Polish Lawmakers Slam 1968 Purge of Jews, Praise Protest

WARSAW, Poland (AP) —

Poland’s lawmakers approved a resolution Tuesday to mark mass anti-communist protests that occurred 50 years ago and to condemn an anti-Semitic purge that ensued.

Both the right-wing ruling party and the opposition backed the resolution on the 1968 events in communist-ruled Poland. The lower house of parliament voted 424-3 with two abstentions to approve it.

Students defending a banned anti-totalitarian play, initiated the protests, intensifying infighting among rival communist factions. The crisis climaxed in the purge of Jews from the ruling party’s ranks and from across the society.

Some 13,000 Jews were forced to leave Poland and were stripped of Polish citizenship that year. The purge has continued to weigh on relations between Poles and Jews, which generally have been good since Poland became a democracy in 1989.

The resolution mentioned respect for those who “fought for freedom and democracy” and condemned anti-Semitism and the “communist organizers of anti-Semitic persecution.”

A lawmaker for the far-right National Movement party, Robert Winnicki, drew boos when he said the resolution failed to mention that Poland’s émigrés included communist judges who handed death sentences to Poland’s independence fighters in the 1940s and 1950s.

The resolution and events scheduled in Poland for the 1968 anniversary come at a time of tension between Warsaw and Jerusalem over a new law that carries penalties for blaming Poles for Holocaust crimes committed by Nazi Germans.

Poland says the law is needed to fight slander, while in Israel it has been interpreted as an attempt to suppress debate and historical research on cases in which Poles killed Jews.

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