The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/j/jankowski.henryk/press/walesa-raps-antisemitism

Archive/File: walesa-raps-antisemitism

(c) Reuter, June 20, 1995
 Poland's Walesa raps anti-Semitism in priest row
    By Anthony Barker

    WARSAW, June 20 (Reuter) - Polish President Lech Walesa,
 reacting to a growing outcry over remarks about Jews in a sermon
 by his parish priest, said on Tuesday that anti-Semitism was
 despicable and he would never tolerate it.

    "I am convinced that all manifestations of anti-Semitism,
 both in Poland and around the world, should be met with general
 contempt and condemnation," Walesa said in a statement issued
 by his press office.

    PAP news agency reported that Walesa also assured Israel
 parliament Speaker Shevach Weiss, who telephoned him over the
 issue, that "so long as I am president I will not allow
 manifestations of anti-Semitism in Poland."

    At a Mass attended by Walesa earlier this month, Catholic
 priest Henryk Jankowski equated the Jewish star of David symbol
 with the Nazi swastika and the Communist hammer and sickle.

    Jankowski also urged Poles to keep people who secretly owe
 allegiance to Israel or Russia out of their governments --
 apparently echoing a view held by some extreme right-wingers
 that Jews exert a sinister influence on Polish administrations.

    Spokesmen of Poland's few thousand Jews expressed concern
 when Walesa did not quickly distance himself from the remarks.

    The sermon unleashed a wave of criticism from other public
 figures and senior churchmen, including the priest's superior,
 Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski of Gdansk.

    Walesa initially declined to comment, then appeared to
 defend the controversial priest, once his close ally in the
 Solidarity movement's pre-1989 battle against communist rule.

    "I have known Father Henryk Jankowski for a long time, I
 consider him my friend and I know one thing: he is no
 anti-Semite," Walesa told state television at the weekend,
 adding that the sermon may have been misinterpreted.

    In his Tuesday statement, however, Walesa said the sermon
 had aroused public unease over Polish-Jewish relations and a
 clear statement of Poland's views was needed.

    He said he had worked to keep alive the memory of the
 Holocaust and promote good relations with Jews and with Israel.

    Most of Poland's three million Jews were murdered by Nazi
 occupation forces during World War Two and thousands of
 survivors left during an anti-Jewish campaign mounted by a
 nationalist faction of the ruling Communist Party in 1968.

    "The memory lives of the terrible crime to which, during
 the Second World War, millions of sons and daughters of the
 Jewish nation fell victim," Walesa said.

    "As a Pole and a Christian I regard the Star of David as a
 great symbol of faith and the Jewish community, which should be
 surrounded by respect," Walesa's statement said.

    A Jewish Student Union in the city of Wroclaw plans to take
 Jankowski to court and the justice ministry has said such
 offences should be punished.

    Jankowski has remained unrepentant. On Sunday, he told his
 congregation that many Jews acted as if they were above
 criticism and labelled all critics as anti-Semites.

    He has also issued a statement saying the greed of some
 Jewish financiers had been responsible for much human misery and
 had led to the growth of communism and World War Two.

    PAP said Israel had on Tuesday forwarded a protest to Walesa
 through its embassy over the lack of official action.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.