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Set Back for Polish Official Anti-semitism Seen in Warsaw Events

October 24, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Official Polish anti-Semitism has been set back and perhaps squelched as a result of the Polish-Soviet crisis, according to an authoritative source here thoroughly familiar with Poland and known for his friendliness to Jews.

Two of the old Politburo members ousted this week in the reshuffle of the governing body of the Polish United Workers (Communist) Party are well known for their anti-Semitism, the source pointed out. These men are Marshal Konstantin K. Rokosovsky, Defense Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army: and Zenon Nowak, a Deputy Premier. A third high official, for whose dismissal demands are being made now, is Lt. Gen. Kazimierz Witaszewski, the army’s political chief, who was shown through information revealed here as one of the backers of Zenon Nowak’s anti-Semitic policy.

Nikita S. Khrushchev, head of the Soviet Communist Party, had placed anti-Semitism on the agenda during his stormy meeting with the Polish Communist leaders last week, the source emphasized. “We have all read that Khrushlichev told the Polish leaders that they wanted “to sell the country to Americans and the Zionists” Khrushchev himself is well known, for his anti-Semitism. Now he wanted to fan the flames of anti-Semitism in Poland. Instead, he has been rebuffed on that issue as well as on others,” he declared.

The source pointed to one of six resolutions just adopted by the Polish party’s new central committee, opposing the “regulation” of the number of Jews in party and government positions. That plan for “regulating” the number of Jews is a policy advocated openly by Zenon Nowak and backed powerfully by Gen. Witaszewski. Both spoke up for such a policy last summer at a meeting of the old central committee of the Polish Communist Party, when the Poznan riots were analyzed by party leaders.


“Now a resolution adopted by officers and cadets of the Warsaw Military Academy,” the source said on the basic of information just received, “demands an end to anti-intellectualism and anti-Semitism. Meetings throughout the country are demanding the ousting of Rokosovsky, who fired 200 Jewish officers in 1949 when he took over command of the Polish Army.

“There is no certainty that anti-Semitism as such has been wiped out in Poland,” the source declared. “We have the word of a Polish educator, Prof. Tadeusz Kotarbinski, who wrote recently for the teachers union’s newspaper, Glos Nauczycielski, that many Poles feel Communism has been “a Jewish plot against Poles and Christians.” In a recent article, this educator conceded that many Polish parents forbid their children to play with Jewish children and that teachers frequently hear children as well as adults say that “God sent Hitler to liberate us from the Jews.”

“But there is little doubt that anti-Semitism as an official policy, as practiced by Rokosovsky, advocated by Zenon Nowak, and backed by the powerful Gen. Witaszewski, has been set back by the reorganization of the Polish Communist Party’s Politburo and its defiance of the Khrushchev edicts.”

Asked whether the downgrading of official Polish anti-Semitism might result in increasing permission for Jews to emigrate from Poland, the source stated he was not certain of such an outcome in the immediate future. “In fact,” he said, “it could be that Polish Jews will now be told there is no longer any reason for their emigration, since anti-Semitism will be equated with illegality. However, it is possible that the government may now allow firmer contacts between Polish Jews and Jews outside; Poland, as well as greater encouragement to Jewish cultural and religious development.”

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