Polish right-wing groups seek to deny that Kielce pogrom was motivated by anti-Semitism

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Representatives of right-wing organizations have applied to the Institute of National Remembrance to resume investigation of the Kielce pogrom, saying its cause was not anti-Semitism.

In the application submitted this week, they claim the murders in the 1946 pogrom, which killed 42 Polish Jews, were committed by Communist officials and not city police and residents.

According to the groups, most of the victims died from shots fired by military weapons, which they say means that the responsibility for the massacre should not be borne by the residents of Kielce.

Six representatives of right-wing and nationalist organizations in Kielce signed the application. They are Małgorzata Soltysiak, Wojciech Zapala, Michal Sadko, Karolina Lebiedowicz, Karol Michalski and Filip Bator.

“Those who signed this application are well known for years as deniers of the pogrom,” Bogdan Bialek, president of the Jan Karski Association in Kielce, told JTA.

Bialek said there are no new documents about the massacre. His association recently organized an exhibition on the massacre, which contains documents from the forensic examination of the victims’ bodies showing that the Jews were murdered with crowbars, sticks, stones and flagstones.

“The way in which the applicant justifies their petition is an insult to the victims,” Bialek said.

The pogrom, a year after World War II ended, took place after some 200 Jews, many of them former residents of Kielce, returned from Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet Union and places where they took refuge. The city had been cleared of its Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

It started following the abduction of a Polish boy who was returned two days later and said he had been kidnapped by a Jewish man. Some 42 years later, the kidnapped boy recanted his accusation.

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