Sixty years ago, July 4th, 1946, a mob of thousands of Poles surrounded a house in Kielce, Poland. They gathered because of a rumor that Christian children were being held there, in order to get their blood for Jewish rituals. The army, militia, security services and others were involved in various stages of the ensuing pogrom. The 250 Jews in the house were systematically thrown from the building to the blood thirsty mob that attacked them with blunt instruments. At least 42 were killed, the other two hundred maimed and injured. Many were left for dead. The details are sordid like a gruesome horror film. But this was real life. This was after the Shoah.
The pogrom caused a massive wave of immigration of 200,000 Jews that were still left in Poland after the war or had been recently been repatriated from the Soviet Union.
As an undergraduate and then graduate student I studied the pogrom. I interview witnesses, perpetrators and victims. Most of them have since passed on to the word of Truth, but the legacy of what happened in Kielce remains.
Today, a new monument to the dead is being unveiled in Kielce in memory of the murdered Jews. But Kielce never made amends itself, only a small group of willing and kind people there. The majority of people in Kielce believe that the pogrom was caused by outside forces, maybe even the Jews themselves in the Communist party. They don’t take responsibility for it, and they never learned about it in school.
There is a lot more to say about Kielce, and I hope to finish my book this year on the amazing legacy of pain that this pogrom caused and the impact it has on people to this day.
May Hashem comfort the mourners of Kielce among the mourners of Yerushalayim.