Justice4Poland

Connecting true geography and detailed unfolding of wide variety of crimes perpetrated by German/Ukrainian Nazis and communist Soviet Union on the Polish nation.

Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora


j-peczkis-book-review3

This review is from:

Bialystok as a Model of the Litvak Situation from a Jewish Viewpoint

January 29, 2012

Although this work is centered on the Jews of Bialystok, it is useful to the reader for understanding the situation facing Jews in Russian-occupied Poland. Less attention is devoted to Bialystok in the resurrected Polish state (1918-1939), the German-Nazi Holocaust (1939-1945), and the post-WWII period (1945-on). The author also provides an impressive account of the Jewish diaspora in nations as separated as Argentina and the USA. Although Jewish-Polish relations are not the main subject of this work, I approach it from that viewpoint for purposes of this review.

It is clear that Jewish separatism, and anti-Polishness, were a cause, and not consequence of Endek enmity against Jews. Shortly after the Partitions, while Bialystok was under Prussian rule, the following happened: “While the native Polish population remained steadfastly loyal to their `Polish province,’ as Prussian officials dejectedly admitted, Jews embraced German culture.” (p. 25).

Then Russian rule began. The following separate paragraphs are quotations that show how the Jews had lost touch with Polish national aspirations, and had become an unwitting and witting tool of the Russian rulers over Poland:

In place of national affiliation, then, these Jews–like those in Odessa, Warsaw, and St. Petersburg–viewed themselves through an urban regional lens. They were loyal Bialystokers, first and foremost, ambivalent and uncertain whether to identify themselves as devoted Russian subjects or as Jews of the Polish nation. (p. 25).

Once Polish nationalist agitation intensified in the 1830’s, though, the tsarist government…encouraged Jews, who despite their ambivalent relationship to the Russian state, were viewed as more loyal than Poles, to settle in Bialystok in order to diminish Polish revolutionary fervor. (p. 28).

Moreover, the Polish rebellion of 1863 cemented Russian authorities’ support for Jewish settlement and industrial expansion in Polish lands…an influx of Jews and new economic opportunities would help eliminate Polish nationalist fervor. (p. 29).

By the end of the nineteenth century, however, approximately fifty thousand Jews lived in Bialystok, drawn to the town by its central position along the Russian railway system and tsarist authorities’ support of Jewish settlement in Congress Poland as a means to quell Polish nationalist agitation. (p. 21).

–End of paragraph quotes–

Although Kobrin does not use the term Litwak (Litvak) migration, she alludes to it: “…Russia’s uneven industrial development forced millions to move from small towns to large cities. As one can see vividly in the example of nineteenth century Bialystok, the dramatic movement of Jews within the western areas of the Russian Empire…” (p. 7). Jews came to account for 76% of Bialystok’s population in 1897 before dropping to 48.4% as part of Poland’s Second Republic. (p. 26).

When the Polish state was resurrected in 1918, the Jews clearly sought special privileges–ones that would maintain and enhance their intense separatism. Through the League of Nations, they demanded special government-supported Jewish schools. (p. 289). Instead of conforming to the Polish nation as a minority group, Jews, through the Minorities Treaty, tried a role-reversal by trying to force the Polish nation to conform to them by recognizing Yiddish on an equal footing with Polish in public and official matters. (p. 137, 140).

The Bialystok-area Jews then came out in open insubordination against the Polish nation, arrogating to themselves the privileges of a Judeopolonia (my term), that is, a fully sovereign Jewish nation on Polish soil. Jewish leaders demanded a plebiscite to determine whether Bialystok should remain part of Poland, or whether it should be part of Lithuania, the Soviet Union, or even its own special zone. (p. 138). This act of sedition enjoyed broad support among influential and foreign Jews: “Yiddish newspapers also argued unswervingly against Poland, claiming the annexation of Bialystok was illegal, given that less than one-third of the city’s residents were Polish.” (p. 138). “Emboldened by the absolute support of émigré philanthropists, the Yiddish press in Bialystok continued to question Polish sovereignty…” (p. 146). Local Kehilla leaders urged that Jews resist the draft into the Polish Army by providing false identification papers. (p. 139). The Polish reaction to the violation of their nation is not difficult to imagine.

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https://www.amazon.com/review/R1OP7PGSOO4I9P/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0253221765&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books

 

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sznur-justice4poland

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