Polish Lie #68: Expelling Jews from Poland

DISCLAIMER. The reason behind POLISH LIES is to give food for thought. Not fuel for flamewars. (When you’ll throw down the gauntlet, I may, reluctantly, pick it up.) Other members of this blog may not share my understanding of what POLISH LIES are.

Polish March 1968 was about expelling poor Jews from Poland.

You may believe the lie, it’s your mind capacity to store it.
Yet, you are advised to note a few issues:

1. Decorum should not be violated.

Distrust narratives in which Polish March 1968 and the Holocaust are put in one sentence, mentioned together without a pause for another breath.

Distrust this text, for instance, in which Leo Kantor, a Jew from Opole in Poland, describes his hurt: “The post-Holocaust, post-Polish March 1968 sorrow can fade away – but it will need 4 generations”.

Hello? Holocaust and 1968 in one room?
I know nothing about political correctness, Mr Kantor, but you’re sure breaking decorum.

Distrust this Polish article. Its author, Leopold Unger mentions Mengele in the very title [Displaying colours, Mengele on the flags], says Anti-Semitism is reborn. Would he mean Germans, WW2? No, not at all. He means Polish March 1968. The same man, referring to 1968 here, coins the term “Polish-Soviet National Socialism“.

Hello? 1968 Poland and Mengele-like Nazism under one flag?
Mr Unger you’re breaking decorum. (I put it too mildly, and so am breaking decorum, too.)


2. Proper terms should be used.

You can hear or read about Jews “forced to leave” or “expelled” in March 1968 – but what do these verbs hide?

When you think about Polish wartime expellees, images of numerous examples of human inhumanity may come to mind, kids taken away from their parents, houses burnt down, every fifth expellee going to Auschwitz. (You may think of Soviet atrocities, too, little difference.) — Or think about Ukrainian expellees the Polish state took care of: No love lost in the process, but lives: yes, they were lost. — Or think of German expellees, when you come across: “the German government’s official estimate of deaths due to the expulsions stood at 2.2 million for several decades” here. — Or think about all the history-made expellees forced to “reclocate” only because pre-WW2 Poland differed so much from post-WW2 Poland.

Now. Back to Polish March 1968. Read: “The Communists took away Polish passports and gave Jews a one-way ticket, usually to Austria”. — Well, the “passport and ticket” way of expelling people and the “killing, burning, kid-stealing, starving” way of expelling people — they do deserve separate accents, if not distinct words, in my vocabulary.


3. Fates should be considered case-by-case.

Leo Kantor’s fate (see 1), for instance. He complains that because of 1968, his employment contract was not prolonged. But he was offered another job, as we can read, a full time gymnasium teacher. He refused. And then he declined to move from one city to another to become an academic teacher. Instead he chose to sail to Sweden and keep moaning about those damn Polish anti-Semites.

Well, if changing your job means expelling, I was expelled several times myself.


4. Devil is in the detail.

There is that Polish phrase, diabeł tkwi w szczegółach, to imply: concentrate on details, for they host the gist.

Detail 1: Jews? Please, anyone: provide a reliable source corroborating the assertion that Polish Jews were expelled in 1968. (The accent’s on “Jews”.)
If you manage, provide statistics: what posts the “Jews” had before being “expelled”? What was their standard of living before they left Poland?

Detail 2: Communist Poland granted times of harsh day-by-days in grey. The West was the Promised Land, it had more of both — money and freedom. For many decades, the Soviet-occupied nationals were frantically desperate to go to the West. Sportsmen would not go back from olympic games. Artists would not return from gigs. Scientists would not return from conferences. Soldiers would defect. People would jump, run, swim, the faster the better, try every opportunity. Whenever a family man was granted a passport, the spouse and kids had to stay in Poland, as hostage-like assurance that the traveller will come back. So, how come the “Jews” didn’t want to go West? A detail not to be explained? Gimme a break.

Who could reject that potent urge to taste the West? Those who enjoyed Western-like privileges in Poland, I’d suspect. But who would have them under the communist regime? Members of the regime.

Detail 3: When you embrace (that’s-more-like-) the truth that March 1968 in Poland was because of the warring factions of the ruling party, that those defeated were banished by the victors, then you will stop at any detail like this one: “Israel’s relations with the Eastern Bloc drastically deteriorated“.

Drastically?! Would we be naive to believe that the political status of Israel can turn from ‘good friend’ to ‘sworn enemy’ in a matter of days or weeks? That anti-Anythingism can be born overnight, and unplanned? Haven’t we read our Orwell? Is it too hard to read between the lines about the Six-Day War, the Soviet politics, the US politics, Arab and Israeli politics, power policies of various states, Poland included?


And so I dare you, meme spreaders, you political correcters, you history shapers — say it:
Within the number of 15.ooo of those leaving Poland in 1968, how many were there:
=== Political migrants: those rich and sated — and then “expelled” from the regime
=== Economic migrants: those who wanted to retire, to live on their lives in a lazier way, but sure better with the halo of an expellee than with the brand of an idler
=== National migrants: who had tried to get permission to leave for Israel long before, and been denied — so exercised their opportunity in 1968. Within those — how many Stalinist criminals? And how many Polish intelligence officers? (It’s good to plant them in times of commotion.)
And so on. What happened in 1968 was killing birds with one stone, and not just two birds, but many more.


Or are you die-hard idealists? (Hint: how deep is your support for US democracy-spreading missions in Iraq and other places?) Are you naive to think that a theatrical performance can shape the history of Europe? Or do you believe ‘Jewish’ love for Poland was so non-standard, back in 1968, that it didn’t not look Westward at all? (Hint: would you call the now Poles emigrated to the Isles “not loving Poland”?) Are you racists, then?

Today, it is about money, too. About reclaiming citizenship. About reclaiming property.
About claiming love for Poland, I have no illusions.

– – –

I have a blogsite though.

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62 thoughts on “Polish Lie #68: Expelling Jews from Poland

  1. […] Next, premiere: POLISH LIE #68 [March 1968 was about expelling poor Jews from […]

  2. guest says:

    “We most often think of the Holocaust when we think of Polish Jews – we must also add the events of March 1968 to our history of Polish Jewry.”


    …sad isn’t it ? :)

  3. darthsida says:

    No, it’s not sad, it’s libelous. To those who care about history.

    (Every time people speak of March 1968 in terms of “purge” or “cleansing”, I think of their seemingly cleansed brains and purged ways of thinking.)

    Thanks for the link al the same :)

  4. Anonymous says:

    So, do you say that the tens of thousand of people who all happened to be Jews wanted to leave Poland and should be grateful that the regime allowed them to?

  5. darthsida says:

    [heavy sigh] “Tens of thousand of people”?
    [yet heavier sigh] “all happened to be Jews”?
    Will you state your sources or are you just using your words, ehm, recklessly?

    I don’t want to seem rude, but could you read the post before ask? Please? The reasons for people leaving Poland in March 1968 were not single, there were different — but dominantly far from what you might think or call noble or fair. [That the other faction of the regime was neither noble nor fair does not change the fact the leaving people’s reasons were not noble or fair.]

  6. Anonymous says:

    According to Wikipedia, about 15,000 to 20,000 people of Jewish origin left Poland at that time.

    I don’t agree that the reasons for people leaving Poland in March 1968 were different. There was one common denominator: they all were of Jewish origin, thought of being Jewish or opposed to the regime’s anti-semitic actions. People lost their jobs and livelihood and they weren’t all members of the ministry of interior or the security service but also teachers and university professors for example.

    I don’t see why you mention “noble and fair” when people were left no choice other than to leave the country and have their citizenship been taken away.

  7. darthsida says:

    1. Wikipedia is not a reliable source of historical knowledge. Even if it were, 15.000 is not, quote, “tens of thousand”, unquote.

    2. You still haven’t given any sources that make you disagree with “the reasons for people leaving Poland in March 1968”. As for now, I gave you more than you gave me. In the post, there’s a link to a story of Leo Kantor, who didn’t want to change his job in 1968 — instead he chose to be an “expellee”. Leo Kantor — as the article portrays him — is a man who didn’t want to work. Laziness itself is not a sin. (Well, it is, but let’s say it’s not.) I can be lazy myself, sometimes. Yet, when I refuse to work, I don’t emigrate to wealthy Sweden from poor communist Poland, where, within the warmth of Western capitalism, I could complain about Polish anti-Semitism (equal to Holocaust) that made me leave, just to cover the truth I’m lazy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree that 15,000 to 20,000 is not tens of thousand. I should have checked the numbers beforehand.

    As for the reasons for people leaving Poland in March 1968, you didn’t give any facts or sources either. You just posed some tendentious rhetoric questions.

    Regarding Leo Kantor, you should be ashamed of portraying him as a lazy man who didn’t want to work. From the article you linked to it’s clear that after being expelled from the university for political reasons (yes, the anti-semitism of 1968 was politically motivated) he wanted to keep his dignity and therefore emigrated to Sweden. Do you really think that accepting the job at the university of Łódź would have saved him from the regime’s persecutions?

  9. darthsida says:

    I don’t know what’s the legal procedure in your land, but in Poland it is customary that the ‘prosecution’ (and it’s ‘Jews’ who accuse Poland of ‘1968’) presents evidence first. So, anyone who claims Poland wronged Jews in 1968 is expected to specify what “Jews” and “wronged” mean.
    Otherwise, they just hurl slogans, empty accusations, spread false memes, propagate racist hatespeech, and more. Of which they should be ashamed, probably.

    I quote the article: “Pomoc zaofiarował Leo Kantorowi Michał Lis, dziś profesor, wówczas inspektor oświaty w Niemodlinie. Zaproponował etat w gimnazjum. Leo jednak podziękował. Tak samo jak docentowi Olechnowiczowi, który chciał go przyjąć mimo wilczego biletu na uniwersytet w Łodzi.” — Leo Kantor was offered help and another job in 1968. He was not to give up an academic post and take up janitorship. He was to leave one teacher’s post and take another. Any dignity lost there? Kantor refuses and moves away to Sweden. He calls himself “an expellee”, says he didn’t leave Poland — and that it’s Poland that left him.

    So yes, I call Leo Kantor a lazyman, a liar, and a propagandist (when he puts his 1968 sorrow in one line with past-Holocaust sorrow.) In short, he is deeply immoral.

    Now, it seems you have three options:
    1. Say where I read the article falsely.
    2. Say that I read the article correctly but the article is false itself.
    3. Give other account[s] of ‘1968 Jewish’ story to discuss instead.

    [Somehow I get the feeling you don’t want to be convinced. When one wants to talk seriously and as unbiased as possible, one doesn’t start with the “tens of thousand, all Jewish” bull.]

  10. darthsida says:

    Guest, no. She’s a hard working Stalinist prosecutor. [Oh come on, I didn’t write that everyone leaving Poland in 1968 was “lazy”. I wrote there were members of the regime’s defeated faction and / or Stalinist criminals, too.]

  11. Jolanta says:

    I cannot even say to what extent I find this text of yours disturbing.
    Certainly, you are entitled to your opinion on the matter and so am I.
    You suggest analysing individual cases so here is one for you.

    In 1968 two university lecturers of Jewish origin who I know and have absolutely no reason to distrust were (politely) asked to leave there posts because “they were no longer needed”. Contrary to Mr Kantor, they sought other employment but they could not find any – the prospective employers asked why they had been made redundant and, having realised the reason, refused to deal with them any more (does “wilczy bilet” ring a bell?). Unfortunately, the same happened to the lecturers’ parents who worked as clerks; please note that they were all middle-class and none of them was a member of the PZPR or any other communist party for that matter. Neither were they Zionists; they were both typical assimilationists and supporters of Haskala (the Jewish Enlightment)
    Later, they were “invited” to some kind of state office (most probably an SB one) and offered a one-way ticket (politely again but no one who lived then was deluded by the SB politeness). With most of their friends already gone, they felt they had already reached the end of a dark cul-de-sac and therefore were unable to reject the offer.
    Then all four of them had to sell their movables (which, due to the circumstances, were dirt cheap and immediately grabbed by the neighbours – only one lady paid a decent price for the wardrobe!) and to pack the limited amount of luggage left ( as far as I remember they were not allowed to take any cash or just some 10 dollars or so – please, check for yourself). In the end, they were issued a “document of journey” (do not mistake it for a passport) and left for Israel. Their ancient grandmother, who had survived the Holocaust in a barn in a little Malopolska village, decided to stay. She said:” after what I went through there is nothing which can hurt me more”. When she died, the flat (as the lecturers’ one) was taken over by the state. You may find it interesting that they have no intention of reclaiming either of them; only once did they want to see it but the current owner (tennant?) subjected them to a torrent of abuse and shut the door in their faces.
    The lecturers’ parents found Israel completely foreign and could not accept it as their homeland; but for the Polish bookshops and Polish press, they would have probably suffered a mental breakdown there. They did not live long enough to be allowed to see Poland again. The lecturers did not take to Israel either; they never learnt fluent Hebrew and they never embraced the new-old culture of the country. After the parents’ death they left for the States. Thanks to the help of Polish friends they found work but they never regained their teaching positions. They are both retired now.

    I rest my case.


    PS. If the problem of reclaiming properties bothers you so much, try putting yourself in somebody elses’ shoes. Imagine you once lived in a town where, in 1939, 65% of the population was X-ish and you were an X too. Almost all the houses in the market square (the shops, the banks, the library, the chemist’s and so on) belonged to the Xs. After the war all the properties changed hands. Wouldn’t your father like to recover his little shop? Wouldn’t you mum like to get her private library back (where she lent mainly Polish books to the Poles and Xs alike)? Wouldn’t you like to sit in your favourite window again and take a look at the square? Wouldn’t you?

  12. darthsida says:

    Dear Jolanta

    thanks for your account, although it’s putting me in an awkward position. For what am I supposed to do now? Weigh human fates, balance one against another? Shall I put two other stories about sheer rascals — so we’d make our pro / contra numbers even? Would I have to disclose their particulars? Would you believe my stories? Do I have to take yours for granted?

    Generally, will we able to reckon 15.000 fates, one by one? Trust we never sell propaganda but facts? And what facts? What someone tells us does not have to be true. If I were a rascal, a coward, or just a lazy man, I’d try to put myself in any less self-accusing context. We don’t need to be psychologists to know we’re not likely to share our faults, expose are vices and confess our sins.

    Further, should we play that peculiar ping-pong: you’ll mention”wilczy bilet” (it rings a bell) to which l’ll say: where’s a will, there’s a way. Or mention that Z. Herbert didn’t work as a poet to earn his living? Or that A. Michnik, although kicked from one school and another, manage to grow educated, eventually? Or will I be allowed to admit there’s nothing too indignifying about not being an academic teacher? Or saying that it was damn hard for top academia not to be involved in the regime, indirectly at least?

    Such accounting of truth is either impossible, or useless, or both.

    My request for an “individual story” was not to anyone — it was to Anon. (see above), who clearly has had problems with either accepting some inconvenient truth or understanding the article about L. Kantor.

    What I find disturbing, I wrote about in my post:

    1. Why are there instances of ‘semantic abuse’: levelling Holocaust down to 1968, or ‘upgrading’ 1968 to Holocaust-level (Can’t say which is worse)

    2. Why are the word “expellee”, “purge” and such used? When we really should reserve them for situations of people raped, burnt, shot, and en masses?

    3. Why the default historic account of March 1968 tends to be about Polish [Nazi-like] anti-Semites who expelled innocent Jews? Why not fewer emotions and more statistics? Why not dry maths: In 1968, the following numbers had to leave Poland:
    A) xxxx of top-rank members of the regime
    B) xxxx of middle-rank members of the regime
    C) xxxx of Stalinist [then-]officers, [now-]criminals
    D) xxxx of Polish intelligence officers
    E) xxxx of economic migrants that seized the chance as it came
    F) xxxx of national migrants that ditto
    G) xxxx of people who belonged to none of the above groups (read: innocent), who had to leave Poland (as opposed to: who wanted to leave, or: who decided ‘hell why not, there are more pewexes in the West’)

    The reason why I, meaning: personally I, raised the subject here is not a post-1968 trauma or contempt or appetite for a disturbing material. It is some concern about my money (usually my taxes or my state’s budget deficit) that speaks here. If the press coverage is right, and PM Tusk mentions any damages paid to the wronged, it’s my taxpayer right to stand up and demand some stats at least. I wasn’t alive in 1968, PRL wasn’t my system etc. but am still willing to pay anyone that had to leave Poland in 1968. My firm condition is: that ‘anyone’ has to belong to group G.

    PS I can’t reply to your PS otherwise than: why should the state steal my money to pay for something stolen earlier? What if someone’s ancestor had been wronged by the Teutonic Knights? (Meaning: who sets the periods of limitation and why?) People lose their money every day, every decade, every century, every epoch, every era, Jolanta, and injustly. So?

  13. scatts says:

    This is how the BBC are reporting it:


    What appears to be a good & detailed timeline is here


  14. Jolanta says:

    Darthsida, please do not forget that thousands of hundreds (millions?) of our compatriots profited from the appropriation of the Jewish and Lemko (Ukrainian) property in the 1940s. I do not include the German property in this “profit” category for obvious reasons, I hope.
    We cannot make a clear-cut division between what the state took and what the Polish citizens saw fit to grab. My late grandfather could not believe his eyes when he saw what the villagers and townsfolk were doing while the ghetto in the nearby town was being emptied. The image of the horse-drawn carts and people on foot waiting for the Jewish houses to become free to plunder hauted him for years.
    Re points 1 and 2: the Jewish people I wrote about are far from any martyrdom and, as far as I know, they have never compared the 1968 to the Holocaust. Maybe because they do know what the latter really meant.
    Re point 3: I cannnot give you any statistical data, or rather, the data I may quote would not be to your liking and therefore are bound to be dismissed.
    Re PS: My partner’s family lost all the property when the Soviets invaded Poland (the Stanislawow area). They were put on a cattle train, sealed in a standing position and sent to Kazakhstan. They are not going to bother the Polish taxpayer with their “mienie zaburzanskie”. Interestingly, another “branch” of the family belongs to assimilated old-established Austrian gentry. Likewise, they lost everything after the war and they are not going to seek compensation from the Polish state (the taxpayer) either. Incidentally, they are Polish taxpayers too. You have my word for it.

    I am really sorry, but I cannot set any dates as “a compensation fork”.
    Excuse me, whose ancestor was wronged by the Teutonic Knights? Who in his right mind ( I am being ironic now) would admit that he / she comes from those poor heathens?
    [Perhaps you meant by the price Konrad Mazowiecki.]


  15. Hani Salem says:

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  16. darthsida says:


    => Your 1st link

    I should have stopped reading just when I saw the word “purge”, about line 10. But I swallowed my disgust for BBC News’ lexicon and went on. The expletives are: “stripped (of citizenship)”, “kicked out”, “ordered out”. What do they really mean in administrative law terms? Close to nothing?

    “Michal Sobelman”, mentioned there — I can’t google out any sources how he’s harmed in 1968. He says “The Poland of those times did not want us”. That’s a nice one-liner for a title, but as far as semantic precision goes, it is meaningless. Or as meaningful as saying “Past-1989 Poland didn’t want us, PGR workers“. So, are we ready to call PGR workers “expellees” and some of the outcome of Balcerowicz reform as “purge”? — clearly the numbers of people that went overseas to earn their living did not go there out of boredom.

    => Your 2nd link

    No, it’s not good. Even if I should take “RADIO FREE EUROPE” as an impartial source, which I don’t think I should do, it still leaves me in the dark, me searching for extent, reason and methods of Polish acts against Jews. In fact, when I did CTRL+F for [jews], I hit on Andrzejewski twice, and Majewski once. No word “Jewish”, too.

    Instead, a fair deal about Dziady — the theatrical play that shook Poland up and down, and hence, Europe, and the world (as Israel is not in Europe). There are limits to naivety beyond which I can’t respond to, Scatts.


    Why semantic precision is so important?

    BBC probably used Gazeta Wyborcza‘s article in Polish. I draw your attention to Kaczynski’s words about people in 1968: “opuściło nasz kraj w warunkach może nie tyle pełnego przymusu, ale bardzo silnego nacisku” [rough translation: “they left our country under heavy pressure, but not forced to”.

    That’s why lack of semantic precision is what disturbs me. That’s why Jolanta saying “no one who lived then was deluded by the SB politeness” disturbs me. Two persons in my family: one was deluded by SB politness, thinking it’s possible to refuse their offers, and, yes!, who managed to live to tell about it (but it sure would take guts to find out how SB would react). The other person, yes did know ‘SB politness’ alright, and yet denied collaboration, and was killed. In the 50s. (I’d say times more gruesome than late 60s). When Jolanta mentions ‘politness’ in her example, I see a frightened person who doesn’t want to take any chances, and could sell their belongings. SB politness seemingly goes by various names, Jolanta. Anyway, it certainly looks nicer that Gestapo politness? But go on, make the ‘politness’ levels equal. (But then, you won’t find me ready to talk to you about it.)

    Why semantic precision is so important?

    Care to make your comment on points 48-49 here? (But don’t simply say it’s rubbish or that it’s revelation. Give your sources or counter-sources.)

    Why semantic precision is so important?

    Another example: Stefan Michnik, a Stalinist criminal. His step-brother, Adam Michnik, yes the Adam Michnik, says Stefan’s deeds were due to juvenile naivete and that their significance is exaggerated. Adam Michnik is a propagandist here, naturally. No semantic precision, no statistics. Statistics would read:

    Stefan Michnik, a Stalinist officer [now criminal], member of the regime, in Sweden since 1969.

    Why geography matters, too?

    Anyone noticed L. Kantor above and S. Michnik here chose Sweden as the place of their “exile”? Why not Israel? The question is not supposed to say “Jews should live in Israel only”, it’s to make you wonder: what’s there about Sweden that Israel may lack?

    Care to explain why Mr Schetyna (Home Office Minister) mentions several hundred people only — barely a thousand? Care to explain why the minister mentions only those who left for Israel, not any other place on Earth?

  17. darthsida says:

    => Jolanta

    In your latest comment you’re employing some sarcasm and irony. I like that in general, but I find them ill guests here. When it comes to my money, take me dead seriously. Please. And I am dead serious because I take my family’s fate as deserving dead seriousness. (My money: means of securing [much of] my family’s well-being.)

    Further, you refer to 1940, bring in Germans, Lemkos, Ukrainians — which blurs the post’s original purpose. If, as you say, you “cannot set any dates” and we can’t “make a clear-cut division”, then my division is as good as any. To those who should take my money just because they lived in 1968 and I do 40 years later, my division says “back off”. (In fact, it uses much stronger words but you’ll get my point.)

    Finally, when you go on with phrases” thousands of hundreds (millions?)” and / or admit elsewhere “I cannnot give you any statistical data, or rather, the data I may quote would not be to your liking and therefore are bound to be dismissed.” then, you’re either an anti-Polonist propagandist or you’re just impolite (by denying statistical sources to the blogpost’ author directly requesting ones). Certainly, you have your reasons.

    Other issues I address in my comment to Scatts above.

    PS If by “mienie zaburzanskie” you mean “mienie zabuzanskie”, then Im not too interested in who’s going to bother who. My taxpayer’s money should not be left at some kind of mercy or generosity (let’s sue the Polish state? let’s not?) — instead, the issue of the right to make claims should be legally settled. Unfortunately for my taxpayer’s money, some bodies seem to say “you’re welcome to make claims”. See this or that.

  18. darthsida says:

    => Hani,
    could you be more specific?

  19. Jolanta says:


    It has just dawned on me that I am probably the last person who should have taken part in the above discussion.
    Though no historian by profession, I have been dealing with the history of ethnic minorities in Poland for years. On a personal level, I have been trying to make up for what I think cannot be compensated on the political and historic levels. I have been involved in the conservation of Ukrainian, German and Jewish cemeteries. I have been in touch with dispossed Lemko, Jewish and German families. I have seen old Lemko farmers cry in their overgrown orchards, I have seen Jewish people try to buy their own piece of furniture from the present inhabitants of their pre-war houses, I have seen German expelees take home a handful of earth from their garden in former East Prussia. I have witnessed tears, I have heard abuse; I have also seen Polish farmers welcome the German owners of the farmhouse and have an elaborate dinner with them; I have seen them inspect the fields together and exchange their views on farming methods.
    Therefore my objectivity can easily be questioned and I must accept it.
    I think it is high time I shut my mouth.

    If you need any data – I suggest you go to Tarnow, Mielec, Bialystok, Myslenice, Szczebrzeszyn, Lezajsk etc. and ask who lived in the majority ( or all) the dwellings in the centre of the town before WW II. When you get an answer (which is doubtful), you might apologise for calling me an anti-Polish propagandist.


    PS. Thank you for pointing out my spelling mistake. I am terribly ashamed. It probably came from the so-called linguistic interference – I subconsciously wanted to make a properly sounding z/rz.

  20. darthsida says:


    Not a single link I had given was addressed, commented, denied, confirmed, whatevered. All the examples you gave in your latest comment do not refer to Polish March 1968. (I take it that ‘Jews’ from “the pre-war houses” have nothing to do with it). — Pity. Consciously or not, you’re using the ‘Jews’ tag that joins the Holocaust with 1968. I agree — it’s not too professional — to mix up things only because there are ethnic minorities in the background.

    Your advice is: go to Tarnów, Lezajsk etc. Why should I? Were these key purge-and-deport centres for 1968 Jewish expellees? Moreover, you are well aware of the fact that not everybody can afford travelling around Poland and track back history. (Well, hm, I can’t.) Your advice is just about as practical as “you want to learn about the Moon? — you fly there”. On the other hand, you leave a hint, working: “wow, she mentioned all those place-names, there must be truth in what she conveys”. That’s Schopenhauerishly clever — and nasty.

    It is equally typical of the “hurt innocence” rhetoric to say “it is high time I shut my mouth”. You don’t feel too comfortable about discussing 1968, so you want to withdraw — but want to look it like it’s your decision. That’s clever, too — but rather pretentious. Have it your way.

    So, just to make my semantics clear enough:

    Doing harm to Jews because they’re Jews is anti-Jewish. (I try to avoid the broader word “anti-Semitic”). It is a wide-spreading meme that Jews were hurt (purged, kicked out, stripped, expelled) in 1968. That Poles are to blame for 1968 anti-Jewish deeds.

    The questions
    — “were they Jews only?”,
    — “were their criminals in their number?”,
    — “were they ‘expelled’ by their ex-co-fellows of the regime?”,
    — “what does ‘expel’ or ‘purge’ mean”,
    — “was it possible to stay in Poland anyway”?
    they remain unanswered though. I guess I know why they are so — it’s just I sincerely hoped anyone could prove my guesses wrong.

    Anyone repeating “Poles expelled Jews in 1968” is making an accusation against Poles. It is projected onto Polish citizens of today — who can be punished doubly: 1) morally, for being of the nation that’s guilty of 1968, and 2) financially. — The slogan has not been (here, anywhere, so far?) supported with general-truth figures, stats, answers — it is an empty accusation. Empty accusations against Poles are anti-Polish.

    The fact that Stalinist apparatchiks, officers, regime’s pets of 1968 — living well in wealthy Swedens or such — could want anything from Poland today is heinously anti-Polish. You, Jolanta, have your noble reasons, no doubt, your idiosyncratic knowledge and your selection of facts. Thus, you are not heinously anti-Polish, you’re just anti-Polish. I care very little about it as long as my taxes are secure.

    PS I should have tackled the spelling thing more subtly, I should not have mentioned it at all, perhaps — it’s just that there was a chance, slight but actual, that you may mean something to do with “mienie zburzone” (burnt kamienicas, bombed-down houses or such).

  21. Michael Farris says:

    “Anyone repeating “Poles expelled Jews in 1968″ is making an accusation against Poles. It is projected onto Polish citizens of today”

    Only if your really into collectivist identity politics. I’m not.

    My understanding is that in 1968 the Polish government oppotunistically used anti-Semitic rhetoric it thought would play with a lot of the Polish public to get rid of or marginalize some of its enemies (some of these were internal to the government and victims of an intra-party power skirmish and others weren’t). Some weren’t involved at all inside or outside the government but were the equivalent of collateral damage. I agree that it wasn’t a simple of case of bad anti-Semitic Poles against virtuous Jews. But your reluctance to acknowledge the use of residual anti-Semitic feelings in part of the population.

    “The fact that Stalinist apparatchiks, officers, regime’s pets of 1968 — living well in wealthy Swedens or such — could want anything from Poland today is heinously anti-Polish.”

    This is pure nonsense. What the Polish government did in 1968 is morally repellent. What wrongs that can be righted should be (even if a lot of victims weren’t exactly saints, even if it’s inconvenient).

    – “were they Jews only?”, – No
    – “were their criminals in their number?”, – Define ‘criminal’.
    – “were they ‘expelled’ by their ex-co-fellows of the regime?” – some yes, others no.
    – “what does ‘expel’ or ‘purge’ mean”, – expel – get rid of someone who’s not desired, whether overtly (giving them no choice) or covertly (making it clear it’s in their best interest). – purge – large scale removal of undesirables and their affiliates.
    – “was it possible to stay in Poland anyway”? – under the conditions of the time, this is irrelevant

  22. darthsida says:


    thanks for your comment. Not too many statistics there, but at least a starting point for some general thoughts.

    1. => “collectivist identity politics”

    In Wikipedia, the 1st-choice source of knowledge for many, we read here: “The communist government, faced by massive anti-Soviet opposition of Poles, used hate propaganda to divide the nation”
    Is “the nation” or “Poles” collective enough for you, Michael?

    And were there any chances for “expellees” to successfully claim any financial / economic compensation, who you think would pay them? The State Treasury. Read: collective. So yes, I’m against collective whatsoever (too). I would like to see anyone who feels having being wronged in 1968 taking their case to civil and / or criminal court against any individuals that allegedly did the harm. — Unfortunately, as you’d put it, “nobody’s listening to me”.

    2 => my reluctance?

    You write “But your reluctance to acknowledge the use of residual anti-Semitic feelings in part of the population”. — My reluctance is to take any numberless, stats-less texts for granted. — What part of the population are we talking about? I mean, let’s assume every single person of the 15.000 was just, righteous, and deported at gunpoint. Let’s assume the number of evil Poles to steal their property was about the same. How would the numbers refer to the then nation-scale? Was it Poland against Jewish Poland? or was it a minor thing, in quantitative terms? Where’s the difference between not seeing March 1968 as regime’s intra-party cards cut-and-new-deals and, say, saying that Irishmen kill Poles?

    3 => define ‘criminal’

    Criminal, you know, as in “member or supporter of the Stalinist system, including but not limited to top- and middle-ranking members of the Party”.

    Case study. See this to see what Mrs Fieldorf-Czarska says about Jews. — Obviously, there are ways to dismiss accusations of any “criminal past” — and more than one.

    A) The “I’m a scapegoat” method Mrs Wolinska(-Brus) uses: “my accusers are a cruel bunch of witch-hunting anti-Semites and criminals themselves”.

    B) The “yeah, but” method, Konstanty Gebert uses: “X may be a criminal, but so may A, B and C, so why concentrate on X?”.

    C) The “yeah, but I’m a scapegoat” method, that Adam Michnik uses when he maintains his step brother’s Stefan Michnik‘s “a vehicle” Well, vehicle my crass.

    So, Michael, what’s “pure nonsense” to me is that a criminal should be given any compensation, even though harmed by other criminals. Cause justice would have to follow that simplified procedure: a) here, take this compensation for your harm, b) and pay for your crimes now.

  23. darthsida says:

    [I chopped the comment in two, it was definitely too long otherwise.]

    4. => define, expel, purge

    Michael ‘expel – get rid’ is not too far away from definition-by-pleonasms. So I’ll give you some yes-or-no questions [with my own answers in the brackets]:

    A) An innocent Jew, persecuted by the system: he lost his job. Advised to go abroad. Thinks warmly of Poland, has friends here etc, doesn’t want to leave, but then reconsiders: no more of this anti-Semitic barking, I’ve got kids, what future can this wretched system offer them, economy is sounder in, where was it, Sweden. He decides to go. Is he expelled?
    [No.] He’s a hesitant, reluctant but eventually own-mind-made-up migrant.

    B) A not so innocent Jew, a criminal in fact, wants to abscond from justice, either escaping present intra-regime’s justice or anticipating post-regime’s justice. He decides to go. Is he expelled?
    [No.] He’s a criminal migrant.

    C) A Jew, persecuted by the system: he lost his job. Offered another or yet another by friends who dared oppose the system. He doesn’t take new jobs, as it hits him that Western pensions are better than Polish, capitalism is better than socialism, plus the halo of the political refugee promises a nicer future than this tedious daily routine “get at five o’clock to work” (especially if, gods forbid, work should not be intellectual paper-shuffling, but something more, ehm, physical). Is he expelled?
    [No.] He’s an economic migrant.

    D) A Jew wants to fight Arabs, there’s a war, there may be another He wants to go to Israel, join the Isareli army and fight for his true country. Is he expelled?
    [No.] He’s a national migrant.

    I don’t know why you refuse considering answers to “was it possible to stay in Poland anyway”? – under the conditions of the time, this is irrelevant.

    The answer is crucial to how I think. Unless in face of some real and present danger (less like SB’s officer’s suggestions, more like SS rifleman’s gunpoint), if given no space whatsoever for family meditations, weighing pros and cons, making a decision — and with no hope for sheer existence in Poland (for lack of any job, lack of any home, hence death by cold, starvation or such), when choice was made consciously, there’s no expellee in question. — Otherwise, we’d have to think that the recent Polish wave to the Isles is “expellees” (but what would the “purge” be then?).

    Ironically (not), Britannica says here: Within a decade economic reform slowed down, the activity of the church was circumscribed, and intellectuals were subjected to pressures. Demonstrations by students in favour of intellectual freedom led to reprisals in March 1968 that brought to an end the so-called “little stabilization” that Gomulka had succeeded in achieving. Ever more autocratic in his behaviour, Gomulka became involved in an “anti-Zionist” campaign that resulted in purges within the party, administration, and army. Thousands of people of Jewish origin emigrated.

    Emigrated. I think that’s the proper word.

  24. scatts says:


    “Duress” is a legal term in some places. One definition of it is:

    Conduct that has the effect of compelling another person to do what he need not otherwise do.

    It is mostly used as a recognised defense of any act, crime, breach of contract, etc, where it should be a voluntary act to create liability.

    I wonder if this might have some relevance in your case of the Jews who “emigrated” from Poland? Might they perhaps claim that they did so under duress and therefore have a legitimate claim?

    One other thought that struck me while reading all this. As money is your prime motivation here, can you give us any idea how much the government is likely to have to hand out and how much effect this might end up having on your personal finances?

  25. darthsida says:

    Scatts, thanks.

    The key, IMO, is not duress. There’s duress everywhere, in various forms, going by various names, some of them unrealized.

    Let me repeat: is the recent Polish wave to the Isles one of “expellees” (and what would the “purge” be then?) Were the young men who went to barman or barmaid English pubs under duress? Economic duress? Was it duress that they couldn’t afford a flat and a fancy car in Poland? Or just a flat? Or just bread and clothes?

    When I find a job that sustains my biological existence alright, but I’ll start looking for anything more, say, a bicycle — will I be I under duress? If, to take up that better job, I’ll change my location within Poland, will I be I under duress? Would it be I am an “internal expellee” then?

  26. michael farris says:

    darth, you’re protesting against terminological sloppiness and thoughtless hype by going way too far in the opposite direction.

    In 68 the Polish government of the time used various strongarm tactics to get thousands of citizens to leave the country. That government acted in a manner that no one who supports any ideals of civic society or rule of law should tolerate. Said government also used anti-Semitic rhetoric in an apparent bid to get the population’s support or at least acceptance of said tactics.

    “member or supporter of the Stalinist system, including but not limited to top- and middle-ranking members of the Party”.

    This is not a definition of criminal.
    Those directly involved in the ordering and/or commission of Stalinist crimes, yes, they’re criminals and by all means prosecute them whenever possible. I’m in favor of that. By all means keep up the pressure on Helena Brus (and recognize that she’s just as Polish as Fieldorf-Czarska despite the latter’s fantasies of genetic disposition.)

    But simple membership in the party was not illegal then (obviously) and is not illegal now.
    A practical test: Emigration does not reform criminals. How many of those forced out of Poland went on to commit crimes in the countries they settled in?

    Those who had citizenship forcefully removed should have it returned if they wish. What they do next is between them and the current Polish government and legal system.

  27. darthsida says:


    My definition of ‘criminal’ can be any set of semiotic signs I want to work as definition of ‘criminal’, that you accept for a dialogue. You don’t believe in once-and-for-all all-embracing definitions of some Platonic entities, do you? Anyway, it’s marginally important now.

    I could reply to you: If you deny my right to call a criminal a criminal NOW because at time NOW–X that criminal wasn’t legally a criminal, then, guess what, try refraining from saying things like “ideals of civic society” — as in time NOW–Y or NOW–Z “ideals of civic society” might contain immolations, buggery of teens, slavery, Tarpeian rocks, no voting rights, absence of political correctness, women bathing fully dressed etc.

    It’s easier though to say: consider case of S. Michnik. Consider case of H. Wolińska. Tell me how many criminals more, if you can. Consider L. Kantor. Tell me how many economic migrants more, if you can. For a start tell me how many Polish citizenships were removed in 1968.

    PS The key word found in Britannica is “emigrate” with which I replace “being expelled” re March 1968. Another key word is your “forcefully”, Michael — which Scatts sort of supports — speaking of duress above. To which I say: nothing is forceful if does not pose an imminent and unavoidable threat of occurence of irreversible effect(s) on integrity of human life.

    I just made it up, it’s general, it’s not final probably, but no one seems to come up with optional definitions. In 1968 people were not forced to give up their citizenship, and there was more of choice than of no-choice granted to them regarding their emigration. There probably was a number of truly hurt people — “forced” [as in my definition] to leave Poland, but given they make up a fraction of already statistical fraction 15.000 (when contrasted with the population of the nation) — there are just too few to let make any sensible observations about Poles, Jews or anyone. Trust me, I’ll happily stand corrected, just give me figures and facts to prove me wrong.

  28. Jolanta says:

    It makes me shudder just to think that the Polish people who do not bury their heads in the sand and do try to face up to some unpleasant facts are called by their compatriots anti-Polish. I am not anti-Polish, I am pro-truth.
    Certainly, for any of my truths there must be some counter-truths of yours.

    I do not understand what you seem to imply by saying that “I have some reasons” for thinking the way I do. Are you suggesting that I am not Polish or that I want “my kamienica” back? Shouldn’t I suggest then that you have some particular motives for being what you are – because, perhaps, you live in “my kamienica”?
    Anyway, such a level of debate is ridiculous and I shall not be dragged into
    this sort of argument, sorry.


    PS. You do not need to travel around Poland in order to check who lived where – just read the pre-war population census. It is available in the State Archives (Archiwa Panstwowe).

  29. michael farris says:

    darth, you can call anyone you want a criminal. Free speech and all that.

    But your (or my) personal definition is not what counts. What counts are legal definitions and AFAICT those leaving in 1968 were mostly _not_ criminals in any legal sense of the word then or now. Whether they fail your or my moral tests is irrelevant.
    By your reasoning there’s no moral difference between Polish people going to work in England after 2004 and those fleeing martial law. What’s wrong with this picture?

    Those who would face possible prosecution are not likely to want Polish passports back. Those who do want their citizenship returned should get it (should have gotten in in 1990 or so).

  30. darthsida says:


    I made myself clear how I think you’re anti-Polish, I put a tip in boldface. You have supported the accusation [putting it generally: Poles expelled Jews in 1968 whereas ‘expelled’ means ‘made leave without option to stay’] Your accusation goes without figures / statistics from which one could have a general image of Polish March 1968 — so it is empty. Your other data are about non-1968 Poland, so irrelevant (as too off-topical).

    If you suggest me going to places, but then say the Archives could suffice, my question could be: why, to the same end, would you first suggest any means that are more time- / money-consuming? No, don’t answer that.

    You wrote “I cannot give you any statistical data, or rather, the data I may quote would not be to your liking and therefore are bound to be dismissed.” — This is what one of the Kaczynskis Brothers was disliked for — saying “I know of terrible things but am not entitled to reveal them”.

    If you have data and won’t disclose them (though asked to, repeatedly), then you either find it inconvenient to disclose the data — or you’re impolite. I didn’t want to think you’re either a propagandist or impolite, so I assumed there were other reason(s) for keeping the data secret that I just didn’t know.

    [But why am I not surprised that some voices are lunatic, other voices are polite but off-topic, others are polite and topical — yet likely to get lost over definitions of a definition — and that no one still gives a care to give me some numbers, numbers, numbers.]

  31. darthsida says:


    my definition wasn’t to prove freedom of speech (there’s none). It was for this post’s purposes — “use it / forget it”. You didn’t want it, I wrote again: ‘criminal’ for this post’s sake is case studies of S. Michnik and H. Wolińska.

    Re: Polish people going to work in England after 2004 and those fleeing martial law — I guess a similar thing was my question originally so why re-ask it after me? But ok, if fleeing martial law was for economic reasons, there’s no difference (other than obvious spatial-temporal dimensional difference etc.)

    Re: Those who would face possible prosecution are not likely to want Polish passports back. Those who do want their citizenship returned should get it (should have gotten in in 1990 or so).

    Splendid! Now, if we knew how many Polish citizenships were removed ca 1968, how many people never applied for passports (for fear of being prosecuted), and how many of de-citizened 1968’ers died until today, it could get us to approximate numbers of how many souls this is all about.

  32. darthsida says:

    Must say I’m tired, a bit. If new facts and figures come, I’ll join the discussion. Otherwise, go on or go not yourselves.

    Two things before I exit:

    1. LEGALITY, a trivia bit (for Michael?): we read here some consider “revocation of citizenships at the time unlawful”. The revokers (the regime) broke the law, so were criminals? are criminals? In other words: could the regime do something legal and illlegal at once? Heck, political correctness (and re-corectness) brings us closer to Schrodinger cat’s superpositions than I could suspect.

    2. NUMBERS. Total 15.000 emigrants. Of which 5.000 to Israel. [“Polish laws stipulated that any Pole who left the country for Israel automatically lost Polish citizenship.” Israel, mind, not Sweden, Denmark, France, Bermudas.]

    QUOTE — Mark Skulimowski, press attaché at the Polish Embassy in Israel, said there were about 1,000 Poles living in Israel who were eligible to have their citizenship recognized. He said the children of citizens were also eligible to receive citizenship and that once these children had obtained it, they could pass it on to their children. UNQUOTE

    “There were 350 requests in 2006 for recognition of Polish citizenship and 285 in 2007.” This makes 635 requests for 2006-2007, including those that can be made by “children (successors)”. I swear, if I hear anything more about 1968 variety of Holocaust, Polish-style — I’ll go back with something equally distasteful and absurd. Purge of the Innocents? Polish kids aged 0-14 ‘expelled’ to Polish roads of 2006 [151 dead, 5757 wounded]?

    PS My sources here, 2 minutes of googling.

  33. Jolanta says:


    Here are some data regarding Jewish property only:

    1923 – 3020 Jews, 2415 Poles
    1938 – 5420 Jews (65% of the population)
    about 300 Jews survived the Holocaust, after the front moved to the West 183 came back to Mielec
    15th August 1945 – 106 registered in the town register of Mielec
    25th October 1946 – Mielec pogrom
    the end of 1946 – 20 Jews in Mielec
    today – ? (probably none)

    1921 – 15 600 Jews (42%)
    September 1939 – 25 000 (45%)
    after the Germans left – a few hudred came out of the hiding and came back
    today – ?

    1880 – 2768 Jews (80% of the population)
    1912 – 76,3%
    1921 – 2146 (67,7%)
    survived – I have not found any reliable data yet
    today – probably none

    Property left by the Jews (first taken advantage of by the Germans and the Poles, later taken over by the Polish State or individual Poles)

    from the houses of the poor to the elegant country and town dwellings/ tenement houses / mansions/ folwarki (great farms)
    [the fate of the Jewish mansions and folwarki was identical to the fate of the Polish ones after the Agrarian Reform – reforma agrarna]

    all kinds of shops

    factories, breweries etc. – nationalised by the Communist Regime

    hotels, banks – nationalised

    libraries /schools / hospitals

    cemeteries (treated first as a source of stone, later as land to be developed)

    synagogues, prayer houses, mykvas etc.



    I think one needs a little bit of courage to face up to the above facts. It must be extremely unpleasant to realise that one’s grandparents took full advantage of the situation and took over the house of their Jewish neighbours when they were no more, or that an uncle bought the Jewish gravestones from the Germans because he was a stonemason and it was the deal of his life for him. It certainly comes as a shock that the doorstep to the barn is made of a matzevoh or that the trough is from the local mykva.

    I am absolutely convinced that admitting that, as a nation, we are not as noble and innocent as we believe we are does not make us less Polish, anti-Polish or not Polish at all.
    Actually, when we are ready to reject the half truths and downright lies, it is easier to face the reality, to confront those who accuse Poles of this and that and to take part in an open and frank discussion.


    PS. I have been accused of being a Polonofile so many times before that I must treat your calling me an anti-Polish propagandist as a cruel joke.

    the State Archives in Przemysl
    documents collected by Muzeum Ziemi Mieleckiej
    documents collected by Muzeum Okregowe w Tarnowie
    town and city registers
    S. Wanatowicz “Ludnosc zydowska w regionie mieleckim” w “Mielec” t.3
    A.Potocki “Zydzi w Podkarpackiem”
    Polski slownik judaistyczny t.1 i 2 (wyd.2003)
    Zydzi i judaizm we wspolczesnych badaniach polskich, red.K.Pilarczyk
    interviews conducted in the Podkarpacie villages

  34. darthsida says:

    Jolanta, thanks
    BUT your numbers do NOT refer to 1968.

  35. island1 says:

    I see you ‘reluctantly picked up the gauntlet.’ :)

    Superbly thought-provoking post.

  36. Anonymous says:


    My numbers refer to the sentence in which I claimed that thousands (millions?) of Polish people profited from the appropriation of Jewish properties in the 1940s. Because of this sentence you called me, hm, somebody … and I had to defend myself.

    Now I must switch from this a little upsetting conversation to work – I have to prepare a talk on the Polish Righteous among the Nations (ha!).


  37. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, I have just spotted a mistake:

    September 1939 (not 1945 !) – 25 000

    Correct it if you can, please.


  38. darthsida says:


    1. Again, how would your numbers of thousands (millions) refer to 1968? Are you joining these with the issue of 1968 only because there are some Jews involved? But that sort of thinking would make us consider things plainly ludicrous, e.g.: == was Lesmian an Islamic prophet? == (Jesus was one and he, like Lesmian, was Jewish.)

    2. You seem to think that your work in which you act pro-Polish, pro-Jewish etc. makes it a priori impossible for you to be anti-Polish, anti-Jewish etc. on other occasions, in other places, in other contexts. But it is quite possible.


    PS Date’s corrected.

  39. darthsida says:

    Island, thanks.

    Btw, it’s “reluctantly” as in “I don’t have much time for sparring”, NOT as in “I don’t like kickboxing”.

  40. Pawel says:

    I agree with island1. Very interesting to read. I wasn’t previously very preoccupied with this matter… My sources were probably the occasional Wyborcza articles. I probably wouldn’t come across such perspective as yours.
    It would have been even more interesting to see your article published in a mainstream newspaper (you know which one I’m thinking about), and the debate with others, informed about Jewish March 1968, it would have inflicted.

  41. darthsida says:

    Thanks, Paweł.

    You are a translator of many things in the Polish press, and doing a great job, so you deserve a separate treat(ment). If by “mainstream newspaper” you mean Gazeta Wyborcza, then their coverage of March 1968 is quite selective. One would have to 1) learn Polish and 2) how to read between the lines — and between the lies (if we take “absence of truth” for “a lie”).

    Gazeta Wyborcza has some section in English. See, the real difference between this article and its English version is ‘underground’, it’s readers’ comments below the former, but none below the latter.
    [Btw, can you not shudder, Jolanta? Michnik writes: There was no Jewish property in Poland before the war.]

    We can see what people want to show here: JEWS DID NOT ABANDON HOMES ON THEIR WAY TO AUSCHWITZ. — Auschwitz? — Jewish property? — Put alongside numerous publications about March 1968 now, this surely must bring about confusion, things get mixed up — Holocaust and 1968 — one regime or another — here and there there are Jews — and money the Polish taxpayer should pay back.


    If you were to translate this article, would you have problems with understanding this passage? (I did.)

    Po Marcu ’68 wyemigrowało z Polski w ciągu kilku lat kilkanaście tysięcy osób. Zmuszano ich, by składali wnioski “o zgodę na zmianę obywatelstwa w związku z wyjazdem do Izraela” (na podstawie uchwały Rady Państwa z 1958 r.). Większość emigrantów marcowych osiedliła się w różnych krajach Europy Zachodniej i USA, do Izraela trafiło ok. 3,5 tysiąca osób.

    [After March 1968, within a few years, a dozen or so thousand people emigrated. They were forced to apply for “change of citizenship related to their leaving for Israel”. Most of the emigrants moved to various countries in Western Europe, in USA; some 3.500 persons came to Israel.]

    So were all these people forced to renounce citizenship? Or only those bound for Israel? Yes, between the lines you have to read. In another article it is clear: “Z ok. 12 tysięcy emigrantów tylko ok. 3,5 tysiąca pojechało do Izraela.” Has everyone noticed Gazeta Wyborcza uses the word “emigrant” [instead of ‘expellee”]? And the number of emigrants going down 12.000 all, of which 3.500 in Israel? (And how many want to reclaim Polish citizenship?)


    Imagine you’d translate this one.

    W latach 60. żyło w Polsce ponad 30 tys. Żydów. Pewna ich część myślała o wyjeździe już przed 68 rokiem, ale jak to w PRL mnożyły się bariery. Choćby brak paszportu. I niby wydarzenia marcowe umożliwiły im wyjazd.

    What does “jak to w PRL” mean? What does “niby” mean?! How would you render it into English? Heck, I can’t understand it in Polish.

    Well, silly me.

    So, a PS: This Wiki entry lacks an English version AND clarification why “banana youth” should be propaganda. English sources are few. [Consider footnote 9 in English text here.] So I can see propaganda – alive and well and kicking.

  42. scatts says:

    kilkanaście tysięcy – a dozen or so thousand

    Kilkanaście is one of those things that just doesn’t work in English. How are you supposed to translate that for goodness sake. I think I’d plump for “about fifteen thousand”.

  43. darthsida says:

    Scatts, re “kilkanaście”

    AFAIU, ‘a dozen or so’ is the thing recommended by pro translators. Generally, wherever not all of exactness is required, it can mean “kilkanaście” — similarly “kilkadziesiąt” could be “several dozens” (rather than “several tens” that, I was told, sounds less natural in English).

    Of course, your “about fifteen thousand” is a good solution, too, yes.

    In this particular post’s particular case, however, I wanted to use “a dozen” since the number of emigrants is 12.000. When we write “about 15.000”, it may mean as well 12.000 as 18.000? That’s how false numbers could be born. (Come to think of it, the linguistic problem might be behind some incongruities in accounts of March 1968.)

  44. Pawel says:

    Have you read the interview with Anna de Tusch-Lec in today’s Wyborcza (DF). She was a young girl when she left Poland in 1968.

    I’ve read it just after having read your post,
    and as the general theme is the anti-Semitism in Poland and the pain of those who had to leave, she said few things that support your thesis (and are a contrast to Jolanta’s example)

    (1) “W Izraelu mój tata powiedział mi jedną bardzo ciekawą rzecz, która mnie zaskoczyła: Anka, ty myślisz żeśmy wyjechali z Polski dlatego że był antysemityzm? Nie, on był zawsze. Ale w 1968 zrobiło się niebezpiecznie. Tam parę pieczeni piekło się jednocześnie. Oni mieli nasze kartoteki. Nas, Żydów z UB. (…) Mój tata był w UB. Mówił nam: byłem, nie wiedziałem, to mnie nie usprawiedliwia, mam czarną plamę na życiorysie”
    [In Israel my dad told me an interesting thing, which surprised me: Ann do you think we have left Poland because there was anti-Semitism? No, anti-Semitism was always. But in 1968 it became dangerous. There were many roasts made on one flame. They had our files. Us, Jews from Secret Police. (…) My dad was in Secret Police. He told us: I was there, I didn’t know, it’s no justification for me, it’s a black stain on my curriculum vitae.]

    What surprised me is that she did not reflect on what he could have done to people as an UB member – especially in the Stalinist period. Is it possible it could have been worse than moving to another country? It is.
    For goodness sake, they killed and tortured people, destroyed lives etc.

    (2) They indeed submitted papers to leave for Israel in 1957 but weren’t allowed to leave.

    And finally just a thought about property. Since when anyone had a property in communism? There was nothing like that, unless you’re talking personal belongings. No one owned real estate, but “The People” i.e. the state. Closest thing to ownership was “wieczyste użytkowanie” – “eternal lease”.

  45. darthsida says:

    Thanks, Paweł!
    Didn’t know this one. (And can’t find it in e-version of Duzy Format.)

    Indeed, lack of curiosity, refraining from questions is astounding. — Or maybe it’s not? — If someone had a feeling, nothing concrete, just a hazy suspicion under the skin — that their parent could be a criminal, would one insist on learning the truth? No, rather not. — Would the parent insist on telling the truth? No, that neither.

    Psychologically, it is understandable:
    — to withdraw with your own stained past into silence
    — to blame others for what you have done yourself

    This time then we have to read between silences. Between refusals to speak. Between reluctant half-words. For instance, how could we understand this account?:

    ‘Nanna, where are you from?’
    ‘I am Jewish!’ she spat out at me.
    ‘I know you’re Jewish, but which country did you come from?’ I persisted.
    ‘Nowhere I would go back to, so it’s not important.’”

    But the girl is persistent. She approaches somebody else for answers:

    ‘Where is Nanna from?’ I tried once again
    ‘And Zaida?’
    ‘And Bubba?’
    And Zajda?’
    ‘You mean to tell me that all of my four grandparents are from Poland and no one ever thought to tell me?’
    ‘What does it matter – you’re not Polish, you’re Jewish.’

    There! So Jolanta will prepare her speeches about the Righteous Among the Nations — and what for? Read the blog: my Nanna says ‘My neighbours just stood by and watched as we were murdered – mostly they even helped the Nazis to do it!’


    Or read here, another post of the blog:

    This is Anna’s story:
    Two years ago, Anna was rummaging through some of her parents files when she stumbled across a document which literally, changed her very identity. This document, signed by her maternal grandfather’s brother in Israel (of whom she never knew existed), in 1968, legally verified that his brother, in Poland, had changed his name. This change of name signified a complete change in character. It absolved Anna’s grandfather of any vestiges of Judaism which was left of him. In 1968, Anna’s grandfather ceased to be Jewish.

    1968 was a year of severe antisemitic attacks in Poland as the communist bloc responded to the Six Day War and ‘supported’ their new allegiance towards the Arab Legion. Simultaneously, Polish students were rallying against the banning of a play by Mickiewicz, one of Poland’s beloved authors. The provocateurs of the demonstrations, some of whom were of Jewish origins, were soon labelled ‘Zionists’ and the term became an all-embracing slogan to defame not only those of Jewish heritage, but also any non-conforming activist. Newspaper articles blasting ‘Israeli aggression’ were sprawled across Poland’s print media as anti-Zionism was distorted into antisemitism. A purge of all Jews in official educational, governmental or military positions began. A ban on emigration was lifted for any Jews ‘willing’ to leave the country. Roughly 15,000 Jews of Poland’s remaining Jewish community emigrated during this period.

    Anna’s grandfather may not have emigrated, but perhaps he may as well have. In a simple name change and re-location he was no longer Jewish and no longer under threat.

    So much to ask about. And what does Anna learn from her parent?
    Read on:

    “Anna’s mother did not react very well to the emergence of this document and information. In fact, she was petrified. In her mind, it simply is not safe to be a Jew. That’s how she had been taught.”

    TAUGHT IT’S NOT SAFE TO BE A JEW? And then, as we can read in some of your translations, Israeli visitors in Auschwitz move along their firm routes, do not lose a step astray to mingle with locals, to talk, to ask a question. — It’s understandable, right? Poles, nearly as cruel as Nazis, why approach them?

    Which brings me to the property thing. No, Paweł, they’re not talking about property from the communist times — at least not only. It goes deeper. Jews who went to gas chambers left their property, right? It was taken by Germany. Replaced by Communist Poland in 1944. Replaced by now-Poland in 1989. Now-Poles are supposed to pay for the property of ghetto-dwellers, Holocaust survivors or no-survivors. Yes, this madness is not too far away from putting price tags to tattoo skin lamps, long hair, golden teeth, baby shoes.

  46. Jolanta says:

    Darth, please, be more accurate. During the German occupation most of the Jewish property was taken over by the Germans, but:

    the houses of my grandfather’s neighbours were not taken by Germany,
    the land where the 17th c. village synagogue used to stand was not taken by Germany,
    the candle-holder from the village prayer house was not taken by the Germans ( and it is not in a German house now)
    the mirror from the village doctor’s surgery was not taken by them either

    and so on and so forth.

    It must be said that it seems to be ingrained in the human nature to take what is up for grabs; only the noble and the scared and the stupid do not do it.

    Finally, it must also be said that, at least in Poland, it was not the German neighbour but the Polish one who shut the door in the face of the survivor and did not let him into his own house.


  47. darthsida says:


    Let’s imagine a picture: a Jewish house’s burning. Its Jewish dwellers are sentenced to death: killed already or soon. The best case scenario is: let the flames devour everything: you can’t blame fire for taking property. The second best scenario, the legal one, is to let Germans take what they want. The worst scenario is for any Polish bystanders to take their Jewish [soon-to-be] dead neighbours’ property. Is this your way of grading justice, Jolanta?


    There was the first system [that deprived all of their property], then there was the other system [that said everything should be communistically shared] — and you would expect what — mortgage registers? I wonder what mortgage records for any annihilated cities should look like. Where to look for property lists of all the plundered museums? Especially, when cities and museums ceased to be Polish because some superpowerful map- and decision-makers ordered so? The war came in with German laws (e.g. Jews are supposed to have nothing, lives included). It went away, ushering Soviet laws (e.g. Jews of the regime can have whatever they want). But the “ordinary folk” had neither law on their side — nor property to return to: what hadn’t been destroyed by the Nazis, was appropriated by Soviets.

    In times like those laws-as-we-would-like-to-have do not exist. They just are not enforceable.

    Can you recall the opening scenes of “Sami swoi”: the settlers coming to Ziemie Odzyskane and taking houses they liked to be their own? Can you recall “Prawo i pięść”? Or maybe you can think of Jews of the NKVD coming to Poland, snatching whatever they wanted?

    The way I see it, Poland [as the collective of all its inhabitans, irrespective of their nationalities] would have to have Germany pay money to rebuild all annihilated Warsaws. At the same time Poland would have to have Russia return what’s stolen and yet pay for the destroyed property. Separate accounts would have to be settled for lost lives (yes, there are ways to find prices for intellectual property, brain potential, lost opportunities). Then accounts for rapes, moral suffering. Then penalties for taking away 5 years (Germany) and 55 years (Soviets) of history, during which Poland should have lived and prospered, and godspeed. Only then, the nation-scale accounting done, one could look into cases of thefts by individual Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, whoever.

    But since it’s [politically] impossible to get anything from Germany (yes, they paid, but pathetically little) — and it’s equally impossible to successfully claim anything from Russia, the powerful states that won’t be disturbed — there is Poland, a weak country, and various birds of prey can take a weak target for their hunt. So yeah, you go on talking (rightly!) about Jewish candleholders or clocks. While I’ll be talking (rightly!) about Warsaws and NKVD’s.

    My say is: until the greater scale is balanced, it is wrong to move on to any individual accounts.
    Your say is: since the greater scale can’t be balanced, let’s return the clocks and candleholders at least.

    PS And note — those of 1968 emigrants who were Soviet-system officers — should be made pay for their wrongdoings. To which Michael replies above: “no way, they were / are not criminals, in fact, it is they that should received damages from Poland”.

  48. Pawel says:

    Here’s the link to the Duży Format article http://www.gazetawyborcza.pl/1,75480,5068925.html (DF and Wysokie Obcasy pieces are put online next day after they come out in paper)

    Re: Helping Jewish Holocaust survivors. Thank goodness we don’t face the dilemmas Poles of that time were forced to face. You are aware that there was a death penalty officially issued by German government for those hiding or helping Jews? I honestly don’t know what I would do. Would I be too scared? Would I take the risk? What if other Poles turn me in for hiding Jews? What if Germans come and search? Would I care only to survive the war myself? Do you know Jolanta if you would take the risk or close the door before their nose?

    Re: Poles assisting in the Holocaust. This is a very commonly-shared concept; I’m not sure how justified. In the same way Jewish people were assisting in the Holocaust. Some people were forced to do labour in/around death camps. Jews too. There was the Jewish police for bashing other Jews and ‘keeping order'(assisting in loading people on the death trains for instance) for extra food rations and hope for life. There were Jews on the aryan side, with aryan papers who turned other Jews hiding outside the ghettos in. Among them were people with no choice, people who hoped they’ll be able to survive that way. There were also the evil or crazy like everywhere. Especially in such times, where normal law doesn’t exist/work, when your world collapsed, when there isn’t enough to eat, when violence and death is everywhere.
    Poland was an occupied territory, there were no Polish powers, either administrative nor military, that were able to provide help for the Jews sentenced to death by the Germans. Western powers didn’t do anything, whether they were able to do anything in their war effort is a matter of debate.

    Re: property. I want my grandmother’s townhouse in Wilno back please. And my ‘German’ great grandfather’s mill in Pomerania. :)

    But now seriously. Where something is possible to be given back to previous owners, maybe it should be given back?
    However this is a difficult matter: as some people get property back, some don’t… It’s not equal. There isn’t any consistent policy. Maybe it should have been established that all property ownership was nullified by the war and communism and all registers should be started anew? Like a massive “zasiedzenie” law. Zasiedzenie is a concept from the Polish civil law, which says that when someone lives in a place for 20 years they become the owners of that place by virtue of law.

    One thing I think definetely shouldn’t happen – is returning previous individual ownership to Jewish collective organisations – which aren’t heirs of these individuals. Because
    (1) Individuals concerned were Polish citizens; According to the Polish law when someone doesn’t leave heirs behind or a testament, their property goes to the state treasury.
    (2) What about the property of the millions of Polish Poles who died during the war? And why Jewish Poles’ property should be treated otherwise?

  49. […] to writing highfalutin verses for the dim public. Dim enough to let anti-Polish slanders from peoples that are not so romantic — slip unnoticed. Poles ready to lie whenever lies would sound romantic. Praising their […]

  50. darthsida says:

    => Paweł or anyone who should wonder:

    “The total value of seized estates is estimated to be over 20 billion dollars and involves around 180,000 properties”

  51. Shalom darthsida

    I just happened across this site, while doing some lookups. There seems to be some discussion going on, about the emigration of Jews from Poland in the 1960s. At least everyone here seems to be agreed that the migration took place. You seem determined to say that the matter was not an expulsion; and that in calling it an “expulsion”, people are besmirching Poles.

    I am not Jewish, nor am I Polish; though some of my ancestors were Polish Jews from Galicia (now in the Ukraine). I did grow up in predominantly Polish-American neighborhoods, though, and my step-father had Polish parents; so I should be a reasonable judge of Polish character. It’s this: My step-father was a hard-working, honest man of moderate tastes, who always kept some Manishewitz wine on hand for company. His family appeared to be of similar character.

    As for the Jews I’ve known, our family doctors were Jewish. They were all honest men, skillful in their profession, who took a personal interest in their patients regardless of their nationality. I’ve known a few other Jews in my life, and the majority of them have fit this description as well.

    If anyone here takes my word on these matters, then, we can assume that the Poles and Jews, alike, are generally pretty good people; and I don’t think an honest person who is familiar with either race would be swayed in his or her judgment by the fact that some 15,000 Jews fled Poland in the 1960s, mostly to Israel. For the record, I believe a deal was made between the two countries: The Polish government didn’t want its Jews, and the Israeli government wanted them, so it was a win-win situation. That was the driving force of the migration, not whether the Poles were slobs or whether the Jews were lazy. No doubt some were one or the other or both, in both groups.

    Concerning seized estates, a distant cousin of mine recently passed away in Israel. His father had owned a tarpaper factory in Crakow before WWII. When the Germans attacked, the family managed to get to the eastern part of Poland (now Ukraine & Belarus), where the Soviets captured them and sent them to Siberia. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, my cousin’s father was released, to become active in the Polish underground (about half the underground fighters in Europe in WWII were Jewish). My cousin, meanwhile, was sent to Iran, then Iraq and Transjordan, and finally to Palestine (“Palestinians” in those days were Jews; the Arabs were simply called Arabs). My cousin tried for sixty years to get the Polish government to return the property to him that was seized by the Nazis, but they refused.

    So you see, I don’t need any stories of 1968, to know that the Polish government continues to cheat the Jews and withold seized estates: They are guilty, plain and simple. What does this say about Polish character? Probably that they are hard-working, honest people — who don’t think they have to treat Jews fairly. What else could you conclude, knowing what I know? Of course, there are good Poles and bad, just as there are good Americans and bad; but we can’t go on denying the obvious about our relatives and neighbors: They are human, and they are flawed; so are we.

    On the positive side, I haven’t forgotten that when all the rest of Europe was expelling the Jews from their countries around 1500, the Polish king welcomed them and treated them as guests. Neither am I forgetting that in 1648, when Cossack and Ukrainian peasants revolted and killed some 30,000 Jews, the Poles stood with them. Nor am I forgetting the many, many Poles — more, probably, than any other nationality, who sheltered Jews escaping from the concentration camps. They were a small minority among Poles — so much that Jews despaired of trying to escape because of the near certainty of being caught, robbed and turned over to the Nazis — but considering their own dire circumstances, those Poles behaved about as well as one might expect. Certainly there were many scoundrels among them (and among the Jews as well); but those who did help the Jews did so out of a kindness of heart that astounded even those whom they saved.

    It pays to keep our eyes on the big picture.

    God bless & keep you all

    Shalom shalom :-)

  52. I just spotted a possible problem in what I wrote:

    “Neither am I forgetting that in 1648, when Cossack and Ukrainian peasants revolted and killed some 30,000 Jews, the Poles stood with them.”

    I used that ambiguous word, “them”. Of course, I meant that the Poles fought side-by-side with the Jews, against the Ukrainians.

  53. darthsida says:


    I would feel tempted to trace back Jewish blood in my own veins, too, but why? Nowise could I prove I am Jewish (or that I am not). More importantly our nationalities should not have any influence on what we think and then say. At least, that’s what I think and say. I mention this since at times people step forth overtly as Jews in order to gain the upper hand in an argument (when considering March 1968 for instance). For the same reason, I will not gain the upper hand over a Westerner that there was a time when Poland welcomed Jews while the West killed them. No national handicaps.

    Concerning “a deal made between the two countries”: if there had been one, it would not be a cause of March 1968 but something to handle the effects of March 1968. (The name “March 1968” being tentative, of course: nothing happened in a month, not even in a year).

    So, Gomułka could pose anti-Jewish for political purposes. In private life, his wife was Liva Shoken, a die-hard communist Jew. I do not believe in any heart-induced outbursts of true anti-Jewishness in high political circles. Anti-Jewishness was a means, but never an end.

    Concerning “seized estates” — there were no Jewish estates seized in 1968 Poland. [Emigrants can sell their property. It’s expellees who usually do not have that luxury. You obviously refer to estates seized in other times, but then it means you are mixing the eras — involuntarily — or voluntarily (mala fide).]

    You may have your opinion about Polish govt that “continues to cheat the Jews and withold seized estates”. I am not a govt, I am a taxpayer — and it’s the taxpayer’s money that goes to any compensation. If Jews (or anyone) ever harmed by any govt go to sue that govt, it’ll have nothing to do with me. When Jews (or anyone) ever harmed by any govt want my money, they want it from me, so — practically — they re-place the blame on me. For which I’d hold for them sincere affections much distant from shalom.

    Furthermore, your sentence cruelly lacks in a wider context. About Germany and / or Russia shirking responsibility for Polish losses (financial, too), thus continuing to cheat Poland, or about Jews overepresented in the then political authorities of Poland (don’t know about ‘now’ ) etc. etc.

    Thank you for your comment nonetheless.


    PS technicalities: shalom is a lie. In milhama I trust. I believe in inherent evil, not good, of humans. I do not believe in god(s). (Let me revise the wisdom of Jewish Wittgenstein a bittle: “of what one cannot know, one must remain silent”.)

  54. Pawel says:

    Dear Michael A. Shoemaker,

    I’m only on the receiving end of this post… But I think you omitted the main points darth sida was making here.

    Darth sida says that (correct me if my understanding is wrong)
    1. most of the people in communist Poland wanted to migrate to the West
    2. many Jews applied to leave for Israel long before 1968 but communist govt. didn’t allow them to leave
    3. many Jewish families that left in 1968 contained someone who was involved in communist government in opposing fractions, or in the secret services (therefore some were criminals)
    4. Those Jews weren’t really Jews, they were marginally Jews, Jewishness wasn’t their primary attachment.

    Darth Sida advises us to count people to whom points 2 and 3 would apply and compare with the figure 15.000.

    To judge whether his statement right, we should investigate to what extent he is right in those 4 points.

    As to ownership, I will say that again:
    There was no such thing as ownership in communism. That’s pretty much the essence of communism, no one should own capital and means of production apart the working class, right?

  55. darthsida says:

    Thanks, Paweł, you summed up me well and tersely.

    4 revised:
    Those Jews were Jews. But when used in political fight, anti-Jewish slogans can be hurled at anyone. And the overpresentation of Jews in the Polish authorities may mean either or both of these two:
    A) ON AVERAGE: Jews are smarter etc. than Poles.
    B) ON AVERAGE: Jews are just like Poles, not better, not worse.

    If A), then the Jewish overrepresentation’s just (the racially better should benefit from their being racially better). If B), then we’re politically correct — but Jews were damn motherluckers. [Me, I say A).]

    PS As to ownership, there was no such thing as private ownership under Communism. And then there were exceptions, including the regime.

  56. Anonymous says:

    some vague connection with Hitler and the war. Honestly you and your site are stupid, you’re so retarded that it’s not even comprehendible. You should really learn your history, your facts and “10 things to a Polish Girlfriend” what a load of crap. Then you b/s statements littered all over the site. Its pathetic.

  57. darthsida says:

    if asking questions about history gives away a stupid person – then you’re right. I take it you yourself are not stupid so I will not have to remind you that Hitler was NOT one of 5000 Jewish emigrants from Poland to Israel in 1968.

  58. […] and war Tags: Holocaust, Israel, Jews, Polish Lies, propaganda, world politics Polish Lie #68: Expelling Jews from Poland: Who rules the media, rules the […]

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  61. Jolanta Margasinska says:

    Just one thing to remember – most expelled were Jewish Communist Party members. Who make life miserable for others who did not want to belong under their wings.

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