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February 18, 1983 - Image 53

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-02-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

v ,.s

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Anti-Semitic Bias in the Free Polish Forces
Pin Britain Used by Communists During War

By HENRY SREBRNIK

note:
(Editor's
Srebrnik is a lecturer at
the Hillel Foundation at
o ' the University of Michi-
gan and a doctoral can-
didate at the University
of Birmingham, England.
His dissertation is on the
Jews of East London and
the Communist Party in
Britain from 1935 to
.. 1945.)
Four decades have now
elapsed since the celebrated
flap over Polish anti-
Semitism during the war —
in Britain!
By mid-1943, the Soviets
had decided they could no
► longer work with the Polish
government-in-exile head-
quartered in London — the
so-called "London Poles"
and they determined to set
up their own, rival Polish
regime, which would be in-
. stalled in powet when the
Russians reconquered Po-
land.
Coincidentally or not,
► soon after the decision was
made in Moscow that the
"London Poles" would have
to be discredited and ren-
- dered politically harmless,
charges of anti-Semitism
began to be leveled at the
Polish exile government by
British
Communists,
Jewish and non-Jewish, as
well as by their supporters.
One of these was the former
Communist Tom Driberg,
at this time the Indepen-
dent member of Parliament
for Essex.
Chapman Pincher, in
his book 'Their Trade is
Treachery" (Bantam) has
accused Driberg, later,

r

chairman of Britain's
Labor Party, of having
worked for the KGB. This
may never be proved one
way or the other but cer-
tainly, much of his politi-
cal activity during World
War II was of benefit to
the Soviets, including his
work on behalf of Polish
Jews who were the vic-
tims of anti-Semitism
while serving in the
Polish army stationed in
Britain at the time.
On May 3, 1943, the Lon-
don Daily Worker opened
the campaign, with a story
entitled "These Poles Won't
Forgive Their Govern-
ment." It claimed that many
Polish officers were telling
their troops that, "if we are
to have peace, we must ex-
terminate all Jews" after,
the war.
A companion piece noted
that 50 Polish Jewish refu-
gees, meeting under the au-
spices of the Community
Party-influenced Jewish
Cultural Club, has passed a
resolution condemning the
Polish government's anti-
Soviet activities. It also
called on -the two Jewish
members of the Polish Na-
tional Council in London,
the Zionist Ignacy
Schwartzbart and the Bun-
dist Shmuel Zygielbojm, to
resign at once.
The Russian Today
Society, a Communist-run
organization, also called a
meeting to denounce the
"London Poles," and the
campaign intensified.
The Communists had,
of course, not made up
these stories, and -the

Boris Smolar's

`Between You
. . :and Me'

Editor-in-Chief
Emeritus, JTA

(Copyright 1983, JTA, Inc.)•

s

THE SOCIAL SECURITY ISSUE: The is ue of re-
forming the Social Security systerh — a reform which will
affect tens of thousands of Jewish recipients of Social.Secu-
rity and about 36 million retired and disabled Americans
who are receiving monthly benefits — is now high on the
agenda of leading Jewish organizations.
Concern in the ranks of organized American Jewry has
mounted following the adoption by the bipartisan National
Commission on Social Security Reform of a set of recoin-
mendations designed to meet the critical financial situa-
tion that the Social Security system faces. The recom-
mendations were adopted last month by consensus. They
aim to resolve the anticipated revenue shortage estimated'
at about $170 billion for the period 1983-1989.
Hearings on them are now going on in a Congressional
committee and a debate will take place soon in Congress.
The predictions are that the Congress will move swiftly on
incorporating the recommendations into law.
JEWISH REACTION: Jewish organizations are now
embarking on a policy of communicating their concerns to
members of Congress. They will cooperate with other con-
cerned groups to help in supporting measures to alleviate
the Social Security problems. However, they will oppose
drastic cuts in benefits, especially those that would affect
economically disadvantaged persons.
The leading Jewish organizations recognize the fact
that the Social Security faces both short-term and long-
term problems. They consider the Social Security system a
successful social program and urge that its essential
framework should be maintained according to its original
design. But they also advocate the exploration of alterna-
tive measures to those recommended by the national com-
mission, including the use of general revenues.

Polish Jewish soldiers,
mainly stationed in Scot-
land, were indeed at the
end of their tether. By the
end of the year, they took
matters into their own
hands.
In January 1944, 68 of the
men deserted, followed by a
second contingent of 134 in
February. Though techni-
cally deserters, "refugees"
might have been a better
term for them. They were
certainly willing to fight —
but in the British army, not
alongside the. Poles.
At first, both the Poles
and the British were willing
enough to let the men trans-
fer to Brish units. However,
when a third group arrived
in March, this time number-
ing 30, both the Poles and
the British felt they could
not sanction any further
transfers, even at the risk of
a public uproar. The Polish
authorities duly arrested
the 30 and decided to
court-martial them. .
At this point Tom
Driberg, the National
Council for Civil Liberties
and the Communist Party
began a campaign to have
the arrested men released
and admitted into the
British army. "In the House
(of Commons), we pressed
the government hard, in
questions and debate,"
Driberg later wrote 'in his
memoirs, "Ruling
Passions."
On April 5, he got Foreign
Secretary Anthony Eden to
look into the matter.
But a day later, a junior
minister, Richard Law, de-
scribed the Polish Jews as
deserters and called on the
Poles to handle the matter.
The 30 Jewish soldiers
were duly tried and re-
ceived prison terms vary-
ing from one to two years.
A storm of protest fol-
lowed. Branches 4, 9 and 10
of the Workers' Circle is-
sued "An Appeal to Mem-
bers of the Board of De-
puties of British Jews," the
representative body of
Anglo-Jewry, asking for
immediate abrogation of
the sentences and an end to
anti-Semitism an British
soil.
"The fears of the Jewish
community for the fate of '
the Polish Jewish soldiers
has proveri not to have been
unfounded"; now the pros-
pect of imprisonment in
"Polish run concentration
camps" faced 30 Jewish
heroes.
The Board of Deputies
was finally forced to react.
Selig Brodetsky, its I
president, met with Polish
Prime Minister Stanislaw
Mikolajczyk and with
George Hall, British par-
liamentary under-secretary
for foreign affairs. The
World Jewish Congress, too,
officially informed the Poles
it was looking into the ver-
dicts.
Nonetheless, Eden
stood firm against inter-
vening; on May 10, he told
Driberg in Parliament
that the British could not
dictate policy to a sover-

Friday, February 18, 1983 53

Israel Cancer Unit Plans
Installation Dinner-Dance

The Friends of the Israel
Cancer Association in
allied go.vernment.
This only made the Jews Michigan_ will hold its an-
nual installation dinner-
of London more determined.
J.L. Fine, a leader of the dance 6 p.m. March 6 at
NUTGW, the garment Temple Emanu-El.
union to which so many - The organization was
Jews belonged, after formed in 1967 and for the
numerous protests from last several years has aided
Jewish workers, organized cancer treatment at Afula
a meeting at the Shoreditch Hospital. The group pur-
Town Hall, in east end Lon- chased an endoscope for Af-
don, in conjunction with the ula for the early detecting
Workers' Circle. Driberg and treatment of cancer of
read a' letter from the im- the colon.
prisoned Jewish soldiers to
The Michigan Friends are
the crowd of 1,000 in now helping to buiild a new
attendance the night of May cancer treatment center at
11:
Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
"We appeal to you to
The dinner-dance will
us. Should they force us to include a buffet dinner
go back to our units there
will be nothing left except
for us to commit suicide.
U
lk 7Firm‘
ALL -
This is no empty threat. We 2 °/
see no other way out."
INVITATIONS
All this pressure must
10 TH ANNIVERSARY I
have finally persuaded
the British government
that the whole affair was
too much of a bother.
Created Just For You
Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz,
Personalized
the Polish president,
Cocktail Napkins
suddenly signed amnesty
.
$9 per 100
papers freeing the
DEBBIE GOMM WEISSERMAN
court-martialed "des-
537-1490
erters."

eign

and music provided by
Eric Rosenow and His
Continentals.
For reservations, call tic-
ket chairman Mary Papo,
967-4414, or dinner chair-
man Agi Rubin, 352-8043.

I

. 1 DEBORAH'S '
INVITATIONS

The Communists crowed
that they were the ones who
had brought the whole mat-
ter to the attention of the
public and had kept it on the
boil; the British people had
been "shocked beyond
measure" at the idea of im-
posing sentences on the vic-
tims of anti-Semitism.
These men, added the
communists, must not be
sent back to "the anti-
Semitic dunghills of the
Polish army," but rather be
allowed to join either the
British army or "their own
countrymen on the Eastern
front, where a powerful
Polish force is fighting side
by side with the Red Ar-
my." In this way the whole
episode was used by the
Communists in Britain to
discredit the Polish gov-
ernment in London and
draw attention to the "good"
Poles fighting alongside the
Russians as true allies.

411

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