Resistance by Israel Gutman Read Free Book Online

Book: Resistance by Israel Gutman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Israel Gutman
schools, where anti-Jewish quotas were imposed, Jews were pushed increasingly onto separate "ghetto benches" despite objections voiced by Jewish students and the solidarity of their fellow Christian students and some members of the academic corps. This process of discrimination ended in most cases in the imposition of racial separation and the introduction of quotas. Proposals of an anti-Jewish and even racial nature were introduced in the Sejm, but these were never passed. Radical anti-Jewish proposals were soon overshadowed by the political crisis presaging the advent of the war.
    Nevertheless, the anti-Jewish trend continued to spread among the ruling camp, and their leadership assumed a slightly different tone. In Pilsudski's day, the Jews were part of the large range of supporters within his camp. In the elections to Parliament, Jews, who were excluded as representatives of bodies supporting the Pilsudski faction, appeared on the lists of the broad nonpartisan body of government supporters and the nonpartisan bloc for collaboration with the government. Shortly after the death of Pilsudski, the "bloc" was dissolved and Walery Slawek, the man who stood at its head and had been close to Pilsudski, was ousted from the political scene.
    At the beginning of 1937, a new body was formed that helped the ruling Diadochi (the successors)—the OZN, the "camp of consolidated nationalists." Within the OZN, emphasis was placed on totalitarian principles and Catholic ties. In its early stages, the new "party" tried to attach itself to the ranks of the antisemitic and profascist radicals who had left the Endecja because they found it insufficiently extremist. The leaders of OZN stated that they would not accept Jews because they considered the Jews a separate national entity, and that their organization was open only to Christians. In May 1938 the supreme council of this party was busy formulating its position on "the Jewish question" in Poland which would ban Jews from certain professions. The solution of the Jewish problem would be achieved by getting rid of a major part of the Jewish population. Antisemitic propaganda had reached its peak.
    During the early years of the republic, antisemitism had been an accepted, albeit restrained, fact camouflaged by the formal pretense that everything was as it should be. By 1938 antisemitism united both the opposition and the government. The government refrained from using violence and physical terror—riots, assaults, and forced eviction—and insisted that the antisemitic policy must function through quasi-legal channels. The government was cautious—street violence directed by a totalitarian-inclined opposition could easily redirect the anger of the masses against it. The radical right spoke of the wholesale expulsion of the Jews and claimed that this could not be achieved without the use of pressure and violence. On the other hand, the spokesmen of the government feverishly sought out places that would accept Jews as immigrants. The emigration of Jews to Madagascar was even considered. Jews were described as a real handicap to Poland's progress. Many socialists on the left and the liberal circles opposed antisemitism and came to the defense of the Jews. There were also those who held liberal opinions, especially those who were sympathetic to Zionism, who spoke warmly of Jews' emigrating to Palestine, but they always made a point of stating that emigration or integration was a choice to be made by the Jews themselves and was not a matter to be dictated or forced from without. In the various polemics that occupied the press and public opinion in those days, there were active socialists who pressed for a large Jewish emigration for economic and social motives. Among the Jews themselves, some leaders called for a mass exodus of the Jews from Poland. Understandably, these outcries unwittingly added fuel to the antisemitic fires.
    For example, in 1936 Zev Jabotinsky, the charismatic

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