untitled.bmpSixty 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.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

13 Comments

  • Indeed, this tragedy must never be forgotten. Such irrational hatred and murder is never justified.

  • Rabbi Yonah,

    I was in Kielce the autumn of 2005, a truly powerful place. Have you ever spoken with Roma activists in Poland to see if any members of that community can contribute to your history? I have a friend if you are interested – rosenblatt.e at g mail dot com

  • eli-
    Yes over the years I was connected to many Roman activists and politicians and spent a good deal of time researching a Roma village in the southern Tatry mountains. I am interested if they have anything to say about kielce, and frankly when I was doing the Roma thing, it was a seperate project. I will happily connect to your friend to see what they say about Kielce.
    Thanks very much!

  • From the Polish viewpoint these post WW II “pograms’ were quite rational. The Poles were quite happy to see their Jewish neighbors go to the concentration camps…The Poles were quite annoyed when the survivors came back…The Poles, in their guilt and continued hatred of the Jews…did the “rational” thing…

    My parents, after surviving Auchwitz, went back to their towns only to find the Poles had taken over their possessions and wanted them to leave Poland…

    The whole thing about Jews holding Christian children and all that nonsence is just that nonsence..The Poles just wanted to keep what they had help steal from the Jews…

  • It’s not quite a Progrom in a strict sense, but we see more and more hostility on behalf of those ever lovin’ Christians here in the US every day. This case is from a school system in Del. Cheers, ‘VJ’
    [http://www.jewsonfirst.org/06bprint/indianriverp.html]

  • You know, I was hoping someone would notice this post and comment on it, but alas, most of us would rather play with our favorite hobby horses. Again here is this disturbing story of persecution here in the good ole USA: [http://www.jewsonfirst.org/06bprint/indianriverp.html]

    Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • VJ wrote:

    You know, I was hoping someone would notice this post and comment on it, but alas, most of us would rather play with our favorite hobby horses. Again here is this disturbing story of persecution here in the good ole USA: Jewish family flees Delaware school district’s aggressive Christianity

    As Bil’am so clearly prophecized:

    “……..it is a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned among the nations.”
    (Bamidbar 23:9)

    No, VJ, this was not a pogrom.

  • So glad to hear that Shy Guy. But it’s less of an ‘individual/isolated’ crime than this one: [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/5164356.stm]
    Right? There’s some Collective community involvement in this act in Del. How come I’m not hearing about it in our press? Why is it that the Mau-Mau’s of the PA supporters get all the face time? This is where people live. Anyone? Beuler?
    Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • VJ, I read about Senitt’s murder yesterday. Terrible! However, I don’t see the connection.

    As for the Delaware event, don’t get me wrong. I hope the courts find in favor of the plaintiffs and justifiably so. I just also hope that Jews would sometimes ask themselves much earlier on that if there is in fact relevance to their being Jewish, is there something possibly better they can do so that their children grow up as Jews.

    Of course, asking the question is half the answer.

  • VJ,

    The fact that this story has gone largely uncommented upon isn’t surprising in the least. The disclosure of such scathingly anti-Semitic incidents by fundamentalist Christians typically elicits either no comment whatever, or – what’s worse – the non sequitur that such conduct isn’t the real threat to Jews that Islamofacism is. (I wonder if the Dobrachs are comforted by the fact that being assaulted and called Christ-killer aren’t a “real threat?”). Rightwing Jews naturally downplay such conduct, since they’ve become intimate bedmates with their fundamentalist Christian allies on such issues as an expansionist settlement policy in Israel, hatred of homosexuals, obsession with abortion, and destruction of the church-state separation in public schools. In light of this close political alliance, many Jews would simply prefer to not rock the boat; after all, what’s a little Jew-hatred between such close friends.

  • Simply amazing! David Smith said:

    The fact that this story has gone largely uncommented upon isn’t surprising in the least. The disclosure of such scathingly anti-Semitic incidents by fundamentalist Christians typically elicits either no comment whatever, or – what’s worse – the non sequitur that such conduct isn’t the real threat to Jews that Islamofacism is.

    Which story? The 60th anniversary of the Polish pogrom? Maybe because it’s 60 years old? Maybe because many of us knew about it already? Maybe because many of us already have formed opinions about the Poles – certainly those of 60 years ago?

    Or is it the Delaware story? So you have another case of rabid Christian anti-semitism by a handful of people. Well good morning to you, sir!

    And you think this is equivalent or worse than Islam? I could understand such of view coming from someone hanging upside down from the ceiling of a dark and damp cave – perhaps.

    (I wonder if the Dobrachs are comforted by the fact that being assaulted and called Christ-killer aren’t a “real threat?”). Rightwing Jews naturally downplay such conduct,

    Where? Says who?

    Here’s my take: leftwingers say the darndest things.

    since they’ve become intimate bedmates with their fundamentalist Christian allies on such issues as an expansionist settlement policy in Israel,

    Gasp!

    hatred of homosexuals,

    Horrors!

    Actually, it’s hatred of homosexuality but why bother with accuracy?!

    obsession with abortion,

    He who saves one life……..

    Good cause to donate to: Efrat. Thanks for bringing up the subject, Dave!

    and destruction of the church-state separation in public schools.

    Since when are the major Orthodox organizations for this? What they do promote is the argument that government funding of private religious schools is not neccesarily a violation of church and state separation.

    In light of this close political alliance, many Jews would simply prefer to not rock the boat; after all, what’s a little Jew-hatred between such close friends.

    All this over a single case of anti-semitism? So is it always true that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch? Let’s say that about Jews, too. After all, I’m sure you’re an equal opportunity employer.

  • Shy Guy,

    Re: your thanks for my bringing up the topic: No Problem, my pleasure. The issue was, of course, the Dobrach case, which is why I addressed my response to VJ, not the Rabbi. As to your other points:

    First, I have never said that Christian fundamentalism – as repellent as it is – is more of an existential worldwide threat to world Jewry than Islamism is. It is always the Right who, if they mention stories such as the Dobrach incident at all, raises the comparative severity of Christian and Islamic anti-Semitism, and minimizes the severity of the former by dismissing it as “not real.” It is as though in response to every story about someone dying of prostate cancer, a board member of the American Lung Cancer Association wrote a letter noting that lung cancer is more of a “real threat” than prostate cancer. That would be relevant if the story was about the relative severity of the two diseases. In a story focusing on a particular victim of prostate cancer, however, the response is not only irrelevant, but correctly elicits skepticism about the motivation for writing the letter in the first place.

    All this over a single case of anti-semitism? So is it always true that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch?

    Ahh, so presumably the Dobrach tormentors are the single bad seed in a big barrel of shiny, delicious new red apples. The fact of the matter is that in the United States, there is virtually no history whatever of any specifically anti-Semitic bigotry or violence on the part of Muslims. The long and venerable tradition of Christian Jew-hatred, however, includes lynching, pogroms, Nazi sympathizers, Holocaust deniers, pervasive housing and employment discrimination, quotas for college admissions, signs in hotels saying “No Jews Allowed,” occasional beatings, and run-of-the-mill accusations of Christ Killer. My parents were evicted from the first apartment they occupied after being married, by a landlord who objected to the smell of “Jewish cooking odors,” an eviction that a disgusted judge had no choice but to uphold. Such conduct has subsequently been in the United States, no thanks whatever to you and those on behalf of whom you serve as an enthusiastic shill.

    Actually, it’s hatred of homosexuality [not homosexuals] but why bother with accuracy?

    I suppose that distinction might be described as a matter of accuracy. But it might better be described as the kind of dishonest hair-splitting that contributes to the designation of “talmudic” as an anti-Semitic epithet. As I noted in a different context, the attitude of the Jewish Right toward homosexuals is the same –and just as creepy – as that of the Catholic Church: “We don’t hate you, we just hate your sin. As soon as you refrain from being an abomination to God and repent of your evil, we’ll rescind your condemnation to burn forever in Hell and welcome you into our warm, loving embrace.” I’m sure you even have the same “crisis centers,” staffed by true-believing “recovering homosexual” counselors (probably as tolerant of moral ambiguity and human frailty as the “recovering Reform Jews” who populate a good deal of the Orthodox movement itself.)

  • David, you’ve done nothing but repeat yourself.

    I’m off to watch Israel do too little too late.

    Later…..

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