Anti-Jewish violence in Central and Eastern Europe, 1944–46

The anti-Jewish violence in Central and Eastern Europe following the retreat of Nazi German occupational forces and the arrival of the Soviet Red Army – during the latter stages of World War II – was linked in part to postwar anarchy and economic chaos exacerbated by the Stalinist policies imposed across the territories of expanded Soviet republics and new satellite countries. The anti-semitic attacks have become frequent in Soviet towns ravaged by war; at the marketplaces, in depleted stores, in schools, and even at state enterprises.[1] Protest letters were sent to Moscow from numerous Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian towns by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee involved in documenting the Holocaust.[1]

Anti-Jewish violence in Central and Eastern Europe, 1944–46
Part of the Aftermath of World War II
LocationCentral and Eastern Europe
TargetJewish people
Attack type
Pogrom, Ethnic violence
MotiveAntisemitism (Soviet antisemitism)


The Soviet authorities failed to address the years of Hitler's anti-Jewish propaganda, wrote Colonel David Dragunsky; anti-Semitic elements from among the former Nazi collaborators in the Soviet Union were often put in charge of state enterprises.[1] Solomon Mikhailovich Mikhoels, Chairman of JAFC murdered in Minsk in January 1948 wrote that Jewish homes were not being returned. In Berdichev, Mogilev-Podolsk Balta, Zhmerinka, Vinnitsa, Khmelnik, Old Rafalovka and many other towns, Jews were forced to remain in the areas of former Nazi ghettos for their own safety.[1] The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAFC) was targeted by Soviet authorities directly in the so-called rootless cosmopolitan campaign of the second half of the 1940s and in the Night of the Murdered Poets.[2][3]

The JAFC Presidium met in late August, 1944, with a commander of a Jewish partisan unit from Belorussia. Answering a question concerning attitudes of the non-Jewish population towards Jews in Minsk, he stated: "... the attitude wasn't good. There have been numerous anti-semitic incidents ... a battle for apartments has started ... there are difficulties concerning employment.[1]

Several months after the Mikhoels assassination, other Jewish figures were arrested. His death signalled the beginning of the country-wide repressions of the Jews accused of espionage and economic crimes. A campaign against Zionism was launched in the fall of 1948. By the end of the decade Jews disappeared from the upper echelons of the party in the republics.[4] This was followed by the Jewish doctor-killers case of 1952–53 accompanied by publications of anti-Semitic texts in the media,[5] and hundreds of torture interrogations.[6] Most communities in the Soviet Union never acknowledged the involvement of the local auxiliary police in the Holocaust.[7][8][9] The vast majority of the 300,000 Schutzmannschaft members in the German-occupied territories of the USSR,[10][11] quietly returned to their former lives, including members of the Byelorussian Home Defence participating in the pacification actions in which some 30,000 Jews were murdered,[12] and members of Ukrainische Hilfspolizei battalions responsible for the extermination of 150,000 Jews in the area of Volhynia alone.[13] Khrushchev proclaimed that the Jews were not welcome in the Ukraine.[14]

Satellite countries

Upon the Soviet takeover of Poland "only a fraction of [the Jewish] deaths could be attributed to anti-semitism" wrote Jan T. Gross.[15] Most have been caused by the raging anti-communist insurrection against the new pro-Soviet government.[16] The anti-Jewish violence in Poland, 1944–46 took the lives of at least 327 Jews.[17]

Hundreds of returning Jews were killed in Romania.[18][19] Anti-Jewish manifestations, sometimes based on blood libel accusations, took place in Hungary in a dozen of places,[20][21][22] for example, in Kunmadaras (two or four dead victims) and Miskolc.

In Slovakia in Topoľčany 48 Jews were seriously injured in September 1945. A number of Jews was murdered in Kolbasov in December. Reportedly 13 anti-Jewish incidents called partisan pogroms took place 1–5 August 1946, the biggest one in Žilina, where 15 people were wounded.[23] Anti-Semitic manifestations took place in Bratislava in August 1946 and in August 1948 including anti-Jewish riots in several other locations.[24][25]

In Kiev, Ukraine on September 4–7, 1945,[26] around one hundred Jews were beaten, of whom thirty-six were hospitalized and five died of wounds.[27] In Rubtsovsk, Russia a number of anti-Semitic incidents took place in 1945.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e Shimon Redlich, Kirill Mikhaĭlovich Anderson, I. Alʹtman (1995). War, Holocaust and Stalinism: A Documented Study of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR. Psychology Press. pp. 38–44, 97, 229, 459.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Medvedev, Zhores (2003). Сталин и еврейская проблема: новый анализ [Stalin and the Jewish Question: New Analysis]. Moscow: Prava Cheloveka. p. 148. ISBN 5-7712-0251-7.
  3. ^ Pinkus, Benjamin (1984). The Soviet Government and the Jews 1948-1967: A Documented Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 183–184. ISBN 0-521-24713-6.
  4. ^ Zvi Y. Gitelman (2001). The Black Years and the Gray, 1948-1967. A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present. Indiana University Press. pp. 144–154.
  5. ^ Brent, Jonathan; Vladimir P. Naumov (2003). Stalin's Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953. New York: HarperCollins. p. 4. ISBN 0-06-019524-X.
  6. ^ Sebag-Montefiore, Simon (2005). Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books. p. 636. ISBN 1-4000-7678-1.
  7. ^ Meredith M. Meehan (2010). "Auxiliary Police Units in the Occupied Soviet Union, 1941-43: A Case Study of the Holocaust in Gomel, Belarus" (PDF). United States Naval Academy: 44 – via PDF file, direct download 2.13 MB.
  8. ^ Alexandra Goujon (28 August 2008). "Memorial Narratives of WWII Partisans and Genocide in Belarus". France: University of Bourgogne: 4. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016 – via DOC file, direct download.
  9. ^ John-Paul Himka and Joanna Beata Michlic. "Bringing the Dark Past to Light. The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe" (PDF). University of Nebraska Press: 16. ISBN 0803246471. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-10-22.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ Dean, Martin (2003). Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941-44. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 60. ISBN 9781403963710.
  11. ^ Andrea Simon (2002). Bashert: A Granddaughter's Holocaust Quest. Atonement. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 225. ISBN 1578064813.
  12. ^ Eugeniusz Mironowicz (2014). "Okupacja niemiecka na Białorusi" [German occupation of Belarus]. Historia Białorusi od połowy XVIII do XX w. [History of Belarus, mid 18th century until the 20th century] (in Polish and Belarusian). Związek Białoruski w RP, Katedra Kultury Białoruskiej Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku (Internet Archive). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  13. ^ Alexander Statiev (2010). The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands. Cambridge University Press. p. 69.
  14. ^ Benjamin Pinkus. The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority. Anti-Semitism. p. 219. ISBN 0521389267.
  15. ^ Gross, Jan T. (2005). "After Auschwitz: The Reality and Meaning of Postwar Antisemitism in Poland". In Jonathan Frankel (ed.). Studies in Contemporary Jewry. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-518224-3.
  16. ^ August Grabski. "Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEEOL); page 11, note 7 of current document" (PDF). Book review of Stefan Grajek, "Po wojnie i co dalej? Żydzi w Polsce, w latach 1945−1949", translated from Hebrew by Aleksander Klugman, Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, Warsaw 2003 (p. 95) (in Polish). Kwartalnik Historii Żydów, Recenzje (Jewish History Quarterly; Reviews). p. 240 – via direct download, 1.03 MB.
  17. ^ Engel, David (1998). "Patterns Of Anti-Jewish Violence In Poland, 1944-1946" (PDF). Yad Vashem Studies Vol. XXVI. Yad Vashem. p. 32.
  18. ^ Minicy Catom Software Engineering Ltd. (1946-07-04). "Institute for Global Jewish Affairs – Global Antisemitism, Anti-Israelism, Jewish Studies". Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  19. ^ Jean Ancel, "The Return of the Survivors from Transnistria," in David Bankier, ed., The Jews Are Coming Back (Yad Vashem, 2005), 241.
  20. ^ Antisemitism: a historical ... - Google Książki. 1939-01-30. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  21. ^ Petö Andrea. "Népbiróság és vérvád az 1945 utáni Budapesten" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  22. ^ Kenez, Peter (2001). "Antisemitism in Post World War II Hungary - violence, riots; Communist Party policy | Judaism | Find Articles at BNET". Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  23. ^ "CS Magazin". CS Magazin. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  24. ^ Mgr. Ivica Bumova, PhD. "Protizidovske vytrznosti v Bratislave v historicksom kontexte" (PDF). Studie Pamat Naroda. 28 (27 / 100) in PDF. The Jewish demands to return lost property caused and open resistance of a certain part of Slovak community. The frustration was transformed into anti-Jewish riots that took place in Bratislava and several other cities and villages...
  25. ^ Protizidovske nepokoje v Bratislave - August 1946 - August 1948. Archived 2013-06-23 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "State-sponsored Anti-Semitism in Postwar USSR. Studies and Research Perspectives; Antonella Salomoni". Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History / Questioni di storia ebraica contemporanea. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  27. ^ Amir Weiner. Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution. Princeton University Press. 2008. p. 192.
  28. ^ War, Holocaust and Stalinism: a ... - Google Książki. Retrieved 2010-04-08.

Further reading


1945 (MCMXLV)

was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1945th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 945th year of the 2nd millennium, the 45th year of the 20th century, and the 6th year of the 1940s decade. This year also marks the end of the Second World War, the deadliest conflict in human history.

Anti-Jewish violence in Poland, 1944–1946

The anti-Jewish violence in Poland from 1944 to 1946 refers to a series of violent incidents in Poland that immediately followed the end of World War II in Europe and influenced the postwar history of the Jews as well as Polish-Jewish relations. It occurred amid a period of violence and anarchy across the country, caused by lawlessness and anti-communist resistance against the Soviet-backed communist takeover of Poland. The exact number of Jewish victims is a subject of debate with 327 documented cases, and range, estimated by different writers, from 400 to 2,000. Jews constituted between 2% and 3% of the total number of victims of postwar violence in the country, including the Polish Jews who managed to escape the Holocaust on territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union, and returned after the border changes imposed by the Allies at the Yalta Conference. The incidents ranged from individual attacks to pogroms.

Jewish emigration from Poland surged partly as a result of this violence, but also because Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish emigration (aliyah) to Mandatory Palestine. By contrast, the Soviet Union brought Soviet Jews from DP camps back to USSR by force irrespective of their choice. Many Jews did not wish to remain where the German occupation had decimated their previously large communities in Poland; many fled the imposition of the Soviet-backed political regime which persecuted the bourgeoisie and religion, including Judaism; many aimed to pursue the Zionist objectives in Palestine. Uninterrupted traffic across the Polish borders intensified with many Jews passing through on their way west or south. In January 1946, there were 86,000 survivors registered with the Central Committee of Polish Jews (CKŻP). By the end of summer, the number had risen to about 205,000–210,000 (with 240,000 registrations and over 30,000 duplicates). About 180,000 Jewish refugees came from the Soviet Union after the repatriation agreement. Most left without visas or exit permits thanks to a decree of General Marian Spychalski. By the spring of 1947 only 90,000 Jews resided in Poland.Tens of thousands of people were killed in Poland's two-year civil war, but also due to indiscriminate postwar lawlessness and abject poverty. Among the Jewish victims of violence directed against the new government were numerous functionaries of the new Stalinist regime, assassinated by the so-called cursed soldiers of the anti-communist underground, without racial motives, but simply due to their political loyalties. Jan T. Gross noted that "only a fraction of [the Jewish] deaths could be attributed to anti-semitism." Jews were also often victims of ordinary banditry. The Jewish resistance fighter Marek Edelman said: "murdering Jews was pure banditry, and I wouldn't explain it as anti-Semitism." The resentment towards returning Jews among some local Poles included concerns that they would reclaim their property.

Secondary antisemitism

Secondary antisemitism is a distinct kind of antisemitism which is said to have appeared after the end of World War II. Secondary antisemitism is often explained as being caused by the Holocaust (as opposed to in spite of it). One frequently quoted formulation of the concept, first published in Henryk M. Broder's 1986 book Der Ewige Antisemit ("The Eternal Antisemite"), stems from the Israeli psychiatrist Zvi Rex, who once remarked: "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz." The term itself was coined by Peter Schönbach, a Frankfurt School co-worker of Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, based on their Critical Theory.An alternative explanation was proposed for the spate of postwar anti-Semitic violence in Eastern Europe. In 1946, the Slovak writer Karel František Koch argued that the anti-semitic incidents that he witnessed in Bratislava after the war were "not antisemitism, but something far worse—the robber’s anxiety that he might have to return Jewish property," a view that has been endorsed by Czech-Slovak scholar Robert Pynsent. It has been estimated that only 15% of Jewish property was returned after the war, and restitution was "negligible" in Eastern Europe. Property not returned has been valued at over $100 million in 2005 dollars.Adorno, in a 1959 lecture titled "Was bedeutet: Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit" (published in his 1963 book Eingriffe. Neun kritische Modelle.) addressed the fallacy of the broad German post-war tendency to associate and simultaneously causally link Jews with the Holocaust. According to Adorno's critique, an opinion had been readily accepted in Germany according to which the Jewish people were culpable in the crimes against them. Jewish guilt was assumed to varying extents, depending on the varying incarnations of that antisemitic notion, one of which is the idea that Jews were (and are) exploiting German guilt over the Holocaust.

Sometimes the victors are declared to be the cause of what the defeated have done when they were still in charge, and for the crimes of Hitler those are declared guilty who acquiesced his rise to power, and not those who hailed him. The idiocy in all this is in fact an indication of something mentally uncoped-with, of a wound, although the thought of wounds should be dedicated to the victims.

Initially, members of the Frankfurt School spoke of "guilt-defensiveness anti-Semitism", an antisemitism motivated by a deflection of guilt.The rehabilitation of many lower and even several higher-ranking Third Reich officials and officers appears to have contributed to the development of secondary antisemitism. These officials were rehabilitated in spite of their considerable individual contributions to Nazi Germany's crimes. Several controversies ensued early in post-World War II Germany, e.g., when Konrad Adenauer appointed Hans Globke as Chief of the Chancellery although the latter had formulated the emergency legislation that gave Hitler unlimited dictatorial powers and had been one of the leading legal commentators on the Nuremberg race laws of 1935. However, according to Adorno, parts of the German public never acknowledged these events and instead formed the notion of Jewish guilt in the Holocaust.

Topoľčany pogrom

The Topoľčany pogrom was an antisemitic riot in Topoľčany, Slovakia, on 24 September 1945 and the best-known incident of post-Holocaust violence against Jews in Slovakia. The underlying cause was resurgent antisemitism directed at Jewish Holocaust survivors who demanded the return of property that had been stolen during the Holocaust. Rumors spread that a local Catholic school would be nationalized and the nuns who taught there replaced by Jewish teachers.

On the morning of the incident, women demonstrated against the nationalization of the school, blaming Jews. That same day, a Jewish doctor was vaccinating children at the school. He was accused of poisoning non-Jewish children, sparking a riot. The police were unable to prevent it, and a local garrison of soldiers joined in. About forty-seven Jews were injured, and fifteen had to be hospitalized.

In the immediate aftermath of the events, international coverage embarrassed the Czechoslovak authorities and the Czechoslovak Communist Party exploited the riots to accuse the democratic authorities of ineffectiveness.

A 2004 documentary film about the rioting, Miluj blížneho svojho ("Love thy neighbor"), sparked increased discussion of the history of these events. The next year, the mayor of Topoľčany issued an official apology.

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