Poland Returns Citizenship to Evicted Jews
... though forty years on, I'm not sure how many of those evicted are still alive.
Poland's president led muted ceremonies Saturday marking the 40th anniversary of a communist-era anti-Semitic purge, and vowed to grant citizenship to the Jews who were stripped of it upon leaving the country.
"All of those who left then, and were forced to give up their citizenship, will have their citizenship returned to them if they want it," President Lech Kaczynski said at Warsaw's Gdansk Train Station. A plaque marks the symbolic point from which an estimated 15,000 Jews — survivors of the Holocaust and their children — were driven from Poland by the country's communist regime.
"I treat that as my contribution to rectifying those sad and shameful acts," Kaczynski said.
The anti-Semitic purges in 1968 eliminated most of the Jewish population in Poland that had survived the Holocaust and forced most of those who stayed to hide their Jewish background.
The episode has been a sore point in Poland's recent history, highlighting disagreements over whether the post-war anti-Semitism was mainly a creation of the communist regime.
The Soviet-led "anti-Zionist" campaign, which was the backlash of a student uprising demanding human rights, forced about 15,000 Jews to leave Poland in the late 1960s and early '70s. As many as 5,000 of these Jews came to Israel.
Although none of these Jews gave up their Polish citizenship, Poland has refused to recognize them as Polish citizens. Polish laws stipulated that any Pole who left the country for Israel automatically lost Polish citizenship. The singling-out of Israel by Poland was seen as motivated by anti-Semitism and the fervently anti-Israel position taken by the Soviets after the Six Day War.