Anti-Semitism in Europe

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The Pogrom in Kielce
July 1946


Organized violence against the Jewish people has occurred often throughout history, without provocation or justification, often on the basis of some scurrilous rumor. Within just the twentieth century alone, there have been many such violations against Jewish men, women and children. Perhaps the one instance that stands out, that occurred not long after the end of the Second World War. On the Fourth of July 1946, a pogrom occurred in the town of Kielce, Poland, where forty-two Jews were beaten to death, and more than forty were injured.

: Mourners watch as the coffins containing the victims of the Kielce pogrom are placed in a mass grave at the local Jewish cemetery.

The pogrom in Kielce, Poland that broke out on July 4, 1946 did so based on a foolish rumor that had spread among the populace. It were dozens of Jews, as well as some who had returned from the Soviet Union, who had only returned to their hometown of Kielce, having survived the war, that bore the brunt of this foolishness.

The rumor was spread that a Polish child had been kidnapped so that his blood could be used to make matzoh. This was not the first time that such a rumor had been spread, as this had also had occurred in medieval times. It was this nine-year old boy who had simply strayed from home and who had then, when he returned, accused Jews living at a kibbutz at 7 Planty Street of having kidnapped him.

It did not take long for a thousand factory workers, armed with weapons, along with a mounting mob of angry townspeople, to march to this location and commit violence against those living on Planty. Local police did take away some of the mob's weapons, but made matters worse by forcing the residents of the kibbutz to leave their building.

Thus, many Jews were killed and injured. An appeal was made to those in the Catholic Church, who might have had some influence with the mob, to stop this mob action. However, they would only blame the Communists and the suffering of the Poles, for all that had happened.

During the third day after the pogrom, those who were murdered where placed into coffins and then a mass grave in the Kielce Jewish cemetery. Those who took part in the pogrom, as well as the local military units, were forced to attend the funerals. It was later discovered that the incident of the child supposedly being kidnapped was planned by right-wing groups who had told the child what to do and say.

Though nine of those who participated in the pogrom were executed ten days after the pogrom, the many factors that lead to the pogromists from completing their dastardly task, e.g. the lack of proper response from both the Church and the government, it was believed by tens of thousand of Jews that returning to their homes in Poland, was not for them. Hence, within only a three month period post-pogrom, more than seventy thousand Jews emigrated from Poland to countries in Western Europe.

* -- Photo:, courtesy of Leah Lahav. Date: Jul 1946. Locale: Kielce, Poland.

Read about the pogroms in Kishinev, Bessarabia (Moldova) in 1903 and 1905.





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