História dos Judeus na Polônia

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Polonês judeus
יהודי פולין Polscy
Żydzi
International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Poland, January 2020 (49449915157).jpg
População total
est. 1.300.000+
Regiões com populações significativas
 Polônia10.000–20.000 [1] [2]
 Israel1.250.000 (ascendência, passaporte elegível); [3] 202.300 (cidadania) [4]
línguas
Polonês , hebraico , iídiche , alemão
Religião
judaísmo

A história dos judeus na Polônia remonta a pelo menos 1.000 anos. Durante séculos, a Polônia foi o lar da maior e mais significativa comunidade judaica Ashkenazi do mundo. A Polónia foi o principal centro da cultura judaica , devido ao longo período de tolerância religiosa estatutária e autonomia social que terminou após as Partições da Polónia no século XVIII. Durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial, houve uma destruição genocida quase completa da comunidade judaica polonesa pela Alemanha nazista e seus colaboradores de várias nacionalidades, [5] durante oA ocupação alemã da Polônia entre 1939 e 1945, chamada de Holocausto . Desde a queda do comunismo na Polônia , tem havido um interesse renovado na cultura judaica, com um anual Festival Cultura Judaica , novos programas de estudo em escolas secundárias polonesas e universidades, ea abertura de Varsóvia 's Museu da História dos judeus poloneses .

Desde a fundação do Reino da Polônia em 1025 até os primeiros anos da Comunidade Polonesa-Lituana, criada em 1569 , a Polônia foi o país mais tolerante da Europa. [6] Os historiadores usaram o rótulo paradisus iudaeorum ( latim para " Paraíso dos judeus"). [7] [8] A Polônia se tornou um abrigo para judeus perseguidos e expulsos de vários países europeus e o lar da maior comunidade judaica do mundo da época. De acordo com algumas fontes, cerca de três quartos dos judeus do mundo viviam na Polônia em meados do século XVI. [9] [10] [11]Com o enfraquecimento da Comunidade e as crescentes disputas religiosas (devido à Reforma Protestante e à Contra-Reforma Católica ), a tolerância tradicional da Polónia [12] começou a diminuir a partir do século XVII. [13] Após as Partições da Polônia em 1795 e a destruição da Polônia como um estado soberano , os judeus poloneses ficaram sujeitos às leis dos poderes de partição, incluindo o Império Russo cada vez mais anti - semita , [14] bem como a Áustria-Hungria e o Reino da Prússia (mais tarde uma parte do Império Alemão) Ainda assim, quando a Polónia recuperou a independência após a Primeira Guerra Mundial , era o centro do mundo judaico europeu com uma das maiores comunidades judaicas do mundo com mais de 3 milhões. O anti-semitismo era um problema crescente em toda a Europa naqueles anos, tanto para o estabelecimento político quanto para a população em geral. [15] Durante o período entre guerras , a Polônia apoiou a emigração judaica da Polônia e, na arena internacional, a criação de um estado judeu na Palestina . O estado polonês também apoiou grupos paramilitares judeus, como Haganah , Betar e Irgun , fornecendo-lhes armas e treinamento.[16] [17]

Em 1939, no início da Segunda Guerra Mundial , a Polônia foi dividida entre a Alemanha nazista e a União Soviética (ver Pacto Molotov – Ribbentrop ). Um quinto da população polonesa morreu durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial; os 3.000.000 judeus poloneses assassinados no Holocausto , que constituíam 90% dos judeus poloneses, representavam metade de todos os poloneses mortos durante a guerra. [18] [19] Embora o Holocausto tenha ocorrido principalmente na Polônia ocupada pelos alemães , houve pouca colaboração com os nazistas por parte de seus cidadãos. A colaboração de poloneses individuais foi descrita como menor do que em outros países ocupados. [20] [21]Exemplos de atitudes polonesas em relação às atrocidades alemãs variaram amplamente, desde o risco de morte ativo para salvar vidas de judeus , [22] e recusa passiva de informá-los, a indiferença, chantagem, [23] e em casos extremos, a participação em pogroms como o pogrom Jedwabne . [24]

No período pós-guerra, muitos dos aproximadamente 200.000 sobreviventes judeus registrados no Comitê Central de Judeus Poloneses ou CKŻP (dos quais 136.000 vieram da União Soviética) [24] [25] [26] [ página necessária ] deixaram o Povo Polonês República para o nascente Estado de Israel , América do Norte ou América do Sul . Sua partida foi acelerada pela destruição de instituições judaicas, violência pós-guerra e a hostilidade do Partido Comunista à religião e à iniciativa privada, mas também porque em 1946-1947 a Polônia foi o único país do Bloco Oriental a permitir judeus livresaliyah a Israel, [27] sem vistos ou autorizações de saída. [28] [29] A maioria dos judeus restantes deixou a Polônia no final de 1968 como resultado da campanha "anti-sionista" . [30] Após a queda do regime comunista em 1989, a situação dos judeus poloneses se normalizou e aqueles que eram cidadãos poloneses antes da Segunda Guerra Mundial foram autorizados a renovar a cidadania polonesa . Estima-se que a comunidade judaica polonesa contemporânea tenha entre 10.000 e 20.000 membros. [1] [2] O número de pessoas com herança judaica de qualquer tipo pode ser várias vezes maior. [31]

História inicial da Idade de Ouro: 966-1572

História inicial: 966-1385

Recepção de judeus na Polônia , por Jan Matejko , 1889

Os primeiros judeus a visitar o território polonês eram comerciantes, enquanto o assentamento permanente começou durante as Cruzadas . [32] Viajando ao longo das rotas comerciais que conduziam ao leste de Kiev e Bukhara , mercadores judeus, conhecidos como radanitas , cruzaram a Silésia . Um deles, um diplomata e um comerciante do mourisca cidade de Tortosa em espanhol Al-Andalus , conhecido pelo seu nome árabe, Ibrahim ibn Yaqub , foi o primeiro cronista de mencionar o estado polaco decidiu pelo príncipe Mieszko I . No verão de 965 ou 966, Jacob fez uma viagem comercial e diplomática de sua cidade natal, Toledona Espanha muçulmana para o Sacro Império Romano e depois para os países eslavos. [33] A primeira menção real de judeus nas crônicas polonesas ocorre no século 11, onde parece que os judeus então viviam em Gniezno , na época a capital do reino polonês da dinastia Piast . Entre os primeiros judeus a chegar à Polônia em 1097 ou 1098 estavam os banidos de Praga . [33] A primeira comunidade judaica permanente é mencionada em 1085 por um estudioso judeu Jehuda ha-Kohen na cidade de Przemysl . [34]

Como em outras partes da Europa Central e Oriental , a principal atividade dos judeus na Polônia medieval era o comércio e o comércio, incluindo a exportação e importação de bens como tecido, linho, peles, peles, cera, objetos de metal e escravos. [35]

Moedas polonesas do início da Idade Média com inscrições em hebraico

A primeira grande migração judaica da Europa Ocidental para a Polônia ocorreu na época da Primeira Cruzada em 1098. Sob Bolesław III (1102-1139), os judeus, encorajados pelo regime tolerante deste governante, estabeleceram-se em toda a Polônia, incluindo além da fronteira em Território lituano até Kiev . [36] Bolesław III reconheceu a utilidade dos judeus no desenvolvimento dos interesses comerciais de seu país. Os judeus passaram a formar a espinha dorsal da economia polonesa. Mieszko III empregou judeus em sua casa da moeda como gravadores e supervisores técnicos, e as moedas cunhadas durante esse período ainda apresentamMarcações hebraicas . [33] Os judeus trabalharam sob encomenda para as casas da moeda de outros príncipes poloneses contemporâneos, incluindo Casimir o Justo , Bolesław I o Alto e Władysław III Spindleshanks . [33] Os judeus desfrutaram de paz e prosperidade sem perturbações nos muitos principados em que o país foi então dividido; eles formaram a classe média em um país onde a população em geral consistia de proprietários de terras (desenvolvendo-se em szlachta , a única nobreza polonesa) e camponeses, e foram fundamentais na promoção dos interesses comerciais da terra.

Outro fator para os judeus emigrarem para a Polônia foram os direitos de Magdeburg (ou Lei de Magdeburg), uma carta concedida aos judeus, entre outras, que delineou especificamente os direitos e privilégios que os judeus tinham na Polônia. Por exemplo, eles podem definir seus bairros e concorrentes econômicos e estabelecer monopólios. Isso tornou muito atraente para as comunidades judaicas se mudarem para a Polônia. [37]

A primeira menção de colonos judeus em Płock data de 1237, em Kalisz de 1287 e uma rua Żydowska (judia) em Cracóvia em 1304. [33]

A situação tolerante foi gradualmente alterada pela Igreja Católica Romana, de um lado, e pelos estados alemães vizinhos, do outro. [38] Havia, no entanto, entre os príncipes reinantes alguns determinados protetores dos habitantes judeus, que consideravam a presença destes últimos a mais desejável no que diz respeito ao desenvolvimento econômico do país. Proeminente entre esses governantes estava Bolesław, o Devoto de Kalisz , Príncipe da Grande Polônia . Com o consentimento dos representantes de classe e oficiais superiores, em 1264 ele emitiu uma Carta Geral das Liberdades Judaicas (comumente chamada de Estatuto de Kalisz), que concedeu a todos os judeus a liberdade de culto, comércio e viagens. Privilégios semelhantes foram concedidos aos judeus da Silésia pelos príncipes locais, o Príncipe Henry Probus de Wrocław em 1273-90, Henrique de Glogow em 1274 e 1299, Henrique de Legnica em 1290-95 e Bolko de Legnica e Wrocław em 1295. [33] O artigo 31 do Estatuto de Kalisz tentou refrear a Igreja Católica de disseminar libelos de sangue contra os judeus, afirmando: "Acusar os judeus de beber sangue cristão é expressamente proibido. Se, apesar disso, um judeu deveria ser acusado de assassinar uma criança cristã, tal acusação deve ser sustentada pelo testemunho de três cristãos e três judeus. " [39]

Durante os cem anos seguintes, a Igreja pressionou pela perseguição aos judeus, enquanto os governantes da Polônia geralmente os protegiam. [40] Os Conselhos de Wrocław (1267), Buda (1279) e Łęczyca (1285) cada um dos judeus segregados, ordenou-lhes que usassem um emblema especial, proibiu-os de ocupar cargos onde os cristãos seriam subordinados a eles e proibiu-os de construir mais de uma casa de oração em cada cidade. No entanto, esses decretos eclesiásticos exigiam a cooperação dos príncipes poloneses para a aplicação, o que geralmente não acontecia, devido aos lucros que a atividade econômica dos judeus rendia aos príncipes. [33]

Casimiro, o Grande e os judeus , de Wojciech Gerson , 1874

Em 1332, o Rei Casimiro III, o Grande (1303–1370) ampliou e expandiu a antiga carta de Bolesław com o Estatuto de Wiślicki . Sob seu reinado, fluxos de imigrantes judeus dirigiram-se ao leste para a Polônia e assentamentos judeus são mencionados pela primeira vez como existindo em Lvov (1356), Sandomierz (1367) e Kazimierz perto de Cracóvia (1386). [33] Casimir, que de acordo com uma lenda tinha um amante judeu chamado Esterka de Opoczno [41] foi especialmente amigável com os judeus, e seu reinado é considerado uma era de grande prosperidade para os judeus poloneses, e foi apelidado por seus contemporâneos " Rei dos servos e judeus. " Debaixopena de morte , ele proibiu o sequestro de crianças judias para fins de batismo cristão forçado . Ele infligiu punições pesadas pela profanação dos cemitérios judeus . Não obstante, embora durante a maior parte do reinado de Casimiro os judeus da Polônia desfrutassem de tranquilidade, próximo ao seu fim foram perseguidos por causa da Peste Negra . Em 1348, foi registrada a primeira acusação de difamação de sangue contra os judeus na Polônia, e em 1367 o primeiro pogrom ocorreu em Poznań . [42] Comparado com a destruição impiedosa de seus correligionários na Europa Ocidental , no entanto, os judeus poloneses não se saíram mal; e as massas judias da Alemanha fugiram para as cidades mais hospitaleiras da Polônia.

O início da era Jagiellon: 1385-1505

Como resultado do casamento de Wladislaus II (Jagiełło) com Jadwiga , filha de Luís I da Hungria , a Lituânia foi unida ao reino da Polônia . Em 1388-1389 , amplos privilégios foram estendidos aos judeus lituanos, incluindo liberdade de religião e comércio em termos de igualdade com os cristãos. [43] Sob o governo de Wladislau II, os judeus poloneses aumentaram em número e alcançaram a prosperidade. No entanto, a perseguição religiosa aumentou gradualmente, à medida que o clero dogmático pressionava por menos tolerância oficial, pressionado pelo Sínodo de Constança . Em 1349, pogroms ocorreram em muitas cidades da Silésia. [33]Houve acusações de difamação de sangue pelos padres e novos distúrbios contra os judeus em Poznań em 1399. Acusações de difamação de sangue por outro padre fanático levaram aos motins em Cracóvia em 1407, embora a guarda real apressasse o resgate. [43] A histeria causada pela Peste Negra levou a surtos adicionais de violência do século 14 contra os judeus em Kalisz , Cracóvia e Bochnia . Comerciantes e artesãos com inveja da prosperidade judaica e temendo sua rivalidade apoiaram o assédio. Em 1423, o estatuto de Warka proibia aos judeus a concessão de empréstimos contra cartas de crédito ou hipoteca e limitava suas operações exclusivamente a empréstimos feitos em garantia de bens móveis. [33]Nos séculos 14 e 15, ricos mercadores e agiotas judeus alugavam a casa da moeda real, minas de sal e a cobrança de impostos e taxas. Os mais famosos deles foram Jordan e seu filho Lewko de Cracóvia no século 14 e Jakub Slomkowicz de Luck, Wolczko de Drohobycz, Natko de Lvov, Sansão de Zydaczow, Josko de Hrubieszow e Szania de Belz no século 15. Por exemplo, Wolczko de Drohobycz, corretor do rei Ladislaus Jagiello, era o proprietário de várias aldeias na voivodia da Rutênia e o soltys (administrador) da aldeia de Werbiz. Além disso, os judeus de Grodno eram neste período proprietários de aldeias, solares, prados, tanques de peixes e moinhos. No entanto, até o final do século 15, a agricultura como fonte de renda desempenhava apenas um papel menor entre as famílias judias.Mais importante era o artesanato para as necessidades de seus companheiros judeus e da população cristã (fabricação de peles, curtimento, alfaiataria).[33]

Casimiro IV Jagiellon confirmou e ampliou os alvarás judaicos na segunda metade do século 15

Em 1454, revoltas anti-semitas irromperam na Wrocław etnicamente alemã da Boêmia e em outras cidades da Silésia , inspiradas por um frade franciscano, João de Capistrano , que acusou os judeus de profanar a religião cristã. Como resultado, os judeus foram banidos da Baixa Silésia. Zbigniew Olesnicki então convidou John para conduzir uma campanha semelhante em Cracóvia e várias outras cidades, com menor efeito.

O declínio do status dos judeus foi brevemente controlado por Casimiro IV, o Jaguelônico (1447-1492), mas logo a nobreza o forçou a emitir o Estatuto de Nieszawa , [44] que, entre outras coisas, aboliu os antigos privilégios dos Judeus "como contrários ao direito divino e à lei da terra." No entanto, o rei continuou a oferecer sua proteção aos judeus. Dois anos depois, Casimiro publicou outro documento anunciando que não podia privar os judeus de sua benevolência com base "no princípio da tolerância que em conformidade com as leis de Deus o obrigava a protegê-los". [45] A política do governo em relação aos judeus da Polônia oscilou sob os filhos e sucessores de Casimiro, João I Albert(1492-1501) e Alexandre, o Jagielloniano (1501-1506). Em 1495, os judeus foram expulsos do centro de Cracóvia e autorizados a se estabelecer na "cidade judaica" de Kazimierz. No mesmo ano, Alexandre, quando era grão-duque da Lituânia , seguiu o exemplo de 1492 dos governantes espanhóis e baniu os judeus da Lituânia. Por vários anos, eles se abrigaram na Polônia, até que ele reverteu sua decisão, oito anos depois, em 1503, após se tornar rei da Polônia e permitir que voltassem para a Lituânia. [33] No ano seguinte, ele emitiu uma proclamação em que afirmava que uma política de tolerância condizia com "reis e governantes". [45]

Centro do mundo judaico: 1505-1572

Sigismundo II Augusto seguiu a política tolerante de seu pai e também concedeu autonomia aos judeus.

A Polónia tornou-se mais tolerante assim que os judeus foram expulsos da Espanha em 1492, bem como da Áustria , Hungria e Alemanha , estimulando assim a imigração judaica para a Polónia, muito mais acessível. De fato, com a expulsão dos judeus da Espanha , a Polônia se tornou o refúgio reconhecido para exilados da Europa Ocidental; e a consequente ascensão às fileiras dos judeus poloneses tornou-os o centro cultural e espiritual do povo judeu.

O período mais próspero para os judeus poloneses começou após esse novo influxo de judeus com o reinado de Sigismundo I, o Velho (1506-1548), que protegeu os judeus em seu reino. Seu filho, Sigismund II Augustus (1548–1572), seguiu principalmente a política tolerante de seu pai e também concedeu autonomia de administração comunal aos judeus e lançou as bases para o poder do Qahal , ou comunidade judaica autônoma. Este período levou à criação de um provérbio sobre a Polônia ser um "paraíso para os judeus". De acordo com algumas fontes, cerca de três quartos de todos os judeus viviam na Polônia em meados do século XVI. [9] [10] [11] Nos séculos 16 e 17, a Polônia acolheu imigrantes judeus da Itália, bem como judeus sefarditas e judeus romaniota que migraram do Império Otomano para. De língua árabe Mizrahi judeus e judeus persas também migraram para a Polônia durante este tempo. [46] [47] [48] [49] A vida religiosa judaica prosperou em muitas comunidades polonesas. Em 1503, a monarquia polonesa nomeou o rabino Jacob Pollak como o primeiro rabino oficial da Polônia. [50]Em 1551, os judeus receberam permissão para escolher seu próprio rabino-chefe. O Rabinato Chefe detinha poder sobre a lei e as finanças, nomeando juízes e outros funcionários. Algum poder foi compartilhado com os conselhos locais. O governo polonês permitiu que o Rabinato crescesse em poder, para usá-lo para fins de cobrança de impostos. Apenas 30% do dinheiro arrecadado pelo Rabinato servia a causas judaicas, o resto ia para a Coroa para proteção. Neste período, a Polônia-Lituânia se tornou o principal centro dos judeus Ashkenazi e suas yeshivot alcançaram fama a partir do início do século XVI.

Moses Isserles (1520–1572), um talmudista eminente do século 16, estabeleceu sua yeshiva em Cracóvia . Além de ser um renomado talmúdico e estudioso do direito , Isserles também foi aprendido na Cabala e estudou história, astronomia e filosofia. A Sinagoga Remuh foi construída para ele em 1557. Rema (רמ״א) é a sigla em hebraico para seu nome. [51]

Comunidade polonesa-lituana: 1572–1795

Número de judeus na Comunidade polonesa-lituana por voivodia em 1764

Após a morte sem filhos de Sigismundo II Augusto , o último rei da dinastia Jagiellon , nobres poloneses e lituanos ( szlachta ) se reuniram em Varsóvia em 1573 e assinaram um documento no qual representantes de todas as principais religiões prometiam apoio mútuo e tolerância. As oito ou nove décadas seguintes de prosperidade material e segurança relativa experimentadas pelos judeus poloneses - escreveu o professor Gershon Hundert - testemunharam o surgimento de "uma galáxia virtual de cintilantes figuras intelectuais". Academias judaicas foram estabelecidas em Lublin, Cracóvia, Brześć (Brisk), Lwów, Ostróg e outras cidades. [52]Polônia-Lituânia era o único país da Europa onde os judeus cultivavam os campos de seus próprios fazendeiros. [53] O órgão autônomo central que regulamentou a vida judaica na Polônia de meados do século 16 a meados do século 18 era conhecido como o Conselho das Quatro Terras . [54]

Declínio

Em 1648, a comunidade multiétnica foi devastada por vários conflitos, nos quais o país perdeu mais de um terço de sua população (mais de três milhões de pessoas). As perdas judias foram contadas na casa das centenas de milhares. A primeira dessas atrocidades em grande escala foi a Revolta de Khmelnytsky , na qual os cossacos ucranianos de Bohdan Khmelnytsky massacraram dezenas de milhares de judeus e poloneses católicos nas áreas leste e sul da Ucrânia ocupada pela Polônia. [55] O número exato de mortos não é conhecido, mas a diminuição da população judaica durante este período é estimada em 100.000 a 200.000, o que também inclui emigração, mortes por doenças e jasyr (cativeiro no Império Otomano) A comunidade judaica sofreu muito durante a revolta dos cossacos ucranianos de 1648, que foi dirigida principalmente contra a nobreza polonesa e os proprietários de terras. Os judeus, considerados aliados dos poloneses, também foram vítimas da revolta, durante a qual cerca de 20% deles foram mortos.

Um judeu polonês em uma gravura de 1703

Governada pelos reis eleitos da Casa de Vasa desde 1587, a batalhada Commonwealth foi invadida pelo Império Sueco em 1655 no que ficou conhecido como o Dilúvio . O reino da Polônia, que já havia sofrido com a Revolta de Khmelnytsky e com as invasões recorrentes dos russos, tártaros da Crimeia e otomanos , tornou-se palco de ainda mais atrocidades. Carlos X da Suécia , à frente de seu exército vitorioso, invadiu as cidades de Cracóvia e Varsóvia. A quantidade de destruição, pilhagem e pilhagem metódica durante o Cerco de Cracóvia (1657) foi tão grande que partes da cidade nunca mais se recuperaram. O general polonêsStefan Czarniecki derrotou os suecos em 1660. Ele foi igualmente bem-sucedido em suas batalhas contra os russos. [56] Enquanto isso, os horrores da guerra foram agravados pela pestilência . Muitos judeus, juntamente com os habitantes da cidade de Kalisz , Cracóvia, Poznań , Piotrków e Lublin, foram vítimas de epidemias recorrentes. [57] [58]

Assim que os distúrbios cessaram, os judeus começaram a retornar e a reconstruir suas casas destruídas; e embora seja verdade que a população judaica da Polônia havia diminuído, ela ainda era mais numerosa do que a das colônias judaicas na Europa Ocidental. A Polônia continuou a ser o centro espiritual do Judaísmo. Durante 1698, os reis poloneses geralmente continuaram apoiando os judeus. Embora as perdas judias nesses eventos tenham sido altas, a Comunidade perdeu um terço de sua população - aproximadamente três milhões de seus cidadãos.

O ambiente da Comunidade Polonesa, de acordo com Hundert, afetou profundamente os judeus devido ao encontro genuinamente positivo com a cultura cristã em muitas cidades e vilas pertencentes à aristocracia polonesa. Não houve isolamento. [59] O vestido judeu lembrava o de seu vizinho polonês. "Relatos de romances, de beber juntos em tavernas e de conversas intelectuais são abundantes." Judeus ricos tinham nobres poloneses em sua mesa e serviam as refeições em pratos de prata. [59] Em 1764, havia cerca de 750.000 judeus na Comunidade polonesa-lituana . A população judaica mundial naquela época era estimada em 1,2 milhão.

Em 1768, a rebelião Koliyivshchyna a oeste do rio Dnieper , na Volínia, levou a ferozes assassinatos de nobres poloneses, padres católicos e milhares de judeus pelos cossacos haidamaka ucranianos . [60] Quatro anos depois, em 1772, as partições militares da Polônia começaram entre a Rússia, a Prússia e a Áustria. [61]

O desenvolvimento do judaísmo na Polônia e na Comunidade

A cultura e a produção intelectual da comunidade judaica na Polônia tiveram um impacto profundo no judaísmo como um todo. Alguns historiadores judeus relataram que a palavra Polônia é pronunciada como Polania ou Polin em hebraico e, quando transliterada para o hebraico, esses nomes para a Polônia foram interpretados como "bons presságios" porque Polania pode ser dividida em três palavras hebraicas: po ("aqui "), lan (" mora "), ya (" Deus ") e Polin em duas palavras de: po (" aqui ") lin("[você deve] habitar"). A "mensagem" era que a Polônia deveria ser um bom lugar para os judeus. Durante o período do governo de Sigismundo I, o Velho, até o Holocausto nazista , a Polônia estaria no centro da vida religiosa judaica. Muitos concordaram com o rabino David ben Shemu'el ha-Levi (Taz) que a Polônia era um lugar onde "na maioria das vezes os gentios não fazem mal; pelo contrário, eles fazem o que é certo por parte de Israel" ( Divre David; 1689). [62]

Aprendizagem judaica

Tarde- Renaissance sinagoga , Zamość , Polônia, 1610-1620

As yeshivot foram estabelecidas, sob a direção dos rabinos, nas comunidades mais proeminentes. Essas escolas eram oficialmente conhecidas como ginásios e seus diretores rabinos como reitores . Yeshivot importantesexistiam em Cracóvia, Poznań e outras cidades. Os estabelecimentos de impressão judaicos surgiram no primeiro quarto do século XVI. Em 1530, um Pentateuco hebraico ( Torá ) foi impresso em Cracóvia; e no final do século as editoras judaicas daquela cidade e de Lublin publicaram um grande número de livros judaicos, principalmente de caráter religioso. O crescimento da bolsa talmúdicana Polônia foi coincidente com a maior prosperidade dos judeus poloneses; e, por causa de sua autonomia comunal, o desenvolvimento educacional era totalmente unilateral e segundo as linhas talmúdicas. Exceções são registradas, no entanto, quando os jovens judeus buscam instrução secular nas universidades europeias. Os eruditos rabinos tornaram-se não apenas expositores da Lei, mas também conselheiros espirituais, professores, juízes e legisladores; e sua autoridade compeliu os líderes comunitários a se familiarizarem com as questões obscuras da lei judaica . Os judeus poloneses encontraram suas visões de vida moldadas pelo espírito da literatura talmúdica e rabínica, cuja influência era sentida em casa, na escola e na sinagoga.

Na primeira metade do século 16, as sementes do aprendizado talmúdico foram transplantadas da Boêmia para a Polônia , particularmente da escola de Jacob Pollak , o criador de Pilpul ("raciocínio agudo"). Shalom Shachna (c. 1500–1558), um aluno de Pollak, é contado entre os pioneiros do aprendizado talmúdico na Polônia. Ele viveu e morreu em Lublin , onde foi o chefe da yeshivá que produziu as celebridades rabínicas do século seguinte. O filho de Shachna, Israel, tornou-se rabino de Lublin com a morte de seu pai, e o aluno de Shachna, Moses Isserles (conhecido como ReMA) (1520-1572) alcançou uma reputação internacional entre os judeus como o co-autor do Shulkhan Arukh , (o "Código de Lei Judaica"). Seu contemporâneo e correspondente Solomon Luria (1510–1573) de Lublin também gozava de ampla reputação entre seus correligionários; e a autoridade de ambos foi reconhecida pelos judeus em toda a Europa. Disputas religiosas acaloradas eram comuns, e estudiosos judeus participavam delas. Ao mesmo tempo, a Kabbalah tornou-se entrincheirada sob a proteção do Rabbinismo ; e estudiosos como Mordecai Jaffe e Yoel Sirkis se dedicaram a seu estudo. Este período de grande erudição rabínica foi interrompido peloRevolta de Chmielnicki e o Dilúvio .

A ascensão do hassidismo

A década da revolta dos cossacos até depois da guerra sueca(1648-1658) deixou uma impressão profunda e duradoura não apenas na vida social dos judeus poloneses-lituanos, mas também em sua vida espiritual. A produção intelectual dos judeus da Polônia foi reduzida. O aprendizado talmúdico, que até aquele período era de posse comum da maioria das pessoas, tornou-se acessível apenas a um número limitado de alunos. Qualquer estudo religioso que existia tornou-se excessivamente formalizado, alguns rabinos se ocuparam com problemas relacionados às leis religiosas; outros escreveram comentários sobre diferentes partes do Talmud nos quais argumentos complicados foram levantados e discutidos; e às vezes esses argumentos tratavam de assuntos que não eram de importância prática. Ao mesmo tempo, muitos milagres fizeram sua aparição entre os judeus da Polônia, culminando em uma série de falsos movimentos "messiânicos",mais famosa comoO sabatianismo foi sucedido pelo franquismo .

Nesta época de misticismo e rabinismo excessivamente formal vieram os ensinamentos de Israel ben Eliezer , conhecido como Baal Shem Tov , ou BeShT , (1698-1760), que teve um efeito profundo sobre os judeus da Europa Oriental e da Polônia em particular. Seus discípulos ensinaram e encorajaram o novo tipo de judaísmo fervoroso, baseado na Cabala, conhecido como hassidismo . A ascensão do Judaísmo Hassídico dentro das fronteiras da Polônia e além teve uma grande influência na ascensão do Judaísmo Haredi em todo o mundo, com uma influência contínua em suas muitas dinastias Hassídicas, incluindo as de Chabad-Lubavitch, Aleksander , Bobov , Ger , Nadvorna , entre outros.

As Partições da Polônia

Vestido judaico nos séculos 17 (topo) e 18

Em 1742, a maior parte da Silésia foi perdida para a Prússia . Mais desordem e anarquia reinaram supremas na Polônia durante a segunda metade do século 18, desde a ascensão ao trono de seu último rei, Stanislaus II Augustus Poniatowski em 1764. Sua eleição foi comprada por Catarina a Grande por 2,5 milhões de rublos, com o Exército russo estacionado a apenas 5 quilômetros de Varsóvia. [63] Oito anos depois, desencadeada pela Confederação de Bar contra a influência russa e pelo rei pró-russo, as províncias remotas da Polônia foram invadidas por todos os lados por diferentes forças militares e divididas pela primeira vez pelos três impérios vizinhos, a Rússia , Áustria ePrússia . [63] A Comunidade perdeu 30% de suas terras durante as anexações de 1772 e ainda mais de seus povos. [64] Os judeus eram mais numerosos nos territórios que caíram sob o controle militar da Áustria e da Rússia.

O conselho permanente estabelecido por instância do governo russo (1773-1788) serviu como o mais alto tribunal administrativo e ocupou-se com a elaboração de um plano que tornaria viável a reorganização da Polônia em uma base mais racional. Os elementos progressistas da sociedade polonesa reconheceram a urgência da educação popular como o primeiro passo em direção à reforma. A famosa Komisja Edukacji Narodowej ("Comissão de Educação Nacional"), o primeiro ministério da educação do mundo, foi fundada em 1773 e fundou várias escolas novas e remodelou as antigas. Um dos membros da comissão, kanclerz Andrzej Zamoyski, junto com outros, exigiram que a inviolabilidade de suas pessoas e propriedades deveria ser garantida e que a tolerância religiosa deveria ser concedida a eles em certa medida; mas ele insistiu que os judeus que viviam nas cidades deveriam ser separados dos cristãos, que aqueles que não tinham ocupação definida deveriam ser banidos do reino e que mesmo os que se ocupavam da agricultura não deveriam ter permissão para possuir terras. Por outro lado, alguns szlachta e intelectuais propuseram um sistema nacional de governo, da igualdade civil e política dos judeus. Este foi o único exemplo na Europa moderna antes da Revolução Francesade tolerância e tolerância ao lidar com a questão judaica. Mas todas essas reformas chegaram tarde demais: um exército russo logo invadiu a Polônia, e logo depois um prussiano o seguiu.

Berek Joselewicz (1764-1809)

Uma segunda partição da Polônia foi feita em 17 de julho de 1793. Judeus, em um regimento judeu liderado por Berek Joselewicz , participaram da Revolta de Kościuszko no ano seguinte, quando os poloneses tentaram novamente alcançar a independência, mas foram brutalmente reprimidos. Após a revolta, a terceira e última partição da Polônia ocorreu em 1795. Os territórios que incluíam o grande grosso da população judaica foram transferidos para a Rússia, e assim tornaram-se súditos daquele império, embora na primeira metade do século XIX alguma aparência de um estado polonês muito menor foi preservada, especialmente na forma do Congresso da Polônia (1815-1831).

Sob o domínio estrangeiro, muitos judeus que habitavam terras anteriormente polonesas eram indiferentes às aspirações polonesas de independência. No entanto, a maioria dos judeus polonizados apoiou as atividades revolucionárias dos patriotas poloneses e participou de levantes nacionais. [65] Os judeus poloneses participaram da Insurreição de novembro de 1830-1831, da Insurreição de janeiro de 1863, bem como do movimento revolucionário de 1905. Muitos judeus poloneses foram alistados nas Legiões Polonesas , que lutaram pela independência polonesa. em 1918, quando as forças de ocupação se desintegraram após a Primeira Guerra Mundial. [65] [66]

Judeus da Polônia dentro do Império Russo (1795–1918)

Comerciantes judeus na Varsóvia do século 19

A política oficial russa acabaria se revelando substancialmente mais dura para os judeus do que sob o governo polonês independente. As terras que antes haviam sido a Polônia continuariam sendo o lar de muitos judeus, já que, em 1772, Catarina II , a Tzarina da Rússia, instituiu o Pálido de Liquidação , restringindo os judeus às partes ocidentais do império, que eventualmente incluiria muito da Polônia, embora tenha excluído algumas áreas em que os judeus haviam vivido anteriormente. No final do século 19, mais de quatro milhões de judeus viveriam no Pale.

A política czarista em relação aos judeus da Polônia alternava-se entre regras severas e incentivos destinados a quebrar a resistência à conversão em grande escala. Em 1804, Alexandre I da Rússia emitiu um "Estatuto Relativo aos Judeus", [67] com o objetivo de acelerar o processo de assimilação da nova população judaica do Império. Os judeus poloneses foram autorizados a estabelecer escolas com currículos em russo, alemão ou polonês. Eles poderiam possuir terras nos territórios anexados da Polônia. No entanto, eles também foram impedidos de alugar propriedades, ensinar em iídiche e de entrar na Rússia. Eles foram banidos da indústria cervejeira. As medidas mais duras destinadas a obrigar os judeus a se unirem à sociedade em geral exigiam sua expulsão de pequenas aldeias, forçando-os a se mudar para as cidades. Assim que o reassentamento começou, milhares de judeus perderam sua única fonte de renda e se voltaram para Qahal em busca de apoio. Suas condições de vida em Pale começaram a piorar dramaticamente. [67]

Durante o reinado do czar Nicolau I , conhecido pelos judeus como " Haman o Segundo", centenas de novas medidas antijudaicas foram promulgadas. [68] O decreto de 1827 de Nicolas - enquanto suspendia a tradicional dupla tributação dos judeus em vez do serviço militar - sujeitou os judeus às leis gerais de recrutamento militar que exigiam que as comunidades judaicas fornecessem 7 recrutas para cada 1000 "almas" a cada 4 anos. Ao contrário da população em geral que teve que fornecer recrutas com idades entre 18 e 35, os judeus tiveram que fornecer recrutas com idades entre 12 e 25, a critério do qahal . Assim, entre 1827 e 1857, mais de 30.000 crianças foram colocadas nas chamadas escolas cantonistas , onde foram pressionadas a se converter. [69]"Muitas crianças foram contrabandeadas para a Polônia, onde o recrutamento de judeus só entrou em vigor em 1844." [68]

Pale of Settlement

Mapa de Pale of Settlement , mostrando a densidade populacional judaica

The Pale of Settlement ( Russo : Черта́ осе́длости , chertá osédlosti , Iídiche : תּחום-המושבֿ , tkhum-ha-moyshəv , hebraico : תְּחוּם הַמּוֹשָב , tḥùm ha-mosv, região da qual era permanente a Rússia) a residência de judeus era permitida e além da qual a residência permanente judaica era geralmente proibida. Ele estendeu do leste pálido , ou linha de demarcação, à fronteira com a Rússia ocidental com o Reino da Prússia (mais tarde, o Império Alemão) e com a Áustria-Hungria . O termo inglês arcaico pálido é derivado da palavra latina palus , uma estaca, estendida para significar a área cercada por uma cerca ou limite.

Com suas grandes populações católicas e judaicas, o Pale foi adquirido pelo Império Russo (que era em sua maioria ortodoxo russo ) em uma série de conquistas militares e manobras diplomáticas entre 1791 e 1835, e durou até a queda do Império Russo em 1917. Compreendia cerca de 20% do território da Rússia europeia e correspondia principalmente às fronteiras históricas da antiga Comunidade polonesa-lituana ; cobriu grande parte da atual Lituânia , Bielo-Rússia , Polônia , Moldávia , Ucrânia e partes da Rússia ocidental .

De 1791 a 1835 e até 1917, houve diferentes reconfigurações das fronteiras do Pale, de modo que certas áreas foram abertas ou fechadas para residências judaicas, como o Cáucaso . Às vezes, os judeus eram proibidos de viver em comunidades agrícolas, ou em certas cidades, como em Kiev , Sevastopol e Yalta , excluídas da residência em várias cidades do Pale. Colonos de fora do campo foram forçados a se mudar para pequenas cidades, promovendo assim o surgimento dos shtetls .

Embora os judeus tenham recebido um pouco mais de direitos com a reforma da Emancipação de 1861 por Alexandre II , eles ainda estavam restritos ao Pálido do Acordo e sujeitos a restrições de propriedade e profissão. O status quo existente foi destruído com o assassinato de Alexandre em 1881 - um ato falsamente atribuído aos judeus.

Pogroms no Império Russo

Caricatura do assaltante do exército russo no pogrom de Białystok de 1906

O assassinato gerou uma onda de revoltas antijudaicas em grande escala, chamadas pogroms (em russo : погро́м ;) ao longo de 1881-1884. No surto de 1881, os pogroms foram limitados principalmente à Rússia, embora em um motim em Varsóvia dois judeus tenham sido mortos, outros 24 ficaram feridos, mulheres foram estupradas e mais de dois milhões de rublos em propriedades foram destruídos. [70] [71] O novo czar, Alexandre III , culpou os judeus pelos motins e emitiu uma série de restrições severas aos movimentos judaicos. Os pogroms continuaram até 1884, com pelo menos a aprovação tácita do governo. Eles provaram ser um ponto de viragem na história dos judeus na Polônia divididae em todo o mundo. Em 1884, 36 delegados judeus sionistas se reuniram em Katowice , formando o movimento Hovevei Zion . Os pogroms provocaram uma grande onda de emigração judaica para os Estados Unidos. [72]

Uma onda ainda mais sangrenta de pogroms estourou de 1903 a 1906, pelo menos alguns deles teriam sido organizados pela polícia secreta czarista russa, a Okhrana . Eles incluíram o pogrom de Białystok de 1906 no governadorado de Grodno da Polônia russa, no qual pelo menos 75 judeus foram assassinados por soldados saqueadores e muitos outros judeus foram feridos. De acordo com sobreviventes judeus, os poloneses étnicos não participaram do pogrom e, em vez disso, abrigaram famílias judias. [73]

Haskalah e Halakha

O Iluminismo judaico, Haskalah , começou a se estabelecer na Polônia durante o século 19, enfatizando idéias e valores seculares. Os campeões da Haskalah , os Maskilim , pressionaram pela assimilação e integração na cultura russa. Ao mesmo tempo, havia outra escola de pensamento judaico que enfatizava o estudo tradicional e uma resposta judaica aos problemas éticos do anti-semitismo e da perseguição, uma das quais era o movimento Musar . Os judeus poloneses geralmente eram menos influenciados pela Haskalah , focando em uma forte continuação de suas vidas religiosas com base na Halakha ("lei dos rabinos") seguindo principalmente o judaísmo ortodoxo , o judaísmo hassídico, e também se adaptando ao novo sionismo religioso do movimento Mizrachi no final do século XIX.

Política em território polonês

Uma demonstração do Bundist , 1917

No final do século 19, a Haskalah e os debates que ela causou criaram um número crescente de movimentos políticos dentro da própria comunidade judaica, cobrindo uma ampla gama de pontos de vista e disputando votos nas eleições locais e regionais. O sionismo tornou-se muito popular com o advento do partido socialista Poale Zion , bem como do religioso polonês Mizrahi e dos sionistas gerais cada vez mais populares . Os judeus também aderiram ao socialismo , formando o sindicato dos trabalhadores Bund, que apoiava a assimilação e os direitos do trabalho . O Folkspartei (Partido do Povo) defendia, por sua vez, a autonomia cultural e a resistência à assimilação. Em 1912,O Agudat Israel , um partido religioso, surgiu.

Muitos judeus participaram das insurreições polonesas, especialmente contra a Rússia (uma vez que os czares discriminavam fortemente os judeus). A Insurreição de Kościuszko (1794), a Insurreição de novembro (1830-31), a Insurreição de Janeiro (1863) e o Movimento Revolucionário de 1905, todos viram um envolvimento judaico significativo na causa da independência polonesa.

Durante o período da Segunda República Polonesa , havia vários políticos judeus proeminentes no Sejm polonês, como Apolinary Hartglas e Yitzhak Gruenbaum . Muitos partidos políticos judeus estavam ativos, representando um amplo espectro ideológico, desde os sionistas, aos socialistas e aos anti-sionistas. Um dos maiores desses partidos era o Bund, que era mais forte em Varsóvia e Lodz.

Além dos socialistas, os partidos sionistas também eram populares, em particular o marxista Poale Zion e o religioso ortodoxo polonês Mizrahi. O partido sionista geral se tornou o partido judeu mais proeminente no período entre guerras e nas eleições de 1919 para o primeiro Sejm polonês desde as partições, ganhou 50% dos votos judeus.

Em 1914, o sionista alemão Max Bodenheimer fundou o curto Comitê Alemão para Libertação dos Judeus Russos , com o objetivo de estabelecer um estado tampão ( Pufferstaat ) dentro do Pale Judeu de Assentamento, composto pelas antigas províncias polonesas anexadas pela Rússia , sendo protetorado de fato do Império Alemão que libertaria os judeus da região da opressão russa. O plano, conhecido como Liga dos Estados do Leste Europeu , logo se mostrou impopular tanto com as autoridades alemãs quanto com os colegas de Bodenheimer, e morreu no ano seguinte. [74] [75]

Interbellum (1918–39)

Judeus poloneses e a luta pela independência da Polônia

Alunos hassídicos em Łódź , c. 1910, durante partições
Rabino Baruch Steinberg antes da Grande Sinagoga de Varsóvia (1933), lendo a lista de chamada dos caídos, organizada pela União de Lutadores Judeus pela Independência Polonesa

While most Polish Jews were neutral to the idea of a Polish state,[76] many played a significant role in the fight for Poland's independence during World War I; around 650 Jews joined the Legiony Polskie formed by Józef Piłsudski, more than all other minorities combined.[77] Prominent Jews were among the members of KTSSN, the nucleus of the interim government of re-emerging sovereign Poland including Herman Feldstein, Henryk Eile, Porucznik Samuel Herschthal, Dr. Zygmunt Leser, Henryk Orlean, Wiktor Chajes and others.[76] The donations poured in including 50,000 Austrian kronen from the Jews of Lwów and the 1,500 cans of food donated by the Blumenfeld factory among similar others.[76] A Jewish organization during the war that was opposed to Polish aspirations was the Komitee für den Osten (Kfdo)(Committee for the East) founded by German Jewish activists, which promoted the idea of Jews in the east becoming "spearhead of German expansionism" serving as "Germany's reliable vassals" against other ethnic groups in the region[78] and serving as "living wall against Poles separatists aims".[79]

In the aftermath of the Great War localized conflicts engulfed Eastern Europe between 1917 and 1919. Many attacks were launched against Jews during the Russian Civil War, the Polish-Ukrainian War, and the Polish–Soviet War ending with the Treaty of Riga. Almost half of the Jewish men perceived to have supported the Bolshevik Russia in these incidents were in their 20s.[80] Just after the end of World War I, the West became alarmed by reports about alleged massive pogroms in Poland against Jews. Pressure for government action reached the point where U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent an official commission to investigate the matter. The commission, led by Henry Morgenthau, Sr., concluded in its Morgenthau Report that allegations of pogroms were exaggerated.[81] It identified eight incidents in the years 1918–1919 out of 37 mostly empty claims for damages, and estimated the number of victims at 280. Four of these were attributed to the actions of deserters and undisciplined individual soldiers; none was blamed on official government policy. Among the incidents, during the battle for Pińsk a commander of Polish infantry regiment accused a group of Jewish men of plotting against the Poles and ordered the execution of thirty-five Jewish men and youth.[82] The Morgenthau Report found the charge to be "devoid of foundation" even though their meeting was illegal to the extent of being treasonable.[83] In the Lwów (Lviv) pogrom, which occurred in 1918 during the Polish–Ukrainian War of independence a day after the Poles captured Lviv from the Sich Riflemen – the report concluded – 64 Jews had been killed (other accounts put the number at 72).[84][85] In Warsaw, soldiers of Blue Army assaulted Jews in the streets, but were punished by military authorities. Many other events in Poland were later found to have been exaggerated, especially by contemporary newspapers such as The New York Times, although serious abuses against the Jews, including pogroms, continued elsewhere, especially in Ukraine.[86] The above-mentioned atrocities committed by the young Polish army and its allies in 1919 during their Kiev operation against the Bolsheviks had a profound impact on the foreign perception of the re-emerging Polish state.[87] The result of the concerns over the fate of Poland's Jews was a series of explicit clauses in the Versailles Treaty signed by the Western powers, and President Paderewski,[88] protecting the rights of minorities in new Poland including Germans. In 1921, Poland's March Constitution gave the Jews the same legal rights as other citizens and guaranteed them religious tolerance and freedom of religious holidays.[89]

The number of Jews immigrating to Poland from Ukraine and Soviet Russia during the interwar period grew rapidly. Jewish population in the area of former Congress of Poland increased sevenfold between 1816 and 1921, from around 213,000 to roughly 1,500,000.[90] According to the Polish national census of 1921, there were 2,845,364 Jews living in the Second Polish Republic; but, by late 1938 that number had grown by over 16% to approximately 3,310,000. The average rate of permanent settlement was about 30,000 per annum. At the same time, every year around 100,000 Jews were passing through Poland in unofficial emigration overseas. Between the end of the Polish–Soviet War and late 1938, the Jewish population of the Republic had grown by over 464,000.[91]

Jewish and Polish culture

The newly independent Second Polish Republic had a large and vibrant Jewish minority. By the time World War II began, Poland had the largest concentration of Jews in Europe although many Polish Jews had a separate culture and ethnic identity from Catholic Poles. Some authors have stated that only about 10% of Polish Jews during the interwar period could be considered "assimilated" while more than 80% could be readily recognized as Jews.[92]

According to the 1931 National Census there were 3,130,581 Polish Jews measured by the declaration of their religion. Estimating the population increase and the emigration from Poland between 1931 and 1939, there were probably 3,474,000 Jews in Poland as of 1 September 1939 (approximately 10% of the total population) primarily centered in large and smaller cities: 77% lived in cities and 23% in the villages. They made up about 50%, and in some cases even 70% of the population of smaller towns, especially in Eastern Poland.[93] Prior to World War II, the Jewish population of Łódź numbered about 233,000, roughly one-third of the city's population.[94] The city of Lwów (now in Ukraine) had the third-largest Jewish population in Poland, numbering 110,000 in 1939 (42%). Wilno (now in Lithuania) had a Jewish community of nearly 100,000, about 45% of the city's total.[95] In 1938, Kraków's Jewish population numbered over 60,000, or about 25% of the city's total population.[96] In 1939 there were 375,000 Jews in Warsaw or one-third of the city's population. Only New York City had more Jewish residents than Warsaw.

The major industries in which Polish Jews were employed were manufacturing and commerce. In many areas of the country, the majority of retail businesses were owned by Jews, who were sometimes among the wealthiest members of their communities.[97] Many Jews also worked as shoemakers and tailors, as well as in the liberal professions; doctors (56% of all doctors in Poland), teachers (43%), journalists (22%) and lawyers (33%).[98]

Jewish youth and religious groups, diverse political parties and Zionist organizations, newspapers and theatre flourished. Jews owned land and real estate, participated in retail and manufacturing and in the export industry. Their religious beliefs spanned the range from Orthodox Hasidic Judaism to Liberal Judaism.

The Polish language, rather than Yiddish, was increasingly used by the young Warsaw Jews who did not have a problem in identifying themselves fully as Jews, Varsovians and Poles. Jews such as Bruno Schulz were entering the mainstream of Polish society, though many thought of themselves as a separate nationality within Poland. Most children were enrolled in Jewish religious schools, which used to limit their ability to speak Polish. As a result, according to the 1931 census, 79% of the Jews declared Yiddish as their first language, and only 12% listed Polish, with the remaining 9% being Hebrew.[99] In contrast, the overwhelming majority of German-born Jews of this period spoke German as their first language. During the school year of 1937–1938 there were 226 elementary schools [100] and twelve high schools as well as fourteen vocational schools with either Yiddish or Hebrew as the instructional language. Jewish political parties, both the Socialist General Jewish Labour Bund (The Bund), as well as parties of the Zionist right and left wing and religious conservative movements, were represented in the Sejm (the Polish Parliament) as well as in the regional councils.[101]

Isaac Bashevis Singer (Polish: Izaak Zynger), achieved international acclaim as a classic Jewish writer and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978

The Jewish cultural scene [102] was particularly vibrant in pre–World War II Poland, with numerous Jewish publications and more than one hundred periodicals. Yiddish authors, most notably Isaac Bashevis Singer, went on to achieve international acclaim as classic Jewish writers; Singer won the 1978 Nobel Prize in Literature. His brother Israel Joshua Singer was also a writer. Other Jewish authors of the period, such as Bruno Schulz, Julian Tuwim, Marian Hemar, Emanuel Schlechter and Bolesław Leśmian, as well as Konrad Tom and Jerzy Jurandot, were less well known internationally, but made important contributions to Polish literature. Some Polish writers had Jewish roots e.g. Jan Brzechwa (a favorite poet of Polish children). Singer Jan Kiepura, born of a Jewish mother and Polish father, was one of the most popular artists of that era, and pre-war songs of Jewish composers, including Henryk Wars, Jerzy Petersburski, Artur Gold, Henryk Gold, Zygmunt Białostocki, Szymon Kataszek and Jakub Kagan, are still widely known in Poland today. Painters became known as well for their depictions of Jewish life. Among them were Maurycy Gottlieb, Artur Markowicz, and Maurycy Trebacz, with younger artists like Chaim Goldberg coming up in the ranks.

Many Jews were film producers and directors, e.g. Michał Waszyński (The Dybbuk), Aleksander Ford (Children Must Laugh).

Shimon Peres, born in Poland as Szymon Perski, served as the ninth President of Israel between 2007 and 2014

Scientist Leopold Infeld, mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, Alfred Tarski, and professor Adam Ulam contributed to the world of science. Other Polish Jews who gained international recognition are Moses Schorr, Ludwik Zamenhof (the creator of Esperanto), Georges Charpak, Samuel Eilenberg, Emanuel Ringelblum, and Artur Rubinstein, just to name a few from the long list. The term "genocide" was coined by Rafał Lemkin (1900–1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar. Leonid Hurwicz was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics. The YIVO (Jidiszer Wissenszaftlecher Institute) Scientific Institute was based in Wilno before transferring to New York during the war. In Warsaw, important centers of Judaic scholarship, such the Main Judaic Library and the Institute of Judaic Studies were located, along with numerous Talmudic Schools (Jeszybots), religious centers and synagogues, many of which were of high architectural quality. Yiddish theatre also flourished; Poland had fifteen Yiddish theatres and theatrical groups. Warsaw was home to the most important Yiddish theater troupe of the time, the Vilna Troupe, which staged the first performance of The Dybbuk in 1920 at the Elyseum Theatre. Some future Israeli leaders studied at University of Warsaw, including Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir.

There also were several Jewish sports clubs, with some of them, such as Hasmonea Lwow and Jutrzenka Kraków, winning promotion to the Polish First Football League. A Polish-Jewish footballer, Józef Klotz, scored the first ever goal for the Poland national football team. Another athlete, Alojzy Ehrlich, won several medals in the table-tennis tournaments. Many of these clubs belonged to the Maccabi World Union.[citation needed]

Between antisemitism and support for Zionism and Jewish state in Palestine

An ever-increasing proportion of Jews in interwar Poland lived separate lives from the Polish majority. In 1921, 74.2% of Polish Jews listed Yiddish or Hebrew as their native language; the number rose to 87% by 1931,[99] contributing to growing tensions between Jews and Poles.[103] Jews were often not identified as Polish nationals, a problem caused not only by the reversal of assimilation shown in national censuses between 1921 and 1931, but also by the influx of Russian Jews escaping persecution[citation needed]—especially in Ukraine, where up to 2,000 pogroms took place during the Civil War, an estimated 30,000 Jews were massacred directly, and a total of 150,000 died.[104][105] A large number of Russian Jews emigrated to Poland, as they were entitled by the Peace treaty of Riga to choose the country they preferred.[citation needed] Several hundred thousand refugees joined the already numerous Jewish minority of the Polish Second Republic.[citation needed] The resulting economic instability was mirrored by anti-Jewish sentiment in some of the media; discrimination, exclusion, and violence at the universities; and the appearance of "anti-Jewish squads" associated with some of the right-wing political parties. These developments contributed to a greater support among the Jewish community for Zionist and socialist ideas,[106][107] coupled with attempts at further migration, curtailed only by the British government. Notably, the "campaign for Jewish emigration was predicated not on antisemitism but on objective social and economic factors".[108] However, regardless of these changing economic and social conditions, the increase in antisemitic activity in prewar Poland was also typical of antisemitism found in other parts of Europe at that time, developing within a broader, continent-wide pattern with counterparts in every other European country.[109]

Matters improved for a time under the rule of Józef Piłsudski (1926–1935). Piłsudski countered Endecja's 'ethnic assimilation' with the 'state assimilation' policy: citizens were judged by their loyalty to the state, not by their nationality.[110] The years 1926–1935 were favourably viewed by many Polish Jews, whose situation improved especially under the cabinet of Pilsudski's appointee Kazimierz Bartel.[111] However, a combination of various factors, including the Great Depression,[110] meant that the situation of Jewish Poles was never very satisfactory, and it deteriorated again after Piłsudski's death in May 1935, which many Jews regarded as a tragedy.[112] The Jewish industries were negatively affected by the development of mass production and the advent of department stores offering ready-made products. The traditional sources of livelihood for the estimated 300,000 Jewish family-run businesses in the country began to vanish, contributing to a growing trend toward isolationism and internal self-sufficiency.[113] The difficult situation in the private sector led to enrolment growth in higher education. In 1923 the Jewish students constituted 62.9% of all students of stomatology, 34% of medical sciences, 29.2% of philosophy, 24.9% of chemistry and 22.1% of law (26% by 1929) at all Polish universities. It is speculated that such disproportionate numbers were the probable cause of a backlash.[114]

Student's book (indeks) of Jewish medical student Marek Szapiro at Warsaw University, with rectangular "ghetto benches" ("odd-numbered-benches") stamp

The interwar Polish government provided military training to the Zionist Betar paramilitary movement,[115] whose members admired the Polish nationalist camp and imitated some of its aspects.[116] Uniformed members of Betar marched and performed at Polish public ceremonies alongside Polish scouts and military, with their weapons training provided by Polish institutions and Polish military officers; Menachem Begin, one of its leaders, called for its members to defend Poland in case of war, and the organisation raised both Polish and Zionist flags.[117]

With the influence of the Endecja (National Democracy) party growing, antisemitism gathered new momentum in Poland and was most felt in smaller towns and in spheres in which Jews came into direct contact with Poles, such as in Polish schools or on the sports field. Further academic harassment, such as the introduction of ghetto benches, which forced Jewish students to sit in sections of the lecture halls reserved exclusively for them, anti-Jewish riots, and semi-official or unofficial quotas (Numerus clausus) introduced in 1937 in some universities, halved the number of Jews in Polish universities between independence (1918) and the late 1930s. The restrictions were so inclusive that – while the Jews made up 20.4% of the student body in 1928 – by 1937 their share was down to only 7.5%,[118] out of the total population of 9.75% Jews in the country according to 1931 census.[119]

Although many Jews were educated, they were excluded from most of the government bureaucracy.[120] A good number, therefore, turned to the liberal professions, particularly medicine and law. In 1937 the Catholic trade unions of Polish doctors and lawyers restricted their new members to Christian Poles (in a similar manner, the Jewish trade unions excluded non-Jewish professionals from their ranks after 1918).[121] The bulk of Jewish workers were organized in the Jewish trade unions under the influence of the Jewish socialists who split in 1923 to join the Communist Party of Poland and the Second International.[122][123]

Anti-Jewish sentiment in Poland had reached its zenith in the years leading to the Second World War.[124] Between 1935 and 1937 seventy-nine Jews were killed and 500 injured in anti-Jewish incidents.[125] National policy was such that the Jews who largely worked at home and in small shops were excluded from welfare benefits.[126] In the provincial capital of Łuck Jews constituted 48.5% of the diverse multiethnic population of 35,550 Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians and others.[127] Łuck had the largest Jewish community in the voivodeship.[128] In the capital of Brześć in 1936 Jews constituted 41.3% of general population and some 80.3% of private enterprises were owned by Jews.[129][130] The 32% of Jewish inhabitants of Radom enjoyed considerable prominence also,[131] with 90% of small businesses in the city owned and operated by the Jews including tinsmiths, locksmiths, jewellers, tailors, hat makers, hairdressers, carpenters, house painters and wallpaper installers, shoemakers, as well as most of the artisan bakers and clock repairers.[132] In Lubartów, 53.6% of the town's population were Jewish also along with most of its economy.[133] In a town of Luboml, 3,807 Jews lived among its 4,169 inhabitants, constituting the essence of its social and political life.[127]

Demonstration of Polish students demanding implementation of "ghetto benches" at Lwów Polytechnic (1937).

The national boycott of Jewish businesses and advocacy for their confiscation was promoted by the Endecja party, which introduced the term "Christian shop". A national movement to prevent the Jews from kosher slaughter of animals, with animal rights as the stated motivation, was also organized.[134] Violence was also frequently aimed at Jewish stores, and many of them were looted. At the same time, persistent economic boycotts and harassment, including property-destroying riots, combined with the effects of the Great Depression that had been very severe on agricultural countries like Poland, reduced the standard of living of Poles and Polish Jews alike to the extent that by the end of the 1930s, a substantial portion of Polish Jews lived in grinding poverty.[135] As a result, on the eve of the Second World War, the Jewish community in Poland was large and vibrant internally, yet (with the exception of a few professionals) also substantially poorer and less integrated than the Jews in most of Western Europe.[citation needed]

The main strain of antisemitism in Poland during this time was motivated by Catholic religious beliefs and centuries-old myths such as the blood libel. This religious-based antisemitism was sometimes joined with an ultra-nationalistic stereotype of Jews as disloyal to the Polish nation.[136] On the eve of World War II, many typical Polish Christians believed that there were far too many Jews in the country, and the Polish government became increasingly concerned with the "Jewish question". Some politicians favored mass Jewish emigration from Poland. The Polish government condemned wanton violence against the Jewish minority, fearing international repercussions, but shared the view that the Jewish minority hindered Poland's development; in January 1937 Foreign Minister Józef Beck declared that Poland could house 500,000 Jews, and hoped that over the next 30 years 80,000-100,000 Jews a year would leave Poland.[137] As the Polish government sought to lower the numbers of the Jewish population in Poland through mass emigration, it embraced close and good contact with Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, and pursued a policy of supporting the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.[138] The Polish government hoped Palestine would provide an outlet for its Jewish population and lobbied for creation of a Jewish state in the League of Nations and other international venues, proposing increased emigration quotas[139] and opposing the Partition Plan of Palestine on behalf of Zionist activists.[140] As Jabotinsky envisioned in his "Evacuation Plan" the settlement of 1.5 million East European Jews within 10 years in Palestine, including 750,000 Polish Jews, he and Beck shared a common goal.[141] Ultimately this proved impossible and illusory, as it lacked both general Jewish and international support.[142] In 1937 Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Józef Beck declared in the League of Nations his support for the creation of a Jewish state and for an international conference to enable Jewish emigration.[143] The common goals of the Polish state and of the Zionist movement, of increased Jewish population flow to Palestine, resulted in their overt and covert cooperation. Poland helped by organizing passports and facilitating illegal immigration, and supplied the Haganah with weapons.[144] Poland also provided extensive support to the Irgun (the military branch of the Revisionist Zionist movement) in the form of military training and weapons. According to Irgun activists, the Polish state supplied the organisation with 25,000 rifles, additional material and weapons, and by summer 1939 Irgun's Warsaw warehouses held 5,000 rifles and 1,000 machine guns. The training and support by Poland would allow the organisation to mobilise 30,000-40,000 men.[145]

By the time of the German invasion in 1939, antisemitism was escalating, and hostility towards Jews was a mainstay of the right-wing political forces post-Piłsudski regime and also the Catholic Church. Discrimination and violence against Jews had rendered the Polish Jewish population increasingly destitute. Despite the impending threat to the Polish Republic from Nazi Germany, there was little effort seen in the way of reconciliation with Poland's Jewish population. In July 1939 the pro-government Gazeta Polska wrote, "The fact that our relations with the Reich are worsening does not in the least deactivate our program in the Jewish question—there is not and cannot be any common ground between our internal Jewish problem and Poland's relations with the Hitlerite Reich."[146][147] Escalating hostility towards Polish Jews and an official Polish government desire to remove Jews from Poland continued until the German invasion of Poland.[148]

World War II and the destruction of Polish Jewry (1939–45)

Polish September Campaign

Graves of Jewish-Polish soldiers who died in 1939 September Campaign, Powązki Cemetery

The number of Jews in Poland on 1 September 1939, amounted to about 3,474,000 people.[149] One hundred thirty thousand soldiers of Jewish descent, including Boruch Steinberg, Chief Rabbi of the Polish Military, served in the Polish Army at the outbreak of the Second World War,[150] thus being among the first to launch armed resistance against Nazi Germany.[151] During the September Campaign some 20,000 Jewish civilians and 32,216 Jewish soldiers were killed,[152] while 61,000 were taken prisoner by the Germans;[153] the majority did not survive. The soldiers and non-commissioned officers who were released ultimately found themselves in the Nazi ghettos and labor camps and suffered the same fate as other Jewish civilians in the ensuing Holocaust in Poland. In 1939, Jews constituted 30% of Warsaw's population.[154] With the coming of the war, Jewish and Polish citizens of Warsaw jointly defended the city, putting their differences aside.[154] Polish Jews later served in almost all Polish formations during the entire World War II, many were killed or wounded and very many were decorated for their combat skills and exceptional service. Jews fought with the Polish Armed Forces in the West, in the Soviet formed Polish People's Army as well as in several underground organizations and as part of Polish partisan units or Jewish partisan formations.[155]

Territories annexed by the USSR (1939–1941)

The Soviet Union signed a Pact with Nazi Germany on 23 August 1939 containing a protocol about partition of Poland (generally known but denied by the Soviet Union for the next 50 years).[156] The German army attacked Poland on 1 September 1939. The Soviet Union followed suit by invading eastern Poland on 17 September 1939. Within weeks, 61.2% of Polish Jews found themselves under the German occupation, while 38.8% were trapped in the Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. Based on population migration from West to East during and after the German invasion the percentage of Jews under the Soviet-occupation was substantially higher than that of the national census.[157]

The Soviet annexation was accompanied by the widespread arrests of government officials, police, military personnel, border guards, teachers, priests, judges etc., followed by the NKVD prisoner massacres and massive deportation of 320,000 Polish nationals to the Soviet interior and the Gulag slave labor camps where, as a result of the inhuman conditions, about half of them died before the end of war.[158]

Jewish refugees under the Soviet occupation had little knowledge about what was going on under the Germans since the Soviet media did not report on the goings-on in territories occupied by their Nazi ally.[159][160] [161] Many people from Western Poland registered for repatriation back to the German zone, including wealthier Jews, as well as some political and social activists from the interwar period. Instead, they were labelled "class enemies" by the NKVD and deported to Siberia with the others. Jews caught at border crossings, or engaged in trade and other "illegal" activities were also arrested and deported. Several thousand, mostly captured Polish soldiers, were executed; some of them Jewish.[162]

All private property and – crucial to Jewish economic life – private businesses were nationalized; political activity was delegalized and thousands of people were jailed, many of whom were later executed. Zionism, which was designated by the Soviets as counter-revolutionary was also forbidden. In just one day all Polish and Jewish media were shut down and replaced by the new Soviet press,[162] which conducted political propaganda attacking religion including the Jewish faith. Synagogues and churches were not yet closed but heavily taxed. The Soviet ruble of little value was immediately equalized to the much higher Polish zloty and by the end of 1939, zloty was abolished.[163] Most economic activity became subject to central planning and the NKVD restrictions. Since the Jewish communities tended to rely more on commerce and small-scale businesses, the confiscations of property affected them to a greater degree than the general populace. The Soviet rule resulted in near collapse of the local economy, characterized by insufficient wages and general shortage of goods and materials. The Jews, like other inhabitants of the region, saw a fall in their living standards.[157][163]

Under the Soviet policy, ethnic Poles were dismissed and denied access to positions in the civil service. Former senior officials and notable members of the Polish community were arrested and exiled together with their families.[164][165] At the same time the Soviet authorities encouraged young Jewish communists to fill in the newly emptied government and civil service jobs.[163][166]

Yiddish election notice for Soviet local government to the People's council of Western Belarus, Białystok

While most eastern Poles consolidated themselves around the anti-Soviet sentiments,[167] a portion of the Jewish population, along with the ethnic Belarusian and Ukrainian activists had welcomed invading Soviet forces as their protectors.[168][169][170] The general feeling among the Polish Jews was a sense of temporary relief in having escaped the Nazi occupation in the first weeks of war.[85][171] The Polish poet and former communist Aleksander Wat has stated that Jews were more inclined to cooperate with the Soviets.[172][173] Following Jan Karski's report written in 1940, historian Norman Davies claimed that among the informers and collaborators, the percentage of Jews was striking; likewise, General Władysław Sikorski estimated that 30% of them identified with the communists whilst engaging in provocations; they prepared lists of Polish "class enemies".[166][172] Other historians have indicated that the level of Jewish collaboration could well have been less than suggested.[174] Historian Martin Dean has written that "few local Jews obtained positions of power under Soviet rule."[175]

The issue of Jewish collaboration with the Soviet occupation remains controversial. Some scholars note that while not pro-Communist, many Jews saw the Soviets as the lesser threat compared to the German Nazis. They stress that stories of Jews welcoming the Soviets on the streets, vividly remembered by many Poles from the eastern part of the country are impressionistic and not reliable indicators of the level of Jewish support for the Soviets. Additionally, it has been noted that some ethnic Poles were as prominent as Jews in filling civil and police positions in the occupation administration, and that Jews, both civilians and in the Polish military, suffered equally at the hands of the Soviet occupiers.[176] Whatever initial enthusiasm for the Soviet occupation Jews might have felt was soon dissipated upon feeling the impact of the suppression of Jewish societal modes of life by the occupiers.[177] The tensions between ethnic Poles and Jews as a result of this period has, according to some historians, taken a toll on relations between Poles and Jews throughout the war, creating until this day, an impasse to Polish-Jewish rapprochement.[170]

A number of younger Jews, often through the pro-Marxist Bund or some Zionist groups, were sympathetic to Communism and Soviet Russia, both of which had been enemies of the Polish Second Republic. As a result of these factors they found it easy after 1939 to participate in the Soviet occupation administration in Eastern Poland, and briefly occupied prominent positions in industry, schools, local government, police and other Soviet-installed institutions. The concept of "Judeo-communism" was reinforced during the period of the Soviet occupation (see Żydokomuna).[178][179]

Jewish-Polish soldier's grave, Monte Cassino, Italy

There were also Jews who assisted Poles during the Soviet occupation. Among the thousands of Polish officers killed by the Soviet NKVD in the Katyń massacre there were 500–600 Jews. From 1939 to 1941 between 100,000 and 300,000 Polish Jews were deported from Soviet-occupied Polish territory into the Soviet Union. Some of them, especially Polish Communists (e.g. Jakub Berman), moved voluntarily; however, most of them were forcibly deported or imprisoned in a Gulag. Small numbers of Polish Jews (about 6,000) were able to leave the Soviet Union in 1942 with the Władysław Anders army, among them the future Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin. During the Polish army's II Corps' stay in the British Mandate of Palestine, 67% (2,972) of the Jewish soldiers deserted to settle in Palestine, and many joined the Irgun. General Anders decided not to prosecute the deserters and emphasized that the Jewish soldiers who remained in the Force fought bravely.[180] The Cemetery of Polish soldiers who died during the Battle of Monte Cassino includes headstones bearing a Star of David. A number of Jewish soldiers died also when liberating Bologna.[181]

The Holocaust

Map of the Holocaust in Poland under German occupation.

Poland's Jewish community suffered the most in the Holocaust. Some six million Polish citizens perished in the war[182] – half of those (three million Polish Jews, all but some 300,000 of the Jewish population) being killed at the German extermination camps at Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec, Sobibór, and Chełmno or starved to death in the ghettos.[183]

Poland was where the German program of extermination of Jews, the "Final Solution", was implemented, since this was where most of Europe's Jews (excluding the Soviet Union's) lived.[184]

In 1939 several hundred synagogues were blown up or burned by the Germans, who sometimes forced the Jews to do it themselves.[149] In many cases, the Germans turned the synagogues into factories, places of entertainment, swimming pools, or prisons.[149] By war's end, almost all the synagogues in Poland had been destroyed.[185] Rabbis were forced to dance and sing in public with their beards shorn off. Some rabbis were set on fire or hanged.[149]

Starving Jewish children, Warsaw Ghetto

The Germans ordered that all Jews be registered, and the word "Jude" was stamped in their identity cards.[186] Numerous restrictions and prohibitions targeting Jews were introduced and brutally enforced.[187] For example, Jews were forbidden to walk on the sidewalks,[188] use public transport, enter places of leisure, sports arenas, theaters, museums and libraries.[189] On the street, Jews had to lift their hat to passing Germans.[190] By the end of 1941 all Jews in German-occupied Poland, except the children, had to wear an identifying badge with a blue Star of David.[191][192] Rabbis were humiliated in "spectacles organised by the German soldiers and police" who used their rifle butts "to make these men dance in their praying shawls."[193] The Germans "disappointed that Poles refused to collaborate",[194] made little attempts to set up a collaborationist government in Poland,[195][196][197] nevertheless, German tabloids printed in Polish routinely ran antisemitic articles that urged local people to adopt an attitude of indifference towards the Jews.[198]

Following Operation Barbarossa, many Jews in what was then Eastern Poland fell victim to Nazi death squads called Einsatzgruppen, which massacred Jews, especially in 1941. Some of these German-inspired massacres were carried out with help from, or active participation of Poles themselves: for example, the Jedwabne pogrom, in which between 300 (Institute of National Remembrance's Final Findings[199]) and 1,600 Jews (Jan T. Gross) were tortured and beaten to death by members of the local population. The full extent of Polish participation in the massacres of the Polish Jewish community remains a controversial subject, in part due to Jewish leaders' refusal to allow the remains of the Jewish victims to be exhumed and their cause of death to be properly established. The Polish Institute for National Remembrance identified twenty-two other towns that had pogroms similar to Jedwabne.[200] The reasons for these massacres are still debated, but they included antisemitism, resentment over alleged cooperation with the Soviet invaders in the Polish-Soviet War and during the 1939 invasion of the Kresy regions, greed for the possessions of the Jews, and of course coercion by the Nazis to participate in such massacres.

Some Jewish historians have written of the negative attitudes of some Poles towards persecuted Jews during the Holocaust.[201] While members of Catholic clergy risked their lives to assist Jews, their efforts were sometimes made in the face of antisemitic attitudes from the church hierarchy.[109][202] Anti-Jewish attitudes also existed in the London-based Polish Government in Exile,[203] although on 18 December 1942 the President in exile Władysław Raczkiewicz wrote a dramatic letter to Pope Pius XII, begging him for a public defense of both murdered Poles and Jews.[204] In spite of the introduction of death penalty extending to the entire families of rescuers, the number of Polish Righteous among the Nations testifies to the fact that Poles were willing to take risks in order to save Jews.[205]

Holocaust survivors' views of Polish behavior during the War span a wide range, depending on their personal experiences. Some are very negative, based on the view of Christian Poles as passive witnesses who failed to act and aid the Jews as they were being persecuted or liquidated by the Nazis.[206] Poles, who were also victims of Nazi crimes,[207] were often afraid for their own and their family's lives and this fear prevented many of them from giving aid and assistance, even if some of them felt sympathy for the Jews. Emanuel Ringelblum, a Polish-Jewish historian of the Warsaw Ghetto, wrote critically of the indifferent and sometimes joyful responses in Warsaw to the destruction of Polish Jews in the Ghetto.[208] However, Gunnar S. Paulsson stated that Polish citizens of Warsaw managed to support and hide the same percentage of Jews as did the citizens of cities in Western European countries.[21] Paulsson's research shows that at least as far as Warsaw is concerned, the number of Poles aiding Jews far outnumbered those who sold out their Jewish neighbors to the Nazis. During the Nazi occupation of Warsaw 70,000–90,000 Polish gentiles aided Jews, while 3,000–4,000 were szmalcowniks, or blackmailers who collaborated with the Nazis in persecuting the Jews.[209]

Ghettos and death camps

The German Nazis established six extermination camps throughout occupied Poland by 1942. All of these – at Chełmno (Kulmhof), Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz (Oświęcim) – were located near the rail network so that the victims could be easily transported. The system of the camps was expanded over the course of the German occupation of Poland and their purposes were diversified; some served as transit camps, some as forced labor camps and the majority as death camps. While in the death camps, the victims were usually killed shortly after arrival, in the other camps able-bodied Jews were worked and beaten to death.[210] The operation of concentration camps depended on Kapos, the collaborator-prisoners. Some of them were Jewish themselves, and their prosecution after the war created an ethical dilemma.[211]

Jewish Ghettos in German-occupied Poland and Eastern Europe

Between October 1939 and July 1942 a system of ghettos was imposed for the confinement of Jews. The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest in all of World War II, with 380,000 people crammed into an area of 1.3 sq mi (3.4 km2). The Łódź Ghetto was the second largest, holding about 160,000 prisoners. Other large Jewish ghettos in leading Polish cities included Białystok Ghetto in Białystok, Częstochowa Ghetto, Kielce Ghetto, Kraków Ghetto in Kraków, Lublin Ghetto, Lwów Ghetto in present-day Lviv, Stanisławów Ghetto also in present-day Ukraine, Brześć Ghetto in presend-day Belarus, and Radom Ghetto among others. Ghettos were also established in hundreds of smaller settlements and villages around the country. The overcrowding, dirt, lice, lethal epidemics such as typhoid and hunger all resulted in countless deaths.

Walling-off Świętokrzyska Street (seen from Marszałkowska Street on the "Aryan side")

During the occupation of Poland, the Germans used various laws to separate ethnic Poles from Jewish ones. In the ghettos, the population was separated by putting the Poles into the "Aryan Side" and the Polish Jews into the "Jewish Side". Any Pole found giving any help to a Jewish Pole was subject to the death penalty.[212] Another law implemented by the Germans was that Poles were forbidden from buying from Jewish shops, and if they did they were subject to execution.[213] Many Jews tried to escape from the ghettos in the hope of finding a place to hide outside of it, or of joining the partisan units. When this proved difficult escapees often returned to the ghetto on their own. If caught, Germans would murder the escapees and leave their bodies in plain view as a warning to others. Despite these terror tactics, attempts at escape from ghettos continued until their liquidation.[163]

NOTICE
Concerning:
the Sheltering of Escaping Jews.

....There is a need for a reminder, that in accordance with paragraph 3 of the decree of 15 October 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.
....According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty

....This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against:
.........1) Providing shelter to Jews,
.........2) Supplying them with Food,
.........3) Selling them Foodstuffs.
Dr. Franke – Town Commander – Częstochowa 9/24/42

Since the Nazi terror reigned throughout the Aryan districts, the chances of remaining successfully hidden depended on a fluent knowledge of the language and on having close ties with the community. Many Poles were not willing to hide Jews who might have escaped the ghettos or who might have been in hiding due to fear for their own lives and that of their families.

While the German policy towards Jews was ruthless and criminal, their policy towards Christian Poles who helped Jews was very much the same. The Germans would often murder non-Jewish Poles for small misdemeanors. Execution for help rendered to Jews, even the most basic kinds, was automatic. In any apartment block or area where Jews were found to be harboured, everybody in the house would be immediately shot by the Germans. For this thousands of non-Jewish Poles were executed.[214]

Announcement of death penalty for Jews captured outside the Ghetto and for Poles helping Jews, November 1941

Hiding in a Christian society to which the Jews were only partially assimilated was a daunting task.[215] They needed to quickly acquire not only a new identity, but a new body of knowledge.[215] Many Jews spoke Polish with a distinguished Yiddish or Hebrew accent, used a different nonverbal language, different gestures and facial expressions. Jews with the specific physical characteristics were particularly vulnerable.[215]

Some individuals blackmailed Jews and non-Jewish Poles hiding them, and took advantage of their desperation by collecting money, or worse, turning them over to the Germans for a reward. The Gestapo provided a standard prize to those who informed on Jews hidden on the 'Aryan' side, consisting of cash, liquor, sugar, and cigarettes. Jews were robbed and handed over to the Germans by "szmalcowniks" (the 'shmalts' people: from shmalts or szmalec, Yiddish and Polish for 'grease'). In extreme cases, the Jews informed on other Jews to alleviate hunger with the awarded prize.[216] The extortionists were condemned by the Polish Underground State. The fight against informers was organized by the Armia Krajowa (the Underground State's military arm), with the death sentence being meted out on a scale unknown in the occupied countries of Western Europe.[217]

Janusz Korczak's orphanage

To discourage Poles from giving shelter to Jews, the Germans often searched houses and introduced ruthless penalties. Poland was the only occupied country during World War II where the Nazis formally imposed the death penalty for anybody found sheltering and helping Jews.[218][219][220] The penalty applied not only to the person who did the helping, but also extended to his or her family, neighbors and sometimes to entire villages.[221] In this way Germans applied the principle of collective responsibility whose purpose was to encourage neighbors to inform on each other in order to avoid punishment. The nature of these policies was widely known and visibly publicized by the Nazis who sought to terrorize the Polish population.

Food rations for the Poles were small (669 kcal per day in 1941) compared to other occupied nations throughout Europe and black market prices of necessary goods were high, factors which made it difficult to hide people and almost impossible to hide entire families, especially in the cities. Despite these draconian measures imposed by the Nazis, Poland has the highest number of Righteous Among The Nations awards at the Yad Vashem Museum (6,339).[222]

The Polish Government in Exile was the first (in November 1942) to reveal the existence of Nazi-run concentration camps and the systematic extermination of the Jews by the Nazis, through its courier Jan Karski[223] and through the activities of Witold Pilecki, a member of Armia Krajowa who was the only person to volunteer for imprisonment in Auschwitz and who organized a resistance movement inside the camp itself.[224] One of the Jewish members of the National Council of the Polish government in exile, Szmul Zygielbojm, committed suicide to protest the indifference of the Allied governments in the face of the Holocaust in Poland. The Polish government in exile was also the only government to set up an organization (Żegota) specifically aimed at helping the Jews in Poland.

The Warsaw Ghetto and its uprising

Ghetto fighters memorial in Warsaw built in 1948 by sculptor Nathan Rapoport
Deportation to Treblinka at the Umschlagplatz

The Warsaw Ghetto[225] and its 1943 Uprising represents what is likely the most known episode of the wartime history of the Polish Jews. The ghetto was established by the German Governor-General Hans Frank on 16 October 1940. Initially, almost 140,000 Jews were moved into the ghetto from all parts of Warsaw. At the same time, approximately 110,000 Poles had been forcibly evicted from the area. The Germans selected Adam Czerniakow to take charge of the Jewish Council called Judenrat made up of 24 Jewish men ordered to organize Jewish labor battalions as well as Jewish Ghetto Police which would be responsible for maintaining order within the Ghetto walls.[226][227] A number of Jewish policemen were corrupt and immoral. Soon the Nazis demanded even more from the Judenrat and the demands were much crueler. Death was the punishment for the slightest indication of noncompliance by the Judenrat. Sometimes the Judenrat refused to collaborate in which case its members were consequently executed and replaced by the new group of people. Adam Czerniakow who was the head of the Warsaw Judenrat committed suicide when he was forced to collect daily lists of Jews to be deported to Treblinka extermination camp at the onset of Grossaktion Warsaw.[228]

The population of the ghetto reached 380,000 people by the end of 1940, about 30% of the population of Warsaw. However, the size of the Ghetto was only about 2.4% of the size of the city. The Germans closed off the Ghetto from the outside world, building a wall around it by 16 November 1940. During the next year and a half, Jews from smaller cities and villages were brought into the Warsaw Ghetto, while diseases (especially typhoid) and starvation kept the inhabitants at about the same number. Average food rations in 1941 for Jews in Warsaw were limited to 253 kcal, and 669 kcal for Poles, as opposed to 2,613 kcal for Germans. On 22 July 1942, the mass deportation of the Warsaw Ghetto inhabitants began.[229] During the next fifty-two days (until 12 September 1942) about 300,000 people were transported by freight train to the Treblinka extermination camp. The Jewish Ghetto Police were ordered to escort the ghetto inhabitants to the Umschlagplatz train station. They were spared from the deportations until September 1942 in return for their cooperation, but afterwards shared their fate with families and relatives. On 18 January 1943, a group of Ghetto militants led by the right-leaning ŻZW, including some members of the left-leaning ŻOB, rose up in a first Warsaw uprising. Both organizations resisted, with arms, German attempts for additional deportations to Auschwitz and Treblinka.[230] The final destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto came four months later after the crushing of one of the most heroic and tragic battles of the war, the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

When we invaded the Ghetto for the first time – wrote SS commander Jürgen Stroop – the Jews and the Polish bandits succeeded in repelling the participating units, including tanks and armored cars, by a well-prepared concentration of fire. (...) The main Jewish battle group, mixed with Polish bandits, had already retired during the first and second day to the so-called Muranowski Square. There, it was reinforced by a considerable number of Polish bandits. Its plan was to hold the Ghetto by every means in order to prevent us from invading it. Jürgen Stroop, Stroop Report, 1943.[231][232][233]

The Uprising was led by ŻOB (Jewish Combat Organization) and the ŻZW.[230][234] The ŻZW (Jewish Military Union) was the better supplied in arms.[230] The ŻOB had more than 750 fighters, but lacked weapons; they had only 9 rifles, 59 pistols and several grenades.[235] A developed network of bunkers and fortifications were formed. The Jewish fighters also received support from the Polish Underground (Armia Krajowa). The German forces, which included 2,842 Nazi soldiers and 7,000 security personnel, were not capable of crushing the Jewish resistance in open street combat and after several days, decided to switch strategy by setting buildings on fire in which the Jewish fighters hid. The commander of the ŻOB, Mordechai Anielewicz, died fighting on 8 May 1943 at the organization's command centre on 18 Mila Street.

34 Mordechaj Anielewicz Street, Warsaw, Poland

It took the Germans twenty-seven days to put down the uprising, after some very heavy fighting. The German general Jürgen Stroop in his report stated that his troops had killed 6,065 Jewish fighters during the battle. After the uprising was already over, Heinrich Himmler had the Great Synagogue on Tłomackie Square (outside the ghetto) destroyed as a celebration of German victory and a symbol that the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw was no longer.

A group of fighters escaped from the ghetto through the sewers and reached the Lomianki forest. About 50 ghetto fighters were saved by the Polish "People's Guard" and later formed their own partisan group, named after Anielewicz. Even after the end of the uprising there were still several hundreds of Jews who continued living in the ruined ghetto. Many of them survived thanks to the contacts they managed to establish with Poles outside the ghetto. The Uprising inspired Jews throughout Poland. Many Jewish leaders who survived the liquidation continued underground work outside the ghetto. They hid other Jews, forged necessary documents and were active in the Polish underground in other parts of Warsaw and the surrounding area.

Freed prisoners of Gęsiówka and the Szare Szeregi fighters after the liberation of the camp in August 1944

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, was followed by other Ghetto uprisings in many smaller towns and cities across German-occupied Poland. Many Jews were found alive in the ruins of the former Warsaw Ghetto during the 1944 general Warsaw Uprising when the Poles themselves rose up against the Germans. Some of the survivors of 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, still held in camps at or near Warsaw, were freed during 1944 Warsaw Uprising, led by the Polish resistance movement Armia Krajowa, and immediately joined Polish fighters. Only a few of them survived. The Polish commander of one Jewish unit, Waclaw Micuta, described them as some of the best fighters, always at the front line. It is estimated that over 2,000 Polish Jews, some as well known as Marek Edelman or Icchak Cukierman, and several dozen Greek,[236] Hungarian or even German Jews freed by Armia Krajowa from Gesiowka concentration camp in Warsaw, men and women, took part in combat against Nazis during 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Some 166,000 people lost their lives in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, including perhaps as many as 17,000 Polish Jews who had either fought with the AK or had been discovered in hiding (see: Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński and Stanisław Aronson). Warsaw was razed to the ground by the Germans and more than 150,000 Poles were sent to labor or concentration camps. On 17 January 1945, the Soviet Army entered a destroyed and nearly uninhabited Warsaw. Some 300 Jews were found hiding in the ruins in the Polish part of the city (see: Wladyslaw Szpilman).

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 saw the destruction of what remained of the Ghetto

The fate of the Warsaw Ghetto was similar to that of the other ghettos in which Jews were concentrated. With the decision of Nazi Germany to begin the Final Solution, the destruction of the Jews of Europe, Aktion Reinhard began in 1942, with the opening of the extermination camps of Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka, followed by Auschwitz-Birkenau where people were killed in gas chambers and mass executions (death wall).[237] Many died from hunger, starvation, disease, torture or by pseudo-medical experiments. The mass deportation of Jews from ghettos to these camps, such as happened at the Warsaw Ghetto, soon followed, and more than 1.7 million Jews were killed at the Aktion Reinhard camps by October 1943 alone.

The Białystok Ghetto and its uprising

In August 1941, the Germans ordered the establishment of a ghetto in Białystok. About 50,000 Jews from the city and the surrounding region were confined in a small area of Białystok. The ghetto had two sections, divided by the Biala River. Most Jews in the Białystok ghetto worked in forced-labor projects, primarily in large textile factories located within the ghetto boundaries. The Germans also sometimes used Jews in forced-labor projects outside the ghetto.

In February 1943, approximately 10,000 Białystok Jews were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp. During the deportations, hundreds of Jews, mainly those deemed too weak or sick to travel, were killed.

In August 1943, the Germans mounted an operation to destroy the Białystok ghetto. German forces and local police auxiliaries surrounded the ghetto and began to round up Jews systematically for deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp. Approximately 7,600 Jews were held in a central transit camp in the city before deportation to Treblinka. Those deemed fit to work were sent to the Majdanek camp. In Majdanek, after another screening for ability to work, they were transported to the Poniatowa, Blizyn, or Auschwitz camps. Those deemed too weak to work were murdered at Majdanek. More than 1,000 Jewish children were sent first to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Bohemia, and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were killed.

On 15 August 1943, the Białystok Ghetto Uprising began, and several hundred Polish Jews and members of the Anti-Fascist Military Organisation (Polish: Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa) started an armed struggle against the German troops who were carrying out the planned liquidation and deportation of the ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp.[238] The guerrillas were armed with only one machine gun, several dozen pistols, Molotov cocktails and bottles filled with acid. The fighting in isolated pockets of resistance lasted for several days, but the defence was broken almost instantly. As with the earlier Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 1943, the Białystok uprising had no chances for military success, but it was the second-largest ghetto uprising, after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Several dozen guerrillas managed to break through to the forests surrounding Białystok where they joined the partisan units of Armia Krajowa and other organisations and survived the war.

Communist rule: 1945–1989

Number of Holocaust survivors

The estimates of Polish Jews before the war vary from slightly under 3 million to almost 3.5 million (the last nationwide census was conducted in 1931).[239]

The number of Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust is difficult to ascertain. The majority of Polish Jewish survivors were individuals who were able to find refuge in the territories of Soviet Union that were not overrun by Germans and thus safe from the Holocaust. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 800,000 Polish Jews survived the war, out of which between 50,000 and 100,000 were survivors from occupied Poland, and the remainder, survivors who made it abroad (mostly to the Soviet Union).[239]

Following the Soviet annexation of over half of Poland at the onset of World War II, all Polish nationals including Jews were declared by Moscow to have become Soviet nationals regardless of birth.[240] Also, all Polish Jews who perished in the Holocaust behind the Curzon Line were included with the Soviet war dead.[241] For decades to come, the Soviet authorities refused to accept the fact that thousands of Jews who remained in the USSR opted consciously and unambiguously for Polish nationality.[242] At the end of 1944, the number of Polish Jews in the Soviet and the Soviet-controlled territories has been estimated at 250,000–300,000 people.[243] Jews who escaped to eastern Poland from areas occupied by Germany in 1939 were numbering at around 198,000.[244] Over 150,000 of them were repatriated or expelled back to new communist Poland along with the Jewish men conscripted to the Red Army from Kresy in 1940–1941.[243] Their families were murdered in the Holocaust. Some of the soldiers married women with the Soviet citizenship, others agreed to paper marriages.[243] Those who survived the Holocaust in Poland included Jews who were saved by the Poles (most families with children), and those who joined the Polish or Soviet resistance movement. Some 20,000–40,000 Jews were repatriated from Germany and other countries. At its postwar peak, up to 240,000 returning Jews might have resided in Poland mostly in Warsaw, Łódź, Kraków, Wrocław and Lower Silesia, e.g., Dzierżoniów (where there was a significant Jewish community initially consisting of local concentration camp survivors), Legnica, and Bielawa.[245]

The Jewish community in post-war Poland

Page from a register of several hundred Jewish survivors who returned to Oświęcim after the war; created by a local Jewish Committee in 1945. Most remained for only a brief period.

Following World War II Poland became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, with its eastern regions annexed to the Union, and its western borders expanded to include formerly German territories east of the Oder and Neisse rivers. This forced millions to relocate (see also Territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II).[239][246] Jewish survivors returning to their homes in Poland found it practically impossible to reconstruct their pre-war lives. Due to the border shifts, some Polish Jews found that their homes were now in the Soviet Union; in other cases, the returning survivors were German Jews whose homes were now under Polish jurisdiction. Jewish communities and Jewish life as it had existed was gone, and Jews who somehow survived the Holocaust often discovered that their homes had been looted or destroyed.[247]

Anti-Jewish violence and discrimination

Some returning Jews were met with antisemitic bias in Polish employment and education administrations. Post-war labor certificates contained markings distinguishing Jews from non-Jews. The Jewish community in Szczecin reported a lengthy report of complaints regarding job discrimination. Although Jewish schools were created in the few towns containing a relatively large Jewish population, many Jewish children were enrolled in Polish state schools. Some state schools, as in the town of Otwock, forbade Jewish children to enroll. In the state schools that did allow Jewish children, there were numerous accounts of beatings and persecution targeting these children.[248]

The anti-Jewish violence in Poland refers to a series of violent incidents in Poland that immediately followed the end of World War II in Europe. It occurred amid a period of violence and anarchy across the country, caused by lawlessness and anti-communist resistance against the Soviet-backed communist takeover of Poland.[249] [250] The exact number of Jewish victims is a subject of debate with 327 documented cases,[citation needed] and range, estimated by different writers, from 400[251] to 2,000.[citation needed] Jews constituted between 2% and 3% of the total number of victims of postwar violence in the country,[26][page needed][252] including the Polish Jews who managed to escape the Holocaust on territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union, and returned after the border changes imposed by the Allies at the Yalta Conference.[253] The incidents ranged from individual attacks to pogroms.[254]

The best-known case is the Kielce pogrom of 4 July 1946,[255] in which thirty-seven Jews and two Poles were murdered. Following the investigation, the local police commander was found guilty of inaction.[256][better source needed] Nine alleged participants of the pogrom were sentenced to death; three were given lengthy prison sentences.[256][better source needed] The debate in Poland continues about the involvement of regular troops in the killings, and possible Soviet influences.[257]

In a number of other instances, returning Jews still met with threats, violence, and murder from their Polish neighbors, occasionally in a deliberate and organized manner. People of the community frequently had knowledge of these murders and turned a blind eye or held no sympathy for the victims. Jewish communities responded to this violence by reporting the violence to the Ministry of Public Administration, but were granted little assistance.[248] As many as 1500 Jewish heirs were often murdered when attempting to reclaim property.[258]

Several causes led to the anti-Jewish violence of 1944–1947. One cause was traditional Christian anti-semitism; the pogrom in Cracow (11 August 1945) and in Kielce followed accusations of ritual murder. Another cause was the gentile Polish hostility to the Communist takeover. Even though very few Jews lived in postwar Poland, many Poles believed they dominated the Communist authorities, a belief expressed in the term Żydokomuna (Judeo-Communist), a popular anti-Jewish stereotype. Yet another reason for Polish violence towards Jews stemmed from the fear that survivors would recover their property.[25][248]

Jewish property

After the war ended, Poland's Communist government enacted a broad program of nationalization and land reform, taking over large numbers of properties, both Polish- and Jewish-owned.[259] As part of the reform the Polish People's Republic enacted legislation on "abandoned property", placing severe limitations on inheritance that were not present in prewar inheritance law, for example limiting restitution to the original owners or their immediate heirs.[260] According to Dariusz Stola, the 1945 and 1946 laws governing restitution were enacted with the intention of restricting Jewish restitution claims as one of their main goals.[261][262] The 1946 law[263] carried a deadline of 31 December 1947 (later extended to 31 December 1948), after which unclaimed property devolved to the Polish state; many survivors residing in the USSR or in displaced-persons camps were repatriated only after the deadline had passed.[258] All other properties that had been confiscated by the Nazi regime were deemed "abandoned"; however, as Yechiel Weizman notes, the fact most of Poland's Jewry had died, in conjunction with the fact that only Jewish property was officially confiscated by the Nazis, suggest "abandoned property" was equivalent to "Jewish property".[262] According to Łukasz Krzyżanowski [pl], the state actively sought to gain control over a large number of "abandoned" properties.[264] According to Krzyżanowski, this declaration of "abandoned" property can be seen as the last stage of the expropriation process that began during the German wartime occupation; by approving the status-quo shaped by the German occupation authorities, the Polish authorities became "the beneficiary of the murder of millions of its Jewish citizens, who were deprived of all their property before death".[264] A 1945 memorandum by the Joint states that "the new economic tendency of the Polish government... is against, or at least makes difficulties in, getting back the Jewish property robbed by the German authorities."[263] Later laws, while more generous, remained mainly on paper, with an "uneven" implementation.[263]

Many of the properties that were previously owned or by Jews were taken over by others during the war. Attempting to reclaim an occupied property often put the claimant at a risk of physical harm and even death.[261][263][265][266][267] Many who proceeded with the process were only granted possession, not ownership, of their properties;[264] and completing the restitution process, given that most properties were already occupied, required additional, lengthy processes.[268] The majority of Jewish claimants could not afford the restitution process without financial help, due to the filing costs, legal fees, and inheritance tax.[263] While it is hard to determine the total number of successful reclamations, Michael Meng estimates that it was extremely small.[269]

In general, restitution was easier for larger organizations or well connected individuals,[270] and the process was also abused by criminal gangs.[264]

"Movable" property such as housewares, that was either given by Jews for safekeeping or taken during the war, was rarely returned willfully; oftentimes the only resort for a returnee looking for reappropriation was the courts.[271] Most such property was probably never returned.[264] According to Jan Gross, "there was no social norm mandating the return of Jewish property, no detectable social pressure defining such behavior as the right thing to do, no informal social control mechanism imposing censure for doing otherwise."[271]

Facing violence and a difficult and expensive legal process,[263][266] many returnees eventually decided to leave the country rather than attempt reclamation.[264][266][271]

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, a law was passed that allowed the Catholic Church to reclaim its properties, which it did with great success.[270][272] According to Stephen Denburg, "unlike the restitution of Church property, the idea of returning property to former Jewish owners has been met with a decided lack of enthusiasm from both the general Polish population as well as the government".[272]

Decades later, reclaiming pre-war property would lead to a number of controversies, and the matter is still debated by media and scholars as of late 2010s.[273] Dariusz Stola notes that the issues of property in Poland are incredibly complex, and need to take into consideration unprecedented losses of both Jewish and Polish population and massive destruction caused by Nazi Germany, as well as the expansion of Soviet Union and communism into Polish territories after the war, which dictated the property laws for the next 50 years.[261] Poland remains "the only EU country and the only former Eastern European communist state not to have enacted [a restitution] law," but rather "a patchwork of laws and court decisions promulgated from 1945-present."[261][266][270] As stated by Dariusz Stola, director of the POLIN Museum, "the question of restitution is in many ways connected to the question of Polish-Jewish relations, their history and remembrance, but particularly to the attitude of the Poles to the Holocaust."[261]

Emigration to Palestine and Israel

For a variety of reasons, the vast majority of returning Jewish survivors left Poland soon after the war ended.[274] Many left for the West because they did not want to live under a Communist regime. Some left because of the persecution they faced in postwar Poland,[25] and because they did not want to live where their family members had been murdered, and instead have arranged to live with relatives or friends in different western democracies. Others wanted to go to British Mandate of Palestine soon to be the new state of Israel, especially after General Marian Spychalski signed a decree allowing Jews to leave Poland without visas or exit permits.[28] In 1946–1947 Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish aliyah to Israel,[27] without visas or exit permits.[28][29] Britain demanded Poland to halt the exodus, but their pressure was largely unsuccessful.[275]

Between 1945 and 1948, 100,000–120,000 Jews left Poland. Their departure was largely organized by the Zionist activists including Adolf Berman and Icchak Cukierman, under the umbrella of a semi-clandestine Berihah ("Flight") organization.[276] Berihah was also responsible for the organized Aliyah emigration of Jews from Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland, totaling 250,000 survivors. In 1947, a military training camp for young Jewish volunteers to Hagana was established in Bolków, Poland. The camp trained 7,000 soldiers who then traveled to Palestine to fight for Israel. The boot-camp existed until the end of 1948.[277]

A second wave of Jewish emigration (50,000) took place during the liberalization of the Communist regime between 1957 and 1959. After 1967's Six-Day War, in which the Soviet Union supported the Arab side, the Polish communist party adopted an anti-Jewish course of action which in the years 1968–1969 provoked the last mass migration of Jews from Poland.[274]

The Bund took part in the post-war elections of 1947 on a common ticket with the (non-communist) Polish Socialist Party (PPS) and gained its first and only parliamentary seat in its Polish history, plus several seats in municipal councils.[citation needed] Under pressure from Soviet-installed communist authorities, the Bund's leaders 'voluntarily' disbanded the party in 1948–1949 against the opposition of many activists.[citation needed] Stalinist Poland was basically governed by the Soviet NKVD which was against the renewal of Jewish religious and cultural life.[citation needed] In the years 1948–49, all remaining Jewish schools were nationalized by the communists and Yiddish was replaced with Polish as a language of teaching.[citation needed]

Rebuilding Jewish communities

For those Polish Jews who remained, the rebuilding of Jewish life in Poland was carried out between October 1944 and 1950 by the Central Committee of Polish Jews (Centralny Komitet Żydów Polskich, CKŻP) which provided legal, educational, social care, cultural, and propaganda services. A countrywide Jewish Religious Community, led by Dawid Kahane, who served as chief rabbi of the Polish Armed Forces, functioned between 1945 and 1948 until it was absorbed by the CKŻP. Eleven independent political Jewish parties, of which eight were legal, existed until their dissolution during 1949–50. Hospitals and schools were opened in Poland by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and ORT to provide service to Jewish communities.[278] Some Jewish cultural institutions were established including the Yiddish State Theater founded in 1950 and directed by Ida Kaminska, the Jewish Historical Institute, an academic institution specializing in the research of the history and culture of the Jews in Poland, and the Yiddish newspaper Folks-Shtime ("People's Voice"). Following liberalization after Joseph Stalin's death, in this 1958–59 period, 50,000 Jews emigrated to Israel.[11]

Some Polish Communists of Jewish descent actively participated in the establishment of the communist regime in the People's Republic of Poland between 1944 and 1956. Hand-picked by Joseph Stalin, prominent Jews held posts in the Politburo of the Polish United Workers' Party including Jakub Berman, head of state security apparatus Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB),[279] and Hilary Minc responsible for establishing a Communist-style economy. Together with hardliner Bolesław Bierut, Berman and Minc formed a triumvirate of the Stalinist leaders in postwar Poland.[279] After 1956, during the process of destalinisation in the People's Republic under Władysław Gomułka, some Jewish officials from Urząd Bezpieczeństwa including Roman Romkowski, Jacek Różański, and Anatol Fejgin, were prosecuted and sentenced to prison terms for "power abuses" including the torture of Polish anti-fascists including Witold Pilecki among others. Yet another Jewish official, Józef Światło, after escaping to the West in 1953, exposed through Radio Free Europe the interrogation methods used the UB which led to its restructuring in 1954. Solomon Morel a member of the Ministry of Public Security of Poland and commandant of the Stalinist era Zgoda labour camp, fled Poland for Israel in 1992 to escape prosecution. Helena Wolińska-Brus, a former Stalinist prosecutor who emigrated to England in the late 1960s, fought being extradited to Poland on charges related to the execution of a Second World War resistance hero Emil Fieldorf. Wolińska-Brus died in London in 2008.[280]

The March 1968 events and their aftermath

In 1967, following the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab states, Poland's Communist government, following the Soviet lead, broke off diplomatic relations with Israel and launched an antisemitic campaign under the guise of "anti-Zionism". However, the campaign did not resonate well with the Polish public, as most Poles saw similarities between Israel's fight for survival and Poland's past struggles for independence. Many Poles also felt pride in the success of the Israeli military, which was dominated by Polish Jews. The slogan "our Jews beat the Soviet Arabs" (Nasi Żydzi pobili sowieckich Arabów) became popular in Poland.[281][282]

The vast majority of the 40,000 Jews in Poland by the late 1960s were completely assimilated into the broader society.[citation needed] However, this did not prevent them from becoming victims of a campaign, centrally organized by the Polish Communist Party, with Soviet backing, which equated Jewish origins with "Zionism" and disloyalty to a Socialist Poland.[283]

In March 1968 student-led demonstrations in Warsaw (see Polish 1968 political crisis) gave Gomułka's government an excuse to try and channel public anti-government sentiment into another avenue. Thus his security chief, Mieczysław Moczar, used the situation as a pretext to launch an antisemitic press campaign (although the expression "Zionist" was officially used). The state-sponsored "anti-Zionist" campaign resulted in the removal of Jews from the Polish United Worker's Party and from teaching positions in schools and universities. In 1967–1971 under economic, political and secret police pressure, over 14,000 Polish Jews chose to leave Poland and relinquish their Polish citizenship.[284] Officially, it was said that they chose to go to Israel. However, only about 4,000 actually went there; most settled throughout Europe and in the United States. The leaders of the Communist party tried to stifle the ongoing protests and unrest by scapegoating the Jews. At the same time there was an ongoing power struggle within the party itself and the antisemitic campaign was used by one faction against another. The so-called "Partisan" faction blamed the Jews who had held office during the Stalinist period for the excesses that had occurred, but the result was that most of the remaining Polish Jews, regardless of their background or political affiliation, were targeted by the communist authorities.[285]

There were several outcomes of the March 1968 events. The campaign damaged Poland's reputation abroad, particularly in the U.S. Many Polish intellectuals, however, were disgusted at the promotion of official antisemitism and opposed the campaign. Some of the people who emigrated to the West at this time founded organizations that encouraged anti-Communist opposition inside Poland.[citation needed]

First attempts to improve Polish-Israeli relations began in the mid-1970s. Poland was the first of the Eastern Bloc countries to restore diplomatic relations with Israel after these have been broken off right after the Six-Day's War.[11] In 1986 partial diplomatic relations with Israel were restored,[11] and full relations were restored in 1990 as soon as communism fell.

During the late 1970s some Jewish activists were engaged in the anti-Communist opposition groups. Most prominent among them, Adam Michnik (founder of Gazeta Wyborcza) was one of the founders of the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR). By the time of the fall of Communism in Poland in 1989, only 5,000–10,000 Jews remained in the country, many of them preferring to conceal their Jewish origin.[citation needed]

Since 1989

With the fall of communism in Poland, Jewish cultural, social, and religious life has been undergoing a revival. Many historical issues, especially related to World War II and the 1944–89 period, suppressed by Communist censorship, have been re-evaluated and publicly discussed (like the Jedwabne pogrom, the Koniuchy massacre, the Kielce pogrom, the Auschwitz cross, and Polish-Jewish wartime relations in general).

Chief Rabbi of Poland – Michael Schudrich

Jewish religious life has been revived with the help of the Ronald Lauder Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture. There are two rabbis serving the Polish Jewish community, several Jewish schools and associated summer camps as well as several periodical and book series sponsored by the above foundations. Jewish studies programs are offered at major universities, such as Warsaw University and the Jagiellonian University. The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland was founded in 1993. Its purpose is the promotion and organization of Jewish religious and cultural activities in Polish communities.

A large number of cities with synagogues include Warsaw, Kraków, Zamość, Tykocin, Rzeszów, Kielce, or Góra Kalwaria although not many of them are still active in their original religious role. Stara Synagoga ("Old Synagogue") in Kraków, which hosts a Jewish museum, was built in the early 15th century and is the oldest synagogue in Poland. Before the war, the Yeshiva Chachmei in Lublin was Europe's largest. In 2007 it was renovated, dedicated and reopened thanks to the efforts and endowments by Polish Jewry. Warsaw has an active synagogue, Beit Warszawa, affiliated with the Liberal-Progressive stream of Judaism.

There are also several Jewish publications although most of them are in Polish. These include Midrasz, Dos Jidische Wort (which is bilingual), as well as a youth journal Jidele and "Sztendlach" for young children. Active institutions include the Jewish Historical Institute, the E.R. Kaminska State Yiddish Theater in Warsaw, and the Jewish Cultural Center. The Judaica Foundation in Kraków has sponsored a wide range of cultural and educational programs on Jewish themes for a predominantly Polish audience. With funds from the city of Warsaw and the Polish government ($26 million total) a Museum of the History of Polish Jews is being built in Warsaw. The building was designed by the Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki.[278]

Former extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Treblinka are open to visitors. At Auschwitz the Oświęcim State Museum currently houses exhibitions on Nazi crimes with a special section (Block Number 27) specifically focused on Jewish victims and martyrs. At Treblinka there is a monument built out of many shards of broken stone, as well as a mausoleum dedicated to those who perished there. A small mound of human ashes commemorates the 350,000 victims of the Majdanek camp who were killed there by the Nazis. Jewish Cemetery, Łódź is one of the largest Jewish burial grounds in Europe, and preserved historic sites include those located in Góra Kalwaria and Leżajsk (Elimelech's of Lizhensk ohel).[278]

The Great Synagogue in Oświęcim was excavated after testimony by a Holocaust survivor suggested that many Jewish relics and ritual objects had been buried there, just before Nazis took over the town. Candelabras, chandeliers, a menorah and a ner tamid were found and can now be seen at the Auschwitz Jewish Center.[278]

The Warsaw Ghetto Memorial was unveiled on 19 April 1948—the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw ghetto Uprising. It was constructed out of bronze and granite that the Nazis used for a monument honoring German victory over Poland and it was designed by Nathan Rapoport. The Memorial is located where the Warsaw Ghetto used to be, at the site of one command bunker of the Jewish Combat Organization.

A memorial to the victims of the Kielce Pogrom of 1946, where a mob murdered more than 40 Jews who returned to the city after the Holocaust, was unveiled in 2006. The funds for the memorial came from the city itself and from the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

Polish authors and scholars have published many works about the history of Jews in Poland. Notable among them are the Polish Academy of Sciences's Holocaust studies journal Zagłada Żydów. Studia i Materiały [pl] as well as other publications from the Institute of National Remembrance. Recent scholarship has primarily focused on three topics: post-war anti-Semitism; emigration and the creation of the State of Israel, and the restitution of property.[286]

There have been a number of Holocaust remembrance activities in Poland in recent years. The United States Department of State documents that:

In September 2000, dignitaries from Poland, Israel, the United States, and other countries (including Prince Hassan of Jordan) gathered in the city of Oświęcim (Auschwitz) to commemorate the opening of the refurbished Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue and the Auschwitz Jewish Center. The synagogue, the sole synagogue in Oświęcim to survive World War II and an adjacent Jewish cultural and educational center, provide visitors a place to pray and to learn about the active pre–World War II Jewish community that existed in Oświęcim. The synagogue was the first communal property in the country to be returned to the Jewish community under the 1997 law allowing for restitution of Jewish communal property.[287]

The March of the Living is an annual event in April held since 1988 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. It takes place from Auschwitz to Birkenau and is attended by many people from Israel, Poland and other countries. The marchers honor Holocaust Remembrance Day as well as Israel Independence Day.[288]

"Shalom in Szeroka Street", the final concert of the 15th Jewish Festival

An annual festival of Jewish culture, which is one of the biggest festivals of Jewish culture in the world, takes place in Kraków.[289]

In 2006, Poland's Jewish population was estimated to be approximately 20,000;[2] most living in Warsaw, Wrocław, Kraków, and Bielsko-Biała, though there are no census figures that would give an exact number. According to the Polish Moses Schorr Centre and other Polish sources, however, this may represent an undercount of the actual number of Jews living in Poland, since many are not religious.[290] There are also people with Jewish roots who do not possess adequate documentation to confirm it, due to various historical and family complications.[290]

Poland is currently easing the way for Jews who left Poland during the Communist organized massive expulsion of 1968 to re-obtain their citizenship.[291] Some 15,000 Polish Jews were deprived of their citizenship in the 1968 Polish political crisis.[292] On 17 June 2009 the future Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw launched a bilingual Polish-English website called "The Virtual Shtetl",[293] providing information about Jewish life in Poland.

In 2013, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened.[294] It is one of the world's largest Jewish museums.[295] As of 2019 another museum, the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, is under construction and is intended to open in 2023.[296]

Numbers of Jews in Poland since 1920

Historical core Jewish population (using current borders) with Jews as a % of the total Polish population
(Source: YIVO Encyclopedia & the North American Jewish Data Bank)
Year19211939194519461951196019701980199020002010
Population2,845,000
(+14.2%)
3,250,000[297][298]
(100%)
9.14% of the total
100,000
(−96.9%)
0.43%
230,000
(+130.0%)
0.97%
70,000
(−69.6%)
0.28%
31,000
(−55.7%)
0.10%
9,000
(−71.0%)
0.03%
5,000
(−44.4%)
0.01%
3,800
(−24.0%)
0.01%
3,500
(−7.9%)
0.01%
3,200[298]
(−8.6%)
0.01%

However, most sources other than YIVO give a larger number of Jews living in contemporary Poland. In the 2011 Polish census, 7,353 Polish citizens declared their nationality as "Jewish," a big increase from just 1,055 during the previous 2002 census.[299] There are likely more people of Jewish ancestry living in Poland but who do not actively identify as Jewish. According to the Moses Schorr Centre, there are 100,000 Jews living in Poland who don't actively practice Judaism and do not list "Jewish" as their nationality.[300] The Jewish Renewal in Poland organization estimates that there are 200,000 "potential Jews" in Poland.[301] The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Agency for Israel estimate that there are between 25,000 and 100,000 Jews living in Poland,[302] a similar number to that estimated by Jonathan Ornstein, head of the Jewish Community Center in Kraków (between 20,000 and 100,000).[303]

See also

Notes

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  2. ^ a b c The Canadian Foundation of Polish-Jewish Heritage. Polish-jewish-heritage.org (8 January 2005). Retrieved on 2010-08-22.
  3. ^ "דרכון פולני בזכות הסבתא מוורשה". ynet. 16 March 2007.
  4. ^ "Jews, by Country of Origin and Age". Statistical Abstract of Israel (in English and Hebrew). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  5. ^ Friedberg, Edna (6 February 2018). "The Truth About Poland's Role in the Holocaus". The Atlantic. Retrieved 15 August 2021. "By the end of the war, 3 million Polish Jews—90 percent of the prewar population—had been murdered by the Germans and their collaborators of various nationalities, one of the highest percentages in Europe."
  6. ^ Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper, From Counter-Reformation to Glorious Revolution, University of Chicago Press 1992, page 51. Quote: "Poland, at that time, was the most tolerant country in Europe." Also in Britain and the Netherlands by S. Groenveld, Michael J. Wintle; and in The exchange of ideas (Walburg Instituut, 1994).
  7. ^ Engel, David. "On Reconciling the Histories of Two Chosen Peoples." The American Historical Review 114.4 (2009): 914-929.
  8. ^ "Paradisus Iudaeorum (1569–1648)". POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. 13 May 2013.
  9. ^ a b George Sanford, Historical Dictionary of Poland (2nd ed.) Oxford: The Scarecrow Press, 2003. p. 79.
  10. ^ a b "European Jewish Congress - Poland". 11 December 2008. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008.
  11. ^ a b c d e The Virtual Jewish History Tour – Poland. Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved on 22 August 2010.
  12. ^ In accordance with its tradition of religious tolerance, Poland refrained from participating in the excesses of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation "Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends" by Lonnie R. Johnson Oxford University Press 1996
  13. ^ Although traditional narrative holds that as a consequence, the predicament of the Commonwealth’s Jewry worsened, declining to the level of other European countries by the end of the eighteenth century, recent scholarship by Gershon Hundert, Moshe Rosman, Edward Fram, and Magda Teter, suggest that the reality was much more complex. See for example, the following works, which discuss Jewish life and culture, as well as Jewish-Christian relations during that period: M. Rosman Lords' Jews: Magnate-Jewish Relations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Eighteenth Century (Harvard University Press, new ed. 1993), G. Hundert The Jews in a Polish Private Town: The Case of Opatów in the Eighteenth Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), E.Fram Ideals Face Reality: Jewish Law and Life in Poland, 1550–1655 (HUC Press, 1996), and M. TeterJews and Heretics in Pre-modern Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
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  138. ^ "The Polish government was committed to the Zionist option in its own Jewish policy and maintained good relations with Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionist, rather than with the Majority Zionists. Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, 1985, pp. 261-262.
  139. ^ "Sanation had always been supportive towards the national aims of Jews in Palestine, and the Polish government hoped it would provide an outlet for Jewish population moving out of Poland. Poland supported creation of a Jewish national home in the League of Nations and other international forums." Joseph Marcus, Social and Political History of Jews in Poland, 1919-1939, Berlin, New York, and Amsterdam, Mouton Publishers, p. 395.
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References

Further reading

  • Chodakiewicz, Marek Jan (2003). After the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World War II, East European Monographs. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-88033-511-4.
  • Dynner, Glenn. Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Engel, David (1998). "Patterns of Anti-Jewish Violence in Poland 1944–1946". Yad Vashem Studies.
  • Krajewski, Stanisław. Poland and the Jews: Reflections of a Polish Polish Jew, Kraków: Austeria P, 2005.
  • Levine, Hillel (1991). Economic Origins of Antisemitism: Poland and Its Jews in the Early Modern Period. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300049879. OCLC 22908198.
  • Nikžentaitis, Alvydas, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas (editors). The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews. Rodopi, 2004, ISBN 90-420-0850-4
  • Polonsky, Antony. The Jews in Poland and Russia, Volume 1: 1350–1881 (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2009) ISBN 978-1-874774-64-8
  • Polonsky, Antony. The Jews in Poland and Russia, Volume 2: 1881–1914 (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2009) ISBN 978-1-904113-83-6
  • Polonsky, Antony. The Jews in Poland and Russia, Volume 3: 1914-2008 (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2011) ISBN 978-1-904113-48-5
  • Ury, Scott. Barricades and Banners: The Revolution of 1905 and the Transformation of Warsaw Jewry, Stanford University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-804763-83-7
  • Weiner, Miriam; Polish State Archives (in cooperation with) (1997). Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. Secaucus, NJ: Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation. ISBN 978-0-96-565080-9. OCLC 38756480.
  • A Marriage of Convenience: The New Zionist Organization and the Polish Government 1936-1939 Laurence Weinbaum, East European Monographs; dist. Columbia University Press, 1993

External links

Maps

History of Polish Jews

World War II and the Holocaust