A Huge Lie Revealed! The Truth about the Kielce Pogrom Comes to Light
Written by Maciej Dębski
Translated by: Laszló Hoffman
Proof read by: Jan Czarniecki
Poland oftentimes is called an anti-semitic country, and Poles anti-semites. Nobody ever remembers the fact that in this “anti-semitic country” Jews constituted a sizable portion of the population. Nobody also mentions that there were countless schools, media publications, and religious communities in Poland.
In the world, Poland is often regarded as a cemetery-country where Jews met their doom. The idea of “Polish concentration camps” is still in use and enjoys moderate popularity. And even if somebody reasonably counters that, after all, it was the Germans who created the Holocaust and murdered most of the Central European Jewish population, using Poland as the location for their concentration camps solely for logistical reasons, someone immediately pops up to mention Jedwabne and the Kielce pogroms. Both of these massacres did indeed take place, albeit in a manner quite different from how they were represented around the world.
The lies of Tomasz Gross’s book have already been revealed, as well as the countless lies about Jedwabne proliferated by Jewish communities. The Kielce pogrom is still waiting for the truth of its events to be disseminated. For the time being, any information about the Kielce pogrom is being arduously assembled from scraps of data and from short, unreviewed accounts, often coming from the mouths of Communist Secret Police officers during the Stalinist era. Of course, in Polish society, like in any society, there were cowards who did not hesitate to collaborate with the Germans in the murder of European Jews. In terms of percentages, there were no more such cowards than there were Jewish cowards who collaborated in the murder of their fellow Jews. There were also people who, after the war, inhabited formerly Jewish houses, but these people were very often recruited from the ranks of the new communist leadership. Moreover, there were no more of them than there were American Jews completely unconcerned with the fate of their European Jewish brothers and sisters. How, then, did the pogroms look and who organized them? What really happened in Kielce in 1946?
The official account of the Kielce pogrom is as follows: on July 1st, an eight-year-old boy named Henryk Błaszczyk disappeared. His father, the shoemaker Walenty Błaszczyk, worried about the long absence of his son, appeared at the Communist People’s Militia station to report the disappearance of his son. Two days later, on the evening of July 3rd, the boy returned home, and at midnight Walenty Błaszczyk, at this point heavily inebriated, appeared again at the Communist People’s Militia station to inform the officers that his son had been abducted by Jews and had been kept in a basement for three days, from whence he escaped. The boy showed the Militia Officers the house in which he had been kept, in which was to be found the so-called Jewish Committee. This house also acted as a shelter for transient Jews, traveling through Kielce. On July 4th, a large patrol of Militia Officers made its way to the house, on the way informing passersby where they were going and why. This ensured that a large crowd of citizens amassed in front of the house. Around 10 a.m., the house was surrounded by a troop of the Polish People’s Army and the Internal Security Corps, which, however, made no attempts to disband the hostile crowd that had gathered there. According to the testimony of Chil Alpert (the assistant director of the Jewish Committee), who was inside the house at the time, soldiers opened fire at the windows of the house shortly after arriving. Afterwards, having kicked down the door, several soldiers and Militia Officers entered the house and questioned the inhabitants. Officers Konieczny, Jędrzejczak, and Repist took away any weapons that the inhabitants had, despite the fact that the inhabitants had permits for their arms. During the investigation, soldiers began shooting at the individuals inside the house; during this shooting, several inhabitants died, including Seweryn Kahane, leader of the Jewish Committee. The soldiers’ entrance and shooting spree is what started the Kielce Pogrom.
During this entire time, the Commandant of the Regional Communist Secret Police, Major Władysław Sobczyński, did not take any measures to prevent the pogrom. During the afternoon, circuit prosecutor Jan Wrzeszcz appeared at the scene, but the military personnel present did not let him enter the property and refused to disband the crowd. Jan Danielewicz and Roman Zelek, two priests from the Kielce cathedral, were likewise unable to calm down the crowd because the military refused to allow them to come into contact with the assembled populace. Around noon a new army corps appeared at the house, sent by Colonel Stanisław Kupsza. Its leader, Major Konieczny, ordered a warning barrage to be fired into the air. This allowed the military to regain some control over the situation and restore order.
The building was once again surrounded by a military cordon, and People’s Militia officers began taking the dead and wounded Jews to the city hospital. Around 12:30 p.m. a couple of hundred workers set out from the “Huta Ludwików” Steel Mill armed with metal pipes, sticks, and rocks. After arriving on the scene, the workers tore through the weak military cordon of officers and attacked the Jews still remaining in the house, and thus the pogrom began anew. At this time, acts of violence against Jews began occurring throughout the city. Around the house on Planty Street, from whence the crowd of steel mill workers set out, over twenty people were killed. A few citizens of Kielce of Polish nationality were also killed or beat up when they were mistaken for Jews. Three additional Poles died, likely because they were trying to defend Jews.
Many of the murders had a predatory character. Only around 2:00 p.m. did uniformed officers begin to react against the spreading violence.
The Commandant of the Security Services, Major Sobczyński, collected numerous Jewish families from various parts of the city and brought them to the People’s Militia headquarters for their own protection. Guards were placed around all the hospitals to which victims of the pogrom were brought, as aggressive and violent crowds began assembling outside of the hospitals as well. After firing several rounds of warning shots, the People’s Army managed to disband the crowd around the building at Planty Street. By evening, additional military regiments entered the city, including armored vehicles. A curfew was implemented and enforced. On that same day, over a hundred participants in the pogrom were arrested, including 34 soldiers and officers of the Polish People’s Army and 6 functionaries of the Committee of Internal Security. Around 6:00 p.m. the pogrom was concluded: 40 people had been killed, 37 Jews and 3 Poles, and 35 persons were wounded.
The wounded persons as well as all of the Jews remaining in Kielce, were transported the very next day to Warsaw in an armored and heavily guarded train. The evacuation was organized by a representative of the Central Committee of Polish Jews, Icchak Cukierman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In the first few hours after the pogrom, a couple dozen soldiers and militia officers were arrested, but they were interrogated only as suspects. The majority of them were later released without charges, despite the fact that autopsies performed on the victims of the pogrom indicated that eleven of them died as a result of gunshot wounds. Already on July 9-11, 1946, in Kielce, the very first trials of the “agitators” of the pogrom took place. Before the Highest Military Court Tribunal, 12 persons defended their cases, of which 9 were given the death penalty, and the remaining three received life sentences without the possibility of parole. The death sentences were carried out by firing squad as early as July 12, 1946. The trials of People’s Militia officers and officers of the Security Services suspected of having agitated the crowds only took place on September 25th and 26th, as well as on October 10th. As a result of these trials, some suspects were given prison sentences, while others were merely given demotions in rank. On November 18th, the trial of 15 civilian participants in the pogrom took place, all of whom were given prison sentences, while on December 3rd, the trial of another seven soldiers took place, all of whom were likewise given prison sentences. However, on December 13th, the trial of the Commandant of the Security Services in Kielce, Władysław Spychaj-Sobczyński, as well as two commandants of the People’s Militia—Kuźnicki and Gwiazdowicz— took place. Of these three high-ranking figures, only Kuźnicki was convicted, receiving a one-year prison sentence. The other two officers were found not guilty.
The communist authorities publicized the pogrom along with the trials of its perpetrators. Immediately, the anti-communist underground was accused with the majority of the blame for the pogrom, already in the indictments naming Freedom and Independence (WiN), as well as the National Armed Forces (NSZ) [two underground groups—translator’s note]. In the following few days, the press published articles supporting the thesis that the pogrom was the direct result of provocation carried out by the “reactionary underground.” As was their custom, the communists tried to organize protests and rallies in factories and workplaces against anti-semitism and the Kielce pogrom as being a manifestation of anti-communist forces. Here, however, the workers reacted strongly: society didn’t believe that the pogrom could have been organized by the anti-communist underground and answered the forced attendance rallies with strikes of its own. The effect was therefore exactly the opposite of what the communist leadership expected. What’s most interesting is that the communist authorities made no attempts to organize similar events in the future.
Apart from the programmatic manipulation of these events for political gain, a silence fell over the question of the pogrom—there were no discussions at any level of leadership about this subject. Information about the pogrom, doubts about the manner and reasons for its occurrence, details about its victims and about the ensuing trials were all subject to censorship in the Polish People’s Republic. The Kielce pogrom was covered up by censorship in national historical publications and in studies concerning the Kielce region. The first historical publication on this subject was released only in 1981, in the Solidarność Weekly, i.e., the opposition’s publication. The archives of the Kielce Security Services containing documents related to this period of time directly after the Second World War were destroyed by fire, much like many thousands of documents belonging to the Security Services, in 1988. The contents of these files could have doubtlessly cast a new light on the question of the Kielce pogrom, but we will never know what those files contained. For the time being, we must resign ourselves to patching together the truth about the events from scraps of information, incomplete accounts, and small facts in order to be able to see something resembling a complete account. When we piece together these parts, what sort of picture do we begin to see?
Scraps of Information
The pogrom in Kielce is a historical fact. This is undeniable. The question rather, is who agitated and brought about the violent scuffles? Were they in fact the effect of a spontaneous reaction on the part of the crowd? Or, rather, was the entire occurrence a series of events perfectly prepared and carried out from beginning to end according to a plan?
Anatol Fejgin - a high-ranking functionary of the Communist Polish People's Army Main Directorate of Information [or, Polish "Smersh"'] as well as the director of the 10th Department of the Ministry of Public Security, a Stalinist criminal of Jewish extraction, in an interview published in the “Reporter” (no. 4, 1990) said on the subject of the Kielce pogrom: “No holds are barred when you want to win. […]. It’s still not the time to talk about this. We were counting on our opponents to make a mistake. They had to do it eventually. But we couldn’t wait any longer. We needed some sort of device to accelerate what had to happen. Hence, the pogroms and other stratagems.” This confession was taken as an indirect admission of what had been known unofficially for a long time, namely, that the Kielce pogrom was consciously and deliberately organized by the Security Services, who carefully planned its occurrence, making use of agent provocateurs as well as functionaries of the Security Services and the Army.
What’s most interesting is that Bishop Czesław Kaczmarek also drew attention to the fact of a Security Services’ provocation, as did the then-Primate of Poland August Hlond, underscoring the fact that the events in Kielce were not caused by racism. In a statement released to members of the press, the Primate stated, among other things, that: “The disastrous and tremendously saddening course of events in Kielce demonstrates that one could not ascribe them to racism. They grew out of a completely different foundation, one that is painful and tragic.” The Primate reminded reporters about the attempted intervention by priests on the day of the pogrom and about the unpublished response of the Bishop of Kielce. He also concluded that, for disrupting the formerly good relationship between the Poles and the Jews, that the “Jews themselves are in large part to blame, having held high government positions, and attempting to impose political reforms with which the majority of the Polish nation was opposed to”, calling attention to the significant role that Jews played in the Stalinist terror apparatus, and of which Poles were the victims. Czesław Kaczmarek, at the time the Bishop of Kielce, was not himself present at the time of the pogrom as he was spending time in a sanatorium in the mountains. Nevertheless, Gross’s accusations of the complicity of the Catholic Church during the pogrom are nothing more than lies, especially considering the fact that other priests attempted to intervene on the Jews’ behalf. The facts are that, upon returning to the city, Bishop Kaczmarek carried out his own investigation, the results of which he assembled into a report presented to the U.S. Ambassador. He wrote, “Jews are disliked, and even hated, because they are the main propagators of the communist apparatus, which the Polish nation rejects, which is imposed violently onto the Polish nation, against its will […]. Certain Jewish communist agents sought to benefit from this in an agreement with the Security Services, which are already controlled by them, in order to create a pogrom to serve as evidence of the dire need for the emigration of Jews to their own homeland, as evidence that Polish society is completely controlled by anti-semitism and fascism and, finally, as evidence of the reactionary nature of the Catholic Church.” By the way, Bishop Kaczmarek was later convicted for spying for the United States and for the Vatican, for disseminating fascist propaganda, for illegal trading in currency and for collaboration. When he was arrested in 1951, he was interrogated and tortured by officers of the Security Services, primarily of Jewish background. Because five years had passed from the publication of his report and his arrest, nobody made the connection between his arrest and conviction and the contents of the report he submitted to the U.S. Ambassador. A huge mistake, as his arrest was surely not only caused by his differences of opinion with the Church.
It’s worthwhile to take note of the above claims, as they were written by people with full awareness of the social arrangements and of the situation in the country. If one can at all speak of anti-semitic sentiments in Polish society, then one also has to admit that they did not arise from nothing. Poles had day to day interactions with Jews as instruments of Stalinist terror—it would be difficult to expect the victims to exude sympathy toward their executioners. The resistance of Poles to the yoke of communism was particularly strong, and in 1946 very often bloody. On the other hand, information had been reaching the West about what was going on in Poland and the communists needed to somehow justify their actions against the independence underground. The accusation of anti-semitism in a Europe just recently devastated by images of death camps was ideally suited for this purpose.
What’s more, similar events were created by the NKVD and Zionist groups in other Soviet satellite states. Almost at the same time, four pogroms took place in Budapest, two in Bratislava, and several throughout smaller cities in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and Hungary. This lead to the “expulsion” of over 711,000 Jews from the Warsaw Pact nations. And here we come to the root of the matter: the international situation which, for the pogrom in the small city of Kielce, had an enormous significance.
Big Politics, Small City
Jews for centuries lived with the hope of an eventual return to Jerusalem and of creating their own state in Palestine. Only in 1922 did the League of Nations accept a proposal to create the British Mandate of Palestine, along with the following commentary: “The rebuilding of a National Space for the Jewish Nation must occur without any prejudice against the human rights of Palestinian Arabs.” At the time, the majority of Palestine’s inhabitants were Arab Muslims, and only in Jerusalem did Jews make up a sizable minority. After 1945, Great Britain became involved in an ever increasing conflict with Jews fighting for Jewish immigration rights to Palestine. The United States of America supported the Jewish pretensions to they own nation-state, as Jews held considerable influence in the U.S.A. The USSR, on the other hand, was interested in supporting the Arabs, which did not necessarily entail their opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland. On the contrary, Stalin was well aware that in the event of the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, a conflict between the very young country and its Arab neighbors would be unavoidable. Such a situation would allow him to support the Arab states by providing weapons and ammunition in exchange for the funds needed to rebuild the USSR after the war. And so, he decided to take advantage of the situation.
Between June and July, 1946, the last transports full of Jewish repatriates reached Poland from the USSR, in total about a quarter million people. Among them, about 150,000 left soon afterwards as a direct result of the pogroms organized by the NKVD, as well as due to the influences of Zionist organizations, which were counting on increasing the Jewish population of Palestine—albeit for a completely different reason than the USSR. Because Jews would not ordinarily set out for the unknown, factors which would incline them to want to emigrate were necessary. For this there was nothing better than pogroms: for a nation which had only recently lifted its head from the wartime execution block, oftentimes having lost entire families and communities, the threat of death was reason enough to want to flee, leaving everything behind and beginning life anew. According to the NKVD, in later years it was the Zionists themselves who provoked and carried out pogroms in the years 1950-1951, in order to force 547,000 Jews to emigrate to Israel from Arab countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon as well as other Islamic Republics, like Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and Ethiopia. What isn’t often mentioned is that earlier outbursts of violence similar to the Kielce pogrom took place in other European countries under Soviet control. Pogroms occurred in Slovakia, in Hungary, and in Ukraine—always according to a very similar scenario. Likewise, the reasons for organizing the other pogroms were identical to those in Poland: they drew the world’s attention away from Soviet atrocities. Professor Jerzy Robert Nowak writes, “In a historical monograph on the history of Jews in the Warsaw Pact countries, written by a group of distinguished Jewish researchers, significant attention is paid to the role of the communist “apparatuses of order:” the military and the police. In a period of time marked by violent anti-semitic outbursts in the city of Velke Topolcany, around September 24, 1945, over the course of six hours of violence and disorder, all of the Jewish houses of the city were destroyed and 49 people were injured. During this whole time, the police not only didn't intervene in order to protect the assaulted Jews, they actively participated in the pogrom along with the military.” (The Jews in the Soviet Satellites, Peter Meyer, Bernard D. Weinryb, et al. Westpoint: Connecticut. 1953. 105). Further, “On March 15, 1991, in the columns of the popular Hungarian daily newspaper, Magyar Nemzet, the assessments of the outspoken Hungarian historian Maria Schmidt were published. She concluded that it was the Soviet secret services who were behind the mass hysteria surrounding ritual murders, propagated in Slovakia in April, 1946, in Hungary in May, 1946, and in Poland in June, 1946. According to Maria Schmidt, “The Soviet authorities wanted to free themselves from Jewish religious and bourgeois groups in their ranks, who the authorities considered to be hotbeds of capitalism. The authorities wanted to augment the troubles of Western powers by compelling them to accept Jewish refugees; in particular they wanted to frustrate Great Britain, which was, at the time, controlling Palestine through a League of Nations mandate. Finally, by ascribing the pogroms to the manipulations of a reactionary underground, they wanted to strengthen communist groups and collectives in the East and in the West, comprised of members of the Communist party as well as of sympathizers of Jewish descent.” (Janos Pelle, “A kunmadarasi pogrom. Shylock Hunniban II,” in Magyar Nemzet. March 15, 1991).
Katyń, Lost Referendum, and the Strengthening of Control
Apart from the international factors pertaining to the Kielce pogrom, there were also more local reasons for the outburst. This time, it was about presenting independence movements as anti-semitic criminals, the suppression of which is the obligation of every lawful ruler. In the internal politics of the Polish People’s Republic, it was also a matter of drawing public attention away from the falsified results of a national referendum, which had taken place only two days earlier: on June 30, 1946. Despite the communist propaganda calling on the population to vote “Thrice Yes,” Poles voted “No” all three times. The pogrom and the authorities’ reaction to it drew attention away from this manipulated referendum. They also drew the world’s attention away from the issue of the Katyń Forest Massacre, which was being reviewed by the Nuremberg War Tribunals at the time. In 1946, Roman Andrzejewicz Rudenko, the lead prosecutor of the USSR during the Nuremberg Trials (later, he became the Prosecutor General of the USSR) presented the indictment concerning the murder of around 11,000 Polish army officers in Katyń by the Third Reich. Because the trial was not proceeding exactly as the USSR would have liked it to, it was necessary to draw the public’s attention away by using a subject about which the world was very sensitive at the time. And so, on July 4, 1946, when the material evidence concerning the Katyń Forest Massacre was being presented to the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, the trial began to proceed in a direction inimical to Soviet interests. Stalin was well aware that this would happen, and so he needed an event to take place which would effectively take the public’s attention away from both of these subjects, which were equally uncomfortable for him. The pogrom fit perfectly. The date of July 4th, agreed upon by the then-ambassador to Poland, Bliss Lane, was specially chosen so that reports of this event would reach American audiences, and particularly, Jewish-American audiences, as soon as possible. July 4th is, of course, American Independence Day: a day off from work, during which people aren’t occupied by the daily rat race. In 1946, this day happened to fall on a Thursday, and so publishing reports about the pogrom would occupy the American audience’s attention for much longer than a few hours. And so, once again, the pogrom played right into Stalin’s hands.
The True Course of Events
It is a fact that on July 4th Henryk Błaszczyk, age 8, said that he had been forcefully detained by Jews in a basement, from whence he managed to escape. Years later, at one of the events commemorating the pogrom, a now-adult Henryk admitted that on the days leading up to the massacre he was on his family’s farm in the country, and that once he returned to the city his father forced him to say that he had been detained by Jews. It is a fact that, on July 4th, the police, the People’s Militia, and military personnel, and six civilians working with them entered the house located at Planty Street No. 7, where Jews had been residing. The house was surrounded by a police cordon that separated the house’s inhabitants from the crowd that had gathered outside. None of the civilians or non-commissioned personnel had any way of entering. The hypothesis that this was all carried out according to a precise plan is confirmed by the following facts. The Jews inside were clearly murdered according to some plan. First, the military terrorized them by shooting out the windowpanes. Later, the soldiers who entered took everyone’s identity papers and firearms. And finally, the soldiers began to shoot at all of the house’s inhabitants. The first victims were: Rabbi Kahande, the wealthiest Jewish merchant in Kielce, who had been a vocal supporter of reinstating free trade within the city, as well as an attorney, who was calling for the return of Jewish property confiscated during the war. Moreover, for many hours there was no evacuation of any of the Jews trapped inside the building surrounded by the military and hostile civilian crowd. Organizing help really shouldn’t have been a problem, all the more because, in later years, the communist authorities demonstrated that they had no problem in doing this. As has said Professor Jerzy Robert Nowak: the Chief of the Kielce Security Services Major Władysław Sobczyński “refused to send a storm company of Security Service troops to the house at Planty No. 7 because the soldiers were tired after nighttime exercises in the field.” Neither the state prosecutor, nor priests, were permitted on the property. The priests, we must remember, were only trying to calm the crowd, which numbered not in the thousands but, perhaps, in the hundreds.
Who Ruled that Day in Kielce?
Of course, an event like this could not have been organized spontaneously: it was necessary to choose a place in advance, to select a time, and to mark out the correct people. A lot of evidence points to the fact that the Kielce pogrom was carried out under the auspices of the high-ranking GRU [Soviet Military Intelligence Services] administrator, Mihail Diomina, who, a few days before the pogrom, came to Kielce, and who left shortly after concluding his report on the pogrom. Mihail Diomin, who spoke six languages fluently, later served in the ranks of the USSR’s embassies in West Germany and in Israel. He was recognized by Jews from Kielce who, after the pogrom, immigrated to Israel. The very presence of an official of such high rank in Kielce would be baffling if it weren’t for the fact that this “pogrom” was a very crucial element in the Soviet strategy. Along with Mihail Diomin, Colonel Natan Szpilewoj of the NKVD was also stationed in Kielce at the time. Later on, he would tell friends in his native town of Konin that the Kielce pogrom, like other pogroms in other Soviet satellite states, was organized and carried out by the NKVD at Moscow’s order, and that the course of these events were overseen by the Soviet security apparatus. The history of Sobczyński’s second-in-command is likewise interesting. He was Albert Grynbaum, who, under strange circumstances, died in a car accident not long after the Kielce pogrom. The fact that Sobczyński for several hours did nothing to stop the pogrom is a well-known fact. Much lesser known is the fact that, the whole time, he was being monitored by Natan Szpilewoj, who was supposed to telephone Warsaw before approving any decision to intervene in the pogrom in order to stop it. It’s pretty obvious that Sobczyński carried out his obligations to the security apparatus: when he was put on trial later that year, he was found not guilty. Kuźnicki, on the other hand, was convicted. On July 4th, he was on medical leave and came to work upon hearing of the pogrom, and he was convicted. All of this clearly points to the deliberate provocation of the situation by the authorities in order to put into play a predetermined plan.
Shots from Above and Blows from the Bayonet
Bożena Szaynok expressed a similar sentiment in her book, The Pogrom of the Jews in Kielce on July 4th 1946 (Warszawa 1991). She wrote that “the actions of the police without any doubt show that the events in question were part of a program. The actions of the chief of the Regional Office for Internal Security were without a doubt, intended to blunt the effects of the pogrom.” Intentional provocation is also suggested by the details of Sobczyński’s later career. In ordinary circumstances, an officer unable to manage a small uprising like this should be held responsible for his ineptitude. On the other hand, the trials following the massacres only lead to the conviction of individuals who, according to their families, weren’t even in Kielce at the time of the massacre.
Judge Andrzej Jankowski, the longtime director of the Regional Commission for the Study of Nazi Massacres in Kielce, in July of 1946 lived in Kielce and with his very own eyes saw the crowd gathering at Planty Street. He came to the conclusion that this could not have possibly been a crowd of several thousand people, because Planty Street could not hold that many people.
The judge also called attention to another aspect of the events. In an interview with Dr. Leszek Bukowski, Director of the Kielce Delegation of the Bureau for Public Education of the Institute for National Remembrance, said that “of 50 people taken to trial in various capacities related to the pogrom, 32 were members of the People’s Militia, police officers, and soldiers. The remaining 18 were civilians. Of the 40 Jews who lost their lives on that day, 11 were proven to have died of gunshot wounds, and another 11 were injured by bayonets. Albeit these injuries were not reported as fatal in most respects because the corpses also had their skulls crushed in by strong blows. The traces left on the bodies point to the participation of uniformed personnel. And Mosin bayonets were used by the military and by the security services, not by the civilian crowd composed of workers. What’s more, according to the judge, the crushed skulls of the victims also suggest that they were beaten in order to be killed, and not merely to be beaten up.
What’s more, in the above-mentioned interview, Jankowski mentioned the account of the young Jew, Hanka Alpert, who as a witness of the events was questioned after the pogrom. She said that soldiers, upon entering the building, removed their uniforms and began shooting at the crowd assembled outside, through the windows. If something like this did in fact happen, then we have to evaluate the reasons for it. Its easy to imagine the reaction of the crowd when, from a building they knew was inhabited by Jews, someone began shooting at them.
It is likewise useful to think for a moment about the role of Jan Wrzeszcz, prosecutor of the Regional Court in Kielce. In the beginning of July, 1946, he was on vacation, but he chose to remain in the city. After hearing about the events on Planty Street, he made his way there and tried to take control of the situation. As we already know, he was completely ignored and barred from even entering the property.
Three days later, at the meeting of the Professional Union of Court Workers in Łódź, in response to a proposition that would officially condemn the Kielce massacre, “the brutality of which the entire Polish nation is reeling from,” he responded “yes,” albeit with the qualification that the matter be investigated thoroughly. The Vice Minister of Justice, Leon Chajn, in his speech strongly criticized this opinion. On the next day, the local press lampooned him heavily while Wrzeszcz himself was suspended from duty. At the end, after countless unpleasant experiences, he was accused of being a cleric and was formally retired from duty—but he wasn’t informed of this early retirement: only his superior was. Years later, when he tried to have this period of work added to his retirement package, Prosecutor Alicia Graf (herself of Jewish origin – see communist torture methods) denied his request. Wrzeszcz must have seriously annoyed the authorities if this is how they ended up treating him.
Experimental Testing Ground
Judge Jankowski also drew attention to the person of Henryk Błaszczyk, the same who informed the police of the abduction of his son. It turns out that the entire Błaszczyk family was detained by the Secret Police until 1947. None of them, however, were accused of anything and Henryk Błaszczyk wasn’t given any trial. And yet, from the official version of the events, it appears that he was the main cause of the pogrom. People were shot on sight for far lesser crimes. Why, then, did nothing happen to Błaszczyk? Judge Jankowski didn’t say this, but the presumption that the family’s detainment was a form of protection readily comes to mind. Or perhaps it was a matter of Błaszczyk always having had been a collaborator of the Secret Police, under the codename “Przelot” ?
What’s interesting is that this information comes to us above all from the secretary of the Chief of the Security Services, a Jew, who later emigrated. We have no way of knowing whether old Błaszczyk was “Przelot.” What we do know, however, is that for many years he was an employee of the Regional Committee of the Polish United Workers Party. The judge also pointed out the fact that examining the victims’ remains indicated that two of the three ethnic Poles killed in the pogrom died from shots fired from above them, a detail which would confirm Hanka Alpert’s account.
He also pointed out that similar events had taken place in southern Poland with the participation of children, although these did not necessarily result in pogroms. For instance, towards the end of July, 1946, in Częstochowa, a woman came to the police to tell them that her son didn’t come back home for the night. When he finally showed up, he claimed that he, along with his friend, had been forcefully detained by Jews. Only later did he admit that two people gave them 20 zł. each and told them to sleep in a basement, and later to tell everyone that Jews had abducted them. It seems very reasonable that Henryk Błaszaczyk also might have gotten 20 zł for having pointed his finger at the house located at Planty Street No. 7. This could, of course, be a coincidence, but it’s difficult to repeat Judge Jankowski’s question: Was southeastern Poland some sort of testing zone.
The Role of the NKVD
Other authors paid attention to the role that the NKVD played in organizing the pogrom. For instance, Michael Chęcinski underscored its role in his book entitled: Poland: Communism—Nationalism—Anti-semitism, published in New York in 1982. Chęcinski, a former officer of the Polish Army (of Jewish descent linked with the Communist Secret Police), expounded on the role played by the officer of Soviet intelligence mentioned above, Mihail Aleksandrowicz Diomin. Apart from relating well-known facts about his stay in Poland at the time, Chęcinski drew attention to the fact that Diomin was an officer specializing in Jewish matters (between 1964-1967 he was an officer of the Soviet intelligence services in Israel, where he worked as a secretary attache of Soviet commerce in Tel Aviv) and concluded that he was Sobczyński’s supervisor. What is particularly interesting is that Chęcinski claims that it was only under Diomin’s supervision that Sobczyński was able to carry out his orders, as he had tried to bring about anti-semitic uprisings in Kraków and in Rzeszów unsuccessfully. Chęcinski writes quite plainly that the biggest boons of the Kielce pogrom were won by the Soviets, who, in the international arena, could carry out an artificial chase of Polish anti-semites, Polish nationalist bandits, and, of course, the Catholic Church. “Anti-semitic outbursts in Poland served as a pretext for increasing control of the Polish security apparatus by demonstrating that Polish, even Polish communists are not capable of keeping their country in order on their own. […]. What’s more, they could justify all of their past political repressions as necessary for the suppression of anti-semitic sentiments among the people.”
What’s interesting (if often forgotten) is that Chęcinski was not alone in his opinion. For many years, Polish intellectuals, mostly of Jewish origin, responded to the Kielce pogrom. In a special testimony published in the USA on July 7, 1946, they wrote:
“The Warsaw regime is counting on drawing the public’s attention away from its tremendous problems in administering the country, because their rule is not in accordance with the will of most of the Polish nation, but is rather in line with the will of the enormous Security Services [Secret Police], behind which is standing the occupying force. As soon as public opinion in democratic countries began to realize the lies and deceptions that the pro-Soviet regime is carrying out in Poland (only most recently, the falsified referendum), the Warsaw regime provoked the murders in Kielce in order to present itself as a defender of Jewish society—in order to pose as being the defenders of democracy.”
At the same time, contemporaries of the massacre had no illusions as to the real perpetrators of the killings, and so the communists needed to put into action an entire propaganda apparatus in order to quell this opinion. And that’s exactly what happened.
An Apparatus of Lies
The machinery of lies was set into motion only a few hours after the scuffles. In the official response to the citizens of the city of Kielce, the authorities announced: “Forest bandits paid in gold, the NSZ, WiN, AK [trans. note: democratic opposition organizations] carried out a massacre.” On the streets of Kielce announcements and placards displayed the response of various Polish Worker’s Associations, all of them full of errors and formulations characteristic of Soviet production of this type. They featured mentions of reactionary Polish lords and claims that the events in Kielce are a stain on the entire nation’s conscience. Numerous grammatical and stylistic errors suggest that the authors of these placards were, in all likelihood, not the people who had signed underneath, but rather somebody who knew Polish very poorly—but the language of the NKVD population very, very well.
he Minister of Security, Stanisław Radkiewicz was present at the funeral of the victims of the pogrom, where he claimed that the events in Kielce were the fruit of actions carried out by emissaries of the Polish Government-in-Exile and General Anders, carried out with the help of the Home Army (AK). Władysław Gomułka, in a speech given to the members of PPS and PPR on July 6, 1946, said: “Polish fascists, the same people who get so enthusiastic at the sight of Mikołajczyk and who he meets with a lordly smirk of self-satisfaction, have finally caught up to the horrors carried out by Hitler’s murderers.”
These accusations were repeated by the communist press, writing about the provocations of reactionary elements in society and in Kielce, where they have been infected with the poison of Nazism that Anders’ bandits fed them, upset about the results of their precious referendum.”
The leaders of Jewish organizations made use of the entirety of these events and reactions by forgetting momentarily about the testimonies that drew attention to the shots fired by the military—they called these testimonies “lowly attempts by the fascists to turn the public opinion against the government.” Izchak Cukierman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, claimed that “Kielce was the beginning of organized attacks on Jewish communities […] Around the organized forces of fascism stand the anti-semitic murderers. The government is strengthening itself and the fight with reactionaries is difficult—one can expect Jews to lose their lives. Kielce is far from an isolated incident.” The frequent attribution of bad sentiments to the “lost” referendum was certainly not a coincidence. Here one has to remember that a lot of our information about the Kielce pogrom comes from Jakub Berman, and for this reason it is difficult to expect it to be entirely truthful. Berman carried out the instructions of Moscow to the letter, and, being a Jew himself, was doubly interested in Polish-Jewish relations. It’s also worthwhile to note that, as much as the communist authorities submitted to the wishes of Jewish communities as far as announcing the events of the Kielce pogrom in the West was concerned, they also didn’t take any measures whatsoever to prevent future such massacres from occurring. This means that they were well aware that this threat did not actually exist, or rather, that if they were to need it, they could take control of the situation easily and without any problem. Both of these possibilities point to the same thing: that the events in Kielce were carefully planned and carried out according to a predetermined plan.
To conclude, as concerns the case of the Kielce pogrom one has to underscore the fact that the conclusions above, pieced together from scraps of information and second-hand relations, have not been fully confirmed by the archives. These archives, as we have already mentioned, were totally burned and destroyed in 1988. One also has to mention that apart from all of these factors influencing the Kielce pogrom, apart from the military, part of the population of Kielce also took part in the pogrom. Nowadays its impossible to tell who contributed where and how—how many in the crowd were active communists carrying out orders, and how many were just Kielce inhabitants who were duped into believing that a boy had been abducted by Jews. It is also true that in those times it was impossible to ignore the huge discrepancies between the economic situation of starving Poles and well-off Jews, who were financially stable and very pleased to show it. This bothered people and provoked them. Not for nothing did the Jews of Kielce actively work with the security services: this cooperation produced a powerful hatred in the remaining population, a hatred caused by economic and political differences, not by an ethnic divide. Moreover, at least a few Jews holding high-ranking positions in government provoked the outburst by their abuse of power alone. In such a situation, the people’s provocation could easily find a suitable foundation. Taking into account the fact that we can say with 100% certainty that the first victims of the pogrom died at the hands of military and intelligence leaders, weighing down the entire Polish conscience with the lives lost in the pogrom is, at the very least, disingenuous. To put it simply, it’s a lie. Unfortunately, it’s not the only one in the history of Polish-Jewish relations.
Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, Pogrom Kielecki 1946, www.owp.org.pl;
Jerzy Robert Nowak, „Prawda o Kielcach 1946, Part I”, Nasz Dziennik, July 4th, 2002;
“Pogrom Kielecki—oczami świata,” www.kielce.pl
TOP SECRET US STATE DEPARTMENT CABLES CONCERNING "THE KIELCE POGROM"
"860C.00/7-1546:Telegram / SECRET / Warsaw, July 15, 1946- 4 p.m./ Received July 16 - 4:15 p.m. / The Ambassador in Poland (Lane) to the Secretary of State/
1085. For the Secretary. From what prominent members of [Polish communist] Government, including [Jakub] Berman and Jewish elements tell us, there was a direct connection between Kielce pogrom and result of referendum. The Government indicates reactionary elements provoked pogrom to indicate dissatisfaction with their defeat. Majority of Diplomatic Corps and other impartial advisers, however, express view privately that falsification of referendum [elections] result was a direct reason for outbreak.
While I admit that the referendum result may have been the spark responsible for the Kielce explosion, the underlying cause is, in our opinion, shared by the Jewish community and by responsible American citizens of the Jewish race who are now in Poland, the growing anti-Semitism during the past few months. According to our best Jewish sources, the Jewish people in Poland have little regard for the present Government and resent the implication that the Jews in the Government represent the Jewish people. On the other hand, one of the principal reasons for the increasing hostility towards the Jews, which is evidenced by many acts of violence, including assassinations by anti-Government armed groups, is the estimated opposition of 80 to 90% of the Polish people against the [communist] Government and especially against the small, but controlling group, composed of Jews who have received their indoctrination in the Soviet Union and who are believed responsible for the repressive measures of the Security Police, the lack of freedom of the press and the present lack of independence of the nation (this group includes [Jakub] Berman, [Hilary] Minc, Modzelewski, Olszewski, [Stanislaw] Radkiewicz, and Gen. [Marian] Spychalski).
Embassy observers are unanimous in believing that [the Polish communist] militia played an important part in Kielce pogrom and members of Government, including Ambassador Lange [Polish communist government Ambassador to the United States], have so admitted to me. Antipathy of [the communist] militia towards Jews probably inflamed by elements within militia and army who resent activities of Security Police and KBW ( Korpus Bezpieczenstwa Wewnetrznego - internal security corps headed by Russian General Kiziewicz). Both UB and KBW composed of many Jews of Russian origin.
Government and anti-Government sources inform us and concur (despite some local evidence to the contrary from Kielce) that pogrom was deliberately planned [by the communists]. [The communist] Government accuses 'reactionary elements' and logically cites dissatisfaction with results of referendum. [...] we cannot understand what anti-Government forces could gain by anti-Jewish excesses. In fact, I believe from reliable sources that anti-Government elements have compelled their sympathizers to avoid violence at all cost.
On the other hand, we have evidence that [the communist] Government was aware as early as end of May that disturbance would take place in Kielce. The fact that pogrom was handled by the woyewode Security Police [WUBP - Voivodhship Office for Public Security] and the [communist] militia in such an unbelievably inefficient manner, leads one to wonder whether elements in [the communist Polish] Government may not have secretly welcomed the opportunity to be able, both within the country and without, to denounce 'reactionary elements', including Mikolajczyk, the Catholic Church and others dissatisfied with Government program. There have been too many cases which have [come] to the Embassy's attention indicating complete disregard of [the communist] Government for human life and for human liberties to eliminate possibility of governmental connivance merely for humanitarian reasons. From treatment which Polish Jews complained to have received in Soviet Union, Soviet Government, which controls minority group in Polish Government, would likewise not appear squeamish in inflicting cruelties on Jews.
From conversations with Jews, I am convinced that exodus of Jews from Poland will increase until few, if any, are left in country and that they will, through preference, proceed without legal entry documents into American zone of occupation. Dept will appreciate therefore not only increased physical difficulties which this will create for USFET, as well our immigration authorities, but also international implications which may result because of possible emigration of unknown quantity of Jews to Palestine.
I regret that it is not possible more definitely to express an opinion as to the elements responsible for Kielce pogrom but it is believed that Dept will be able to infer possibilities from foregoing.
My comments on result of referendum [elections falsified by the communists] will follow shortly.
Sent Dept as 1085, repeated to USPolAd Berlin as 17 and to Moscow as 121.
"860C.00/2-1946:Telegram / TOP SECRET / US URGENT / Warsaw, February 19, 1946-noon/ Received 2:36 p.m. / The [United States] Ambassador in Poland [Arthur Bliss] (Lane) to the Secretary of State/
206. At the request of Mikolajczyk, Keith called upon him afternoon February 17th. Following summarizes Mikolajczyk's remarks: Subsequent to the Secretary's statement regarding political murders [committed by the communist security apparatus], Mikolajczyk was asked by some leading [communist Polish] Government officials to issue statement denying participation of Security Police. When he refused to do so, he was asked if he were protecting American and British interests or those of Poland. He replied, 'I am protecting the Polish peasants whom the Security Police are murdering. When you stop that there will be no more talking about it.' He said that previously when Bevin had made his statement in Commons on these murders and Rzymkowski replied, some of high officials here hoped split could be developed between British and Americans. After Secretary's statement, they saw it was not possible and in consequence, publicity had been avoided and no statement in reply had thus far appeared. He then stated that about 2 weeks ago (under instructions from Soviets) leading members of [Polish communist] Government adopted policy aimed at creating serious internal situation. Government hoped through arrests and other aggressive action to induce violent counteraction by elements opposed to Government. Resulting civil disorder would provide pretext for Russians to come further into Poland to suppress trouble. Plan was initiated by activities in Bialystok area (see Embtel 200, February 16, 2 p.m.) in which he stated he knew that Government was intending to use one Polish Army division, one security police division and one Russian division".
On April 1, 1946, Arthur Bliss Lane writes further:
"860C.00/4-146: Telegram / TOP SECRET / Warsaw, April 1, 1946 - 1 p.m./ Received 8 p.m./ The [United States] Ambassador in Poland (Lane) to the Secretary of State/
Gomulka and Mikolajczyk were only Polish officials present Mikolajczyk remained to talk with me alone. He said he was in most serious position of his life [Mikolajczyk feared for his life] and he showed considerable nervousness, quiet contrary to his usual phlegmatic calm, speaking in a whisper and refusing to be seated altho talk lasted over half an hour. [...] 1. Summary Peoples Courts which are being established through out country are 'putting away' for period of 2 years all persons of political prominence or influence on whom they can lay teir hands on alleged ground that they are suspected of having violated economic regulations but really because of affiliations with PSL or AK underground. 2. [communist] Citizens Militia is being greatly increased. As members thereof are furnished with arms candidates are very carefully screened to make certain that political background is satisfactory to [the Polish communist] Govt".
"Zegota": Saving the Europe's Jews
ZEGOTA-Council for Aid to Jews in Occupied Poland(1939-1945). ZEGOTA was the only government-sponsored (London-based Polish Government-in-Exile) social welfare agency established to rescue Jews in German-occupied EUROPE.
The Man Who Volunteered for Auschwitz: Captain Witold Pilecki', report provided Allies with detailed information about German atrocities being carried out in Auschwitz Concentration camp.
NSA (National Security Agency): Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939-1945
The petition by the Polish League Against Defamation:
Ms Agnieszka ODOROWICZ
Director of the Polish Film Institute
Ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 21/23
Warsaw, 18 January 2015
I am writing to you in the name of thousands of Poles, concerned about the impact of the message being delivered by the film “Ida”, the production of which the Institute that you head up has been co-funding.
Recent Oscar-nomination of the film and earlier rave reviews have marked the presence of the film which shall be viewed the world over, often by people that have a faint idea about Poland, a country they may be hearing about for the first time.
Not going in too deeply into the film and its artistic merits (here any opinion would be viewed as subjective) what needs to be said here is that there are two important understatements, which cannot in anyway be justified for any artistic-related reason:
First of all – there is no mention in the film that the parents of the heroine were murdered during the German occupation of Poland, in fact there is no mention at all of Germany in the film !
A viewer who does not know history goes away with the impression, that the murder of Jews in Poland are commonplace and that the historic event referred to as the Holocaust was caused by the Poles.
Secondly – the story portrayed in this film might have occurred, but the authors of the film present the motivation of the murderers of the parents of the heroine in a manner in which foreign viewers might believe a version not in sync with historic fact, i.e., that the murderers motive was to gain profit, while from a Polish perspective the historical context is obvious, i.e., the fear of being discovered for hiding Jews from the Germans.
In summary - from a historical point of view the film is faulted. And again, not going into much detail as to the artistic intent of the film’s authors – its final form of expression is outright anti-Polish. A viewer, not knowing European history, comes away from the film convinced that it was the Poles who murdered |Europe’s Jewish population and stole its property.
This film showing a unique story leads its viewers to a false conclusion and untrue picture of Poland and events around it, during World War 2.
This is why we demand from you to cause the authors of the film to have a frame inserted at the beginning of its screening, showing clearly the following information, that:
1. Poland was under German occupation during the years 1939-1945
2. The German occupying forces pursued a policy of extermination of the Jews.
3. In German Nazi-occupied Poland, the death penalty was in-force against Poles hiding Jews, not only directed at those responsible, but also their families. Despite this penalty threat, many Poles harbored Jews.
4. In this manner, many thousands of Poles were killed sacrificing their lives for their neighbors and fellow citizens of the Republic of Poland – the Jews persecuted by the Nazis.
5. The legal authorities of the Polish Underground State, recognized by the Allies, punished cases of Jewish persecution by Poles that were demoralized by the cruel and ruthless German occupation to the fullest extent possible.
6. The highest Numbers of Righteous Among the Nations, as recognized by Yad Vashem, has been attributed to the Poles.
Since you head up a POLISH cultural institution, I consider it obvious, that this postulate be realized by you.
With kind regards,
President of the Board
The Polish Anti-Defamation League
Tel. 502 733 189