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The Polish Catholic Church and the Jewish Question in Poland, 1944-1948
The position of the Polish Catholic Church regarding the Jewish population in Poland in the immediate post World War II period should be seen in the context of the tense and, at times, hostile relations between the Catholic and Jewish leaderships in Poland. This was particularly striking in the case of the hierarchy’s response to the anti-Jewish violence. The Church preferred to remain silent or, when forced by circumstances to condemn violence, limited itself to a few general comments against murder. In a number of press statements made by Church officials in the period between 1945 and 1947, there was a strong tendency to rationalize and, to some extent, even to justify the anti-Jewish violence. It can be argued that this position provided the basis for the evaluation and justification of the use of anti-Jewish violence as a necessary form of national self-defense. Traditions from the pre-war period contributed to this strategy, which took very little notice of the needs of the Jewish survivors in Poland.
Sharon Kangisser Cohen