Polish Jews call for restoration of citizenship to those expelled in 1968

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) Forty-nine years after Polish authorities expelled about 20,000 Jews from the country, representatives of Polish Jewry point out that most of these people have not yet received back their citizenship.

Golda Tencer, director of the Jewish Theatre in Warsaw, and the Shalom Foundation, organized a ceremony on Wednesday commemorating the anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968, when the Polish authorities forced several thousand Jews who survived the Holocaust to leave the country, which was then under the influence of the Soviet Union. At that time, the Soviet Union condemned Israel as a result of the Six-Day War and broke off diplomatic relations.

“Our parents, after the experiences of war, a dozen years later, experienced a second exodus,” Tencer said. “For me, this station was a symbol of all stations, from where Jews were leaving. They threw us away, but no one could break up our friendship.”

Michal Sobelman, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw, left Poland in 1969. In his opinion, that year was a symbol of the end of the thousand-year history of Polish Jewry. “Although it’s been 50 years, the Polish government did not do one thing. The citizenship, brutally taken away from Jews living in their country here, has never been given back. It seems to me that the time has come to do this, “said Sobelman.

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The Shalom Foundation has for several years organized a meeting at the station on the anniversary of the expulsion in 1968. Nine years ago, Polish president Lech Kaczynski  took part in the event and promised to restore citizenship to the expelled Polish Jews.

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