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Mass emigration follows the anti-Semitic campaign


Anti-Semitic campaign in Poland in 1968
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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A few years before '68, a bright reader of newspapers would have begun to realise that an anti-Semitic campaign was being prepared. This wouldn't have been just any man off the street, an ordinary reader of newspapers, but someone who has a little curiosity. This occurred in a situation where a fierce battle was being fought for power within the party, where one faction had decided to play the anti-Semitic card against another faction. This was called, of course... the enemy was of course called not a Jew but a Zionist because it wasn't seemly to just come out with the word Jew. When in... when the student riots started in '68, this Zionist movement, as it was being called, came under a forceful attack. Every boy or girl who was of Jewish descent was reminded of their grandmother's surname, if... well, their own surname was emphasised if it could be used in this way. Soon after this people were ejected from the positions they held in the party, in national institutions, as well as people from work who sometimes were just ordinary workers. I know of cases where proofreaders were kicked out by the publishers. Those who started this off counted very much on there still being a Polish anti-Semitic tradition which they decided to bring back to life. I have to say that the attempt to bring back such traditions to life is criminal, you never know where it'll lead, and it's repulsive in itself. Inevitably, the outcome was that a large number of people who were either Jewish or Polish but of Jewish descent couldn't take the mental pressure and took advantage of – the psychological pressure – and took advantage of the proposal that Gomułka magnanimously threw their way that they could emigrate. It's hard to say just how many people did emigrate, probably several thousand left Poland then, including a group of my friends, some of whom were very close friends.

Jeszcze na parę lat przed ’68 rokiem bystry czytelnik prasy zaczął się orientować, iż szykuje się jakaś antysemicka kampania. To nie człowiek z ulicy, nie normalny czytelnik prasy, ale taki dociekliwy czytelnik prasy. Działo się to w sytuacji bardzo ostrej walki o władzę w partii, kiedy jedna część postanowiła wykorzystać argument antysemicki przeciwko innej części. Nazywało się to, oczywiście...wróg nazywał się oczywiście nie Żyd, tylko nazywał się syjonista, no nie wypadało jednak mówić po prostu Żyd. I kiedy w... kiedy wybuchły już te rozruchy studenckie w ’68 roku, uderzono pełną parą w ten... już jako w ruch syjonistyczny. Każdy chłopiec czy dziewczyna żydowskiego pochodzenia miała wypomniane nazwisko babki, jeżeli... podkreślone swoje własne nazwisko, jeżeli się do tego nadawało. Zaczęło się zaraz po tym wyrzucania ludzi zarówno ze stanowisk partyjnych, państwowych, jak i ludzi z pracy, czasami bardzo normalnych, szeregowych. Znam wypadki, kiedy korektorów potrafiono wyrzucać z wydawnictwie. I ci, którzy te... to rozpętali, liczyli bardzo na to, że tradycje antysemickie w Polsce bynajmniej nie wygasły do końca, postanowiono je ożywić. Muszę powiedzieć, że próba ożywienia takich... takich tradycji, no jest zbrodnicza, nigdy nie wiadomo w ogóle czym... czym to się skończy, nie mówiąc o tym, że jest obrzydliwe samo w sobie. Rezultat był oczywiście taki, że znaczna część ludzi – czy to Żydów, czy ludzi, którzy byli Polakami, ale żydowskiego pochodzenia – nie wytrzymała tego nacisku nerwowego i skorzystała – nacisku psychologicznego – skorzystała z propozycji, którą łaskawie rzucił Gomułka, iż mogą emigrować. No, ilu ludzi emigrowało trudno wiedzieć, prawdopodobnie kilkanaście tysięcy ludzi opuściło wówczas Polskę w tym również pewna ilość moich przyjaciół, niektórych nawet bardzo bliskich.

Jan Józef Lipski (1926-1991) was one of Poland's best known political activists. He was also a writer and a literary critic. As a soldier in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), he fought in the Warsaw Uprising. In 1976, following worker protests, he co-founded the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR). His active opposition to Poland's communist authorities led to his arrest and imprisonment on several occasions. In 1987, he re-established and headed the Polish Socialist Party. Two years later, he was elected to the Polish Senate. He died in 1991 while still in office. For his significant work, Lipski was honoured with the Cross of the Valorous (Krzyż Walecznych), posthumously with the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1991) and with the highest Polish decoration, the Order of the White Eagle (2006).

Listeners: Jacek Petrycki Marcel Łoziński

Cinematographer Jacek Petrycki was born in Poznań, Poland in 1948. He has worked extensively in Poland and throughout the world. His credits include, for Agniezka Holland, Provincial Actors (1979), Europe, Europe (1990), Shot in the Heart (2001) and Julie Walking Home (2002), for Krysztof Kieslowski numerous short films including Camera Buff (1980) and No End (1985). Other credits include Journey to the Sun (1998), directed by Jesim Ustaoglu, which won the Golden Camera 300 award at the International Film Camera Festival, Shooters (2000) and The Valley (1999), both directed by Dan Reed, Unforgiving (1993) and Betrayed (1995) by Clive Gordon both of which won the BAFTA for best factual photography. Jacek Petrycki is also a teacher and a filmmaker.

Film director Marcel Łoziński was born in Paris in 1940. He graduated from the Film Directing Department of the National School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź in 1971. In 1994, he was nominated for an American Academy Award and a European Film Academy Award for the documentary, 89 mm from Europe. Since 1995, he has been a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science awarding Oscars. He lectured at the FEMIS film school and the School of Polish Culture of Warsaw University. He ran documentary film workshops in Marseilles. Marcel Łoziński currently lectures at Andrzej Wajda’s Master School for Film Directors. He also runs the Dragon Forum, a European documentary film workshop.

Tags: Zionist, Władysław Gomułka

Duration: 2 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 11 March 2011