Getto ławkowe

designation of separate benches (chairs etc.) in a part of an auditorium or classroom for a specific category of students (usually Jews), intended to keep them separate from the rest of those attending. The idea of bench ghettos, which was one of the schemes designed to isolate the Jewish community from the rest of the Polish society advocated by influential Catholic groups as well as by anti-Semitic activists of various sorts, was mostly advanced by radical, nationalist student organisations which attempted to impose this division by force and caused frequent tensions at universities and other higher education institutions. The segregation efforts intensified from X 1935 onwards, which was encouraged by the dispositions made by two rectors at the Lviv Polytechnic which sanctioned the use of ghetto benches in lecture halls, despite the protests of many members of the academic staff. Neither the government nor the university authorities were able to prevent the escalation of anti-Semitic unrest; one may even suspect that, in some cases, they have refrained from even making attempts to prevent it. The issue was discussed in parliament in 1937 and in September of the same year the minister of education, Wojciech Świętosławski, authorised the university rectors to issue the necessary regulations, including segregated seating in lecture halls; furthermore, a month later he also expressed his consent to the introduction of the so-called “Aryan clauses” to the articles of association of academic organisations, which meant that Jews could no longer apply for membership thereof. On October 5, 1937, the rector of the Warsaw University, Włodzimierz Antoniewicz, sanctioned the use of ghetto benches, which led to a wave of protests among both the university professors and among Jewish students as well as all those who opposed nationalism. Similar regulations were being issued by the rectors of various other universities; a particularly scandalous decision has been the introduction of bench ghettos in the Wawelberg and Rotwand School of Engineering, which had earlier been handed over to the Polish State by its creators on condition that no discriminatory provisions directed against minorities may ever be applied there. As a result, the heirs of the founders have subsequently taken legal action against the government.         

Jerzy Tomaszewski  

Quoted after: Tomaszewski J., Żbikowski A., Żydzi w Polsce. Dzieje i kultura. Leksykon. [Jews in Poland – Their History and Culture. A Lexicon.], , Warsaw 2001. 


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