Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Anti-Semitic Face of Communism

The events of March 1968 in Polish Peoples’ Republic unfolded against the backdrop of Soviet foreign policy objectives, its successes, and its failures. In June 1967 Israel – a U.S. ally – defeated Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq in what is known as the Six-Day War. Moscow, humiliated by the defeat of its client states, responded by ordering the leaders of its Eastern European satellites to break diplomatic relations with Israel. “Zionists” everywhere were to blame for the defeat – and they were to pay the price. As in the Soviet Union during the Great Purge, the communist party turned against its own, against the purported "Zionist" enemy within.

The anti-Semitic propaganda campaign (at that time called ‘anti-Zionist’) began with anti-Semitic leaflets, which started appearing in Warsaw in February 1968.They were linked to the protests around the removal of the play “Dziady” (Forefathers’ Eve) from the theatre repertoire. The leaflets mocked the ‘unsuitable’ ethnic background of some of the protest organizers called “Commandos”. In the press, this motif appeared on 11 March in an article found in “Słowo Powszechne” (Universal Word), a daily paper published by the PAX Association. Over the next few weeks, this became one of the leading elements of the March ’68 propaganda campaign.

The campaign accused ‘Zionists’, i.e. Jews, that, with the aid of the “Commandos”, they had ignited the protests of unwitting students.’. They were also reproached for their joy over Israel’s victory in the six-day war, in contradiction to the suffering of the Arab population in the occupied territories.

Throughout the entire campaign, great attention was paid to not using the word ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewish, as the aim was to distance oneself from anti-Semitism,, for example with the use of such slogans as “Anti-Semitism – no! Anti-Zionism – yes!”.

The result of the campaign was the radical strengthening of a purge that had been going on for some time. ‘Zionists’ were being removed from the communist party, PZPR (Party), as well as from national and economic administrative posts. In many cases, the removal from the Party ranks or a post took place in an atmosphere of persecution, during lengthy meetings when both real and false accusations were made. In effect, 13,000 people were either forced to emigrate or made the decision to leave on their own.

March 1968 - The Anti-Semitic Face of Communism

Marzec 1968 (English version of the site by Institute of National Remembrance)