Today it is much easier to look at the events of 1967-68, for they started a chain reaction leading to significant political, and also social changes in Poland. There is no doubt that to understand fully the "March events" one has to be aware of important decisions taken by the Gomulka regime in respect to national minorities in general and the Jewish population in particular since the late 1950's. These include the removal of the national minorities from the jurisdiction of the Premier and putting them under the supervision of the Interior Ministry (in political, social, and administrative matters); the transfer of the Ministry's National Minorities Branch from the Social and Administrative Affairs Department to the Second Department (counter-intelligence); the preparation of a full card index for all Polish Jews; and the appointment of Tadeusz Walichnowsk , an "anti-Zionist expert," as the head of the National Minorities Branch, which as a result of its narrowly focused activities was popularly called the Jewish Branch. After these preparations, the Politburo decided in 1965 to "solve" the Jewish problem by 1970. This meant the gradual and systematic purge of Jews from all executive positions and from jobs requiring "allegiance to the Polish state and nation" (afirmacja narodowa).
Although the policy of the Gomulka regime toward the Jewish minority was basically a continuation of actions taken by the Stalinist leadership of the late 1940's and early 1950's, it was also a symptom of a more fundamental change within the Polish ruling e1ite. As a noted authority observed: "In a curious way, [the] emerging new Polish communist e1ite resembles the pre-World War II extreme right-wing groups in Poland more than it resembles either its Comintern-reared Stalinist predecessors or the earlier, internationalist founders of the Polish Communist Party." He supported this observation with the following explanation:
The program of the prewar rightists had typically included advocacy of a close alliance with Russia against Germany, the desirability of a homogeneous Polish state (and not one containing many minorities), a certain dose of. anti-Semitism for mass consumption, violent emphasis on nationalism, and contempt for liberalism. Quite striking, and characteristic of the general decay of Marxism-Leninism, is the fact that many of the surviving prewar neofascist youth activists are now to be found among the most outspoken enthusiasts of the new Polish 'communist' state - for the first time in centuries nationally homogeneous, allied with Russia against Germany, domestically authoritarian, and increasingly nationalist.
This insightful comment was borne out by the rise of Moczar, the loudest exponent of the nationalist mood within the PUWP. As one authority on this subject pointed out, at a time when the Polish October could no longer be used as a facade for the steady and consistent betrayal of the democratization slogans, Moczar and his followers became useful as "national policemen." Gomulka, in fact, launched and supported the pseudo-nationalism of Moczar and the nationalists outside the party as well as of the veterans organization, Zwiazek Bojownikow o Wolnosc iDemokracje (led by Moczar), for his aim was "to subjugate real patriotic feelings and steer them into the Party's own channel." Moczar in turn, tried to act within the limits imposed on him and at the same time to satisfy his increasing political ambitions.
The Six-Day War in the Middle East started at the right time in view of the domestic developments in Poland. It provided Gomulka with an opportunity 'to kill several birds with one stone': he could use an "anti-Zionist" policy to undercut the appeal of the liberal wing of the PUWP; he could bring forward the Jewish issue to weaken the support for the nationalist faction and make his own position even stronger; he could through this policy participate in a larger effort by the Warsaw Pact countries; and the Jewish question could be solved once and for all. To Gomulka's nationalist challengers, the war in the Middle East and its international and domestic implications provided - what seemed at the time - a very tempting opportunity to test his strength and to build a meaningful power base for the future. In other words, the background of the anti- Zionist campaign in Poland was very complex and all of its elements have to be taken into account when the subsequent events are discussed. Only then can one see a certain pattern as well as interconnections in the events that followed.
The extensive reportage in the Polish press of events preceding the Six-Day War left no doubt that the communist bloc was deeply involved in the Middle East in general, and on the Arab side in particular. Although friendship with the Arab countries had never before been publicized, Polish leaders decided to present their official stand on the conflict and to define their friends and enemies in the Middle East. On 2 June 1967 Trybuna Ludu, the main organ of the PUWP, published a lengthy comment about an exchange of letters between Gamal Abdal Nasser and Edward Ochab, Polish head of state at the time. It contained the following points: "Poland supports the policy of the UAR and other Arab countries directed against imperialism and neocolonialism;" the conflict between the Israeli and Arab states was of an ideological nature: capitalism versus socialism; the Arab countries would be victorious in the conflict; and the conflict would be resolved by political means.
This confidence in the strength of the Arab countries and in the support given to them by the communist bloc was soon seriously undermined. The outbreak of the war was a shock to the Polish leaders; indeed, the Israeli note on the starting of the war sent to the Polish Premier on 5 June waited two days for an answer. On 7 June, the Polish government issued a declaration giving "full support to the just struggle of the United Arab Republic and other Arab states against aggression, in defense of the integrity of their territory and their sovereign rights." It also gave further assurances that "the government of the Polish People's Republic will do everything possible within its means to participate with other friendly nations and with all forces of peace and independence in ending the Israeli aggression." As expected, this statement was an almost exact copy of earlier declarations made by the Soviet government and other member's of the Warsaw Pact.
On 9 June, a summit meeting of East European leaders took place in Moscow. The official communiqu‚ issued at the end and signed by all participants, except the Romanians, contained a sharp condemnation of and a warning to Israel. As one authority explained, the Soviet leaders favored a "diplomatic manifestation to give some satisfaction to Nasser and to calm down temporarily the Black Hundreds-type elements considerably activated in the USSR at the time." Internationally, this attitude enabled Tito to support the other communist leaders, while Romania could abstain from following Moscow without seriously disturbing the solidarity, of the Warsaw Pact. Following the summit meeting, the signatories of the final declaration broke off diplomatic relations with Israel. The Soviet Union took the lead by announcing its decision on 10 June. Poland followed two days later.
The Polish government's policy toward Israel was not surprising; yet it was received by the population with mixed feelings. The sudden outbreak of war terrified many Polish citizens. The determination of the Soviet leaders to "punish" the Israelis, who lived so far from the Soviet borders and whose number was so small, made the Polish people sympathetic toward the Jews. The brave stand of the Israelis, who according to reports in the Polish media had no chance in a conflict with the Arabs, symbolized to many Poles not only a strong determination to struggle for survival, but also - equally important, if not more so - successful resistance against Soviet pressure. Moreover, as one analyst pointed out, "the Israeli position was frequently pictured as similar to the historical Polish role as conceived by the romantic traditions of the country, that is, as a bastion of Western culture, an enclave of civilization among hostile and backward forces."
On 6 June, at a mass in Warsaw, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski appealed to a crowd of believers to pray for the fighting Israelis, whose nation had been condemned to death many times in the past despite the fact that it had a right to an independent existence. His stand on the Middle East conflict became very popular among the Polish people, 98 per cent of whom are Roman Catholics. But as on so many other occasions in the past, this attitude had strong political connotations. The masses also supported a powerful organization, which, according to a leading Polish communist sociologist, was "a perpetually competitive ideological force juxtaposed to the Party and the State." Some people did more than just pray. The Israeli embassy in Warsaw reportedly received many greetings, telephone calls, flowers., and visits from Polish citizens (not necessarily of Jewish descent) who were impressed by the Israeli victories. On many occasions a popular saying could be heard: "Bravo, our little Jews!" Another difference of opinion between the public and the state was seen at the meeting of the Sejm Foreign Affairs Committee on 10 June when one of the Znak (independent Catholic parliamentary group) deputies spoke in favor of Israel and suggested a more flexible policy toward it.
The Jewish community in Poland was horrified by the war and its repercussions on the domestic scene. Jews were torn between their long-time loyalty to the communist regime and great uneasiness resulting from the government's violent anti-Israeli propaganda with its racist overtones. This led to several isolated incidents, which were later interpreted by the authorities as examples of subversive Zionist activity carried out by Polish Jews. Thus, on the day of Cardinal Wyszynski's speech, a small group of people, mostly Jews, gathered at the 'Babel' Youth Club of the Jewish Association to listen to a guest speaker, Mieczystaw F. Rakowski, PUWP Central Committee member and editor of the weekly Polityka. The scheduled topic was the situation in the international communist movement, but in view of developments in the Middle East the guest agreed to comment on them instead.
Rakowski tried to be objective and at the same time to follow the party line. He presented Israel as the aggressor, but did not link the conflict with "Zionist expansionism" or with the Polish Jews. Yet many, in the audience were dissatisfied with his presentation and the following discussion led to an emotional confrontation. Rakowski was asked to explain the reasons for the factual distortions in press reports about the Middle East conflict as well as for the virulent anti-Israeli propaganda. One discussant likened the reports in the media with the anti-Semitic articles that had appeared in the notorious Voelkischer Beobachter. 'The discussion did not satisfy anybody and the meeting ended on a sour note. Two days later the eloquent discussant was fired from his job in the Jewish paper, Folks-Sztyme, on the order of the Central Committee's Press Bureau.
Israeli victories, even before they were acknowledged in the media, brought some relief to most Jews in Poland. Many did not hide their happiness, although they were understandably restrained in demonstrating it. Some, however, visited or called the Israeli embassy to offer personal congratulations and flowers, and there is one known case of a Jew sending a letter of appreciation to Cardinal Wyszynski.
The pro-Israeli sympathies in Poland were known to the authorities. Reportedly, even the Soviet leaders were aware of them and this issue was mentioned during the summit meeting in Moscow. Thus, in the case of Gomulka, the signing of the anti-Israeli declaration was not just the usual bow in the Kremlin's direction. An anti-Zionist campaign in Poland was meant to have serious domestic implications. Gomulka was obviously concerned about the anti-Soviet overtones permeating pro-Israeli sympathies in Poland. But he also must have seen other very important political advantages, namely an opportunity to deal openly and decisively with the Jewish problem which could bring him even greater control over the party leadership. On the one hand, establishing a connection between Israel, Germany, Jews, and Zionists would help in disarming his critics in and outside of the party (anti-German feelings were still strong among the masses and skillful anti-Zionist propaganda could revive anti-Jewish sentiments); and on the other hand, the same action would weaken the appeal of pseudo-nationalist, neo-Natolinist, and nationalist factions and groups which for years had demanded decisive moves against Jews occupying responsible positions in the party, government, and other institutions. The subsequent developments in the Soviet bloc clearly demonstrate that the situation in Poland was unique and that her leaders were determined to go much further in the anti-Zionist drive.
On his return from Moscow, Gomulka called a meeting on 12 June of the provincial party secretaries and Central Committee department heads. Its aim was to make anti-Israeli, and particularly anti-Zionist, propaganda accessible to every person in Poland and to isolate completely all those who manifested pro-Israeli sympathies. The former task concerned primarily the media, while the latter was the responsibility of the party functionaries. Gomulka made it clear that the anti-Zionist campaign would not be launched just to manifest Poland's peaceful intentions as it was the case with the propaganda campaign against the war in Indochina. It would have serious domestic repercussions as well. Gomulka stressed the following points: the Israeli-Arab war served the interests of imperialist powers and the Israeli aggression aimed at destroying progressive political systems in the Arab countries; Israel had close relations with Poland's greatest enemy, West Germany, Israel was threatening world peace; the entire nation, with the exception of Zionist elements, supported the anti-Israeli stand of the Polish government; and since Zionism was most active among citizens of Jewish descent, special attention was to be paid to so-called Zionist circles. He demanded that the secretaries organize anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist rallies and meetings in every enterprise and institution.
A wave of rallies began to sweep the country and the media repeatedly emphasized the points outlined by Gomulka. Trybuna Ludu already on 11 June insisted that "West Germany encouraged and is still inciting Israel to take decisive action against the Arab states," while a very popular daily Zycie Warszawy, on 13 June noted that Israel had received military supplies from West Germany and thus "along with military equipment, the venom of a strictly defined ideology must have been exported to Israel." Two days later a new column entitled "Polish People Support the Government's Stand on Israeli Aggression," which contained reports from rallies and meetings all over Poland, appeared in Trybuna Ludu. The anti-Zionist campaign had begun.
Rally speakers and media commentators vied with each other in attacking Israel and Zionists. The Israelis were accused of following the Nazis and of murdering innocent people in order to conquer the world. The propaganda was violent and the people were disoriented as was later admitted even by party officials. Although most of them heard about Israel, they could not fathom the reason for the unprecedented campaign against the state with which not so long ago Poland had had quite cordial relations. To the masses, the stories about Zionism were not convincing enough, mainly because there had been no Zionist organizations or institutions of any kind in Poland since 1948. Rally speakers and party lecturers had to go to considerable trouble to explain the meaning of Zionism and its danger to the Polish nation. They themselves, in fact, were not used to this kind of campaign, for Zionism constituted a rather new, or at least a not very well-defined term in party propaganda.
The divergences of opinion and the difficulties met by the anti-Zionist propaganda even in party circles were apparently of great concern to the political leadership. Gomulka found it necessary to clarify the issue publicly as soon as possible. An opportunity came at the Sixth Trade Union Congress which was scheduled to open on 19 June. The most important matter to be discussed at the congress was the newly proposed legislation on retirement and pensions. This issue was of great importance, for it was to affect some two million people whose pensions were the lowest in the Soviet bloc and insufficient to cover basic expenses. The new legislation was far from-satisfactory, but it at least called for a considerable increase in retirement benefits. The party leadership spared no effort to make the. new proposal seem like a great boon to the working class. Therefore, a decision had been made that Gomulka himself would make it public at the Trade Union Congress.
The congress opened on schedule with great fanfare and with all top party and government officials present. Gomulka's address, however, was not exactly what those present had expected. He focussed on the party's anti-Israeli stand and on the dangers of Zionism. The party chief tried to prove his point by distorting facts and threatening people who thought differently. Passing to Poland's internal affairs, Gomulka announced that:
Since the Israeli aggression on the Arab countries was met with applause in Zionist circles of Jews - Polish citizens, I wish to announce the following: we have made no difficulties for Polish citizens of Jewish descent when they wished to move to Israel. We maintain that every Polish citizen should have only one fatherland: People's Poland. This view is supported by the overwhelming majority of Polish citizens of Jewish descent, who faithfully serve our country. The state authorities treat all citizens the same irrespective of their nationality. Every citizen of our country has the same rights, but also the same responsibilities toward People's Poland. But we cannot remain indifferent toward people, who in the face of a threat to world peace, and thus also to the security of Poland and the peaceful work of our nation, come out in favor of the aggressor, the wreckers of peace, and imperialism. Let those who feel these words are addressed to them, irrespective of their nationality, draw the proper conclusions. We do not want a fifth Column to be created in our country.
The balance of Gomulka's address was striking and significant. Seventy five per cent of his speech was devoted to Israel and Zionism. Comments on the economic situation in Poland, new tasks for the trade unions, and on new financial benefits were squeezed together at the end. It is possible that in addition to his initial goal Gomulka wanted to divert the attention of the masses from their miserable everyday life and the obvious tokenism of the new financial and economic reforms.
Although the Trade Union Congress presented itself as a convenient forum for Gomulka - it was attended by delegates from all over the country - his situation was not an easy one. It appears that while Ryszard Strzelecki, Politburo member and Central Committee Secretary for organizational and security matters, pressed for using the Middle East crisis as an opportunity to solve the Jewish question openly and quickly, other Politburo members namely Edward Ochab, Adam Rapacki (Foreign Minister), Stefan Jedrychowski (chief economic advisor), Eugeniusz Szyr (Deputy Premier), and even the very agreeable Jozef Cyrankiewicz (Premier) - opposed linking the anti-Zionist campaign with domestic affairs. Considering the fact that Franciszek Waniolka was the most apolitical among the party leaders and thus tried to preserve his neutrality, Gomulka was leading on this particular issue by a very narrow and shaky margin. He found an easy wayout, however. Rapacki and Cyrankiewicz were sent to New York as participants in theExtraordinary Session of the United Nations' General Assembly. In addition to that he decided to keep the Politburo in the dark about his speech on 19 June. Thus, the content of his address was a surprise even to the party leaders (or at least some of them). Reportedly, it was such a big shock to Ochab and Szyr that they immediately demanded that the passage about the Jewish fifth column in Poland and other anti-Semitic remarks be edited from the official version of the speech.
Later, a heated debate took place at a Politburo meeting in July when Cyrankiewicz and Rapacki returned from New York. Joined by Ochab and Jedrychowski, they threatened Gomulka with their resignations. The party chief did not back down, however. He argued that his speech did not introduce a new course in domestic policy, and that it was a direct response to anti-Soviet sentiments among the masses, especially in Jewish circles and in the army, which had to be dealt with quickly in view of strong criticism from Moscow. The Politburo reportedly decided that there would be no further public discussion of the Jewish issue, while efforts would be made to neutralize the effects of Gomulka's speech. Apparently, Strzelecki was the only one who defended the idea of exploiting the Zionist issue. Subsequent events have demonstrated that Gomulka and several other Politburo members were not in total disagreement with him. Gomulka's speech of 19 June gave an official stamp to the anti-Zionist campaign that followed. A wave of meetings and rallies was directed now not just against Israel and Zionism, but more and more against "home Zionists" as well. As a result of increased activities by the Ministry of the Interior and party lecturers, a feeling of hostility toward Jews began to spread among the masses. The National Minorities Department sent incriminating materials to the media as well as to numerous institutions, organizations, and industrial enterprises, while the Ministry's printing press reportedly unofficially published and distributed copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
It did not take long before the main thrust of the anti-Zionist campaign was fully understood even by low-level activists. At a rally in the "Warszawa" Foundry (in Warsaw) for example, one of the local speakers said openly: "I don't know what Zionism is and I don't want to know. But I do know that wherever you look you find lots of Jews, even in the government. Let them go to their Dayan! They've eaten our bread long enough!" He was thanked with loud and long applause. In some places, however, the anti-Zionist activists went beyond rhetoric. At the Kasprzak Radio Works, one of the largest Warsaw enterprises, they brought about the dismissal of Jewish supervisors.
There is no doubt that Gomulka was aware of the advantages that the anti-Zionist campaign could give especially to Moczar, who was in charge of the secret police. Therefore, he made sure that it was the party apparatus that was primarily responsible for the course of the campaign. Among the first actions taken in this direction was the verification of party cadres. Verification, or exchange of party cards, was a standard procedure carried out before party congresses with the aim of eliminating undesirable elements from party ranks. Since the Fifth Party Congress was scheduled for the end of 1968, there was nothing out of the ordinary in verification as such. On 10 June, it was officially announced that the Central Committee Secretariat had scheduled the verification for the period between 1 November and 31 December 1967. This time however, it was to be preceded. by a rather unusual campaign. On 14 June, Stanislaw Koclolek, head of the Warsaw Party Committee, met with the members of the Committee, executive boards of district party committees, and heads of Warsaw party organizations. He discussed the new tasks of party organizations and members in view of recent developments in the Middle East as well as the domestic implications of the decisions made at a the Eighth Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee in May with regard to strengthening the struggle on the ideological front and against foreign subversion in Poland. He announced that soon all Warsaw party organizations would be required to hold meetings to discuss these matters with their members.
The new decisions by the party leadership led to a special interviewing campaign in the course of which "6 to 10 per cent of the party members were interviewed by special boards at the district level on their ideological, moral, and political attitudes." In Warsaw, where the party's ideological work was frequently criticized in strong terms by Gomulka, the percentage interviewed was much higher: 70 to 80 per cent. Trybuna Ludu euphemistically noted that the special boards asked the party members about the international situation and their attitude toward it. It did not reveal, however, that in the case of comrades of Jewish descent, or Poles who openly sympathized with Israel or were suspected of such sympathies, the discussion was limited to the Middle East conflict. Those interviewed had to define precisely their stand, and sometimes also answer charges of organizing parties to commemorate the Israeli victory or of making pro-Israeli statements.
Everyone who wanted to remain in the party and retain his job knew how to answer these questions and what kind of declarations to make. In practice, however, those who had been charged on the basis of detrimental material received from the secret police or in reports by party functionaries had no guarantee that the special boards would believe their denials. The campaign was considered so important that party functionaries rarely bothered to check the evidence. Some of them might have been discouraged by high officials who liked to use Stalin's favorite saying: "Where wood is chopped, chips fly." Thus, in many cases the "unmasked" Zionists were simply charged by the boards with hiding their true feelings as well as their Jewish nationality. The most common verdict was expulsion from the party, often followed by dismissal from a job at a later date.
Unjust accusations and verdicts caused many human tragedies. There were instances of "unmasked" Zionists committing suicide. Among these were survivors of the Nazi labor camps and the German occupation of Poland who had succeeded in hiding their Jewish descent as well as those decent and brave Poles who had risked their lives to save Jewish victims of the Nazi terror. Some of those unjustly expelled from the party appealed to the Party Control Commissions for reconsideration of their cases. Few were restored to the party, however. Gomulka's Jewish wife reportedly did nothing to improve the situation at the meetings of the review boards in which she participated. There were, of course, instances when Jews bluntly rejected the new party line and were ready to take responsibility for their actions, but these were few in number.
It should be emphasized, though, that throughout the campaign none of the Jews were officially expelled from the party for being Jew ish. They were usually accused of being Zionists, and at many party meetings attempts were made to prove their links with Zionism.
Although the anti-Zionist campaign won many supporters, the fact remained that Soviet strategy in the Middle East suffered a disastrous defeat. The June summit was not enough to calm down the military, especially in Poland. Discussions among officers and servicemen about the course of the Six-Day War were vivid, and often carried out in public transportation, despite continuous pressure from the political leadership to stop talk about this unpleasant military setback. What bothered Polish leaders the most was that the discussions revealed deep dissatisfaction not just with the conduct of the Middle East operation, but with the strategic conceptions of the Warsaw Pact as well.
Gomulka had good reason to believe that this dissenting mood would not only pose serious problems for the conduct of the anti-Zionist campaign, but equally, if not more important, it would cause a strong reaction from the Kremlin. After all, several Soviet generals were at the time still occupying top positions in the Polish armed forces. Therefore, Marshal Marian Spychalski, Defence Minister and one of Gomulka's closest associates, was entrusted with the task of bringing order to the military. His job was a difficult one considering his scant popularity and Semitic appearance. He had to deal with both valid professional criticisms and dirty personal attacks directed against him (indirectly at Gomulka, who was accused of harboring Jews in his entourage), possibly by some Moczar followers.
On 19 July, speaking to the graduating class at the Military Academy of Technology, he made it clear that sympathy with Israel meant support for imperialism, while an anti-Israeli stand indicated support of socialism. To raise the morale of the future commanders he added: "our excellent combat equipment is superior in every way to that of the imperialists if it is serviced by highly qualified and loyal people." The next day, at the graduation ceremony at the General Staff Academy, he spelled out the feelings of the party leadership about the pro-Israeli mood in the country in general and in the military in particular. He reminded his audience about Gomulka's strong speech in June and warned that "in connection with the Israeli aggression in the Middle East... there was an imperialist attempt with regard to the socialist countries to undermine confidence in our defense capabilities and in the very foundations of our state and our political system." He also emphasized that "the pro-Israeli position represents a pro-imperialist attitude disguised by nationalism; therefore it is anti-socialist and anti-national." He warned that "such attitudes can never be tolerated" and added:
the party's position, clearly explained by the First Secretary... calls for a decisive struggle against anti-party and anti-socialist attitudes. This concerns the attitude represented by Zionist nationalism, but also nationalism and fascism of all shades for they play into the hands of Zionism. Any political evaluation from a standpoint other than that of the class and the party benefits the enemies of Poland, imperialism, and Hitler's epigones from Bonn.
Spychalski did not succeed in his efforts. Only the subsequent purge in late July of top- ranking air force officers brought an end to open criticism in the military. Although this move was aimed at removing inconvenient non-Jewish senior officers, it was accompanied by a summary dismissal of nearly all Jewish officers from this and other branches regardless of their role in the dissent. This enabled the authorities to present the purge as an action against a Zionist lobby in the Polish armed forces.
On both domestic and international levels, news about the purge was spread by the secret police with the knowledge and approval of the party leadership. The Disinformation Bureau of the Ministry of the Interior reportedly prepared a letter from the Polish party leadership to foreign communist leaders on the Zionist conspiracy in the Polish military. The letter mentioned a plot in the air force by Jewish generals Czestaw Mankiewicz, Dabkowski, Stamieszkin (or Staniszkis), and Ignacy Blum. One such letter, which reached Czechoslovakian party leaders, reported that "when the [Israeli-Arab] war broke out, a really high-ranking group of Polish officers of Jewish origin started an active pro-Israel lobby in opposition to the official Soviet (and Polish) pro- Nasser stand.... For some time past these top Polish officers had been quietly siphoning off government funds and smuggling the money out to Israel."
The party leadership watched very closely the course of the anti-Zionist campaign. A few months after it had been launched, provincial party committees were asked to evaluate the results achieved so far. A plenary meeting of the Warsaw Party Committee was addressed by its propaganda secretary, Jozef Kepa. He maintained that in Warsaw participants in anti-Zionist meetings and rallies had expressed their support for the party line. But he also mentioned that the campaign had revealed differences of opinion within the party ranks. Following Gomulka, Kepa blamed Polish Zionists for fostering the dissent, and he made it clear that the term Zionist was just a convenient euphemism for a Jew.
As soon became known, differences of opinion were not confined to the Middle East situation. Many doubts were created by the practice of excluding from the party all those who had failed to manifest unlimited support for the policy announced by Gomulka on 19 June. But what perhaps bothered party leaders more was the apprehension of some party functionaries that the campaign's anti-semitic tone was leading to growing manifestations of rampant anti-Semitism and was causing genocidal attitudes to surface at numerous meetings and rallies. These people felt that it would be very difficult later on to curb the dark forces, so thoughtlessly unleashed at the time. Among the people sharing these fears was a young protege of Gomulka, Stanislaw Kociolek, who headed the Warsaw Party Committee. At the above meeting, he presented a somewhat different view of the Middle Eastern situation and its implications for the domestic scene:
People's Poland has always recognized and still recognizes Israel's right to existence. Therefore, we have never sympathized with reactionary Arab nationalism, proclaiming a slogan of annihilating Israel.... Respecting the right for family, cultural and national solidarity, we have the right to demand a citizen's concern for the affairs of People's Poland, for the interests of peace and progress. At the same time ... we reject and condemn all those manifestations in which true anti-Semitism may come out.
Three months later Kociolek paid for his own interpretation of Gomulka's policy. He was transferred to the Gdansk Provincial Party Committee. Kepa, who in his speech had warned critics of the party policy that the party would not remain indifferent to those who did not support the campaign, replaced him.
In the meantime, the propaganda machine made every effort to increase its efficiency. Each day the public received a new portion of commentaries, articles, and broadcasts to digest. Authors delved deeper and deeper into what was described as historical sources and outdid each other in distorting and falsifying facts and documents as well as in hurling charges against Israel and Zionists. The National Minorities Department of the secret police was of invaluable service to these writers in that it not only satisfied their demands but often "anticipated" the media's requests for the proper type of materials. This favorable climate prompted the ambitious and then unknown head of the Minorities Department, Tadeusz Walichnowski, to push for the publication of his recently completed doctoral dissertation on relations between Israel and West Germany. Reportedly, the Central Committee's Propaganda and Agitation Department urged Stanistaw Wronski, president of the party publishing house Ksiazka i Wiedza and also a Central Committee member, to publish the manuscript in the shortest time possible. In October, two months after being submitted to the publisher, Izrael a NRF (Israel and FRG) made its appearance in bookstores accompanied by an unusually loud advertising campaign. Almost all newspapers and magazines, as if touched by a magic wand, produced raving reviews, all written according to the same pattern. All reviewers seemed to be concerned with emphasizing the author's main thesis that the Jews were either actual or potential traitors. None of them mentioned the professional affiliation of Walichnowski or his more than scholarly interest in Zionist affairs. Neither did anybody point to the fact that he had written the "historical" part of Gomulka's June anti-Zionist speech.
Not only did the first edition of the book disappear from stores within a few weeks, but the press reprinted more pertinent excerpts from it. Only one newspaper remained silent: Trybuna Ludu, the party main organ. Its silence was broken only in January 1968, after the purge of its editor and his deputy, both Jewish. Leon Kasman had been the editor of Trybuna Ludu since 1957. In the years immediately preceding his purge he was known to be critical of the party's passivity in combatting anti-Semitism and he openly expressed his indignation at meetings of the Central Committee's Ideological Commission. Clearly, however, his purge was not just an expression of Gomutka's personal vendetta. Kasman was purged along with a group of other editors of Jewish descent who had occupied executive positions in the press. All of them lost their jobs regardless of their stand on the Jewish question in Poland or on the party's policy in regard to the Middle East conflict.
The anti-Zionist campaign proved to be fruitful in a rather short period of time. Many people were skillfully attracted to it, while a number of "Zionists" and other undesirable elements were quickly, although quietly, eliminated from party ranks and increasingly from their jobs as well. Looking at the first stage of the anti-Zionist campaign one thought is inescapable, namely that it was launched at the time when Gomulka had full control of political life in Poland. As one analyst has observed: the hypothesis that the speech [of 19 June] was inspired by certain groups within the PUWP, which wished to establish a convenient platform for eventual struggle against potential political opponents, does not seem to provide a sufficient explanation of Gomulka's motives." As has been established, his concern for the Soviet interests as well as his determination to nip in the bud rising liberal sentiments within the party provided strong enough incentives, while the Middle East crisis prompted him to exploit the Jewish issue for this and other purposes. After all, suspicion of Jews in general and Jewish politicians, administrators, and intellectuals in particular was rather deep-seated in high- and mid-level party ranks, and Gomulka had demonstrated his own susceptibility to it both before and after 1956. By the end of 1967 political considerations, which went beyond dealing with anti-Soviet sentiments among the masses and some influential social groups, came to play a growing role in the anti-Zionist campaign.
It seems that both Gomulka and his adversaries saw important advantages in its continuation. To Moczar, the involvement of the secret police inthe campaign meant an opportunity to undermine Gomutka's position even though he was not strong enough in 1967 to challenge the First Secretary's power. The fact that, unlike in 1965, Gomutka did nothing to curb Moczar's activities was very encouraging to the secret police chief. Other Gomulka adversaries like Kazimierz Mijal (head of the Tirana-based Communist Party of Poland whose anti-semitic activities were on par and often confused with those of Moczar's followers) the neo- Natolinists (e.g., Ryszard Strzelecki and Kazimierz Witaszewski) saw a chance to put more pressure on Gomutka, although their power base was very limited.
Gomulka himself did not seem very concerned with the activities of his adversaries. After all he had his own channels of communication with the secret police, both private and through the Central Committee. Perhaps, he also felt that his use of the Jewish issue would weaken the position of his challengers. Moreover, matters relating to personnel were handled by his closest associate, Zenon Kliszko. Therefore, he could direct his own attention to other, and perhaps mqre important, political developments on the domestic scene. The oppressive measures introduced by the Gomulka regime increased considerably the dissatisfaction with the once proudly proclaimed "Polish way to socialism." Intellectuals, students, and even members of managerial circles began to criticize the return to politically motivated trials based on the old Stalinist criminal code and on the application of unlawful means of investigation. They voiced their opposition to increased censorship, restrictions on foreign travel, and especially the unbearable penetration by the secret police of all sectors of public and private life.
The trend toward liberalization in Czechoslovakia and its appeal in Poland was another important warning signal to Polish political leaders. There was a danger that dissent among intellectuals could spread to the lower strata. The masses, although they cared little about political freedoms, were aware of economic injustices. Particularly upsetting to them were the recent 16.7 per cent increase of meat prices, food shortages, the doubling of public transportation fares, and restrictions imposed on the activities of the Catholic Church. Although the anti-Zionist campaign provided a convenient way to neutralize these moods, propaganda was only of limited value. Therefore, the party leadership prepared itself for more decisive action.
In August, a special secret team for the "verification of people in executive positions" was established by the Central Committee.It was headed by two hardliners: Strzelecki, a Politburo member and an old friend of Gomulka's and Witaszewski, the director of the Central Committee's Department for Administrative Affairs. The aim of the team's activity was to prepare a roster of remaining "Zionists" and "revisionists," who were later to be expelled from the party and removed from their positions. This task was to be fulfilled through close cooperation with the secret police. The fact that both Strzelecki and Witaszewski were responsible for security matters - the former in the Politburo and the latter in the Central Committee - meant that the secret police would play a decisive role in crushing real and imagined opposition. But the party leadership intended to supervise this action. And on 22 December, at a . plenary meeting of the Warsaw Party Committee, Kllszko spoke about the new guidelines for personnel policy: "The party holds in high esteem past achievements of individuals, but the current evaluation of people must be above all based on their present attitudes."
Subsequent events strongly suggest that a decision was made at the top of the Party to carry out the planned action against undesirable elements on two fronts. The establishment of the secret team by the Central Committee was followed by the appearance of similar teams in almost every institution, organization, and enterprise in Poland. The secret police, in the meantime, prepared to attack those circles where ferment was the strongest: the intellectuals and the students. This surprise assault was justified by putting forward charges of tendentious activity by anti-Polish and anti-socialist forces. The practical meaning of these moves was revealed only a couple of months later during and after the skillfully provoked student demonstrations.