There is however, another history within Poland that has been forgotten or ignored by successive Polish governments according to some historians, and that is the history of the Jewish community and Jewish suffering in Poland during and after the war.
In this seminar, Anita Prazmowska explores the impact of the Second World War and the establishment of Communism for the Jewish community in Poland. After examining the treatment of Poland throughout the Second World War, she focuses on the establishment of Communism and anti-Semitism in Poland in the years after the war. Prazmowska argues that the weak grip the Communist authorities had on Poland in those early years is critical for understanding why they sidelined the Jewish issue and the problem of anti-Semitism. It was an unpopular cause to champion in Poland and the Communists were keen to establish credibility and authority. She explores this further through the case study of the 1946 pogrom in the Polish town of Kielce, where the weakness of local party structures was the crucial factor in the escalation and lack of reparations.
Finally, Prazmowska considers the recent history of Auschwitz as a contested space in Poland where there have been rows over the ownership of this centre of martyrdom. This is a conflict that refers back to the issue that both groups, the Poles and the Jews, were victims of the Second World War although in different ways. Who has the right to commemorate the dead?
Session 3, "Case Study: The Pogrom in Kielce", is adapted
from "The Kielce Pogrom 1946 and the Emergence of Communist Power
in Poland", an article by Anita J. Prazmowska that orginally appeared
in the journal Cold War History, Vol. 2, No. 2 (January 2002), pp.101-124.