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Pogrom Cries – Essays on Polish-Jewish History, 1939–1946

2nd Revised Edition


Joanna Tokarska-Bakir

This book focuses on the fate of Polish Jews and Polish-Jewish relations during the Holocaust and its aftermath, in the ill-recognized era of Eastern-European pogroms after the WW2. It is based on the author’s own ethnographic research in those areas of Poland where the Holocaust machinery operated. The results comprise the anthropological interviews with the members of the generation of Holocaust witnesses and the results of her own extensive archive research in the Polish Institute for National Remembrance (IPN).

«[This book] is at times shocking; however, it grips the reader’s attention from the first to the last page. It is a remarkable work, set to become a classic among the publications in this field.»

Jerzy Jedlicki, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Chapter 6: The Figure of the Bloodsucker in Polish Religious, National and Left-Wing Discourse, 1945–1946

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Chapter 6:The Figure of the Bloodsucker in Polish Religious, National and Left-Wing Discourse, 1945–1946

In East Africa and South Asia, ethnic clashes often erupt when a majority group feels that it is literally being “consumed” by a minority.1 The myth of the Jewish bloodsucker, widespread in Central and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century is an obvious parallel to this phenomenon. The bloodsucker is one of the archetypal metaphors activated by critical situations.2 At its core lies the image of a sorcerer-vampire who insinuates himself into a community and feeds off its life substance, leaving empty shells of flesh behind (Mary Douglas).3 The universal character of this figure stems from its simplicity. As a minimal structure, it is essentially a forbidden movement across the guarded boundary between inside and outside, frequently expressed by the action of pricking or blood-sucking.

A number of more or less innocuous applications of this metaphor have recently appeared in Polish political discourse. In 2007, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk used a related phrase to describe Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość), claiming that ‘PiS, like a vampire, feeds on the fear and evil inherent in us all.’4 A year later, the trope was used by Janusz Kurtyka, head of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), when he described Jan Tomasz Gross, the author of Fear: Antisemitism in Poland after Auschwitz, as a ‘vampire of Polish historiography.’5

←199 | 200→

In this chapter, I focus on the genealogy of the figure of the bloodsucker and its role in shaping the imagination of Polish people in the first two years after World War II.

The figure of the Jewish bloodsucker revealed its murderous potential in the wave of pogroms that swept across Poland in 1945 and 1946. The first pogrom, sparked by rumor of Jewish ritual murders, took place in Chełm, where in late March and early April 1945 the local militia accused certain Jews of “squeezing the blood out of a Christian boy” and tortured one of the suspects. Later on, the blood libel appeared in Rzeszów; the cause of riots (June 14–15, 1945) was an unsolved murder of a little girl, and the local rabbi was accused of committing the crime. Two months later (on August 11) the rumor appeared in Kraków, where a mob attacked Jews after a Christian boy rushed out of a synagogue located in Miodowa St. shouting that there were corpses of Christian children inside. Similar insinuations appeared in June 1945 in Przemyśl, and in August in Kielce, Radomsko, Łódź, Zwoleń, Bydgoszcz, and then again in Chełm. The largest-scale riots fueled by allegations of ritual murder occurred in Kielce, where a total of 42 Jews were killed on July 4 and 5, 1946. After reaching its apogee, the pogrom rumor did not subside. Instead, it swept across more Polish towns, affecting Tarnów, Kraków once again, Częstochowa, Radom, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Białobrzegi, Dęblin, Łódź again, as well as a dozen or so other localities.6

1.Three Incarnations of the Bloodsucker

Three variations on the figure of the bloodsucker can be detected in the postwar history of Poland: religious, national, and left-wing.

The first incarnation of the bloodsucker archetype, the religious figure, took in the Early Modern era the form of the Other, usually a Jew (although this role was sometimes played by a Christian “heretic,” such as a Hussite,7 a Protestant,8 ←200 | 201→or a Uniate.9), being an antagonist of the Catholics, stealing and mutilating their sacraments, the host, or a Catholic child.

Here the Jew was a bloodsucker in a literal sense, as he would kidnap a child and then use his or her blood to make matzah for the Passover holiday. Along with the desecration of the host, this particular mythical motive constituted a basic component of the so-called blood libel.10 Its narrative scheme can be expressed with the following sequence:

Villainy – Struggle – Victory/Exposure of the Villain – Retribution.

“Villainy” here indicates the abduction of a Christian child whose blood is needed to make matzah. “Struggle” refers to the torture of the child by the villain, as well as to attempts to conceal the crime, which nevertheless comes to light in the “victory/exposure” segment, thus leading to retribution against the Jews.11

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the religious figure of bloodsucker in secular and ecclesiastical literature acquired metaphoric contexts connected with the Jewish usury, corruption of Christian morals, and the Jewish innkeepers’ encouraging people to drink. The figure underwent a real renaissance with the advent of Jewish assimilation into European society in the nineteenth century and the appearance of modern antisemitism. The invasion of a foreign element into the Social Body was suggested by increasingly Völkisch images of Jews assaulting national values and traits, which were represented in terms of biological categories such as physique, health, and pure blood. Jews were likened to insects and organisms encroaching on physical boundaries in an invasive way – fleas, lice, and bedbugs – and to the infections they carried. Other variants of the bloodsucker included Jew as parasite, the Jew as tumor, plague (typhoid, cholera, Black Death) or gangrene.12 An important role in this ←201 | 202→discourse was also played by the figure of convert – more specifically, a converted Jew [Polish, przechrzta] – popularized by the Polish romanticist culture, as in Zygmunt Krasiński’s novel Nie-Boska Komedia (The Un-Divine Comedy), where a masked villain13 insidiously penetrates the community’s body to poison it with its venom.14

←202 | 203→

However, it was only in the twentieth century, during the interwar period, that the bloodsucker discourse was replaced by a national discourse; until then national elements had been used only incidentally. The bloodsucker, hitherto almost always a Jew (although in rare cases a Hussite, Protestant, or Uniate), now became incarnated as the bloodsucking Jew. The identification was so absolute that one signified the other. This is clearly seen in a 1926 article from the quarterly journal Rodzina Polska,15 published by the Pallottine Fathers in Wadowice: ‘If the Jew is a vampire – then, to describe a goy in the Jew’s service, the lexicon offers no expression whatsoever.’16 The passage dubs the Jewish bloodsucker a vampire, but beyond that, it mentions his most repulsive companion, a non-Jew who breaches the ban on contacting Jews.17

The article from which the passage quoted above is taken is typical of the Polish variety of antisemitism – an ideological derivation evoking, as a rule, Western European examples. The piece is cast in the form of a lecture that, citing classical, early modern and modern writers, introduces the provincial reader to the world of European antisemitic thought. The author quotes Diodorus, Tacitus, Luther, Voltaire, Goethe, Napoleon I, Victor Hugo, Schopenhauer, Franz Liszt, Eugen ←203 | 204→Dühring, and Bismarck.18 The second part of the article discusses The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. The figure below shows all the metaphorical descriptions of Jews appearing in the texts mentioned above.

Fig. 1:The national Bloodsucker, based on Rodzina Polska quarterly, the Pallottine Fathers, Wadowice 1926

In fact, all the metaphors used in this text (apart from the ‘man-eater’) tend to denote a forbidden movement within the guarded interior/exterior boundary. As such, they meet the minimum requirements for the assignment to the bloodsucker trope.

Besides the religious and nationalist discourse, the third variety of bloodsucker is the variant that appears in leftist Marxist ideologies.19 The example, to which ←204 | 205→I shall limit myself, comes from “Vampirn” (“The Vampires”), a song from 1930 in Yiddish and Russian and recorded in writing by Mosze Beregovsky in Uman, Ukraine. The “bloodsucking exploiters” referred to in the song are the capitalists, including Jewish capitalists. As a reflection of its time, this figure appeared in the title of the poem The Bedbug by Vladimir Mayakovski (1929). As is the case with religious metaphor, the bloodsucker may (but does not have to) be a Jew; similarly, not every single Jew is a bloodsucker. Contemporary interpretations tend to approach this category in terms of the so-called dead metaphor, which constitutes a spore with an easily-awakened dormant meaning.20

←205 | 206→

Fig. 2:Lyrics of the song Vampirn (in Yiddish, Ukrainian, and English), as recorded in 1930 in Uman, Ukraine.

The table below describes the three incarnations of the figure of Bloodsucker in more detail:

Table 1: The bloodsucker figure in religious, national, and left-wing discourse

2. Poland 1945–1946: The Bloodsucker as the Social Glue of a Fragmented Community

The aversion for the “Jew-Bloodsucker” – a figure proving comprehensible for all the addressees: Catholics, nationalists and communists – became after WWII ←206 | 207→the binding agent of the Polish imagined community (Benedict Anderson). Abhorrence of Jewish bloodsuckers was one of the few emotions that could, under the new conditions and on the grounds of a diversely interpreted concept of patriotism, unite Catholics and nationalists associated with the National Armed Forces (NSZ), the hard-line Home Army, and the Communist People’s Guard (GL) resistance militias. It was a novelty that this idea was quickly embraced also by those Communists who combined nationalist rhetoric with a left-wing critique of the capitalism.

This process was due to a rapid literalization (symbolic equation, to use Hanna Segal’s terminology – see below) of the bloodsucker metaphor in this period, involving two shifts in meaning:

  1. From the end of the nineteenth century, the religious meanings of this figure was shifting continually toward its national meanings.
  2. During the postwar years, the leftist semantic field associated with the figure began to drift rapidly in the direction of national associations. This took place, in part, under the influence of the nation-state concept propagated by Stalinism.21 The consequence was that the figure of the Jew, previously relegated to the background, now moved to the center.
←207 | 208→

Fig. 3: The semantic field of “Bloodsucker” tends to incline toward national categories, 1945/1946

Bloodsucker: religious associations

Bloodsucker: national associations

Bloodsucker: leftist associations

I will illustrate these two shifts by analyzing the

  1. Popular discourse, including letters mentioning instances of ritual murder, confiscated by the military censorship service in 1945;
  2. Elitist discourse, featuring references to ritual murder in the statements of Polish Catholic clergy and underground officers;
  3. Official and semi-official discourse, including the reports of starostas and provincial governors regarding the Jews. These reports from 1945 and 1946 contain repeated mentions of Jews as parasites and exploiters, often via the use of the term “capitalist bloodsuckers.”

Popular Discourse: Letters Intercepted by the Censors

Letters intercepted by the Military Censorship Service in August 1945 offer a view of the blood libel that circulated in Poland at that time.22 Their punctuation, style, spelling, and vocabulary indicate that their authors were rather poorly educated.

Blood libels have always described the ritual murder victim as a Christian or Catholic child. Analysis of the relevant sources has shown that this phrase is gradually fading in the language of ethnic Poles (unlike Jewish people).23 In the ←208 | 209→letters quoted below, it is replaced by the term “Polish child.” I have italicized the terminology of religious blood libel discourse and bolded the modernized national vocabulary.

Letter 1: Kraków

In our town, there are skirmishes with Jews [a reference to the Kraków pogrom], ’cause, can you imagine, the Jews have gone so far as to kill Polish children to get blood from them, tricking them into carrying their suitcases to the synagogue. They would pay them 100 zl [złoty] each, and you know that children are greedy, especially boys. It turned out that one [boy] was brave and, approaching the synagogue, he heard children cry and without waiting for the other five [who were with him], he ran off and reported it to the militia. The militia found a few corpses in the synagogue cellar. This instantly spread across the town, and the Poles, wherever they came across a Jew they beat him and smashed their stalls at the second-hand market. There was even a horrible shooting and there were several victims [,] I don’t know exactly who it was.

Letter 2: Brzesko-Nowe, near Kraków

Let me describe to you one more incident in Kraków, which took place in the district where I presently live [i.e. in Kazimierz]. Children had been perishing for some time until, on 8/11, a fourteen-year-old boy with cut veins on his arm escaped from the Jews. The Jews would let blood from the Catholic children’s hands and legs, and what for? We’ll find out soon. Such things happened in Rzeszów [the Rzeszów pogrom] but the press said that it was impossible. So now it turns out that it’s really true. People attacked and demolished the synagogue and they lynched the Jews they met in the street. The Jews put up an armed struggle, but the army stepped in and there was a clash. Nobody, the press included, will now deny that the yevreys [Russian/colloquial for “the Jews’] did those things.

Letter 3: Kralka (municipality of Niedźwiedź near Kraków)

[…] we’ve got news here i.e. in Kraków – the Jews have murdered a dozen-or-so Polish children. Barrels of blood have been found. The Polish and Soviet armies are handling the matter.

Letter 4: Kraków

There have been skirmishes with Jews in Kraków [on account] that the Jews catch little children and draw blood from them for the Jews returning from camps.

←209 | 210→

Letter 5: Kraków

Perhaps you’ve learned from newspapers what was on in Kraków on Nov. 8 1945. What the Hitlerite Jews were striving for, and what they did. They’ve been caught and now they are gone.

Letter 6: Okocim

I’m reporting to you the adventures in Kraków, the Jews have tortured 17 Polish children to death [and] all that came out as a 12-year-old girl fled with her arms and mouth broken, screaming and raising hell. The Jewry started shooting at Polish soldiers from the windows and you could not walk down [that] street. A few Polish soldiers were killed.

Letter 7: (only the soldier’s name and his unit number are quoted):

The Jews have again killed many Polish children in Kraków and drunk their blood. The Polish soldiers killed many Jews, well, they were protected by NKVD.

These statements can be categorized, in terms of the phraseology, as religious or national. They clearly demonstrate that the discourse field at the time was shifting from strictly religious areas into one of national connotations.

Only Letter 2 can be classified as a religious statement that adduces the Jewish-Catholic dichotomy. The other examples see the conflict in national terms:

  • Letter 1: ‘Jews’/‘Polish children’;
  • Letter 3: ‘Jews’/‘Polish children’; ‘Jews’/‘Polish and Soviet army’;
  • Letter 6: ‘Jews’/‘Polish children’; ‘Jewry’/‘Polish soldiers’ (twice);
  • Letter 7: ‘Jews’/‘Polish children’; ‘Jews’/‘Polish soldiers’.

Elsewhere, the description of the victims (‘little children’) bears no trace of any precise mention of national identification (Letters 4, 5). The other blood-libel lexical elements known from the religious discourse, such as ‘to get blood from’/‘letting blood’/‘barrels of blood’/‘cut veins on the arm’/‘the Jews have tortured to death’/‘synagogue cellar’ remained unaltered.

Notably, the motif of revenge/punishment appears in all the examples but one:

  • Letter 1: ‘[the Poles] beat the Jews’ and ‘smashed their stalls’;
  • Letter 2: ‘the Jews put up a struggle’; ‘the army (no specification which army) stepped in’;
  • Letter 3: ‘the Polish and Soviet army are handling the matter’;
  • Letter 5: ‘they have already been caught and now they are gone;
  • Letter 6: allusion to the armed defense of Jews against an attack of ‘Polish soldiers’;
  • Letter 7: ‘Polish soldiers killed many Jews, well, they were protected by NKVD’.
←210 | 211→

The blood libel pattern includes the motif of revenge/punishment of the Jews in every narrative that might be assigned to the blood libel category. As I have mentioned, the basic pattern of blood libel can be reduced to the sequence of four storyline functions:

Villainy – Struggle – Victory/Exposure of the Villain – Punishment.

All the plots referred to in the letters are built, first of all, upon the belief – so characteristic of the blood libels – that Jews kidnap children ‘to obtain blood’. Second, they are based upon the blood libel scheme.24

Letter 1 clearly displays the writer’s expectation that the situation will develop in line with the classic blood libel. It also features details characteristic of the genre, such as ‘the Villain’s trickery’ and ‘the exposure of the Villain’. The former is known from the popular story about Baba Yaga, where the children are lured with gingerbread.25 The narrative about Simon of Trident (†1475), as reported by Rev. Piotr Skarga, offers another example:

[Tobias the Jew] gave him some money and berries and other childish dainties, so the child went silent, until he came up to Samuel’s door and pushed the child inside.26

In Letter 1, this segment of the narrative appears as

tricking them into carrying their suitcases to the synagogue. They would pay them 100 zl [złoty] each, and you know that children are greedy, especially boys.

In blood libel narratives, the villain is often discovered thanks to miraculous lights, portents such as a bleeding wall,27 or when a victim’s voice is heard coming ←211 | 212→from a cellar. In the examples above, a brave boy manages to flee the synagogue and alert the police. In the example of letter 2, a boy with less foresight, the fourteen-year-old with ‘cut veins on his arm’ is mentioned, just as Letter 6 offers, instead of a boy, ‘a twelve-year-old girl, [who] fled with her arms and mouth broken, screaming.’

In a religious blood libel, each of the adversaries – the kidnapped Hero and the kidnapper Villain – have helpers. They appear as the Christian and Jewish collectives, which provide individual assistance. They likewise appear in many of the examples provided:

  • The Villain’s (i.e. the Jews’) Helper is NKVD (Letter 6);
  • The Hero’s (i.e. the ‘Polish children’s’) Helper is the ‘Polish Army’ (Letters 3, 6, 7) and the ‘militia’ (Letter 1).

Often the army appears as an arm of the people administering justice. This reflects the social sentiments of the first postwar months when even a Catholic periodical such as Rycerz Niepokalanej in an article entitled ‘The Polish Army: A Pearl among Military Forces!’ described the army as ‘our own’ and ‘longed-for.’28

A morphological version of the blood libel,29 a modernization of the classical form, can be seen in Letter 5. In the classic legend, the blood of Christian children is used to make matzah for Passover. In the modern version, the blood of Christian children becomes less magical. It is no longer necessary for a religious rite but rather a medical procedure and presented as a transfusion. (The idea that Jews might need transfusions of Christian blood for medical reasons may have originated in popular conceptions about blood types that circulated during the early postwar years. The Jewish-Polish microbiologist Ludwik Hirszfeld played a major role in their discovery.)30 In his notes from 1946, Hugo Steinhaus recalled what he had heard from a professor who had just returned from Kraków:

←212 | 213→

[S]ome of the so-called intelligentsia believe in an modernized ritual murder with which they explain the Kielce incidents; as is known, transfusion (invented by Hirszfeld, a Jew) of a child’s blood is needed to rescue the emaciated Jews from Russia.31

The morphological version of the legend seems to be a consequence of the replacement of the religious discourse with a national discourse. Just like the so-called sausage version,32 it flourished in the times of shortage and hunger soon after the war.

I would like to point out one more wandering thread (Wandersagen): Letter 6 mentions ‘Jews shooting out of the windows’ at Polish soldiers in the street. This situation, where shooting is sometimes replaced by pouring boiling water or hot vinegar on the victims, has been in circulation in Poland at least since 1939.33 The topos reappears in the justifications given for the Kraków and Kielce ←213 | 214→pogroms, as well as in the so-called railway operation – i.e. hunting for Jews on trains, which took place in 1945–1946.

Elitist Discourse: The Clergy and the Hierarchs

That the belief in the reality of blood-oriented murders was shared by some of the lower-ranking clergy34 is obvious from the report regarding the pogrom of July 4, 1946, which the Rev. Roman Zelek, canon and rector of the cathedral in Kielce, wrote for the Diocesan Curia. The relevant passage reads as follows:

Błaszczyk, Henryk, son of Walenty, aged 9, living at his father’s house in Kielce, 6 Podwalna St, was hired on July 1, around 11:00 am, by one gentleman to carry a suitcase to the house at 7 Planty Street, where Jews only were the residents. Having arrived at that house, the aforesaid boy was offered some beverage, after which he fell asleep and woke up on July 3, around the evening, in a cellar. With the help of Jewish children playing in front of the house, he got out of the cellar and returned to his father.35

This story is a typical beginning of the blood libel legend, analogical to the one reported in the letters discussed above. Little Henryk was as lucky as the brave boy in Letter 1 who escaped the clutches of Jews, and even luckier than those children who had fled wounded. The motive of the suitcase used to trick the boy ←214 | 215→reappears (the villain’s deceit), reinforced by the figure of magic potion, which sent the boy into a two-day slumber.

Did high-ranking officials in the Church really believe, in the first years after the war, that Jews killed for blood? I will answer by comparing statements made by two bishops. One of them is a private letter from 199836 written by Bishop Wacław Świerzawski of Sandomierz in response to a written inquiry regarding the display of paintings depicting a putative Jewish ritual murder at the Sandomierz Cathedral. The bishop first asserted that ‘there is a hypothesis among those inquiring into this issue that there once existed a sect in Judaism whose followers, based on Talmud teaching, committed the ritual murder crime as charged against them.’ He then wondered ‘whether this issue will ever be clarified.’ Subsequently, he added that ‘the Jewish nation as a whole must certainly not be accused of such crimes.’ Bishop Świerzawski in fact echoed the position voiced on July 17, 1946 by Stefan Wyszyński, then bishop of Lublin, who mentioned ‘old and new Jewish books’ that had been produced at the infamous blood libel trial of Menachem Mendel Beilis in Kiev in 1911. On the strength of the evidence contained in those books, he said, ‘the blood issue has not been sorted out as yet.’37

But he also, without realizing it, rehearsed a much older contention that had appeared 152 years earlier in a weekly newspaper, Przyjaciel Ludu. It reported that a starving mother of several children had consented to hand over one of her children to a Jew who had been badgering her to do so. (‘The deed in my story is factual,’ the weekly’s correspondent maintained.) The Jew was subsequently seen entering ‘the town of Dąbrowa [Tarnowska] with a big basket. After that, the trail of the child went cold.’ The mother was tried and she blamed the Jew.

←215 | 216→

The court cleared both of them of all charges. ‘Yet the news of the perpetrated crime has reverberated throughout Jewry. The belief that Jews need Christian blood for certain rituals is common among our people.’

Fig. 4:The cover of a biweekly magazine Wiarus, issue 41/1913, Warsaw (the caption above reads: ‘Ritual Murder.’ Below: ‘The scene depicts the murder of a Christian boy and the drawing of his blood to make matzah, according to the Beilis case indictment.’)

The article in Przyjaciel Ludu offered more information:

In Ostroróg, Volhynia, a barrel studded with blood-covered nails is on display in the cathedral. They have preserved this proof of an atrocious superstition, together with an account of the whole event and the official files describing the crime and its culprits. The ←216 | 217→Jewish religion should nowise be inculpated for such a barbaric crime, but it is certain that there was a sect of ardent fanatics amongst them, thirsting for those savage offerings.38

The position expressed by Przyjaciel Ludu’s correspondent in the year 1846 and echoed one-and-a-half century later by Bishop Świerzawski is best referred to as the ‘topos of an ardent sect of fanatics.’39 Bishop Świerzawski’s letter, along with subsequent statements made by Catholic Church officials in the Sandomierz area in 2005,40 testifies to the motive’s functionality in the popular worldview of Polish Catholics in provincial areas.

The issue of whether the postwar clergymen really gave credence to the blood libel came up again in the polemic surrounding Gross’s book Fear, in which he discussed antisemitism and violence against Jews in the postwar Poland. The question seems moot given that the works of Rev. Piotr Skarga41 were required reading for Polish clergymen-in-training in the 1930s and 1940s. Skarga’s Lives of the Saints offers a full account of the torture of Simon of Trident. It was last reissued – without commentary – by the Jesuit order in Kraków in 1933. So instead of asking whether Polish bishops in 1945–1946 could believe that Jewish ritual murders actually occurred, the question should rather be whether they could possibly think otherwise. The durability of the worldview of the Polish Church in the postwar period becomes apparent from a reading of works published after the war by a number of bishops,42 and by closely examining the associates of successive primates.43

←217 | 218→

Soldiers and Officers of the Underground

Less obvious than the question about the clergy seems to be the question whether the blood libel could have been given credence by soldiers and officers in the WiN (Freedom and Independence) militia44, or other covert groups that put out bulletins, leaflets, and reports for the government-in-exile in London. My research shows that texts published by WiN display particularly strong antisemitism.45 In publications put out by this group, the idea of a Jewish plot is an obsession, as in the following piece:

The primary goal of the Jewish World Government with its seat in Palestine is to create a single worldwide state under their [the Jews’] hegemony. This government represents the capitalist West and the Communist East – all in order to implement the common postulates of Jewish policy. To subdue the world is their shared objective. Certain circles ←218 | 219→of Jewish government support the revolutionary efforts of Communist Jewry, aiming to ensure that the privileged positions in those political systems would be held by Jews.46

These writings routinely adduce the religious-national figure of the bloodsucker and often evince sincere belief in ritual murder. Except for the leaflets, most of the passages quoted below are taken from reports written by the WiN Intelligence Brigades.47 The first of them is identified as a “reconnaissance report of the Kraków-Rzeszów District of the Armed Forces Delegation for Poland.”48 The topos of ‘an ardent sect of fanatics’ emerges in these texts, proving all the more interesting as it is associated with Hassidism.49

The blood libel’s shift from the religious to the national sphere is more evident in reports and orders from the underground. Religious terminology such as reference to Christian or Catholic children is entirely absent, and its place is taken by a national vocabulary that speaks of Polish children.50 Even when religious language is used – with terms such as rabbi, Hasidim, and ritual murder – they have national associations, as in the first passage below. (The relevant items in the texts below are placed in boldface.)

Text 1

[Reconnaissance Report by the Armed Forces Delegation for Poland (?)] Rzeszów Ten days ago, a hideous Jewish crime was uncovered in the Rzeszów area, committed against sixteen Polish children who were ritually killed to provide blood for use in Hasidic practices. The crime provoked a strong reaction in the community, so a ←219 | 220→considerable number of Jews have fled to Tarnów, giving excuses such as drawing the blood for transfusion (whereas a flask of blood was found during the search).51

Text 2

[Intelligence Brigades Report, autumn 1945]In a Jewish rabbi’s cellar at Tannenbauma St. [in Rzeszów], the rabbi was caught in blood-stained overalls next to a dead girl hanging upside-down. A passing militia patrol was alerted and discovered other body parts belonging to sixteen individuals. The rabbi, after they put the screws on him, broke and admitted that these were the remains of sixteen children. However, he claimed that those were not ritual murders, but that the Jewish nation had incurred great losses and many of its most outstanding individuals must be fed with human blood as well, which is acquired in this way. Having learned of the above incident, people attacked the Jews, carrying out a pogrom. Meanwhile, NKVD and UB [Security Office] intervened. It [apparently, both organizations] came to the Jews defense.52

Text 3

[A WiN report, autumn 1945:] “On May 11[, 1945], in a Jewish cellar in Rzeszów, on Tannenbauma Street, a rabbi was caught in a blood-stained overall by a dead girl hanging upside down (Bronisława Mendoń, daughter of a Polish worker who had been hiding Jews from the Germans at his house for 3 years).53 The MO [Citizens’ Militia] patrol passing by discovered other body parts belonging to 16 individuals. After they put the screws on him, the rabbi broke and admitted that those were the remains of 16 children. However, he claimed that those were not ritual murders, but the Jewish nation had incurred great losses and many of its most outstanding individuals had to be supported with human blood! The blood is acquired in this very ←220 | 221→way! Having learned of the above incident, people attacked the Jews, beating them. Meanwhile, NKVD and UB interfered. They protected the Jews […]54

Text 4

[Lublin, a leaflet marked ‘Polish Anti-Communist Military Organization’, April 1945:] Jews, you have lived through the period of Hitler’s persecution. Each of you has survived, escaped with your life thanks solely to the Poles. Now that the Red Army has arrived, you have come out of your hideouts only to haunt the real Poles, your saviors. You are exposing those who have held out their hand to you in the most critical hours. Jews! You have turned out to be the enemies of Poles.55

Text 5

[Reconnaissance Brigades, June 26, 1945(?):] Antisemitic sentiments caused by the Jews cooperating with the Soviets and the Lublin Government, instigated by a ritual murder, have grown to the dimension of riots.56

Text 6

[Kraków, an anonymous appeal issued after the pogrom of August 1945:]

PPS [= Polish Socialist Party]: the army and lackeys of Jews!

Jews the murderers – down with you!

PPS: organizes leeches of Polish blood!

PPS: creates a corps for the protection of Jews!

We shall avenge the murderers of Polish children!

PPS: the lackeys of Jews!57

Text 7

[Kraków, an anonymous leaflet issued after the pogrom of August 1945:] The Jews, our eternal enemy, have murdered Polish children at the synagogue in Miodowa Street. How many children have died? This is not known. After Rzeszów and Tarnów, ←221 | 222→Kraków has become the scene of Jewish murderers. The facts speak for themselves. (…) Given the facts from Tarnów and Rzeszów, the murder is comprehensible and is synonymous to the Jewish nation’s attitude to anything we hold dear. And so, Poles – the German is our enemy, the same goes for the Bolshevik, and the Jew is the third one. And now the street incidents are clear to us, where the Bolsheviks were keeping the Jews under ‘their protective wings’, smacking the Poles in their faces and shooting at the Nation which stood up for the Polish officer[s]. There is no room in Poland for the German, the Bolshevik and the Jew. POLAND to THE POLES.58

Text 8

[Kraków, 1945, leaflet dated August 12, 1945, signed “Odwet” O.Z.N. {Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego, Camp of National Unity}, fragment:] “Beat the Jews! For the Polish children murdered at the synagogue in Starowiślna St.59

Text 9

[Lublin, leaflet signed ‘Cierń’ {Thorn}, 1945(?):] Jews! The time of your wellbeing has come to an end, partly when the Germans were murdering you on a mass scale, the rest of the wrecks surviving from the pogrom will be done in by us. There is no room for you in Poland, your weapons will be of no use to you. You just wait a little more, and you will find out that these are no empty words. There were the Germans, and you were betraying the Poles; there are others [now] – and you’re doing the same thing. Enough of your rule. Your place is either in the ground, or in Palestine.60

Text 10

[Kraków province, an anonymous leaflet, 1945:] 60,000 Jews arrived in Łódź from Russia – those who in 1920 and ’21 were pouring boiling water [on] and shooting at the Polish army. Beautiful factories, industrial facilities are being given to them, militia and a security service – the Polish NKVD – are being established. Our homeland’s best sons are perishing in dungeons, while the bosses of those agencies are well paid by the Soviets and the international Jewry. (…) We have recently received a message that every Jewish woman giving birth to a son receives 25 thousand and for a daughter, 20 thousand from the Kachal [= Kahal], the Kachal receiving a subsidy from the Government, while we pay the taxes.61

←222 | 223→

Text 11

[Proclamation signed ‘Ogień’ to employees of the Bezpieka {secret service}, excerpts; italicized items contain major spelling errors in the original:] “DEATH TO THE SECRET SERVICE AND THE MONSTROUS JEWS!!!!!!!! Ask your own heart, how much harm, sufferings and pain you have caused to your brothers. Today they are moaning in gaols [to] which you have led [them] and gave them away into the butchers’ hands. Remember all the mothers, wives and orphans who are pouring their bitter tears and crying to heaven for vengeance, so that the murderers may perish as quickly as possible, those who in a barbaric way abuse their brothers. But who is a greater murderer? The one who is torturing or the one who betrays and detains? Oh you disloyal son! Oh you wicked dog! Why are you shooting for peanuts your brother who is fighting for a better lot? Why are you abusing them like a wild beast? What are you serving, and for whom are you working? For the communist regime and the Jew!!!!!!! Shame on you soldier of the conscription [orig., chorowa – an incomprehensible word] service that is called bezpieka [see above]. Raiding the villages of real Poles, in the first place you take the last slice of bread away from Polish children and steal whatever you can lay hands on. (…) Polish Brothers! The time has come for us to be ruthless and implacable. Every Jew (a leech [sucking] the Polish blood) will be killed) [.] PPR (paid Russia’s lackeys). […] This is the last time that we appeal to the people of Nowy Targ to improve and to persist in the Polish spirit. Do away with betrayal, your own gain, help us out and we shall free and liberate you.62

These texts offer a dichotomous image of two mutually hostile, extremely ethnicized ideas, inscribed in the following oppositions:

  • bloodsucker/victim
  • Judeo-Communists/ Polish nation
  • villain/ hero
  • villain’s helper/hero’s helper
  • aggression/ martyrdom
  • strangeness/ familiarity
  • brutality/humaneness
  • criminality/innocence
  • ungratefulness/gratefulness
  • theft/ loss
←223 | 224→

Bloodsucker/Victim: Literalization of Metaphors

The authors of WiN reports and the leaflets believed that Jews were growing stronger by imbibing the blood of Polish children. Text 2 outlines the modernized blood libel variant in more precise terms. It seems to refer not to a ritual murder but rather the extortion of blood needed as supplemental nourishment for recovering Jews. The rabbi who explains the situation serves as a mouthpiece for the WiN soldiers so that they can update the blood libel legend and render it more realistic. The text described in the footnote63 renders the plot in the most neutral way. It refers to a girl who “died from the loss of blood taken for transfusion purposes.” The alleged Jewish perpetrators are described as ‘NKVD informers.’ The odium of such a “transfusion crime” is transferred here to police institutions: UB and NKVD and the Soviets. All these are depicted as accessory bloodsuckers, collectively the helpers of the villains. In the opinion of one author, the PPS and the army are also part of this group.

Astonishingly enough, the role of the hero’s helper features a Communist militia that has been alerted. The blood libel logic makes this act part of the victory/ exposure of the villain, a role typically played in the older, religious version of the blood libel myth by shepherd boys or pious Christians. Another report from the underground states that64 the patrol that discovered the crime was abducted. ←224 | 225→The structure of the myth has a place for such an event in its scheme. For example, in the Poznań Host legend (1399), it corresponds to the shepherd being imprisoned in the municipal dungeons after discovering the Jews’ crime.65 The fact that the underground reports refer to militiamen in a positive way indicates that, unlike UB or NKVD, which defended the Jews, the underground did not view the authorities personified by the militiamen as completely evil or alien. The popular dichotomy between the Polish and Soviet armies, referred to in private letters, is replaced in leaflets and military reports by the militiamen versus UB/NKVD.

All convey a modernized version of the blood libel. What they share in emotion is a conviction that the biological survival of the Polish nation is under threat. The danger is expressed by the figure of the kidnapped and murdered child, which in the blood libel legend is a synecdoche of the national body. The killing of a child is an assault on the group’s vital interests. The bleeding of victims to death is a step toward the literalization of the bloodsucker, and catalyzes violence against the perpetrators.66 In cases in which the perpetrators are portrayed as leeches67 or ‘Jewish bedbugs,’68 the violence is symbolic. The situation changes in the moment a real Jew appears in a specified ‘Jewish rabbi’s cellar,’ ←225 | 226→wearing ‘a blood-stained overall, next to a dead girl hanging upside-down.’69 We even learn the rabbi’s alleged name: Leib Thorn.70

Polish versions of the blood libel myth often included a barrel studded with spikes as the tool with which the victims were bled to death (as shown in one of the Sandomierz Cathedral paintings by Charles de Prêvot). The image of a barrel was at times replaced by the “ritual slaughter” topos, with the practice of Jewish rzezaks (ritual slaughterers/circumcisers) fresh in the memories of their Polish neighbors. In the interwar period (1918–1939), the practice of ritual slaughter fascinated domestic “experts” on Jewish matters.71 With this practice, the blood libel was modernized and shifted from the religious to the national sphere.72 Confirmation of this thesis can be found in the phraseology used by the interwar religious press, where references to the ‘slaughter of the Polish Nation’ occur.73 Such “slaughter” is described in three shocking reports of underground soldiers. The image of Bronia Mendoń being tortured by ‘a rabbi wearing a blood-stained overall’ serves as a symbol of the slaughter of the Polish nation underway as the ←226 | 227→result of an invasion of Judeo-Communists. The literal and metaphorical meanings tend to oscillate and incessantly replace each other.

How does the image of slaughter differ from the image of making children bleed to death in a barrel? The difference lies in the dehumanization of the victim. The dead girl becomes Poland,74 which is depicted as an animal prepared for slaughter. A slight alteration in the use of symbols reinforces the desire for a completely real retaliation.75

←227 | 228→

Table 2: The bloodsucker: The migrating meaning of “slaughter of the Polish nation,” 1945/1946.76

Literal meaningMetaphorical meaningLiteral meaning
Jew as ritual slaughterer, bleeding the animals to deathSlaughter of the Polish nationJew as murderer of Polish children, one victim being Bronia Mendoń from Rzeszów (see footnote 74)
Jew as bloodsucker from religious blood libelJew, offered a hideout by Poles, as tormentor of Polish children from whom he had been taking bread away for five years (see below)Jew as murderer of Polish officers (Katyń)76

Judeo-Communists/Polish Nation

The consciousness displayed by the authors of such reports and leaflets testifies to the success of an undertaking announced in an order issued by Mieczysław Liniarski (whose nom de guerre was Mścisław), a leader of the post-AK underground movement: ‘We represent the entire Polish nation – we want to distinguish the Poles from the Soviets, …to persuade this society that the whole nation is with us, with only Soviets and Jews remaining on the other [side].’77

The identification of Jews with Communism, commonplace in the leaflets, is expressed in the figure of Judeo-Communism/ists [Polish, żydokomuna].78 This ←228 | 229→essay approaches the żydokomuna category as a cliché, that is, a rhetorical figure that functions by masking a certain state of affairs, which is equivalent to forgery inasmuch as a certain state of affairs is being masked, knowing that revealing it would not lead to a choice corresponding to the intentions of the individual using the cliché.79

The figure of Judeo-Communism masks the mass participation of ethnic Poles in the implementation of communism in Poland. The figure of the Judeo-Communist is founded upon intertwining Jews and Communism in such a manner as to make their simultaneous appearance inevitable. It purports to name a hidden order in the world, the true nature of Jews as well as of Communism. This process is an instance of mythification in the Barthesian sense of the term.80 It is useful to several groups, as it:

  • allows anti-Communists and/or antisemites to kill Jews as Communists;
  • enables national Communists or nationals aspiring to pursue Communist careers to express their anger at Jewish Communists who have usurped Poles in positions of authority;
  • directs the attention to Jews’ aspirations for Communist posts, thus diverting it from Poles aspiring for the same.

The syllogism upon which the Judeo-Communism figure is founded – “since there are Jews among the Communists, all Communists are Jews” – made the possibility of both an ethnic Polish Communist and a non-Communist Jew inconceivable. The community whose opinion was expressed through the leaflets and reports considered them to be a background noise, off-category dirt,81 systemic error, a non-fact, and non-existent. Recognizing the validity of the term “Judeo-Communist” is only a step away from legitimizing the reverse slogan ←229 | 230→claiming “Communists are Jews.” This, in turn, is but one step away from the syllogism, ‘if a Pole is a Communist, s/he thereby ceases being a Pole.’82

This was precisely what was suggested in the order issued by Liniarski “Mścisław.” The reasoning delineated above proved an efficient instrument of social control. The Communist authorities took it seriously.83 The evolution of those authorities’ attitude toward Jews – from equal rights granted to the minority to increasingly overt antisemitism – was dictated by the will to recover the national legitimacy they had been denied.

The leaflets dismiss ethnic-Pole Communists as ‘Jewish lackeys.’84 One refers to a ‘goy in the Jew’s service,’85 a notion considered more scandalous than the ‘Jewish bloodsucker’ itself by the author of a 1926 issue of Rodzina Polska cited above. The lackey was perceived by Poles as a traitor, just as the Jews viewed converts from their faith as defectors. In the classification systems that formed ←230 | 231→the basis of the relations between Christians and Jews and subsequently between Polish nationalists and Zionists, both of them constituted an anomaly, an impurity. In the postwar period, the phrase ‘Jewish lackey’ enriched the range of epithets, or rather invectives, each with its own historical pedigree, among them ‘Shabbes goy,’ ‘Jewish aunt/uncle,’86 ‘Jewish crony,’87 ‘[female] guardian of Jews,’88 ‘[female] Jewish lover,’89 ‘Jewish Wojtek’ [diminutive of Wojciech, a first name; also with the same meaning, ‘Jewish frying pan’].90 These referred to those who have breached the ban on contacts with Jews; for various reasons, this ban was supported by both communities.91

Strangeness/ Familiarity; Brutality/Humaneness

The alien nature of the Jews, both ethnically and ideologically, is underlined in the leaflets by the claim that the Jews had been sent over from Russia along with the Soviets (Text 10). The Jewish influx and the exploitation they engaged in (‘beautiful factories, industrial facilities’), the leaflets claimed, surely took place with the approval of the state, the Soviets, ‘Kachal,’ and ‘international Jewry.’

←231 | 232→

One claim consists of the statement, ‘Jews are insects; insects multiply; Jews are multiplying like insects.’92 This is the same syllogism upon which prewar ethnic panic in Germany was founded.93 Its traces can also be followed in the postwar Poland. In July 1946, a report from Jędrzejów stated that, ‘a rumor has spread around the town today that a few thousand Jews from the USSR are to flood Jędrzejów very soon.94 Bitterness, hubbub, excitement, nervousness, aggravation.’95

Similar rumors were circulating in Kalisz and other towns,96 reinforced by talk of a sky-high Jewish birth rate, allegedly supported by the government. The amount of 20,000 złoty referred to in one text doubled, if not tripled as the rumors spread across the country.97 Births of Jewish children were presented as a threat to biological existence of the Polish nation, almost equivalent to the murder of Polish children. The following reasoning is then applied: the number of Polish children decreases as they are killed by the Jews = the Jews are growing in number ←232 | 233→(as the government subsidizes their arrival from Russia and their birth-rate) = Poland is threatened = a Polish child is endangered.

All the elements of the above argument can be reordered and combined, as testified to by the cries recorded in June 1945 during an assault on a group of Jews standing in the market in Zamość: ‘You Jewish sons of bitches … I will slaughter you all, you’ve come here from Russia to kill our children.’98


The leaflets use similar means, i.e. repetitions and paralogisms, to inform their readers of the Jewish bloodsucker’s affinities. He is characterized as a criminal, a Volksdeutsch, and an SS-man,99 as indicated in Letter 5’s reference to ‘Nazi Jews.’ Texts 3 and 9, mentioning the ungratefulness of Jews who had hid during the war with the help of Poles, and who then embarked on killing their saviors and collaborating with the Soviets, refer to the hoary equivalence Jew = traitor. An overlooked part of this syllogism is the ‘Judas’ premise:100 Judas betrayed Christ the Savior; Judas was a Jew; therefore, Jews are traitors and ingrates.

The motive of betrayal is mythically developed in the already discussed topos of ‘Jews shooting at Polish soldiers’ and ‘pouring boiling water on their heads’ (Text 10), which extends as far back as the year 1921 (Text 10). Threats hurled at ←233 | 234→Jews, being part of the ‘punishment’ function, are expressed in pre-war slogans ‘beat the Jews’ (Text 8) and ‘Poland to the Poles’ (Text 7), or by presenting a choice ‘emigration or death’ (‘Your place is either in the ground, or in Palestine’ – Text 9).

Jews in Official and Left-Wing Discourse, 1945/1946

The left-wing version of the bloodsucker figure can be seen in 1945 and 1946 used by village elders, province governors, and other public officials, along with inspectors sent over to Kielce Province right after the Kielce pogrom. Sincerity is not a common virtue of official texts. Precisely for that reason, any sign of hostility toward Jews discerned through official rhetoric should be attended to – and all the more so as it is, in fact, not difficult to find.

Jews are depicted as parasites, swindlers, or exploiters. In other words, they are the capitalist bloodsucker known from leftist phraseology in its varying forms. Despite the damage done to the Jews during the war, they continue to hold huge resources amassed from profiteering, governmental subsidies, or German compensation payments.101 Yet the Jew always wants more. The charges against Jews are expressed with patriotic and progressive terminology. These accusations are replete with sarcasm, ethnic resentment, opposition to equal rights for Jews, and reluctance to return their property to them.

Report 1:

[Eugeniusz Wiślicz-Iwańczyk, former governor of Kielce Province, Wspomnienia [Memoirs], 1950s (?)]

The errors in the carefree conduct of the Kielce Jewish Community, consisting of a glaring difference between [their] higher living standard without production-oriented labor,102 while the workers were literally starving, and the fact that people of ←234 | 235→Jewish origin had multiplied in the executive posts of the security and Party apparatus, were taken advantage of by the provocateurs of the reactionary underground.103

Here, in the Party’s Provincial Committee, they [the Jews] had their tribesmen. The post of the First Secretary of the Committee was held by Comr. Józef Kalinowski who, despite holding children at Holy Baptism in a Catholic church (e.g. when he had been invited to this ceremony by Comr. Słoń, Lord Mayor of the town of Kielce), didn’t actively conceal his Jewish descent, a fact known to everyone.104

The small Jewish community in Kielce became quite visible as their living standard in financial terms was much higher than that of the Polish neighborhood pauperized in the course of a lengthy war. [Their] [e]xpensive suits, gold wedding rings on their fingers, large amounts of money, and evident reluctance to take any job that was unprofitable at the time could not remain unnoticed by the Polish community.

Report 2:

[Mayor of Częstochowa,105 Starosta of Częstochowa106]

Polish society cannot possibly understand the Jewish minority as the latter endeavors to increase its material wealth, in this respect most frequently neglecting the facts that have come to existence since 1939 and when this minority emphasizes that it was only they who incurred losses during the war. Conversely, the Jewish minority not infrequently has no understanding of the psychological transformations that Polish society underwent during the occupation years, and of the current needs, which should be understood by Jewish society – that in free and democratic Poland, nobody has or can have the privilege of enjoying material comfort without making significant contributions to the society and the state. Besides, objectively, it should be stressed … that the state’s interest requires the Jewish minority to thoroughly rethink their hitherto prevailing attitude toward the society, when it comes to financial matters.107

Report 3:

[Mayor of Częstochowa, July 9, 1945]

A specific trigger of anti-Jewish activity is the fact that on June 18, in the [clay] pits of Helman’s Brick Factory, the remains of fifteen-year-old Krystyna Woźniak were found; she had been strangled and thrown into the clay pits. Arrested on charges of murdering the girl, Chil Teper, tailor, res. at 15 Wolności St., was handed over to the ←235 | 236→public prosecution authorities and put in prison. The autopsy did not indicate defloration or any other bodily harm, apart from signs of strangulation.108

Report 4:

[Starosta of Opatów, 2 December 1945]

As it emerges from the Jewish Committee’s demands, the Jewish people expected from the National Council of Ostrowiec [Świętokrzyski] that they would simply be continually provided for by social welfare assistance, despite having adequate resources, they maintain quite a good living standard, e.g. they consume white bread, deli meats, and they engage in trade.109

Report 5:

[Report of KC PPR (Central Committee of the Polish Workers’ Party) inspectors who visited Kielce Province on 4–15 July 1946]

A few hundred Jews in Ostrowiec are not working, either. Most state-owned health resorts are patronized by wealthy Jews and Polish reactionaries.… The discontented masses feel injured, would like to find the culprit and take out their outrage on him. [It is] enough for the reactionaries to point out to the crowd some irregularities, such as certain Jews living without working, abuse of power by PPR members or the state authorities, to turn the crowd against the PPR or against the government.110

Report 6:

The evidence of antisemitism within party ranks will be clear from the following examples. At the rally in Ostrowiec, Comrade Kasior Józef (PPR) delivers a speech against the Jews, “So what’s that all about, we work here like horses and the Jews in Ostrowiec live as snug as bugs in a rug, they buy butter and hens. Where were they when we were fighting our partisan battles?” So says a comrade who has been through party training, regional and central training.111

Report 7:

[Head of the First Regional Department of UB, Lieut. Srokowski in Kielce, to the Provincial Governor of Kielce, 9 October 1945]

Normally, society’s attitude to the Jewish population is characterized by aversion, partly stemming from Hitlerite propaganda and activity during the occupation. The disfavor and adverse attitude are expressed in complaints that stress the fact that Jews hold high positions in the administration and in the state. Rumors of allegedly enormous state subsidies enjoyed by Jews are widely spreading among the Polish ←236 | 237→population. Moreover, the fact that Jews have been retaking possession of their prewar property causes a kind of distaste among people.112

The language of these reports suggests that their authors – the village elders and starostas and province governors – mostly tend to agree with the opinions they quote. The Jews are depicted as a self-segregating group, or one that remains at bay and detached and avoids getting involved in political transformations. Contradicting this, they are also charged with being careerists, ‘coming to high positions.’

A motive that appears only twice in these texts, but is known113 for having triggered the fiercest resentment, relates to the Jews reclaiming their property. The whole statement of the mayor of Częstochowa is devoted to this issue. Combining elements of a Marxist rhetoric with old prejudices (the Jews’ attitude toward the society when it comes to financial matters), it paints a gloomy picture of the overly anxious114 local Jewish minority. In conjunction with a crime ascribed to a Jewish tailor, the mayor suggests that the community is responsible for the deterioration of its situation. The starosta of Opatów, a town where the situation of local Jews was as difficult as in Częstochowa,115 evinces a similar attitude toward the Jews. Reluctant to provoke the masses despite their use of antisemitic ←237 | 238→stereotypes to justify what amounted to the nationalization of Jewish property, the authorities invoked popular sovereignty.116 Jews, viewed as ‘snobs,’117 were being denied the right to reclaim their property. According to Julian Kwiek, when in 1945 the Jews took away the gold buried in a cellar in Działoszyce, the locals suggested that the gold should be nationalized.118 These are just a few of the examples available.

Iwańczyk, governor of Kielce Province during the pogrom,119 portrays the Jews as grist for the mill of the anti-Communist underground movement, another instance of linking the Jews to reactionary forces (the reference to Jews vacationing in sanatoriums). The phrase “higher living standard without production-oriented labor” does not just refer to mere idleness but also imposes on the Jews the Marxist stigma defining anyone who is not a production worker (including, among others, all the services provided by Jewish craftsmen) of being a freeloader. The idea of Jews as “non-production-oriented” was the Marxist equivalent of the prewar stereotype widely held by Polish peasants, according to which merchants and craftsmen were worthless because they did not perform agricultural work – the only form of work worthy of its name from a peasant’s point of view. Such reasoning might be dismissed as simply a sign of the times had it not been adopted by the government. As Leszek Olejnik writes:

One response on the part of the authorities to the Kielce pogrom was the Resolution of the Council of Ministers from July 2, 1946, which established the Government Commissariat for the Productiveness of Jewish Population, led by Ignacy Wrzos. It was no surprise that this hasty decision was made without consultation with the CKŻP [Central Committee of Polish Jews], or with representatives of the PPR in the Jewish ←238 | 239→organizations. Even Dr. M. Szuldenfrei, who held a high-ranking post with the Presidium of the KRN [State National Council], learned that the Governmental Commissariat had been set up only after the decision had been made. He stated he was astonished that such a department had been established after the Kielce incidents – “as if there was nothing else that could be done.…” Apparently, the decision to establish this department indirectly meant that the Government had admitted that the notion of the low productivity of Jews, so widespread in the society, was valid.120

Verbally, the left-wing image of the Jew-bloodsucker de facto supports the charges against Jews expressed as part of the national and religious discourse. It creates a semantic field composed of the following characteristics:

Fig. 5: The national-leftist version of the Bloodsucker; based on reports by District and Province Governors of Kielce, Opatów and Częstochowa, 1945/1946

Almost identical notions of Jewish laziness, affluence, and undeserved promotions are contained in a secret report of the chief of the Organization and Instruction ←239 | 240→Section of the Polish Army Political Education Board, regarding the soldiers’ attitude to antisemitism:121

Until [the] year ’39, all the wealth and factories rested in the Jewish hands and now, it will be the same (Private Bielski, Polish Army First Mechanized Signals Regiment).

Before the war, the Jews used to say: our buildings, your streets. And now, the country is heading that way again. Almost all of Łódź’s industry is in Jewish hands (Seventh Motor Vehicle Engineering and Construction Brigade).

You cannot bear a grudge against the Jewish people for national reasons, but only because the Jews manifest their endeavors through profiteering, looking for lighter labor (Corporal Sieniowski, Third Infantry Division).122

Jews always occupy better positions, even in the military. There were only a few individuals [of Jewish origin] on the front, the others remaining in the headquarters, storehouses, and hospitals (Rifleman Mankowski, First Infantry Division).

There are many Jews holding high-ranking positions in Poland, and they do not care for the public welfare, so there will be no peace and quiet in Poland as long as Jews are here” (Officers, Ninth Infantry Division).

These views must also have been common in leftist milieus outside the army, as anti-Jewish slogans were chanted even during the May Day parade in Warsaw

←240 | 241→

in 1945.123 Anna Cichopek reports that manifestations of antisemitism within the PPR were discussed three times that year at board meetings (7 June 1945; 5 and 19 July 1945):

There is ferment in the Party against the Jews. (…) One has to bear in mind that filling positions with Jewish comrades triggers objection on the part of the Poles. (…) In UB, you cannot see the bottom of the cesspool. It is common knowledge that the leading PUBP [District Public Security Office] officials are Jews.124

The minutes of the PPR Central Committee meeting from August 16, 1945, record the words of Roman Zambrowski:

Antisemitic sentiments exist even within the progressive part of the working class. (…) We have not even eradicated antisemitism from our government institutions.125

Julian Kwiek also mentions antisemitic opinions voiced by the working-class Party members in Kraków. In the borough of Grzegórzki, they criticized the authorities, claiming that too many Jews were holding high-ranking positions in the ministries and the security apparatus.126 In a lecture given in autumn 1945 at the Civil Militia Provincial Headquarters School for investigation officers, organized by the Central Political Education Board, the Party instructor complained about

an extremely low political level of the students. Their statements in the discussion, with which they interfered in my lecture, were of the following sort: ‘As long as Jews will be holding posts in Poland, it’s going to be bad’; ‘We are being wronged by the Jews, for the low salaries that we and the workers get, the Jews are to blame, it’s their policy’; ‘Jews ought to be exterminated and deported’; and whispers could be clearly heard, ‘Down with the Jews!’; ‘Chase the Jews out of the Bezpieka]’, etc.127

On March 13, 1946 during a local party unit conference in Kraków, PPR members accused those PPS members that ‘the latter are scheming [to create] a 17th republic ←241 | 242→[referring to the concept of Poland as a 17th Soviet socialist republic] and to collaborate with Jews’128. At a July rally in Dęblin, held by the PPR after the Kielce pogrom, official speeches were interrupted with exclamations ‘Down with the Jews’; ‘They’ve come over to defend the Jews, shame’; ‘The Jews murdered thirteen Polish children, and they have come here to defend them’; ‘Bierut will not dare sentence them [= those who took part in the pogrom] to death’; ‘You defend your Jews, and me, how am I supposed to survive with my 900 zl per month?’; ‘The Jews at the forefront of UB’; ‘We want democracy, but without Jews’.129

Similar opinions were voiced in the milieu of peasant activists. Roman Zambrowski recalled peasantry rallies, including the one in Wola Żelichowska, at which an antisemitic resolution was adopted.130 In Bochnia, in turn, a speaker whose name is unknown was met with applause as he,

referring to [Władysław] Kiernik’s131 report, which stated that Poland should be an ethnically homogenous state, proposed that Jews be expelled from Poland as well,132 remarking on this occasion that Hitler should be thanked for having exterminated the Jews.133

←242 | 243→

In an official interpellation to the Regional National Council in Rzeszów, a similar opinion was expressed by Adam Popowski, a representative of the Supreme Chamber of Control of the Republic of Poland, who stayed in Rzeszów after the pogrom. He decided that the authorities ought to treat the Jews ‘like Ukrainians’:134

It would be of a greater benefit to both nations to take advantage of organizational and political capabilities of Polish Jews in the territory of Germany, as they have a command of the German language and thus are able to gain control of the press, the radio, and the important domains of economic as well as political life. Rumor has it that it’s no-one else but the Jews who are the only nation that could, with adequate support, contribute to a complete pacification of Germany, and to directly collect their compensation due on account of the losses, moral as well as material ones.135

This statement clearly shows that it was the “Jewish question” that provided an opportunity to bring the leftist and the national phraseologies closer to each other. To a careful reader of pre-war proclamations of the National Radical Camp (ONR), which postulated an agricultural reform and nationalization of industry,136 this affinity is nothing new. The novelty, however, lies in the strength of the impact of those ideas in the post-war Poland which was being communized.

←243 | 244→

All these opinions have been bluntly summarized by a certain woman aboard a lorry transporting passengers from Sosnowiec to Katowice, who invoked the triple figure of Bloodsucker thus:

The Jews don’t work, what they do is they suck blood out of the nation, they should be put into Majdanek and Oświęcim [Auschwitz] again, as the Germans used to do, they murdered children in Kraków, in Katowice they’ve already murdered a couple of children too. (…) I would flay the Jews myself.137


According to Jan Vansina, author of the classic work on oral tradition as a historical source,

Rumors that are not contradicted survive and become part first of the store of oral history, later also of oral tradition.… Rumor is a process by which a collective historical consciousness is built. The collective interpretations resulting from massive rumors lead to commonly accepted interpretations of events, non-events, or sets of events. Hence a tradition based on rumor tells us more about the mentality at the time of the happening than about the events themselves.… Such sources should be recognized, and not summarily dismissed as physical impossibilities and hence useless embellishments of some later age. Their very survival in tradition means something in terms of historical consciousness and of contemporary mentalities and ideologies.138

It might seem absurd that a country surrounded with real enemies fabricates symbolic enemies and directs its forces against them. However, what might seem irrational to individuals is not so in the logic of imagined communities. Poland had a centuries-old tradition of fighting internal enemies, and this was reinforced after World War II by the intensification of national feeling caused by the German and Soviet invasions. Polish leaders and citizens felt a desperate need to restore the social cohesion so disrupted by recent events. In the face of the changes brought about by the war and the subsequent liberation of the country by the Red Army, the imagined community responded as one might expect – by closing ranks. Unfortunately, one of the means chosen for doing so was the invocation of the image of the bloodsucking Jew in three types of discourse: religious, national, and left-wing/political. After World War II, when Polish sovereignty ←244 | 245→was under serious challenge, all these converged under the banner of defending Polish freedom.

The mechanism that triggered anti-Jewish violence, including all but one postwar pogrom, was the demetaphorization/literalization of the bloodsucker figure. The Jew, regarded as a metaphoric vampire feeding on the blood of the nation, was transformed back into a kidnapper and murderer as known from religious blood libels through the dissemination of the rumors about kidnapped children. As Krystyna Kersten has noted, it was this particular literal figure, rather than reports of Jewish tormenters in UB, that sent rioters into the streets.139

It was only at the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s that the Catholic Church banned the message of Jewish ritual murder from its teachings. Arieh Kochavi, who analyzed the position taken by the Vatican after the Kielce pogrom,140 has demonstrated the belief that the blood libel was true and was certainly not limited to the Polish folk Catholicism. It would thus be erroneous to perceive it as a “normal superstition” shared by unmodernized Eastern Europeans.141 The belief in blood libel myths among bishops, intellectuals, and underground officers is generically different from such inert religious residues as the lucky rabbit’s foot or an unlucky black cat.

Poles of all stations believed that Jews were bloodsuckers. The belief was not limited to common people but rather extended to the ruling elites, including the ecclesial hierarchy, underground army officers, and even the Citizens’ Militia officers and some of the Communist officials. Without the awareness of this issue, one can understand neither the postwar exodus of Jews from Poland nor the evolution of the Polish version of Communism, which began with the perceived participation of so many Jews and endured in a country in which hardly a Jew remained.

1 Horowitz, Donald: The Deadly Ethnic Riots. University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles 2001, p. 6.

2 See Kurkowska-Budzan, Marta: Antykomunistyczne podziemie zbrojne na Białostocczyznie. Towarzystwo Wydawnicze “Historia Iagellonica”: Kraków 2009, p. 41.

3 Douglas, Mary: Natural Symbols. Explorations in Cosmology. Routledge: London and New York 2003, p. 118. See Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna: Legendy o krwi: Antropologia przesądu. W.A.B.: Warsaw 2007, p. 156 (transl into French by M.Maliszewska, Légendes du sang. Pour une anthropologie de l'antisémitisme chrétien, éditions Albin Michel, Paris 2015).

4 Gadomski, Witold / Kurski, Jarosław: “Donald Tusk: Nie będzie koalicji z PIS Kaczyńskiego”. Gazeta Wyborcza 1.9.2007.

5 Kurtyka, Janusz: “Gross to wampir historiografii”. Gazeta Wyborcza 10.1.2008. At least since the mid-1960s, serial killers have been referred to as vampires in Poland; see e.g.: “Wampir pozywa radio za wampira”. Gazeta Lublin, retrieved 17.1.2012, from http:// lublin.,35640,7746531,_Wampir__pozywa_radio_za__wampira___ Chce_pol_miliona.html.

6 Cała, Alina: Żyd- wróg odwieczny? Antysemityzm w Polsce i jego źródła. Nisza: Warsaw 2012, p. 456.

7 Compare the use of traditional anti-Jewish rhetoric directed at Hussites in a 1443 Silesian painting from Brzeg, Vir Dolorum; see Fig. 64 in Dobrzeniecki, Tadeusz: Catalogue of the Medieval Painting. National Museum in Warsaw: Warsaw 1977, p. 227–228.

8 See the accusation of ritual murder, interpreted in the context of Reformation disputes about the Eucharist, Sochaczew 1558; see e.g. Śleszkowski, Sebastyan: Odkrycie zdrad złośliwych… Georgii Schonfels: Braniewo 1621; Guldon, Zenon / Wijaczka, Jacek: Procesy o mordy rytualne w Polsce w XVI–XVIII wieku. DCF: Kielce 1995, p. 86.

9 For example, associated with Infant Gabriel in contemporary Orthodox propaganda; see Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna: “Raport z badań podlaskich 2007”. Societas/Communitas: Polityki pamięci, 8(2) 2009, pp. 35–94.

10 A folkloristic motif: in Thompson’s index motif V361; Thompson, Stith: Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folk-Tales, Ballads, Myths, Fabliaux, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliau, Jest-Books, and Local Legends. Indiana University Press: Bloomington 1955–1958.

11 See Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, p. 328.

12 See an article in the Rodzina Polska quarterly, July 1926, ed. by the Pallottine Fathers, Wadowice–Kraków “Na Kopcu”: “[The Jew] has abandoned his own land, [and] taken up vagabondage, having resolved to live at the expense of others. Like a louse, bedbug, locust, typhoid germ, bacillus of cholera and pestilence.… He demanded equal rights and “tolerance,” [that is,] the surrender of Christendom to the Jewish onslaught, and then abdicated, Christian – renounce your faith, nationality, your land and the heaven – give back what you have amassed – burn the Holy Scripture, overthrow the Papacy, change your churches into synagogues, grow sidelocks, don ‘tsetsele,’ and turn into a Jewish lackey. […] Whole legions of traitors of their own country, loyal to Judaism heart and soul, have for dozens of years been committing the incessant crime of disavowing their nation. […] This whole horde of brigands of the worst sort has an influence on the nation’s masses.” I would like to thank Tadeusz Markiel for a copy of this text. The argument in Rodzina Polska shows stylistic and reasoning analogies with publications by the Rev. Józef Kruszyński, discussed in the section An Elitist Discourse: The Clergy and the Hierarchs.

13 See e.g. Didier, Stanisław: Rola neofitów w dziejach Polski. Myśl Narodowa: Warsaw 1934; Tworkowski, Stanisław: Polska bez Żydów. Stronnictwo Narodowe: Warsaw 1939, Chapter 7: “A baptized Jew is the most dangerous kind of Jew. Baptism in fact facilitates such a Jew’s infiltration into society. It paves him the way to posts, offices, helps penetrate into cultural centers; in a word, the Jew, playing the hypocritical part of a Christian, lulls the society into a false sense of security, and carries his goals out more easily.” For an extensive analysis of the figure of [Jewish] convert [to Christianity], see Janion, Maria: “Mit założycielski polskiego antysemityzmu”. In: id. (ed.): Bohater, spisek, śmierć. Wykłady żydowskie. W. A. B.: Warsaw 2009, pp. 77–113.

14 In Poland, the image of an internal enemy is itself much older, dating to the Early Baroque period. It can already be found in Mojecki, Przecław: Zydowskie okrućieństwá, mordy y zabobony. Jakub Siebeneicher: Kraków 1598. It was also included by Bazyli Wąglicki (Vaglicius) in his Swawola wyuzdána Zydowska (no place of publication or publisher specified, 1631), p. 3: “I camme across, having comme over, only one Jewishe house at Oleszyce, & verry quiet, that one; now that there is already foureteen landlordes, & more, and of chylderen, there are like the swarme in Egypth, who, having leassed their dwellings from Burghers in corner & othere superior market-place houses, have depployed their usuryous webes like ugly spyders against the poore bees of Your Grace, so that those, once entangled by the conveniency’s perfidious helpfulness, may be sucked-out & damaged, and afterward, without a bargain & payment, their worke & estates may be possessed.” Seventeenth-century Polish picaresque literature compared the Jews to e.g. “a maggot in a beautiful trunk, a moth in an expensive vestment” (Jurkowski, Jan: “Poselstwo z Dzikich Pól”. In: id.: Dzieła wszystkie: Utwory panegiryczne i satyryczne, Mayenowa, Maria Renata (ed.) Ossolineum: Wrocław 1958, p. 266; quoted after: Augustyniak, Urszula: Koncepcje narodu i społeczeństwa w literaturze plebejskiej od końca XVI do końca XVII wieku. Ossolineum: Wrocław 1983, p. 62. Aristocratic authors of the period portrayed Jews as leeches, lice, and moths, asking what ‘that sly snakes family/[which] rakes gains illegitimate most greedily, oppresses the poor with their ruthless usury’ was in fact doing in Poland (Klonowic, Sebastian-Fabian / Syrokomla, Władysław (transl.): Roksolania. Józef Zawadzki: Vilnius 1851, pp. 78–9, after: Augustyniak, Koncepcje narodu, p. 69). See also Augustyniak’s discussion of Janusz Tazbir’s contention that “the notion of internal enemy was not yet known” in the Baroque period – ibid., pp. 55–56.

15 Adamski, Franciszek: “The Jewish Question in Polish Religious Periodicals in the Second Republic: The Case of “Przegląd Katolicki” ”. Polin 8, 1994, pp. 129–145; Landau-Czajka, Anna: “The Image of the Jew in the Catholic Press during the Second Republic”. Polin 8, 1994, pp. 146–175; Napiórkowski, Stanisław Celestyn (ed.): A bliźniego swego… Materiały z sympozjum „Św. Maksymilian Maria Kolbe – Żydzi – Masoni”. Redakcja Wydawnictw Katolickiego Uniwesytetu Lubelskiego: Lublin 1993; Forecki, Piotr: “Chrześcijańskie motywacje antysemityzmu na łamach „Rycerza Niepokalanej” ”. In: Kosman, Marceli (ed.): Na obrzeżach polityki I. Wydawnictwo Naukowe INPiD UAM: Poznań 2002, pp. 113–129; Forecki, Piotr: “Polityczny charakter treści antysemickich na łamach „Rycerza Niepokalanej” ”. In: Kosman, Marceli (ed.): Na obrzeżach polityki I. Wydawnictwo Naukowe INPiD UAM: Poznań 2002, pp. 53–69.

16 See the expression “Jewish lackeys” discussed in the section Soldiers and Officers of the Underground.

17 See Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, pp. 389–392.

18 Bismarck, as the last figure mentioned in the list of quotations, establishes a terminus post quem, making it possible to date the source used by the Pallottine father.

19 For an extensive account of the dynamics of left-wing antisemitism, see: Lustiger, Arno: Stalin and the Jews: The Red Book. The Tragedy of the Soviet Jews and the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Enigma Books: New York 2003. Antisemitic excerpts from the works of Karl Marx are cited e.g. in Johnson, Paul: A History of the Jews. Harper Perennial: New York 1988, p. 373.

20 The left-wing version of the bloodsucker figure was manipulated by the Communist authorities after the Kielce pogrom in 1946: “On July 11, a joint conference of PPR [Polish Workers’ Party] and PPS [Polish Socialist Party] took place in Kielce. At that conference, it was decided to start arresting parasitic elements and to close down the entertainment establishments, giving the premises thus emptied to the workers. Our agitators and those from PPS all agreed that restaurant-keepers and [their] associates [?] are public offenders. At all rallies, the people redirected their indignation from the Jews to parasitic elements in general. The campaign was a huge success, as it corresponded with the incensed sentiments of dissatisfied people. They finally became convinced that the Party [PPR] is indeed seeking out the public wrongdoers and punishing them.”

“Sprawozdanie instruktorów KC PPR z pobytu w województwie kieleckim od 4 do 15 lipca 1946”, in Meducki, Stanisław / Wrona, Zenon (eds.): Antyżydowskie wydarzenia kieleckie 4 lipca 1946 roku. Dokumenty i materiały I. Urząd Miasta Kielce and Kieleckie Towarzystwo Naukowe: Kielce 1992; Meducki, Stanisław (ed.): Antyżydowskie wydarzenia kieleckie 4 lipca 1946 roku. Dokumenty i materiały II. Kieleckie Towarzystwo Naukowe: Kielce 1994, 142. For a more extensive account of this issue, see the section Jews in Official and Left-Wing Discourse (1945/1946).

21 Ossowski, Stanisław: “Na tle wydarzeń kieleckich”. Kuźnica 38, 1946, p. 5, as reprinted in: Kultura i Społeczeństwo 1, 1987, p. 54: “A few days before the Kielce events, Myśl Współczesna [monthly, 2 (July 1946), 202] published an article by Emil Stanisław Rapaport, ‘Polska jako państwo jednonarodowe’, [‘Poland as a single-nation country’]. As part of his initial remarks, the author readily expressed his view that, ‘from now on, as international and inter-state relations having taken shape after World War II, the notions of «Pole» and «Polish citizen», both for us internally and for foreigners outside, are indisputably synonymous, as regards Poles residing in this country on a permanent basis.’ ‘For the time being,’ the author continues, ‘we have to accomplish the single task of using any and all means to bring the actual status of ethnic homogeneity in the Polish state to a possibly maximum intensification.’”

See also an article by Przygórski, Stanisław: “Przeciw potędze ciemnoty”. Odrodzenie 22.7.1945 (a response to Mieczysław Jastrun’s article “Potęga ciemnoty”, a reaction to the Kraków pogrom): “In democratic Poland, the Jew has acquired his due rights and enjoys them justly. We go through thick and thin together, we work side by side, we jointly create the new Poland in whose political system there is no room for minority issues, artificially construed by pro-fascist brainwashing,” quoted in: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 49. See also: Kwiek, Julian: Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy w województwie krakowskim w latach 1945–1949/50. Księgarnia Akademicka: Kraków 2002, pp. 5–6. Moreover, see Kersten, Krystyna: “Polska – państwo narodowe. Dylematy i rzeczywistość”. In: Kula, Marcin (ed.): Narody. Jak powstawały i jak wybijały się na niepodległość. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe: Warsaw 1989, p. 476.

22 “Specjalne doniesienie dotyczące zajść antyżydowskich w Krakowie”, Institute of National Remembrance Archive (AIPN), MBP 3378; quoted after: Zaremba, Marcin: “Mit mordu rytualnego w powojennej Polsce. Archeologia i hipotezy”. Kultura i Społeczeństwo 2, 2007, pp. 104–105.

23 See e.g. the account of Józef Wulf: “The mob said that the Jews had murdered a Christian child […]”; Wulf, Józef: “Dialog polsko-żydowski”. Wiadomości 12, 1965; quoted after: Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, p. 63. Also, see Kaczmarski, Krzysztof: “Pogrom którego nie było. Rzeszów 11–12 czerwca 1945. Fakty, hipotezy, dokumenty”. Glaukopis 11–12, 2008, pp. 92–97.

24 It shows in the relief expressed by the author of Letter 2: “Now it turns out that it’s really true.”; “Nobody, the press included, will deny now that the yevreys did those things.”

25 Alina Cała presents a contamination of the two fables: “Initially, [he] was kept in a cellar, fed with nuts, and then put into a barrel and tortured.” Cała, Alina: Wizerunek Żyda w polskiej kulturze ludowej. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego: Warsaw 2005, p. 48.

26 Skarga, Piotr: Zywoty Swiętych Starego y Nowego Zakonu, na każdy dzień przez cały rok. A. Piotrkowczyk: Kraków 1610, p. 262, for March 30 (24): “Męczeństwo pacholęcia Szymona Trydenckiego od Żydów umęczonego pisane od Doktora Jana Macieja Tybaryna do Senatu Brygji”. In Propp, the function is marked η1.

27 See narrative 40M by Rudolf of Schlettstadt in my book Legendy o krwi: As the Jews were piercing the abducted host, “it sounded as if a small boy emitted a wail.” The recurrence of this sound attracts local Christians to the place and they discover that the sacrament has been desecrated. See the bleeding wall motif in a Paolo Ucello painting – the praedella of the Corpus Christi Order altar, Galleria Nazionale della Marche, Palazzo Ducale.

28 Rycerz Niepokalanej 1, 1946, p. 10; after: Zaremba, “Mit mordu rytualnego”, p. 106.

29 See Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, p. 446.

30 Ludwik Hirszfeld (1884–1954), physician, microbiologist, immunologist, director of the State Institute of Hygiene in Warsaw. From 1907 to 1911, he worked at the Institute for Cancer Research in Heidelberg, Germany, where together with the German physician E. van Dungern he laid the foundations of the theory of blood groups, discovered blood group inheritance mechanisms, and introduced a marking system for them.

31 Steinhaus, Hugo: Wspomnienia i zapiski. Zgorzelska, Aleksandra (ed.) Aneks: London 1992, p. 354.

32 On the day the pogrom in Kielce took place, a rumor was circulating about the disappearance of a boy, who was subsequently found in Ostrów Wielkopolski. “The boy was allegedly killed by some Ukrainian who was said to export the meat or make sausages of it. Crowds of people started gathering in one of the streets. […] The rumors were growing increasingly fantastic, namely, that there were four, eight, or even twenty-four of those boys. One woman, who had not been apprehended and her account was not verified, said that she had seen fourteen little heads of children and the meat had been exported by the ukrainians [sic], or possibly, the soviets [sic] to make sausages, while the blood was drunk by the Jews.”; “Sprawozdanie grupy trzech towarzyszy wyslanych przez Komitet WoJewódzki do Kalisza 10/7 dla przeciwdziałania ewentualnym wystąpieniom antysemickim”, Archive of New Records (AAN), Bolesław Bierut – the archive, 254/III-6, p. 77; after: Zaremba, “Mit mordu rytualnego”, p. 118. Also in “Plotki o kiełbasach z mięsa ludzkiego”. Dziennik Powszechny 22.3.1945, a Radom and Kielce newspaper; after: Zaremba, “Mit mordu rytualnego”, p. 109. Other testimonies date to late August 1946: in Przemyśl, the police recorded that the brother of a certain girl had reported on “Jews who kidnapped her to get meat, and he will murder the Jews for it.” Zaremba, “Mit mordu rytualnego”, p. 118. See also: AAN, KC PPR section, 295/VII-53, p. 35, after: Olejnik, Leszek: Polityka narodowościowa Polski w latach 1944–1960. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego: Łódź 2003, p. 388.

33 See: Turek, Menachem: Życie i zagłada Tykocina w czasie okupacji hitlerowskiej, Archive of the Jewish Historical Institute (AŻIH) 301/1971. This author describes the “wild rumors”, in circulation in 1939, “whereby according to an old tale, the Jews in Grodno and other places poured boiling water on the heads of Polish soldiers.” Also, see an account of the so-called railway operation of 1948(?): “As we were on our way back, having crossed the border to the Polish side, can’t remember the locality [’s name], our transport was stopped in a forest. Initially, we didn’t know the reason why. Maybe, to shoot us off? Soldiers came up to us, a Lieutenant, or maybe Second-Lieutenant, can’t remember exactly, he came up just by our wagon and asked if there are any Jews among us. As he heard that no there aren’t, he only then took his cap off and shows [= showed] his head. For he says that if they, Jews, were in a separate wagon, then we [= the soldiers] would order that wagon of theirs to be disconnected, and we would destroy all of them. Because, says he, ladies and gentlemen, have a look. Then he took his cap off again. As we were in Gdansk in 1939, we were walking down the streets, the Jews poured hot vinegar onto our heads out of the windows.” Genowefa Małczyńska’s account in Marciniak, Edward: Jedwabne w oczach świadków. Wydawnictwo Duszpasterstwa Rolników: Włocławek 2001, p. 69. Also, see Steinhaus, Wspomnienia i zapiski, p. 272.

34 Members of monastic orders were also said to have believed in the blood libel; see “Raport dekadowy za okres od 7 VII do 17 VII, MBUP w Częstochowie”, AIPN in Katowice, b. 203, in: Zaremba, “Mit mordu rytualnego”, p. 127 (footnote 143).

35 “Raport o zajściach kieleckich w dn. 4/07/1946” [“Report on Kielce incidents of 4/07/1946”], signed by the Rev. Roman Zelek, 1946, “Materiały zarekwirowane przez UB podczas rewizji w Katedrze Kieleckiej w dn. 1/1/1952” [“Materials requisitioned by the Security Office (UB) during the search at the Kielce Cathedral on January 11, 1952”], after: Cała, Alina / Datner-Śpiewak, Helena (eds.): Dzieje Żydów w Polsce 1944–1968. Teksty źródlowe. Żydowski Instytut Historyczny: Warsaw 1997, pp. 53–55.

36 Bishop’s letter from 6 April 1998 to Prof. Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, Ph.D., kindly made available to me by the recipient.

37 This statement is documented in various sources – see, for example, “Odpis sprawozdania z audiencji u biskupa Stefana Wyszyńskiego ordynariusza lubelskiego delegacji Wojewódzkiego Komitetu Żydów w Lublinie” from October 10, 1953, signed by M. Szyldkraut and S. Słuszny (verified against the original version by Grzegorz Smolar); in: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, pp. 116–117. Also, see a note from seven years earlier, “Sprawozdanie członków delegacji WKŻP w Lublinie z audiencji u bp. Stefana Wyszyńskiego”, Lublin, July 17,1946; after Żaryn, Jan: “Hierarchia Kościoła Katolickiego wobec relacji polsko-żydowskich w latach 1945–1947. In: Żaryn, Jan / Kamiński, Łukasz (eds.): Wokół pogromu kieleckiego I. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej: Kielce 2006, p. 96: “In the discussion on inciting the mob, the false legend about the necessity to use Christian blood for matzos, the Rev. Bishop explains that even as recently as at the Beilis trial, many old and new Jewish books had been collected in which the blood issue has not been sorted out as yet.”

38 Leon Haber’s article in Przyjaciel Ludu 20, 1846, p. 159; quoted after: Kolberg, Oskar: Lud. Jego zwyczaje, sposób życia, mowa, przysłowia, obrzędy, gusła, zabawy, pieśni, muzyka, tańce. Tom 48: Tarnowskie-Rzeszowskie. Instytut im. Oskara Kolberga: Wrocław-Poznań 1961, pp. 17–18.

39 Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, pp. 72, 73, 85, 86, etc. For 19th century use of this motive, see: Wodziński, Marcin: Oświecenie żydowskie w Królestwie Polskim wobec chasydyzmu. Dzieje pewnej idei. Cyklady: Warsaw 2003, pp. 77, 76, 149–151, 179–181, 262.

40 Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, p. 424.

41 The ritual murder scenario included in Skarga’s Żywoty Świętych, based on the life of St. Simon of Trent (†1495), and copied from Tabarin, a doctor who examined little Simon’s corpse, first appeared in Polish in the first edition of Żywoty Świętych (1579) and most recently, to date, in Skarga, Piotr: Żywoty Świętych Starego y Nowego Zakonu na każdy dzień przez cały rok. Wydawnictwo Księży Jezuitów: Kraków 1933.

42 Radoński, Karol: Święci i błogosławieni Kościoła Katolickiego. Encyklopedia hagiograficzna. Księgarnia św. Wojciecha: Poznań 1947; therein, see e.g. the life of Werner of Oberwesel, Simon of Trent, etc.

43 See e.g. one of the most important individuals in Bishop Wyszyński’s entourage – the Rev. Józef Kruszyński, postwar Rector of the Catholic University in Lublin. The following is a selection of his pre-war works: Żydzi i kwestia żydowska. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1920; Dążenia żydów w dobie obecnej. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1921; Polityka żydowska. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1921; Żargon żydowski. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1921; O narodowy język żydów. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1921; Żydzi a Polska. Drukarnia Robotników Chrześcijańskich T.A.: Poznań 1921; Religia żydów współczesnych. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1923; Dlaczego występuję przeciwko Żydom?. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1923; Rola światowa żydostwa. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1923; Niebezpieczeństwo żydowskie. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1923); Antysemityzm, antyjudaizm, antygoizm. Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1924; Żydzi a świat chrześcijański. (Księgarnia Powszechna i Drukarnia Diecezjalna: Włocławek 1924; Stanisław Staszic a kwestia żydowska. Drukarnia Udziałowa: Lublin 1925; Talmud co zawiera i czego naucza. Drukarnia Udziałowa: Lublin 1925. Also, see: Libionka, Dariusz: “Księdza Kruszyńskiego spojrzenie na Zagładę”. Gazeta Wyborcza Lublin 26.1.2008; id.: “Obcy, wrodzy, niebezpieczni. Obraz Żydów i ‘kwestii żydowskiej’ w prasie inteligencji katolickiej lat 1930. w Polsce”. Kwartalnik Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego 3, 2002, pp. 318–338.

44 See: Tokarska-Bakir Joanna, The Polish underground organization ‘Wolność i Niezawisłość’ and anti-Jewish pogroms, 1945–6, “Patterns of Prejudice”, 2: 2017, 111–136.

45 On antisemitic documents of WiN origin, see Kwiek, Julian: “‘Ogień’ wobec mniejszości narodowych.” In Kowalski, Robert (ed.): Wokół legendy ‘Ognia’. Opór przeciw zniewoleniu: Polska-Malopolska-Podhale 1945–1956. Polskie Towarzystwo Historyczne: Nowy Targ 2008, p. 244. Also Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, op.cit.

46 State Archive in Kraków, section Zrzeszenie Wolność i Niezawisłość, 9, b. 72: Mniejszości narodowe; after: Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, pp. 243–257.

47 Krzysztof Kaczmarski remarks that the name referred to the political unit (the so-called Defense) of the pre-war State Police. During the occupation, the Brigades “were part of the Military Departments’ Security Squads structure, affiliated with ZWZ-AK (Union of Armed Struggle/ Home Army) Districts. Until the end of 1944, Rzeszów Intelligence Brigades reported to the ZWZ-AK District headquarters and were thereafter subordinated to NIE and, from May 1945 on, to the Armed Forces Delegation. From September 1945, they formed a parallel and independent intelligence network associated with WiN,” see Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 295 (footnote 20). See also Nawrocki, Zbigniew: “Brygady Wywiadowcze (1940–1946) zarys problematyki”. Zeszyty Historyczne WIN-u 18, 2002, pp. 33–48; id.: Zamiast wolności. UB na Rzeszowszczyźnie 1944–1949. Instytut Europejskich Studiów Społecznych: Rzeszów 1998, pp. 140–146.

48 Kaczmarski, “Pogrom, którego nie było”, p. 104.

49 For more on the Chasidim being associated with blood libels in the 19th century, see Wodziński, Oświecenie żydowskie, p. 150.

50 The religious vocabulary has survived, however, in the testimonies and reports of Jews.

51 Out of this interesting collection of reports (dated 1945–1946), this particular document is the only one that contains the mention of a ritual murder: “Różne raporty i sprawozdania za okres maj-lipiec 1945”, b. 109, University of Warsaw Library, Microfilm Reading Room, mkfm 8614, b. 109. Krzysztof Kaczmarski, who also quotes this text, believes that it is a “Kraków-Rzeszów [?] District of the Armed Forces Delegation for Poland Reconnaissance Report”, see Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 104.

52 ‘Załącznik do raportu Okręgu Rzeszowskiego Brygad Wywiadowczych’, 15 (?) September 1945, AIPN Rzeszów, 122/312, b. 218; in: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 142, doc. 33. WiN documents include a set of lexically similar texts, which contain similar data (e.g. sixteen victims) and elaborate on this variant.

53 Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 294: “This information was not confirmed by Franciszek Mendoń, son of Stanisław, in his conversation with the author. He admitted, though, that the Jews were assisted by his uncle, Stanisław’s brother Władysław Mendoń, residing in Słowackiego St. Cf. AIPN, 944/64, The file of the case against Ł. Ciepliński et al. (4th Central Board [ZG] of WiN), ‘Sprawozdanie z zajść antyżydowskich w Rzeszowie z dnia 11/6/1945’, p. 459; oral testimony by Franciszek Mendoń from April 3, 2008.”

54 “Załącznik do sprawozdania Zrzeszenia WiN na temat zajść antyżydowskich w Rzeszowie”, autumn 1945; after: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 143 (doc. 34). Another lexically similar document is the WiN Association paper on the PPR ethnic policy; after: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 162 (doc. 43, second half of 1946).

55 Quoted after: Gutman, Yisrael / Krakowski, Shmuel: Unequal Victims. Poles and Jews during World War Two. Holocaust Library: New York 1986; Kopciowski, Adam: “Zajścia antyżydowskie na Lubelszczyźnie w pierwszych latach po drugiej wojnie światowej”. Zagłada Żydów. Studia i materiały 3, 2007, p. 183 (footnote 20).

56 Report of the Intelligence Brigades, Rzeszów District, June 6, 1946; after: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 109 (doc. 19).

57 Anonymous leaflet disseminated in Kraków after the anti-Jewish incidents of August 11, 1945; Central Military Archive (CAW), ref. no. 767/322, p. 96; after: Cichopek, Anna: Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie 11 sierpnia 1945 r. Żydowski Instytut Historyczny: Warsaw 2000, p. 227 (doc. 59).

58 Anonymous leaflet disseminated in Kraków after the anti-Jewish incidents of August 1945; Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, pp. 197–198 (doc. 49).

59 Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 93 (footnote 107), without identifying the Underground group.

60 The State Archive in Lublin, “Ulotki wydawane po wyzwoleniu” [‘Leaflets issued after the liberation’], ref. no. 120, c. 20; in: Kopciowski, “Zajścia antyżydowskie na Lubelszczyźnie”, p. 182 (footnote 17).

61 Anonymous leaflet disseminated in Kraków Region, concluding with the slogan: “Long live the Polish Government in London!!”, Kraków, 1945; after: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, pp. 232–233 (doc. 61).

62 Quoted from a facsimile copy published in: Kwiek, ‘Ogień’ wobec mniejszości narodowych, p. 257.

63 Brochure Dość krętactw sowieckich: “[t]his year on June 6 in Rzeszów, where the remains of 9-year-old Bronisława Medoń have been found. She died as a result of loss of blood that had been taken for transfusion purposes.” The text then goes on to inform that those responsible for the Rzeszów murder have been captured. They were allegedly four NKVD informers – Jews, who were subsequently released after a few days upon request from the NKVD. “And so the murder, even if not committed upon request from the NKVD, was definitely approved by NKVD,” AAN, KC PPR, 295/VII-203, s. 57; after: Kwiek, Julian: “Wydarzenia antyżydowskie 11 sierpnia 1945 w Krakowie”. Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 1 (193), 2000, pp. 83–5. I would like to thank Prof. Julian Kwiek for giving me access to his articles and for his help with the bibliography.

64 See the Intelligence Brigades report: “The whole MO [Citizens’ Militia] patrol that had carried out the initial investigation were detained and disappeared without trace. Those who had witnessed the cellar incident were also arrested. The rabbi himself was detained at the Rzeszów UB prison, where he openly confessed to the murder, both to fellow Polish political prisoners and the UB officers. A few days later, following orders from the Ministry of Security, he was transferred from the Rzeszów prison and the case was closed.”; “Sprawozdanie z zajść antyżydowskich w Rzeszowie z dnia 11/6/1945”, AIPN, 459, pp. 944/64; in: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 302 (footnote 80). This rumor about the vanished patrol was taken up by certain historians; finally, however, based on the recovered investigation files, it was shown to be false. See ibid.: “In the personal files of the militiamen known to have supervised or participated in the searches and arrests of the Jews (Jan Grzeszek, Maria Bzura, Franciszek Kaszuba, Jan Łukasz, Marcin Opiekun, Jan Siatko, Władysław Niedzielski, Zygmunt Stachura), there is no information whatsoever about them being detained or discharged from service in connection with this matter. Likewise, there is nothing to confirm the information that Rabbi Thorn was arrested by UB.”

65 Narration 59M by the Rev. Treter, in Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, p. 312. This motive reappears in all the conspiracy theories about pogroms. E.g. a certain Antoni Nijaki, thirteen years old, was said to have disappeared in Kraków; he had shouted that the Jews wanted to kill him. See WiN document “Sprawozdanie z antysemickich zajść w Krakowie”, State Archives in Kraków (APKr), WiN section, 31, pp. 43–432; after: Kwiek, Wydarzenia antyżydowskie, p. 83. Kwiek reports that Antoni Nijaki was released from prison on October 22, 1945 (ibid., footnote 15).

66 See Segal, Hanna / Dybeł, Paweł (transl.): Marzenie senne. Wyobraźnia i sztuka. Universitas: Kraków 2000. The process of literalization, or symbolic equation in Hanna Segal’s terms, consists of a pathological “equation (identification) of a symbol with the object it represents. As a result of this process, a real object with a (hidden) symbolic meaning ceases to be recognized by the individual as something it actually is […], but it literally transforms into what it symbolizes,” Kossowski, Zbigniew: “Freud i Polityka”. Wysokie Obcasy / Gazeta Wyborcza 7.2.2004 (interview with Hanna Segal).

67 See Cała, Wizerunek Żyda, p. 52: “the suckers of our blood.”

68 Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, p. 74.

69 This description must have been a strong folkloristic topos as it was recorded as recently as in 2005 during ethnographic fieldwork in Sandomierz Land. It occurred in a so-called memorate, that is, a story told from memory by a person relating a personal experience – in this case a person who, during the visit to a Jewish home, saw a “Pole in a wardrobe,” hanging upside down.

70 For a short biography of Rabbi Leib Thorn, who resided at 12 Tannenbauma St and was for some time a military chaplain in Warsaw, see Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 78. For more on Leib’s later days – a few days after the pogrom, he is said to have visited Rzeszów – see: Gross, Jan T.: Fear: Antisemitism in Poland after Auschwitz. Random House: New York 2006, pp. 79–82.

71 A measure of the extent of this obsession is the appearance of spontaneously formed citizens’ committees to address Jewish ritual slaughter (see e.g. “Protokół zebrania organizacyjnego przedstawicieli ludności chrześcijańskiej miasta-uzdrowiska Otwocka, odbytego 25 II 1936 roku w Otwocku w sprawie walki z rytualnym ubojem na terenie miasta i uzdrowiska Otwocka”, retrieved 22.3.2010, from http://dziedzictwo.polska. pl/katalog/index,Zydzi,cid,1477.htm?sh=61. See also: Trzeciak, Stanisław: Ubój rytualny czy mechaniczny – Opinia rzeczoznawcy wypowiedziana na posiedzeniu komisji Administracyjno-Gospodarczej Sejmu Polskiego w dn. 5 marca 1936, pod przewodnictwem Pana Posła Kazimierza Ducha. Publisher N/A: Warsaw 1936.

72 See e.g. an utterance recorded near Sandomierz in 2005 (Transcript 1349) regarding Charles de Prêvot’s painting in the Sandomierz Cathedral: “[T]his particular ritual, connected with killing kosher animals, is shown here as regards the killing of a child.” Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi.

73 Libionka, Obcy, wrodzy, p. 203.

74 For the image of Poland as a woman/young girl, see e.g. Todorov, Tzvetan / Sawicka, Paula (transl.): “Skazani na heroizm”. [‘Condemned to Heroism’] Gazeta Wyborcza 18.4.1998.

75 It is foreshadowed in an article from summer 1946, published in an underground magazine Honor i Ojczyzna: “The public opinion in the country has again been shaken by the terrible crime committed on Poles by people in uniforms. We emphasize: Jews on Poles, because there were decidedly racial overtones in the bestial murder, committed on helpless members of the former AK, among them one of the most talented painter of the young generation Kazimierz Markwart, whose father, by the way, was tortured to death by the Gestapo. The background to the case looks as follows: the Jews had received permission from the security authorities to “execute” more than a hundred Poles in retaliation for Kielce. The crime was committed in cells. People were being hanged on butcher hooks. […] We categorically demand: that the matter of Radom and also other activities of Jews in Poland be discussed by elements responsible for the murderous aspect of the [Jewish? – K. K.] community in the community. Let the Jewish clergy take a stand, let scientists, artists and writers make a statement, just like the Poles have done regarding the Kielce matter. Let them speak and distance themselves from the thugs in uniforms. Otherwise we will be forced to blame all the Jews in Poland as a whole that is hostile to us for the committed crimes. We are not antisemites, but we put the interests of our own nation above all else,” Honor i Ojczyzna 9–10, 1946; quoted after Kersten, Krystyna: Polacy, Żydzi, komunizm. Anatomia półprawd 1939–1968. Niezależna Oficyna Wydawnicza: Warsaw 1992, p. 131.

76 See the report by militiaman Michał Kołacz, Rzeszów, June 12, 1945, the second day of the Rzeszów pogrom: “Around one in the afternoon, as I was crossing the market, I could hear a conversation about the murder that had been discovered, which went as follows: ‘See this, the woman says, […] we were giving them food, we were hiding them, and in return, now they are murdering our children. And what about Katyń, the other one says, this is our poor children’s Katyń right here, tortured as they were for over five years. Ah, should my own kid have been killed like that, I’d scratch out those Hebes’ eyes, even the militia would be of no use to them,’” after: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 70.

77 15 April 1945; after: Krajewski, Kazimierz / Łabuszewski, Tomasz: Białostocki Okręg AK-AKO, VII 1944–VIII 1945. Bellona/Volumen: Warsaw 1997, p. 145. Also, see Steinhaus, Wspomnienia, p. 312: “June 9, 1945. […] I have learned that AK was ordered to treat PPR as Volksdeutsch.”

78 See Grabski, August: Żydowski ruch kombatancki w Polsce w latach 1944–1949. Trio: Warsaw 2002, p. 35ff. See id.: Działalność komunistów wśród Żydów w Polsce (1944– 1949). Trio: Warsaw 2004, p. 30ff. Michlic, Joanna: “Żydokomuna, Anti-Jewish Images and Political Tropes in Modern Poland”. Jahrbuch des Simon Dubnow-Instituts 4, 2005, pp. 303–329; id.: Poland’s Threatening Other. The Image of the Jew from 1888 to the Present. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln and London 2006.

79 Robin, Régine: “Badanie pól semantycznych: doświadczenia Ośrodka Leksykologii politycznej w Saint-Cloud”. In: Głowiński, Michał (ed.) / Arnold, Joanna et al. (transl.): Język i społeczeństwo. Czytelnik: Warsaw 1980, p. 295.

80 Roland Barthes defines mythification as a process whereby the position of nature and culture is shifted; the historical represents itself as the eternal, the constructed as the natural, and the casual as the necessary. See Benedyktowicz, Zbigniew et al.: “Antropologia kultury w Polsce – dziedzictwo, pojęcia inspiracje”. Polska Sztuka Ludowa 1, 1989, pp. 47–48.

81 Dirt in Mary Douglas’ sense – see id.: Purity and Danger. Routledge and Kegan Paul: London 1967.

82 The tacit premise here is the assumption of ideological affiliations: Communist ideology inborn to Jews versus the anti-Communist ideology innate to Poles.

83 Kula, Marcin: “Lewicowy intelektualista wobec pogromu kieleckiego”. In: id.: Uparta sprawa. Żydowska? Polska? Ludzka?. Universitas: Kraków 2004, p. 154: “The establishment really wanted to get rid of the ‘Judeo-Communists’ label. They remained quite convinced of being surrounded by strong antisemitism. As they wanted and indeed were to rule the country, they preferred to mitigate this part of the conflict. In any case, some Communist leaders felt awkward due to their own Jewish descent. Their desire was to forget about their roots and to make the Jewish issue disappear from Poland – be it through emigration of the remaining Jews or through leaving things unsaid.”

“May 1, 1946 […] Jews continue to be murdered. On Easter Sunday, five were killed as they were returning from the [concentration] camps. Neither the democrats nor the PPR can find an appropriate tone with regards to the matter. For the PPR preaches social equality, religious freedom in Poland, etc., yet it simultaneously conceals all the Jews working there and at the bezpieka through the use of Polish surnames, fearing disapproval of its own lower ranks.” Steinhaus, Wspomnienia, p. 346. See also: Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, p. 4.

84 This invective was used against Gabriel Narutowicz, the first president of the Republic of Poland. Maciej Rataj, speaker of the Sejm, recorded the following scene from December 9, 1922 in his memoirs: “I was walking around and observing groups of people who were roaming around, freely staging protests and hunting for Jews. A scene from Wiejska [St]: some man in an expensive fur coat is loudly talking to a caretaker: ‘They’ve elected Narutowicz, a thief and a Jewish lackey, for president,’ ” retrieved 15.4.2010, from An alternative epithet used after the war was “Moscow’s lackeys”, see e.g. Ciernik, Ryszard: Ciosanie. Publisher N/A: Warsaw 1965, p. 16.

85 See the section Three Incarnations of the Bloodsucker.

86 This expression was used for Poles who were hiding Jews, e.g. in Rzeszów; see the following description of the situation during the Rzeszów pogrom of June 1945: “There were cases of Jews popping in to their Christian acquaintances’ places in order to hide, but the civilians obstructed that and cast a torrent of abuse [on them], such as ‘Jewish uncle’.” “Sprawozdanie z przebiegu zajść antyżydowskich w Rzeszowie 12/6/1945”, drawn up by the Board of the Rzeszów Jewish Religious Community for the Central Committee of Jews in Poland (CKŻP): after: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 94.

87 See Markiel, Tadeusz / Skibińska, Alina: Zagłada domu Trinczerów. Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów: Warsaw 2011; see also the testimony of Zygmunt Talgor from Husów, June 19, 1950, AIPN Rz 06/23: “Szpecht asked me for a piece of bread and as a reaction to that, Lew Wojciech res. [resident] in Husów called me: ‘you fucking Jewish crony.’ ”

88 “Protokół rozprawy głównej przed Wojskowym Sądem Rejonowym w Kielcach”; after: Meducki and Wrona, Wydarzenia kieleckie I, p. 273.

89 Ibid.; after: Meducki and Wrona, Wydarzenia kieleckie I, p. 279.

90 This phrase referred to Christians who at a specific time, i.e. on Sabbath or on festive days, would light the stove in a Jewish house. See Kotula, Franciszek: Tamten Rzeszów, czyli wędrówka po zakątkach i historii miasta Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza: Rzeszów 1965, p. 383. “A Jewish Wojtek [pronounced ‘voytek’] appears in folk tales and proverbs, such as: ‘Each Jew has his Wojtek, each Pole has his Josek.’ ”

91 Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, p. 389. See also Text 9 above.

92 See the bedbugs figure in the leaflet signed “Ogień” (no. 11). See also: Cała, Wizerunek Żyda, p. 50: [Urzejów, Przemyśl Province] “Jews, once they multiply to a certain number in the world, then pogroms happen.”

93 See Kooz, Claudia: The Nazi Conscience. Harvard University Press: London 2003, p. 201, etc.

94 Steinhaus, Wspomnienia, p. 322: “July 29, 1945: ‘I have learned that in its agreement with the Soviets, Poland has been granted the right to bring back all the Polish citizens of the Polish and Jewish nationality from before 1939. It is obvious then that Russia is now applying the tsarist notion of pushing Jews out of Russia.’ ”

95 “Pismo Kierownika Powiatowego Oddziału Informacji i Propagandy do Naczelnika Informacji i Propagandy w Kielcach na temat Żydów”, AAN, MSiP, ref. no. 924, p. 103; in: Meducki, Wydarzenia Kieleckie II, p. 146.

96 See UB agents’ reports to the Headquarters regarding social sentiments prevailing in Kalisz, Dęblin and Łódź in July 1946: “[Kalisz:] Subsequently, they started spreading a rumor that the whole of Łódzka Street would be emptied of Poles, with thousands of Jews coming in to replace them”; after: Andrzej Paczkowski, “Raport o pogromie”. Puls 50, 1991, p. 107.

97 “As Comrade Buczyński ordered the Pińczów district action group to hold mass meetings regarding the Kielce incidents, one of the District Committee comrades opposed: ‘How can you ask peasants to defend the Jews if Jewesses get 40 thousand zł[otys] each for delivering a child?’ ” “Sprawozdanie instruktorów KC PPR z pobytu w województwie kieleckim od 4 do 15 lipca 1946”; after: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 140. See also Łódź, 1946: “The workers going on strike make use of the following antisemitic arguments: ‘A pregnant Jewess receives 60 thousand zł, and what about me?’ ” Paczkowski, Raport, p. 72.

98 “Akta w sprawie Edwarda Hubala i inni, wystąpienia antyżydowskie”, State Archive in Zamość, District Court of Zamość, 1918–1950, ref. no. 987; after: Kopciowski, Zajścia antyżydowskie, p. 182.

99 See document signed “Polish Independence Movement and the Political Command of the Polish Nation,” mentioning a Jewish-initiated ruling system “worthy of the Gestapo methods – the only difference being that it is sophisticated, disguised and fabricated using as its tools the Polish criminal elements, such as can be found on the margin of any society.” State Archive in Kraków (APKr), WiN section, 41, p. 166: “Do Żydów w Polsce” [‘To the Jews in Poland”], in: Kwiek, Ogień, p. 245. See also a leaflet signed “Ogień”, 1945(?), of unknown provenance: “Jewry, whose goal is to eradicate the genuine Polish element, has no right to exist. […] The real partisan troops are not out for the blood of their brothers, nor are they driven by greed, but instead, they fight to improve the conditions of our [or possibly, “for the masses”] existence oppressed [as we are] by the USRR and the Jewry. […] based on the intelligence and PDP evidence, it has been concluded that UBP consists of SS-men, Volksdeutsch, criminals, bandits and thieves, with Jews and Bolsheviks at the forefront […].” (AAN), Ministry of Information and Propaganda unit, ref. no. 823; after: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 32.

100 See Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna: Rzeczy mgliste. Eseje i studia. Fundacja Pogranicze: Sejny 2004, p. 73.

101 Gossip about them circulated in Poland in 1945; see Steinhaus, Wspomnienia, p. 325: “August 15, 1945. […] Stark also told us of a legend that was in circulation, that each Jew returning from a camp had 10,000 dollars.”

102 For the living standard of Jews returning from hideouts and camps, see letters from the Jewish committees of Radom, Szydłowiec, and Jedlińsk to the Provincial Jewish Committee of Kielce, as quoted in Adam Penkalla, “Władze o obecności Żydów na terenie Kielecczyzny w okresie od wkroczenia Armii Czerwonej do pogromu kieleckiego”. Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 208, 2003, pp. 557–578.

103 Wiślicz-Iwańczyk, Eugeniusz: Wspomnienia, AAN, personal file no. 8500, pp. 443– 468; in: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 83; also Penkalla, Władze, p. 569.

104 Both excerpts from Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 81.

105 APK, UWK/II, ref. no. 1283, pp. 114–117.

106 “Sytuacyjne sprawozdanie miesięczne za miesiąc lipiec 1945 r., przygotowane przez starostę w Częstochowie”, APK, UWK/II, ref. no. 1337, p. 329.

107 APK, UWK/II, ref. no. 1283, pp. 114–117.

108 APK, UWK/II, ref. no. 1242.

109 Penkalla, “Władze o obecności Żydów”, p. 561.

110 “Sprawozdanie instruktorów KC PPR…”; in: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 138.

111 Ibid. Similar opinions from Ostrowiec and Pińczow are quoted below.

112 Penkalla, “Władze o obecności Żydów”, p. 572; also, Zaremba, “Mit mordu rytualnego”, p. 111.

113 See: Kopciowski, “Zajścia antyżydowskie na Lubelszczyźnie”, p. 204; Penkalla, “Władze o obecności Żydów”, p. 259; for murders accompanying the restorations, see e.g. Kopciowski, “Zajścia antyżydowskie na Lubelszczyźnie”, pp. 188–189. For difficulties in reclaiming property, see: Olejnik, Polityka, p. 358. See Skibińska, Alina: “Powroty Ocalałych”. In: Engelking, Barabara et al. (eds.): Prowincja noc. Życie i zagłada Żydów w dystrykcie warszawskim. Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów IFiS PAN: Warsaw 2007, pp. 505–600.

114 Penkalla, Władze, p. 268 – November 15, 1945: “Some representatives of the Jewish community suggest […] that certain elements on the part of the Polish people endeavor to eliminate, by way of physical violence, the more vigorous Jewish individuals from the trade and the industry. I don’t think that this supposition is right.” See Penkalla, Władze, p. 568. That the Częstochowa region was an area of particularly intensified violence against the Jews in 1945, including a pogrom atmosphere, see: Penkalla, Władze, p. 268.

115 APK, UWK/II, ref. no. 1242 has the following records of assaults on Jewish establishments in Opatów in 1945: August 23 – an assault attempt; August 11–12, and August 12 in the evening – a robbery; August 22 – a shooting at the Jewish center on 4 Młyńska St; September 10 – a military vehicle stopped in front of the local Jewish Committee: Committee member Zylberberg was shot dead, another one, Erlichman, was seriously injured. October 19: the Opatów district starosta says in a memorandum that “the investigation has produced no positive outcome.”

116 As Stanisław Ossowski put it (Na tle wydarzeń, p. 51): “When one person’s misfortune benefits another, those who have benefited often display a tendency to convince themselves and others that the misfortune was morally justified. Such an attitude is perceptible among the owners of shops formerly owned by the Jews, or among those who were once bothered by Jewish competitors.”

117 Tokarska-Bakir, Legendy o krwi, p. 551.

118 Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, p. 73.

119 Adam Kornecki on Wiślicz-Iwańczyk: “The way it worked [in Kielce] at that time can be attested by the following: the Kielce voievode opened a shop, selling clothes, pots, everything he had taken from the Jews. [Michał Chęciński’s question:] I don’t see what you mean, could you clarify that? [Answer:] He opened up a flat disputed by Poles and Jews, and took everything to Warsaw: furniture, pots, everything. That was the Kielce voievode.” After: Chęciński, Michał: Teksty przepisane z taśmy dla prof. Tokarskej-Bakir, Dr Michał Chęciński, 17, Zidqiahu St., Hifa 34409, Israel. An unpublished typescript, p. 17 (pagination based on individual interviews).

120 Olejnik, Polityka, p. 390.

121 “Meldunek szefa Oddziału Organizacyjno-Instruktażowego Głównego Zarządu Politycznego Wychowania Wojska Polskiego o stosunku żołnierzy do antysemityzmu”, AAN, KC PPR section, ref. no. 295/VII/166, pp. 171–173; quoted after: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 229–231. Similar opinions were recorded in other areas as well, e.g. in Tarnow region: “The Jews coming back to the area of Tarnów are fighting for special privileges such as special food rations, assuming the top positions in the State administration, the most profitable positions, even though the Jews form a minimal percentage of the whole [nation]. […] As it stems from the leaflets you come across on the town’s walls, from the resolutions adopted by political parties and statements made by the leaders of these parties, there is a wish common to the whole of the Polish society that Poland’s independence is reality, for as long as there is an army of a foreign country – albeit of an ally – in our territory, it can’t be called freedom or real independence at all. The Jewry is commonly considered a bridge between the Soviet Union, its economic and political system, and the Polish state, where, allegedly contrary to the general will of the Polish nation, the same rules are being introduced.” See “Wyciąg ze sprawozdania Referatu Społ.-Politycznego Starostwa Tarnowskiego”, APKr, WUiP section, 38, p. 199; after: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 65.

122 After: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 105.

123 “Notatka Frakcji PPR przy CKŻP”; after Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 51.

124 APKr, KW [Regional Committee of] PPR, “Egzekutywa”, ref. no. 1/VI/1, pp. 7–12; after: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, pp. 61–2. For antisemitic sentiments in the PPR – in the regions and among local authorities, see: Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, pp. 56, 57, 68–71.

125 Archive of New Records (AAN), PPR, ref. no. 295/VII-1, pp. 67–69; in: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 54.

126 APKr, PPR, 9, p. 21; “Protokół z posiedzenia egzekutywy Komitetu WoJewódzkiego PPR w Krakowie z 5/7/1945”; after: Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, p. 68.

127 Quoted after: Janusz Kochanowski, “Do raportu!”. Polityka 7, 2000, p. 72; after: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 103.

128 Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 169; “Protokół z plenum Komitetu Miejskiego odbytego 9/1/1946”; after: Kwiek, Żydzi, Łemkowie, Słowacy, p. 69.

129 Cała and Datner-Śpiewak, Dzieje Żydów w Polsce, p. 71. On the day the Kielce pogrom perpetrators were to be executed, all the Łódź factories reportedly went on strike: Steinhaus, Wspomnienia i zapiski, p. 359. Likewise, “the workers in a brewery in Radom opposed the anti-pogrom resolution. The cooperative and the State Forests Board also opposed the resolution condemning the Kielce crime.” “Sprawozdanie instruktorów KC PPR z pobytu w woJewództwie kieleckim w czasie od 4 do 15/7/1946; after: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 138; see also Kopciowski, “Zajścia antyżydowskie na Lubelszczyźnie”, p. 198.

130 Archive of New Records (AAN), PPR, ref. no. 295/VII-1, b. 67–69; after: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, p. 54.

131 W. Kiernik was a peasant movement activist, leader of the Peasants’ Party “Roch”, Minister of Public Administration in Edward Osóbka-Morawski’s Government; cf. “Notatka złożona przez Centralny Komitet Żydów Polskich wicepremierowi Władysławowi Gomułce dotycząca rozmów przedstawiecieli CKŻP przeprowadzonych w Ministerstwie Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego, w Ministerstwie Sprawiedliwości i w Ministerstwie Administracji Publicznej”, September 30, 1945; after: Meducki, Wydarzenia kieleckie II, pp. 61–62.

132 Cf. also: “Wyciąg ze Sprawozdania Referatu Społeczno-Politycznego Starostwa Tarnowskiego”, APKr, WUiP unit, APKr, 38, b.199; after: Kwiek, Julian: “Dzieje ludności żydowskiej w Tarnowie po II wojnie światowej”. Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 3(215), 2005, p. 361.

133 “Pismo Starosty pow. bocheńskiego do Urzędu Wojewódzkiego w Krakowie”, August 28, 1945; in: Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, p. 62.

134 “Pismo Zygmunta Kratki, dyrektora departamentu Polityczno-Wychowawczego w Ministerstwie Informacji i Propagandy do Biura Kontroli Państwa w sprawie interpelacji pracownika Biura, Adama Popowskiego”: “In his opinion as a control functionary, it should have been mentioned that it was the Jews who have committed the crime, that there’s no room for them here, that they ought to be treated like Ukrainians, etc.”; after: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 116 (doc. 22).

135 “Pismo Adama Popowskiego, inspektora Biura Kontroli Państwa przy Prezydium KRN, do Prezydium WRN w Rzeszowie”, June 14, 1945; after: Kaczmarski, Pogrom, którego nie było, p. 84.

136 See “Program Obozu Narodowo-Radykalnego”. Sztafeta 14.4.1934: “The Movement [i.e. the Movement of the Young, from which ONR has stemmed] has once succeeded to cleanse, in student press, the youth life of Jewish influences and, acting as the Great Poland Camp, to embrace masses of peasants, workers, townspeople and intellectuals, blur the class and communal differences, making the young generation more Polish in blood and spirit.”

“The right to own Polish land rests with the Polish peasant in the first place. The State should strive for producing as many small and medium-sized farms as possible, through parcellation of large farming areas – the “latifundia”. The Jewish intermediation in produce trading, the source of poverty in Polish rural areas, has to be eliminated. The incessant diminishment of national property by international capital ought to be discontinued through the expropriation and nationalization of companies of national importance, as well as of large mining and metallurgical enterprises and power plants based on foreign capital.”

137 Earlier, she was shouting in a lorry transporting people from Katowice to Sosnowiec; in: Zaremba, “Mit mordu rytualnego”, pp. 107–108.

138 Vansina, Jan: Oral Tradition as History. James Currey Publishers: London 1985, pp. 6–7.

139 Kersten, “Polska – państwo narodowe”, p. 90.

140 Kochavi, Arieh: “Polscy biskupi, Watykan i Żydzi polscy w czasie przejmowania władzy przez komunistów na podstawie brytyjskich raportów dyplomatycznych”. Zagłada Żydów/Holocaust. Studies and Materials 5, 2009, p. 159. It concludes that “the British understood that the Vatican fully accepted the anecdote of a Kielce child, who was named ‘Erico Baslzozyk’ (the boy’s real name was Henryk Błaszczyk), who had been kidnapped in order to draw his blood.”

141 For pogroms occurring as a result of the blood libel in Hungary and Slovakia, see e.g. Kersten, “Polska – państwo Narodowe”, p. 134; she mentions the pogrom in Topoľčany, where “the crowd attacked with knives a Jewish doctor who was inoculating children.”

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