Jewish separatism and human progress

Jewish separatism and human progress

jan peczkis|Thursday, November 10, 2011

SEPARATYZM ZYDOW…(JEWISH SEPARATISM…) is the title of this Polish-language booklet. Originally published as an article in a Warsaw publication in 1909, it came out before the intensification of Polish-Jewish conflicts caused by the 1912 Jewish vote for a pro-Russian candidate to the Duma (Russian parliament), which amounted to a direct attack on Polish national aspirations, and which provoked the Dmowski-led retaliatory boycott of Jews.

Roman Dmowski Analyzes Poland’s Jews Under Tsarist Russian Rule, November 7, 2011

Considering Dmowski reputation, it is astonishing to read the almost-exculpatory tone that he uses, in this publication, while analyzing Jewish separatism. There is no trace of rancor against Jews. He recognizes the fact that some Jews, both converted and unconverted, had been patriotic Poles. (p. 12).

The reader may be surprised to learn that Jewish separatism had been a relatively recent development. During the Piast and Jagiellonian dynasties, Poland’s Jews spoke Polish. It was only during the later influx of German Jews that Poland’s Jews switched to Yiddish–a German dialect. (p. 24). At the time of the Partitions, Poland’s Jews identified with Poland. However, this tie grew weaker with each generation of foreign rule over Poland. (p. 15). By 1909, as recognized by Dmowski, Jews still existed who had been raised from childhood in the spirit of Polish-ness, but these were very rare. (p. 15).

The turning point, in Russian-ruled Poland, had been the failed January (1863) Insurrection. (p. 12). The tsarist authorities commenced a savage repression of Poles that included Russification, effectively reducing Poles to aboriginals. (p. 16).

The Jews stopped seeing the Poles as masters of these territories. Instead of drawing closer to Poles by common suffering, the Jews identified with the powerful Russians. This Dmowski attributes to the Jewish survival instinct of living for centuries in foreign nations, and naturally subordinating themselves to whoever was in power. (p. 17). However, if so, Dmowski does not explain why Poland’s Jews, most of which had lived in Poland in relative stability and comfort for so many centuries, had not lost this instinct by now. [In any case, a similar psychology may explain those Poles who did not draw closer to Jews during the common suffering under the later Nazis.]

The Jews were educated in a Russian spirit and with contempt for Poles. They constantly saw everything Polish as nothing but the subject of putdowns. In time, this led to a “Polish is not desirable”, and then “Polish is contemptible” attitude among the Jews. [p. 17]. [Again, a similar psychological process may explain why some Poles treated Jews with contempt, or at least with lack of empathy, during the later Nazi occupation.]

Revolutionary ideologies grew in popularity among the Jews, and these favored internationalism over Polish-ness. In fact, anything Polish was scorned as contrary to modernity and progress. (p. 18). [Note how the very same slogans were used against Polish patriotism and religion under the Communists, and are again in very recent times by the lewaks (Polish leftists)].

The growth of nationalistic feelings among Jews also drove them away from anything Polish. The growing Jewish intelligentsia was attracted to its counterpart among Russian Jews, and acquired a condescending attitude towards everything Polish. (p. 19). Some Jews moved beyond their traditional role as shopkeepers and usurers, and became part of the Russian-sponsored industrialization of the Russian empire. (p. 23).

The growing Jewish Polonophobia took on a life of its own. Dmowski suggests that false accusations against Poles were made deliberately in order to solidify the anti-Polish orientation among the Jews. (p. 25).

Dmowski presents statistics that show that, whereas the percentage of Jews living in Austrian-ruled and Prussian-ruled Poland had been decreasing, that in the Kingdom (Russian-ruled central Poland) was steadily rising, and amounting to a very-high 15% at the time. (pp. 19-20). About 150,000 of the newly anti-Polish Russified Jews, or Litvaks (Litwaks), had arrived in the Kingdom (p. 7)–not only from Lithuania, but also from other parts of Russian-ruled Poland, and even from central Russia. (p. 5). Expressive and organized, the Litvak immigrants infected the remaining Polish Jews with anti-Polonism. (p. 7).

The overall situation was even worse in Prussian-ruled Poland. The Jews had become so completely self-Germanized that some even became members of the HAKATA–a fanatically anti-Polish German organization. (p. 16). Polish Jews in Austrian-ruled Poland also tended to become Germanized. (p. 11).

Some readers may find Dmowski’s explanations for Jewish separatism a bit on the exculpatory side, and as ones that beg the question. The Poles generally withstood the tsarist Russian oppression and intense Russifying pressures. Why, then, did the local Jews so largely succumb to these processes–unless their original ties to Polish-ness had been weak and ephemeral to begin with?

Certain commentators have blamed the alienation of Jews from Polish-ness on Polish anti-Semitism. Dmowski suggest that, to the contrary, Polish anti-Semitism had been mild in the light of local antagonisms. If anything, the savage nature of Russian anti-Semitism should have driven Jews away from anything Russian. Instead, precisely the opposite happened. Dmowski therefore concludes that it was not about anti-Semitism. It was about politics and economic dependence. (pp. 21-22).

There is no Endeck “inconsistency” on assimilation. Already by 1909, Dmowski had been of the position that Jewish assimilation is not the answer. To begin with, Dmowski (correctly) figured that most Polish Jews would never assimilate. (p. 29). Second, the Polonization of assimilated Jews was mostly superficial (p. 12). Dmowski spoke of assimilated Polish Jews who nevertheless remained far from Polish ideals, aspirations, and societal goals, and even remained in opposition to the same. (p. 26). Finally, Dmowski cited the example of Hungary. Jews had assimilated, and assumed positions of power, but had remained at odds with their host nation. (p. 29).

Nowhere in this work does Dmowski advocate the boycotting of Jews. This came later. The Jews started the boycott process. They suddenly stopped patronizing Polish doctors and lawyers in favor of Jewish ones (who, incidentally, were assimilated). (p. 28).


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