Communism and Anti-Semitism: A Rejoinder
The Sunday New York Times Book Review (23rd July, 2006) carries a review of Jan T. Gross’s book ‘Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz,’ by David Margolick.
It is at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/books/review/23margolick.html
Here is what the review states about the July 4, 1946 murderous anti-semitic attack, or ‘pogrom’, by Poles against Jews in the Polish city of Kielce, during which 42 Jews were murdered:
Days before the pogrom, the Polish primate, Cardinal August Hlold, had spurned Jewish entreaties to condemn Roman Catholic anti-semitism. Afterward, he charged that by leading the effort to impose Communism on Poland – Jews were in fact prominent in the party, though hardly in control – the Jews had only themselves to blame. The point was seconded by the bishop of Kielce, who suggested that Jews had actually orchestrated the unrest to persuade Britain to hand over Palestine. It was a neat trick: being Communists and Zionists simultaneously. Only the bishop of Czestochowa condemned the killings, and was promptly reprimanded by his colleagues. One wonders how Karol Wojtyla, then a young seminarian, later Pope John Paul II, viewed this cesspool of ignorance and intolerance.
So the Roman Catholic church, evidently including the later ‘saintly’ Pope Karol Wojtyla, either did nothing or actively blamed the Jews themselves!
Then Margolick says this:
’If the Church gave the Jews short shrift, – the same was true of the Communists, even the Jewish ones. For them, ignoring the Jewish plight, as well as Polish complicity in wartime atrocities –, offered a way to ingratiate themselves with a wary nation.’
This is a lie. The Communists did not ‘ignore the Jewish plight.’
Margolick has to know – but fails to mention – that Polish and Soviet communist authorities moved very swiftly to severely punish those responsible for the murderous anti-semitic pogrom at Kielce.
The communist authorities compelled everyone in the city of Kielce – 10,000 people – to stand along the street to watch the funeral procession for those Jews murdered in the pogrom.
– Five days later –, July 1946, the Communist authorities put 38 participants in this pogrom on trial. Nine of them were sentenced to death and executed on July 12.
Evidently the New York Times writer did not want to reveal that the despised communists fought anti-semitism with a determination unmatched by the Western allies. Former Israeli PM Menachem Begin admitted as much.
Like Poland, pre-war Hungary was a fascist, Nazi-like dictatorship in which anti-Semitism, along with other forms of racism against minorities (e.g. Rumanians in Hungary, Ukrainians in Poland) was institutionalised. During the 1930’s and 1940’s the Communist movement opposed anti-Semitism more strongly than any other political force (including the Zionist movement; see below).
*As Menachem Begin wrote in 1951, ’the Soviet Government fought anti-Semitism with characteristic pertinacity... The truth is that the Soviet Government is anti-anti-semitic.’
Naturally many Jews were attracted to the communist movement. Many others welcomed the Red Army after the war and joined the various communist parties. Many of the leaders of the communist movement in Hungary as elsewhere were of Jewish origin. This fact neither explains nor excuses the anti-semitic character of the anti-communists, any more than Hitler’s racism was ’justified’ by the fact that there were many prominent Jews in Weimar Germany.
*Grover Furr, ‘A Lethal Form of Lying: Notes on Anti-Semitism and Cold War Scholarship,"’ /Comment/, Vol. 3, Nos. 3-4 (Spring 1984), 24-29.
Department of English
New Jersey, USA
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