Anti-Semitic Purge in the Polish Army 1967–1968

Anti-Semitic Purge in the Polish Army 1967–1968 – as a result of the Six-Day War in June 1967, the Soviet Union and its satellite states, including Poland, broke off diplomatic relations with Israel.

These events laid foundations for the anti-Semitic purge carried out among the ranks of the Polish Army. While the purge was most likely inspired by the Soviets, it was also used as a pretext for resolving internal personal conflicts. Mass dismissals began on 6 July 1967 with the commanders of the Polish Air Defence Forces: General Czesław Mankiewicz, General Tadeusz Dąbkowski, and General Jan Stamieszkin. They were accused of pro-Israeli leanings. The atmosphere of a witch hunt against Jewish officers was fuelled in the army ranks; according to rumours spread among the soldiers, Polish Jews were allegedly financing the Israeli Army and co-operating with the Israeli intelligence; many spoke of Jewish collusion within the military and civil authorities. During meetings and rallies, the soldiers demanded for Jews to be discharged from the army. Mass dismissals of Jewish officers (according to strictly racist criteria) and anyone connected to them began in the summer of 1967. The official cause of discharge was: “holding political views at variance with the official stance of the government of the People’s Republic of Poland and the line of the Party and lacking the moral and political values indispensable for an officer of the Polish People’s Army.” A total of 150 officers of Jewish origin, that is almost all Jewish military men on active service, were removed from the army. The purge ended in the spring of 1968. Soldiers forced to emigrate after the events of March 1968 were demoted to private.

The entry was written as part of the project Zapisywanie świata żydowskiego w Polsce [Recording the Jewish World in Poland], whose author is Anka Grupińska, a well-known Polish journalist and writer, specialising in the modern history of Polish Jews. The project, initiated in 2006 by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, consists in recording interviews with Polish Jews from all generations.

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