Historical story

Żydokomuna like Lenin - always alive

Last updated:2022-07-25

What do tsarist Ochrana, Polish nationalists, the Catholic Church, the Nazis and part of the post-war opposition have in common? They all propagated the thesis that Jews had a special relationship with communism. The evidence for the existence of "Żydokomuna" was weak, but the demand for such a view of the world was enormous.

Almost all of Europe has experienced anti-Semitism, but in the countries of Eastern Europe it was especially strong and more primitive. The tsarist special services used the feelings of the people to create an enemy, which was to unite the nation and divert attention from real problems. Over time, anti-Semitism was harnessed to fight the strength of communism.

The birth of "Jewish Bolshevism"

"Judeo-Bolshevism" or "Judeo-Bolshevism" (the term "Żydokomuna" came into being after World War II) traveled to the West from Russia. During the Polish-Bolshevik war, the belief in the Jewish character of Bolshevism was almost universal and used in anti-Soviet propaganda. The war of 1920 was treated as a fight between Polishness and Catholicism and Jewish communism.

In the interwar period, about 20 percent. communist activists came from Jewish homes. That's a lot if we compare this percentage to the total Jewish population in Poland. At the same time, not much, considering the marginal importance of this movement. The socialist movement (Bund) was much more popular. On the other hand, the Zionist parties, i.e. those in favor of emigration and the creation of their own state, had the most supporters. Piłsudski was also trusted.

The image of Trotsky on the Polish propaganda poster from July 1920

Blaming the Jewish community for "Jewish-Bolshevism" seems preposterous given the importance of religion in that community. Moreover, the economic basis for a large part of Jews was entrepreneurship, often small and poor. Yet for the communists, even a petty shopkeeper was a class enemy, and religion was unacceptable.

However, “Jewish Bolshevism” held on tightly because of the National Democracy and the Catholic Church. Endekom at the end of the 19th century managed to create Jews as the greatest enemy of the Polish nation and then combined anti-Semitism with hostility to the left. At the same time, the nationalists branded Jews both as Bolsheviks and as capitalists - bloodsuckers.

The Jews welcome the Bolsheviks?

When on September 17, 1939, the Soviet army entered the territory of the Second Polish Republic, in many places, Jewish communities built triumphal gates for those entering. Most of all people were glad that it was not Germany. However, not everyone had reasons to be happy.

“(…) A part of the Jewish intelligentsia, the 'possessing class' and the Orthodox were hostile to the new reality. Bund sympathizers and Zionists of all factions were particularly persecuted by the Soviet authorities. The Soviet authorities enjoyed unconditional support only among the Jewish poor "- wrote Grzegorz Hrarciek. Poor, but not religious - should be supplemented.

Soviet propaganda poster of September 1939 - the Red Army frees the peasants from your Polish yoke

The same repression fell on the Jews as on the others. They were a large group among the exiles. About 10% of the officers who died in Katyn were Jews, including the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army. The Soviets were driven more by class, less national reasons.

"Judeo-Bolshevism" during the first Soviet occupation was a handful of rural and urban poor who benefited from the rapid "social advancement", just like non-Jews. It was also a group of officials and representatives of other professions who were now treated on an equal footing with Poles, i.e. equally badly. Poles were most affected by this equal treatment.

It's not us, it's them!

In accordance with the order of Reinhard Heydrich, in the first phase of the German-Soviet war, the army was to focus on anti-Jewish propaganda, creating the myth of "Judeo-Bolshevism", the image of a Jew - Stalin's ally, responsible for Soviet crimes. The Germans rightly predicted that this propaganda would find fertile ground and then the Poles, and "beyond the Bug" river, also the Ukrainians, would "take care" of their Jewish neighbors themselves.

The immediate cause of the pogroms was the alleged collaboration of Jews with the Soviet regime. Meanwhile, the well-known Polish historian Timothy Snyder wrote:

Nevertheless, the power of the Soviets was everywhere based on local majorities:Latvian, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish. The non-Jewish claims of the time (and related modern claims) that Jews were Soviet collaborators served to belittle the indispensable role played by the local non-Jewish population in the Soviet regime.

A picket of students-members of the ONR with anti-Jewish banners

It was a common phenomenon that the same people who did exactly this during the Soviet times were involved in cooperation with the German administration and service in the police. . They authenticated themselves to the new masters by fighting the "Judeo-communist". The denunciations protected them, their families and property. An additional reward was also the possibility of robbing abandoned houses.

"I'd rather be called comrade than scab"

The entry of the Soviet army on Polish soil, and with it the Polish army and the pro-Soviet administration, becomes another version of the "Żydokomuna" - according to the already known pattern. This was a strong thread in anti-communist propaganda. The real or imaginary Jewish origins of the new activists were emphasized. The victims of propaganda were most often ordinary people, survivors of the Holocaust.

However, a group of functionaries of Jewish origin in the authorities and services of the new state was visible. As noted by Paweł Śpiewak, the former director of the Jewish Historical Institute: functionaries of Jewish origin constituted 2 percent of the population. UB employees. But there were already 37 percent of them in managerial positions. . The reasons for such attitudes were varied and complex. The popular saying at the time, "I prefer to be called comrade rather than scab, explains much."

The vast majority of the surviving Jews left Poland, among the few who remained, a significant number had hopes for the new system.

"Żydokomuna" is like a specter that has not been pierced in time with an aspen stake. It pops up on various occasions, responding to ad hoc political and ideological demands. This myth persisted throughout the People's Republic of Poland, was present in "Solidarity" and accompanied the beginnings of the Third Polish Republic.