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Fascism in the Countryside?

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Chadwick Building B05 LT, University College London

Gower Street

London

WC1E 6BT

United Kingdom

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Talk on anti-Jewish violence in the Polish countryside in the 1930s.

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The 9th March 1936 pogrom in Przytyk, 100 km south of Warsaw, is the most well-known act of collective anti-Jewish violence of Interwar Poland, among the many which preceded and followed it, in numerous villages in the same province and in other parts of the country. The consensus in the Polish-, English- and Hebrew-language scholarly literature on this topic is that this violence was “spontaneous” and “unplanned”, driven by economic crisis and by traditional, centuries-long rural antisemitism.

However, using recently available archival, memoir and press sources, Dr Dr. Kamil Kijek, Assistant Professor, Jewish Studies Department, University of Wrocław will present a rather different analysis of the genesis and context of anti-Jewish violence in the Polish countryside. He will show that it resulted from an elaborate and sophisticated policy on the part of certain urban elites throughout 1930s, to “import” anti-Semitism and fascist political culture into the Polish provinces from its urban origins, so as to establish a new radically modernist, right-wing culture among peasants and provincial town dwellers. He will discuss the Przytyk pogrom trial and the tactics used by the National Party lawyers during its proceedings. He will demonstrate how radical Polish nationalists tried to recast their own militarism, their modernist symbolism - "a new beginning", "cleansing Poland of the Jews" – their radical anti-Semitism and especially their violence - as "indigenous Polish nationalism". Their success in planting elements of fascism in 1930s Polish political culture had significant consequences, which can be seen not only in the last years of the Polish Second Republic, the Second World War and the Holocaust, but even now– with today’s Polish national radicals having considerable success presenting themselves as having no connection to European Interwar fascism.

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Chadwick Building B05 LT, University College London

Gower Street

London

WC1E 6BT

United Kingdom

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