Text size
related tags

WARSAW - This was not a pogrom, but it was close. Sunday's incident in Krakow at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was rife with overtones of hatred. "The Jews are attacking us! We need to defend ourselves," shouted Prof. Bogoslav Wolniewicz, to stormy applause.

About 1,000 people gathered for special services Sunday at the church, organized by the Committee Against Defamation of the Church and For Polishness, along with the anti-Semitic Radio Maryja. Local residents were informed of the service by posters that proclaimed: "The kikes will not continue to spit on us."

The huge church was packed. People sat on the stairs and stood in the aisles. The service opened, as usual, with prayer and song, but after about half an hour, the 91-year-old bishop of Krakow, Albin Malysiak, began inflaming the crowd with his sermon.

"A man who does not love his homeland, but some sort of international entity, apparently also does not love his nearest and dearest," he said.

Afterward, Radio Maryja staffers ascended the dais, headed by Jerzy Robert Nowak, the station's expert on Jewish affairs. He spoke about the new and controversial book by Jan Gross, "Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz." Nowak, who was less ambiguous than the bishop, said to applause from the crowd: "It's important that we carry our fight to its conclusion, because Gross and his supporters are marginal, and we will not permit anyone to punish Poland. Leave us in peace. Leave us alone."

The speakers directed their anger at Gross, at Jews in general, at Jews from Brooklyn in particular, at Poles who are willing to sell them anything for money, at Righteous Among the Nations Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, at a minister in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Jewish-Polish affairs; and at the newspaper that, in their eyes, represents the Polish left, Gazeta Wyborcza, and its editor, Adam Michnik.

There were questions from the audience at the end, mostly of the "how do we defend ourselves against attacks on the church and on Poland" variety. "The best thing is to get organized," Nowak responded.