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Review of Narodowa Demokracja wobec problematyki zydowskiej w latach 1918-1929, by Olaf Bergmann.

jan peczkis|Tuesday, March 12, 2013


THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATS IN RELATION TO THE JEWISH PROBLEM IN THE
YEARS 1918-1929, is the title of this Polish-language book. It is really two books,
intertwined with each other. The first consists of extensive quotations from Endeks,
including ones from newspapers and other generally unavailable sources, and that from
famous and not-so-famous Endeks. This makes the book original and worthwhile, and I
therefore emphasized it in my review. The second consists of author Bergmann's
analysis, which is of variable quality.




Consider first the extensive quotations from National Democrat sources, beginning with
the issue of economic rivalry:

The persistence of Jewish economic dominance, even in small businesses, was as
obvious as it could be. One unidentified Endek, writing relatively late in 1925 about
relatively-advanced Krakow, pointed out that there were 593 businesses in Polish
hands in contrast to 3,131 Jewish-owned ones, even though Jews were only 15% of
Krakow's population. (p. 154).

Endek Stanislaw Grabski, in 1922, focused on the primarily economic nature of anti-
Semitism in Poland. He pointed out that Polish-Jewish relations took a new turn, about
1900, when Poles began to advance themselves economically. Anti-Semitic sentiments
did not derive from politics, nationalism, or propaganda. They originated when Polish
economic growth came into direct conflict with its pre-existing Jewish counterpart. (pp.
142-143).

Jewish hostility to "nationalism" and "chauvinism" is commonly framed in terms of fear
of anti-Semitism and persecution. Roman Rybarski instead suggested, in 1926, that
Jews exhibit this hostility because their commercial activities are favored by a vague
sense of national boundaries, and because it is easier for Jews to hang on to their
privileges when the national consciousness of locals is weak. (p. 182).

Jews as Scapegoats?

It is incorrect to characterize Endeks as ones that made scapegoats out of Jews, at
least necessarily. It turns out that Endeks commonly blamed Poles, as well as Jews, for

Poland's Jewish-related problems.

Franciszek Rawita-Gawronski, in 1925, wrote of the tendency of Jews to buy-up large
estates from the Polish nobility. This partly owed to Polish "historical sins". (p. 162).

Roman Rybarski, in 1919, wrote that the emigration of most of Poland's Jews was an
inescapable necessity. Evidently supporting "jobs made for Jews" premises, Rybarski
suggested that several-fold fewer middlemen can do the job presently performed by
Jews. However, alluding to the fact that Poles must take the initiative in improving
themselves, Rybarski facetiously said that the "most terrible pogrom" that Jews could
experience would be the Polish modernization of economic dealings, of the elevation of
the cultural level of the villages, and of the better organization of the rural affairs. (p.
142).

Other Endeks were even more explicit in terms of anti-Jewish thoughts and actions
needing to be de-emphasized in favor of positive Polish initiatives. Kazimierz
Lutoslawski, in 1921, suggested that Polish anti-Semitism, having the goal of
emancipating Poles from the Jewish middleman, should be conducted in a noble
manner, and not in an atmosphere of hatred and pitilessness against the poverty-
stricken Jewish masses. (p. 138). Fr. Josef Kruszynski, in 1923, contended that Poles
should do less complaining, and work harder. Moreover, Poles will not achieve anything
until they develop their own economically viable class, capable of competing effectively
with the Jews. (p. 138). Finally, Kruszynski stated that the successful struggle against
the Jews cannot be the product of physical force. It must be the product of a strong
national will. (p. 139).

Finally, those Endeks objecting to Jewish influence in Polish culture did not solely
blame the Jews. They also faulted Poles for lacking courage in challenging such Jews.
(e. g, p. 212, 214, 216).

Jewish Particularism:

Zygmunt Balicki, in 1912, wrote of Jews as a people having a very strong sense of
exclusiveness and separateness from others. (p. 180). Roman Rybarski, in 1926,
viewed Jews as ones that, owing to the fact that they are native to Palestine, as well as
their history of persecutions, generally lack strong connections to the peoples among
whom they live, and are characterized by ephemeral loyalties. (p. 181).

Father and Professor Jozef Kruszynski, in 1920 and 1921, examined Jews and the
Talmud. He contended that the Jewish religion according to the Talmud should not be
confused with that of the Old Testament. He also opined that the Talmud infuses Jews

with extreme nationalism, elevating Jews above all other peoples, and is used by them
to justify contempt towards goys. (pp. 12-13, 169).

Jews in Polish Culture:

The Endeks were skeptical about Jewish assimilation effectively making Poles out of
Jews. Jan Ludwik Poplawski, in 1910, suggested that assimilated Polish Jews retain the
usual Jewish particularism, a Jewish way of thinking, a Jewish system of ethics, etc.,
and influence Polish thinking along those lines with no small boldness. (pp. 191-192).

Some Endeks referred to the objected influences of assimilated Jews as "Judaization".
[The informed reader can consider "Judaization" tendencies within the Catholic Church
today. For instance, Jewish-Catholic dialogue revolves around Judeocentric premises.
The Catholic Church has gone beyond "absolving" Jews of deicide, and is receptive to
the premise of the specialness of the Holocaust (relative to the genocides of other
peoples), and of Christianity being solely responsible for the negative aspects of past
Jewish-Christian relations. Much the same applies to influential circles in Poland today--
in addition to the hostility towards Polish Catholicism and Polish patriotism as exhibited
by the likes of Adam Michnik-Schechter and his GAZETA WYBORCZA, and that of the
esteemed Jan T. Gross and other neo-Stalinists.]

The Endeks recognized Julian Tuwim as an excellent writer, but an essentially foreign
one. (p. 217). [Bergman does not mention the fact that the Skamander group commonly
attacked Polish patriotism.] The Endeks also objected to Janusz Korczak for his
liberalism and his nontraditional child-rearing practices. (p. 219).

[The American reader can understand the Endek hostility towards many influential
assimilated Jews (as "unauthentic Poles") in the following terms. Many African-
Americans do not believe that a European-American, even if well intentioned and
sympathetic, can fully understand the lot of an African American, be capable of fully
promoting African-American interests, etc.]

On another subject, Endek Stanislaw Grabski, in 1927, called attention to the Jewish
role in the promulgation of pornographic, anti-marriage, and anti-family messages, all in
the name of "progressive" trends, in both large and small theaters, movies, etc. (p. 212).
[Bergmann thinks that the criticism has some merit, but does not mention the fact that
Jews also faulted fellow Jews in this regard. See the Peczkis Listmania: JEWISH
FREETHOUGHT IN PRE-WWII POLAND...].

Finally, let us keep Endek skepticism about assimilated Jews in perspective. It was
never absolute. For instance, Wincenty Lutoslawski, in 1924, concluded that many Jews

who convert to Catholicism do so sincerely, and become ardent Polish patriots. (pp. 174-
175).

Let us now touch on Bergmann's analysis:

Endek Stanislaw Grabski (p. 114, 143) pointed out that Jews boycotted Poles before
Poles started boycotting Jews. Bergmann considers it probable that each side indeed
had sought to defend its economic interests. (pp. 143-144).

Pointedly, Bergmann (p. 21) rejects the characterization of the Endeks as ones
animated by an obsessive hatred of Jews. This is in contrast to the likes of Brian Szucs-
Porter.

Bergmann (p. 31, 34) suggests that Roman Dmowski had a point about hostile
influential Jews, working against Poland, at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
However, he mischaracterizes the Endeks as contending that Jews were the ONLY
reason for a less-than-favorable western response to Poland. It is doubtful if any Endek
had ever made such a statement!

Sometimes, Bergmann engages in obvious non-sequiturs. Consider, for example, the
author's attempts to rebut Roman Dmowski's 1903 characterization of Poland's Jews
as ones that strive to persist in their traditional economic roles. Bergmann brings up
the fact that Holocaust-surviving Polish Jews, having moved to Israel, often became
farmers and soldiers. (p. 136). To begin with, some Jews shared Dmowski's views. For
instance, American Jew Henry Morgenthau, having visited 1918 Poland in the wake of
mostly-bogus pogrom accounts, commented that the local Jews must become willing
to perform more than one or two occupations. Otherwise, not all Jews, now having a
nation all their own, could be usurers, shopkeepers, and traders. Someone had to be a
farmer! In addition, Jews, for the first time, had their own nation to defend--furthermore,
almost immediately from Arab aggression.

Finally, Bergmann sometimes discusses non-Endeks. For instance, he quotes Pilsudski
on the 1920 Polish-Bolshevik War. Pilsudski wrote that Jews acted loyally to Poland
at Mazowieck and Lomza, while considerable--even massive--Jewish support for the
Soviets took place at Lukow, Siedlce, Kaluszyn, and Wlodawa. (p. 100).
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