WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — A 120-member delegation of representatives of the Israel Police commemorated the victims of a 1946 pogrom in Poland.
The delegation this week to Kielce included 93-year-old Mickey Goldman, a Holocaust survivor who as an assistant prosecutor participated in the trial of Adolf Eichmann; and Gen. Haim Blumenfeld, commander of the Israel Police Academy and the son of Rafael Blumenfeld, who after the war became an instructor in the kibbutz movement. The movement had its headquarters in a building on Planty Street in Kielce. Five of its members were murdered in the pogrom.
The pogrom, in July 1946, took place after some 200 Jews, many of them former residents of Kielce, returned from Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet Union and places where they had taken refuge. The city was cleared of its Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
It was sparked by a rumor based on a false report that Jewish residents of the town had kidnapped a Christian boy. A crowd attacked Holocaust survivors who lived in a building on Planty Street.
Haim Blumenfeld said at the ceremony that after the pogrom, Jews could not turn their backs on Kielce and Poland.
“But my father, who almost lost his life in the pogrom, understood deeply that the future of both nations is important, and this obliges us not to choose hatred and ignorance, but tolerance,” he said.
Bogdan Białek, president of the Jan Karski Association, which today operates from the building, said that during the pogrom, the militiamen and the military, who should protect people, not only did not protect them, but also deprived them of the possibility of defense by taking their weapons beforehand.
“Then they themselves joined the crowd of murderers,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Andrzej Sygut welcomed the visit of the Israel Police delegation, stressing the open cooperation between Kielce and its Israeli partners.
“I am glad that you are in Kielce, in this special, tragic and reflective place,” he said. “I would like Polish-Jewish relations to be based on the memory of this tragic event, but also to take into account our common life before the Holocaust.”