March 1968 is one of the most painful dates in the history of Polish-Jewish relations. Exactly 50 years ago, the communist authorities of the then Polish state forced nearly 20,000 Jews and Poles of Jewish ancestry to emigrate. On the list of those who left Poland, we find many eminent scholars, doctors, writers, painters, philosophers, but also politicians of that time. The campaign of hatred was a methodically and cynically planned internal game of the communist party.
Despite the great efforts of the authorities, public support for the anti-Semitic witch-hunt was miserable. Unfortunately, the responsibility for those events is still being assigned to the entire Polish nation.
The crisis was triggered by student protests in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Poznań and Kraków in defence of Adam Mickiewicz’s drama “Dziady” that had been banned by censorship. The strikes were brutally suppressed by government forces. The crisis in March 1968 became a pretext for the authorities to execute the previously planned so-called “anti-Zionist campaign”. The main architects of this anti-Semitic campaign and provocation were none other than the First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party Central Committee, Władysław Gomułka, Minister of Internal Affairs, General Mieczysław Moczar, Minister of National Defence, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, and a long list of communist journalists strongly associated with the authorities and special services.
Contemporary historiography has its disposal quite an extensive set of literature based on hard facts and materials of the Polish communist party from this period, however, the 1968 March events are often falsely presented as yet another evidence for the anti-Semitic Polish element.
We see the lack of good English monographs on the events of the Polish March, hence on the occasion of the anniversary, our abridged version of the accidents from exactly half a century ago. In another Poland, in a different geopolitical situation, and most importantly, in a society deprived of the freedom of speech and the right to vote.
The full and unabridged report is available here for download