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Anti-Jewish literature

Anti-Jewish themes appeared in early Polish literature along with the first more significant waves of Jewish settlement. In the writings of the great chroniclers Gall Anonim and Wincenty Kadlubek one can find negative comments about Jews, as well as in the fifteenth century writings of Stanislaw of Skalbmierz, Jan Dlugosz and Maciej of Miechow (Miechowita). Political writers of the second half of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth century criticized Jews' economic activities, as well as the freedoms Jews were had been granted by the privileges. They believed these led to an unfair economic advantage for the Jews, posing a threat to the Christian burghers. Jan Ostrorog (1460) and Stanislaw Zaborowski (1500) condemned Jewish usury. Justus Decjusz (1516), Sigismund the Old's secretary, argued that the activities of Jewish customs collectors, merchants and bankers had detrimental effects. He also criticized the wealthy nobles who had hired Jews on their estates as agents and lease-holders, since these positions often gave them power over Christians.

Stanislaw Orzechowski (1543) accused Jews of spying for Turkey. All these charges were included in the sections of treatises that discussed Polish history or current economic and political affairs. The sixteenth century also saw the first works dealing exclusively with the Jews. Jan Dantyszek, the bishop of Warmia and a diplomat at the court of King Sigismund the Old, was the author of Carmen de Judeis [Latin, Song of the Jews, ca. 1540], published one hundred years later under the title Bledy talmudowe [Polish, Mistakes of the Talmud]. Dantyszek attributed Jews with many negative traits: immorality, dishonesty, cruelty, drunkenness and adultery. He condemned their stubbornness in maintaining their own religion and for what he believed was their stupidity in not recognizing the divine nature of Christ.

Jakub Przyluski's writings (1553) abounded in libellous comments. In Postylli (1557), Mikolaj Rej contended that Jews were wrong to cling to their faith. In his work Victoria deorum (Latin, Divine Victory, 1587), Sebastian Klonowicz, a poet and a Jewish judge in Lublin, condemned Jewish usury and warned against the expansion of trade among Jewish merchants. Most of the publications of the second half of the sixteenth century contained anti-Jewish statements. The early Polish anti-Jewish writings can be divided into two main groups: 1) those written by fervent Christians who wanted to convert the Jews, such as the first brochure devoted completely to Jews, the Epistola or Letter of Rabbi Samuel (1538); 2) those that were decidedly anti-Jewish, seeing Jews as a threat to religion and the state, such as the publication "Okazanie kilku bledow z niezliczonego bluznierstwa, autorstwa filozofa, teologa i mowcy" [Polish, Demonstration of Several Errors of Unprecedented Blashemy Written by a Philosopher, Theologian and Speaker] (1569), by Jan Gorski. Most of the seventeenth and eighteenth century writings dealing with Jews fell into that second category at least to some extent. The number of these kinds of publications grew during the Counterreformation, although no more than thirty were published in all. The most truculent of these included works by authors such as Przeclaw Mojecki - Zydowskie okrucienstwa, mordy y zabobony [Polish, Jewish Cruelties, Killings and Superstitions] (1589 or 1598), Szymon Hubicki - Zydowskie Okrucienstwa nad Naswietszym Sakramentem y Dziatkami Chrzescianskiemi [Polish, The Jews' Cruel Deeds Towards the Blessed Sacrament and Christian Children] (1602), Jan Achacy Kmita - Ein Send Brief albo list od Zydow do Messyasza [German and Polish, Ein Send Brief, Or A Letter from the Jews to the Messiah](1601), Kruk w zlotej klatce [Polish, A Raven in a Golden Cage](1648), Sebastian Sleszkowski - De Judeis (Latin, On the Jews, 1611), Dostateczna Genealogia Zydowska [Polish, An Adequate Genealogy of the Jews] (1622), Jasne Dowody O Doktorach Zydowskich [Clear Evidence about the Jewish Doctors] (1623), Sebastian Miczynski - Zwierciadlo Korony Polskiej [Polish, Mirror of the Polish Crown] (1618), Bazyli Waglicki - Swawola wyuzdana zydowska (Polish, Immoral Jewish Deeds) (1648), Piotr Pruszcz - O okrutnym Dziateczek niewinnych morderstwie [Polish, On the Cruel Murder of Innocent Little Children] (1662), Sebastian Zuchowski - Odglos Processow Kryminalnych na Zydach [Polish, Echo of the Criminal Trials of Jews] (1700), Proces Kryminalny o Niewinne Dziecie [Polish, Criminal Trial About an Innocent Child] (1713), Gaudenty Pikulski - Zlosc Zydowska Przeciw Bogu [Polish, The Jewish Anger Against God] (1758), and Antoni Opolski - O zabobonach narodu Zydowskiego [Polish, On the Superstitions of the Jews] (1786). Anti-Jewish publications from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries were used and even reprinted by some publishing houses associated with nationalistic and Church circles in later centuries. [H.W.]


The number of anti-Jewish publications grew by leaps and bounds with the appearance of political anti-Semitism. Magazines devoted entirely to attacks on Jews began to be published, as well as numerous books. In France, the treatise La France juive (French, Jewish France, 1886) became very popular. Its author, E. Drumont, accused Jews of wanting to take over France.

A Prussian journalist named W. Marr published a journal titled Zwangloser antisemitischer Hefte (German, Independent Anti-Semitic Journal, Berlin 1879-80), and in 1873 published a brochure titled Der Sieg des Judenthums �ber das Germanenthum [German, The Victory of Jewry Over Germandom]. In it, he attacked the entire Judeo-Christian legacy, which he claimed was responsible for the fact that the German nation's "spirit" was dominated by Jewish tradition. The books of E. D�hring were much more widely read in the German lands. It was he who first used the word "extermination" with reference to the Jews, by which he meant Jews should be excluded from society�not that they should be killed en masse. The English philosopher H. S. Chamberlain's arguments for the superiority of the "Aryan race" became the foundations of Adolf Hitler's ideology, outlined in Mein Kampf (German, My Struggle, 1925-1927). Anti-Semitism comprised the main subject matter of a leading Nazi paper Der St�rmer (1923-45), published by J. Streicher.

In Russia, an author using the pseudonym Osman-Bej (F. Braffman) published a brochure in 1869 titled Kniga Kagala (Russian, Book of the Kahal; Polish translation, Zydzi i kahaly [Jews and Kahals], 1876), which in saw over ten editions in Russian, the Kingdom of Poland and Galicia over the course of a few years. The author, who converted from Judaism to Russian Orthodoxy, developed an entire conspiracy theory in his book, arguing that the traditional form of Jewish self-government is a network by which the Jews rule the world. The pamphlet Protocols of the Elders of Zion contains a similar conspiracy-oriented vision of history. In Poland, anti-Semitic writing was modeled on such precursors, though there was a local variety that developed as well. In the Kingdom of Poland, the publication Rola [The Land] was the first to promote anti-Semitism, followed by Glos [Polish, The Voice] in 1886-1900, which began promoting racism. R. Dmowski included anti-Jewish texts in Przeglad Wszechpolski [Polish, Poland-Wide Review] (1895-1905), and wrote programmatic brochures (such as Kwestya zydowska [Polish, The Jewish Question], 1909) and anti-Semitic novels (such as Dziedzictwo [Polish, Heritage], 1931).

The novelist and publicist T. Jeske-Choinski wrote on similar topics, arguing that the "Jewish spirit" had wielded a negative influence on Polish culture. Anti-Jewish themes can found in Krakow�s conservative press as well. During the interwar period, the number of anti-Semitic publications grew significantly, and some publishing houses began specializing in them. Some of these, such as Biblioteczka Zydoznawcza [Polish, Library of Knowledge about Jews] published by the "Rozwoj" [Polish, "Development"] Association received financial support from the Catholic Church. Some newspapers with large print runs, such as Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny [Polish, Illustrated Daily Courier] also had an anti-Semitic orientation, as did most Catholic publications. During the years 1934-1939, anti-Semitic publications were clearly being published on a large scale by the Franciscans in Niepokalanow: Maly dziennik [Polish, Small Daily], published at the initiative of Cardinal A. Kakowski and Father Maximilian Kolbe, and Rycerz Niepokalanej [Polish, Knight of the Immaculate [Virgin]]. Many priests were anti-Semitic publicists, including S. Trzeciak, J. Kruszynski, M. Morawski, J. Gnatowski and I. Wladzinski.
During the German occupation, the Nazis promoted anti-Semitic publications in the Polish language. Several small newspapers published underground by the National Armed Forces (Narodowe Sily Zbrojne) remained anti-Semitic, such as Wielka Polska [Great Poland], 1941-44; Polska Informacja Prasowa [Polish Press Information] 1940-44), which persisted in publishing such things even as the Holocaust unfolded right before its very eyes.

After the war, in 1944-1947, the anti-communist underground produced some anti-Jewish flyers and publications. After censorship was introduced, anti-Semitic writings were published only sporadically. In 1968, the anti-Semitic press campaign contained themes adopted from anti-Jewish publications (March 1968). At the initiative of one of the departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, excerpts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were reprinted. The Propaganda Department of the Municipal Organization of the Polish United Workers' party in Lodz went so far as to translate a text from the Nazi publication Der St�rmer and publish it as a handbill. Later, the special services would sometimes use anti-Semitic materials in their fight against the opposition, such as the book Judeopolonia: Unknown Pages from the History of the People's Republic of Poland, published anonymously in 1981.

Since 1989, there has been a significant rise in the number of anti-Semitic publications. Several new editions of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion have been published, and the prewar writings of Fathers Trzeciak and Kruszynski, as well as works by new authors associated with anti-Semitic organizations. These books deal with questions related to "Judeo-Communism", and they sometimes attempt to justify the anti-Jewish activities of the National Armed Forces (NSZ). As a whole, anti-Semitic writings are characterized by their aggressive tone, use of calumny, exaggerated simplifications of reality, mutual borrowings, the repetition of catch-phrases (such as "stick with your own kind" (swoj do swego) and "Poland for the Poles" (Polska dla Polakow). Anti-Semitic propaganda created key Jewish traits, such as "Semitic appearance" (semicki wyglad), "Jewish nose" (zydowski nos) and "Jewish trade" (handel zydowski). The hallmarks of anti-Semitic propaganda have proved to be enduring, despite the fact they do not reflect reality.
(A.C., H.W./CM)

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