“The Righteous” and March ‘68 Cover Image
  • Price 2.50 €

“The Righteous” and March ‘68
“The Righteous” and March ‘68

Author(s): Alicja Podbielska
Subject(s): Political history, Social history, Jewish Thought and Philosophy, History of Judaism
Published by: Żydowski Instytut Historyczny
Keywords: Rescue; Righteous among the Nations; commemoration; propaganda; March ’68

Summary/Abstract: One of the paradoxes of the 1968 antisemitic campaign in Poland was the official designation of war-time rescuers of Jews as new national heroes. Previously largely absent from public discourse, they were now brought to the fore in Władysław Gomułka’s speech that launched the “anti-Zionist” witch hunt. Following the First Secretary’s lead, the mass daily press claimed the subject. Drawing on a wide range of political speeches, press articles, and TV documentaries, the paper analyses rhetorical strategies, distortions of historical truth, and propagandist exploitation of rescuers by the regime. Polish assistance to Jews was represented as a mass phenomenon, cross-cutting social and political divisions, and motivated by sheer altruism. In an atmosphere of growing paranoia about reputed “anti-Polish” attacks by “foreign circles,” rescuers came to serve as a counterproof to allegations of Polish antisemitism. With each publication, the number of rescuers grew. The rhetoric of “Jewish ingratitude” became a staple of antisemitic pieces. Once rooted, that trope flourished. The 1968 echoes today, focusing as it does on numbers, thankfulness, and the nation’s honor.

  • Issue Year: 270/2019
  • Issue No: 02
  • Page Range: 363-387
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: English