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Resignation of Polish War Minister Demanded for Failure to Curb Anti-semitism

May 12, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The resignation of Polish Defense Minister Gan. Marjan Kukiel was demanded today during a heated debate in the Polish National Council on the question of anti-Semitism in the Polish armed forces.

At the same time, it was learned that President Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz has indicated that he is prepared to grant an amnesty to ten of the 21 Jewish soldiers convicted by a court-martial of leaving their units and attempting to join the British Forces.

The sentences of these ten have been confirmed by Polish Commander-in-Chief Gen. Kazimierz Sosnkowski, while those imposed on the other eleven soldiers have been suspended until after the war, according to authoritative Polish sources. Jewish groups, however, are demanding that Raczkiewicz pardon all 21.

During the Council debate, Gen. Kukiel was severely criticized by Socialist and Jewish deputies for failing to curb anti-Semitism in the Polish Army. The attack on the Polish High Command was led by Adam Ciolkosz, Socialist, and Emanuel Szerer of the Jewish Socialist Party.


Replying, Kukiel attempted to justify the conduct of the Polish military authorities and alleged that he was not responsible for the situation which had developed. He pointed to the publication by the army of a newspaper for the Jewish soldiers as an indication of its desire to wipe out anti-Semitism and rejected all demands that he resign.

Ciolkosz assailed the anti-Semitism and reaction prevalent in pre-war and present-day Polish governing circles. He said that they did not reflect the attitude of the democratic majority of the Polish people, adding that “Poles cannot accept even one percent of anti-Semitism.”

Asserting that the majority of the Jewish people in Poland wish to remain there and consider Poland their fatherland, Ciolkosz said that he, therefore, opposed the transfer of Jewish troops from the Polish to the British forces. He demanded, however, that all Jewish soldiers convicted of leaving their units be amnestied.

Szerer said that the High Command is handling of the situation had been unfortunate from its very inception. Ridiculing Kukiel’s assertion that he had a paper printed for the Jewish soldiers as a measure to combat anti-Semitism, Szerer said that he would have done better had he arranged to publish a paper for the non-Jewish soldiers containing material aimed at eradicating anti-Jewish prejudices among them.

Another deputy stated that Kukiel could not evade the issue by declaring that he did not accept responsibility for what has occurred. Anti-Semitism among the Polish troops, the deputy said, was not sporadic as Kukiel had claimed but a chronic disease. He, also, asked that the Defense Minister resign.

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