immediate physical danger. The danger is made greater by the Nara party, which is supposedly forbidden, but whose members remain and carry out their infamous work through legal channels. They have new means with which to adhere to their old program of Jew-baiting and of molesting and stabbing Jews in the streets openly and without fear of either police, the law or the government.
The Jews in Poland are accustomed to days of terror. They have already gone through days when their beards were pulled in the streets; days when they were hurled off speeding trains; days when no one dared go out into the streets; days of pogroms when they had to hide themselves in garrets and cellars. The Jews in Poland have already lived through a period of anti-Semitic unrest such as is not known even in present day Germany.
These outrages had always occurred, however, in the provinces. Never in Warsaw. Never had they occurred in the city where the government sat.
Nowâ€”in the last Nara excessesâ€”such outrages have taken place openly even in Warsaw, before the very eyes of Polish cabinet members in the capital of the so-called Polish Democratic Republic.
WHY THEY WILL RECUR
In this fact lies the chief danger should such outrages ever occur again. When it comes to pass that in the capital of Poland, under the eyes of the police, in broad daylight, Jews are stabbed in the streets, it is ample proof that the government policy of protection is inoperative with respect to Poland’s Jewish citizens.
People who know conditions in Warsaw, and who know the sentiment in government circles, realize that the Nara hooligans would never have dared to come out into the main thoroughfares of Warsaw with knives in their hands, had they not felt certain that the government would tolerate that. Reliable persons say that if not for the tragic murder of Minister Pieracki there would now be such pogroms in Poland as have not been seen since the days of Bogdan Chmelnitzsky.
The murder of Pieracki put an end to the doings of the Nara party. Members of the party still live, however. They are free and the Jews live in fear lest they break out again. The danger for the Jews in Poland is, consequently not yet over. Not at all over yet.
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The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.