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Kraków pogrom

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Title: Kraków pogrom  
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Subject: Aftermath of the Holocaust, Anti-Jewish pogroms, Institute of National Remembrance, History of Poland (1945–89), List of ethnic riots
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Kraków pogrom

Kraków pogrom
Synagogue at the end of Kupa Street in the Kazimierz district of Kraków, 2007
Location Kraków, Poland
Date August 11, 1945
Target Jews
Deaths 1
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators Civilians,
security officers

The Kraków pogrom refers to the violent events that occurred on August 11, 1945, in the city of Kraków, Poland, which resulted in the death of Róża Berger shot by security forces while standing behind closed doors, and five wounded victims. According to the report prepared for Joseph Stalin by the Russian special services in Soviet-occupied Kraków,[1] it was Polish militiamen who sanctioned the violence.[2]


Around 68,000–80,000 Jews lived in Kraków before the September 1939 German invasion of Poland. Because of the Holocaust and further migration following the arrival of the Soviet Red Army only 2,000 prewar inhabitants of the city were still present after January 1945. Many Jewish refugees returned to Kraków from the Soviet Union, including those who came from the neighbouring villages and towns.[3][4]

By May 1945, the number of Jews in the city reached 6,637. The return of the Jewish population was not always welcomed, especially by the anti-Semitic elements in the populace. The safety of the Jewish community in Kraków was becoming a very serious problem according to the Soviet-installed starosta in the city, even though "no serious antisemitic events were recorded in the rural and small-town regions."[5] In his report for 1–10 August, the Kraków city administrator (starosta grodzki) noted the "insufficient supply of food."[6] In June 1945, the new communist voivode of Kraków described growing tensions in his report in the following way:

In regard to the attitudes of the Polish population towards the Jews, the remnants of Nazi influences acquired during the occupation still linger... Robberies combined with murdering Jews occur: the motives and the perpetrators are usually not found. Nevertheless, their anti-Semitic background is apparent...In the previous month there were no serious anti-Jewish events in the voivodeship, yet there is no evidence that society's attitude towards the Jews has changed ... An utterly insignificant event, or the most improbable rumour can trigger serious riots. The populace's attitude towards the Jews is a serious problem requiring a constant vigilance on the side of the authorities, and proper interaction with lower level offices.[3]


On June 27, 1945, a Jewish woman was brought to a local Milicja Obywatelska police station falsely accused of attempting to abduct a child. Despite the fact that the investigation revealed that the mother had left her child in the care of the suspect, rumours started to spread that a Jewish woman abducted a child in order to kill it.[7] A mob shouting anti-Jewish slogans gathered at Kleparski square, but a Milicja detachment brought the situation under control. Blood libel rumours continued to spread. False claims that thirteen corpses of Christian children had been discovered were disseminated. By 11 August, the number of rumoured "victims" had grown to eighty.[7] Groups of hooligans who gathered at Kleparski Square had been throwing stones at the Kupa Synagogue on a weekly basis.[7] On 11 August an attempt to seize a thirteen-year-old boy who was throwing stones at the synagogue was made, but he managed to escape and rushed to the nearby marketplace screaming "Help me, the Jews have tried to kill me".[8] Instantly the crowd broke in into the Kupa synagogue and started beating Jews, who had been praying at the Saturday morning Sabbath service;[9] and the Torah scrolls were burned.[10] The Jewish hostel was also attacked.[10] Jewish men, women and children, were beaten up on the streets; their homes were broken into and robbed.[8] Some Jews wounded during the pogrom were hospitalized and later were beaten in the hospitals again. One of the pogrom victims witnessed:

I was carried to the second precinct of the militia where they called for an ambulance. There were five more people over there, including badly wounded Polish woman. In the ambulance I heard the comments of the escorting soldier and the nurse who spoke about us as Jewish crust whom they have to save, and that they shouldn't be doing this because we murdered children, that all of us should be shot. We were taken to the hospital of St. Lazarus at Kopernika Street. I was first taken to the operating room. After the operation a soldier appeared who said that he will take everybody to jail after the operation. He beat up one of the wounded Jews waiting for an operation. He held us under cocked gun and did not allow us to take a drink of water. A moment later two railroadmen appeared and one said, "It's a scandal that a Pole does not have the civil courage to hit a defenceless person", and he hit a wounded Jew. One of the hospital inmates hit me with a crutch. Women, including nurses, stood behind the doors threatening us that they were only waiting for the operation to be over in order to rip us apart[11]

During the pogrom some Poles, mistaken for Jews, were also attacked.[12] The centre of these events was Miodowa, Starowislna, Przemyska, and Jozefa Streets in the Kazimierz quarter.[13] The riots were most intense between 11am and 1pm, calming down around 2pm, only to regain strength in the late afternoon when the Kupa synagogue was set on fire.[13] Polish policemen and soldiers actively participated in these events.[14] Among twenty-five of those accused of inciting racial hatred, robberies, and violence against Jews, twelve were officers.[14]


There is one record of a death relating to Kraków events in the archives of the Forensic Medicine Department in Kraków. The victim was 56-year old Auschwitz survivor Róża Berger, shot while standing behind closed doors.[15][16]

Polish historian Anna Cichopek stated in her university Master Thesis later published as a book[17] that all historical sources confirmed this one death.[18] However, she also noted that in an archival photo of a funeral there were five coffins visible, thus suggesting that there might have been five fatalities; she also claimed in her book that the New York Times in 1946 had noted a death of a man (Anszel Zucker), and Polska Agencja Prasowa noted a death of another unknown woman (in addition to Róża Berger) and five wounded.[18]

Polish historian, Julian Kwiek, who has published existing Polish documents regarding the Kraków event stated that he is not familiar with the documents quoted by Cichopek from outside the scientific literature. He stated that one death is confirmed in all historical sources, therefore it is questionable whether this event truly falls under the definition of a pogrom,[19] even though most other sources refer to the event as such.[8][9][10][11][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34]

Another historian, Dariusz Libionka from the Center for Holocaust Research[35] of the Polish Academy of Sciences, suggested that the photos showing the coffins were taken in the Spring (April 24, 1946) of the following year and came from the Kraków funeral of five Jews shot on April 21, 1946 by partisans of Józef Kuraś "Ogień" near Nowy Targ. In many cases – Libionka suggested – it would have been more appropriate if Anna Cichopek relied on existing studies rather than on archival material. He stated, that Polska Agencja Prasowa noted one dead person and five wounded. Libionka questioned the source of information regarding Anszel Zucker's death. According to him it should have been concluded that the Kraków pogrom resulted in one dead and five wounded victims.[36]


  1. ^ Pagacz-Moczarska 2004, Alma Mater.
  2. ^ Cichopek 2003, p. 226.
  3. ^ a b Cichopek 2003, p. 223.
  4. ^ Adam Dylewski, Where the Tailor Was a Poet... website created under the aegis of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Warsaw; chief editor: Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywinski. Editorial assistance: Dr. Anna Marta Szczepan-Wojnarska, and Kaja Wieczorek from Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
  5. ^ Joshua D. Zimmerman, Contested Memories p. 224
  6. ^ Joshua D. Zimmerman, ibidem p.224
  7. ^ a b c Cichopek 2003, p. 224.
  8. ^ a b c Marcin Zaremba Psychoza we krwi. Polityka 05.07.2006 reprint in
  9. ^ a b Joanna Beata Michlic (2006). Poland's threatening other : the image of the Jew from 1880 to the present. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press. p. 220.  
  10. ^ a b c David Engel (1998). "Patterns Of Anti-Jewish Violence In Poland, 1944-1946". Yad Vashem Studies Vol. XXVI (PDF). Jerusalem:  p. 32
  11. ^ a b István Deák; Jan Tomasz Gross; Tony Judt (2000). The politics of retribution in Europe : World War II and its aftermath. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. p. 111.  
  12. ^ Anna Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, 11 sierpnia 1945 r., Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, 2000, str. 10.
  13. ^ a b Cichopek 2003, p. 233.
  14. ^ a b Cichopek 2003, p. 230.
  15. ^ (Polish) Tomasz Konopka "Śmierc na ulicach Krakowa w latach 1945-1947 w materiale archiwalnym krakowskiego Zakladu Medycyny Sadowej" - "Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość", IPN, 2005, nr 2, p. 148
  16. ^ (Polish) 11 sierpnia 1945 roku doszło do rozruchów antyżydowskich. Rozruchy w Krakowie nie były tak tragiczne jak rok później w Kielcach, ale nie obyło się bez ofiary śmiertelnej. 56-letnia Róża Berger zginęła od strzału oddanego przez zamknięte drzwi. Sekcja zwłok, oprócz rany postrzałowej, wykazała wiele ran pochodzących od uderzeń rozbitego strzałem zamka. Tomasz Konopka, "Historia Krakowa pisana protokołami sekcyjnymi" available at [1]
  17. ^ Książka jest poprawioną i uzupełnioną wersją pracy magisterskiej, pisanej w 1998 roku w Zakładzie Historii i Kultury Żydów w Polsce Uniwesytetu Jagiellońskiego. Serdecznie dziękuję promotorowi prof. Józefowi A. Gierowskiemu i dr. Krzysztofowi Lincz-Lenczowskiemu za naukową opiekę, liczne wskazówki... Anna Cichopek, Pogrom Żydów w Krakowie, 11 sierpnia 1945 r., Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, 2000, str. 10
  18. ^ a b Cichopek 2003, p. 232.
  19. ^ Translation of Magdalena Tytuła, Kielce na Kazimierzu, Gazeta Wyborcza (local 'Gazeta w Krakowie'), August 11, 2000, (English)
  20. ^ Bozena Szaynok (2005). "The Role of Antisemitism in Postwar Polish-Jewish Relations". Antisemitism And Its Opponents In Modern Poland. Cornell University Press. p. 272.  
  21. ^ Norman M Naimark (1992). "Revolution and Counterrevolution in Eastern Europe". In Christiane Lemke. The Crisis of Socialism in Europe. Duke University Press. p. 77.  
  22. ^ From David Engel: "Patterns Of Anti-Jewish Violence In Poland, 1944-1946." The Polish files are located at AAN-MAP 786-90. [2]
  23. ^ Paul R. Carlson (2000). "The Eleventh Commandment". Christianity After Auschwitz: Evangelicals Encounter Judaism in the New Millennium. Xlibris. p. 52.  
  24. ^ Iwona Irwin-Zarecka (1989). "Poland's Jews - A Memory Void". Neutralizing memory : the Jew in contemporary Poland. Transaction Publishers. p. 48.  
  25. ^ Celia Stopnicka Heller (1977). "Epilogue". On the Edge of Destruction: Jews of Poland Between the Two World Wars. Columbia University Press. p. 297.  
  26. ^ Jan T. Gross (2004). "After Auschwitz: The Reality and Meaning of Postwar Antisemitism in Poland". In Jonathan Frankel. Dark times, dire decisions Jews and Communism. Oxford University Press. p. 214.  
  27. ^ Joseph J Preil (2001). Holocaust testimonies : European survivors and American liberators in New Jersey. Rutgers University Press. p. 102.  
  28. ^ David M. Crowe (2004). Oskar Schindler:The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List. Westview Press. p. 463.  
  29. ^ Efrayim Dekel (1973). B'riha: Flight to the Homeland. Herzl Press. p. 176.  
  30. ^ Andreas Hofman (1997). "Die polnischen Holocaust-Uberlebenden Zwischen Assimilation und Emigration". In Fritz Bauer. Überlebt und unterwegs: Jüdische displaced persons im nachkriegs Deutschland (in German). Campus Verlag. p. 57.  
  31. ^ Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung (1954). Politische Studien (in German): 310.  
  32. ^ Julian Grzesik (1989). Alija (in Polish). Lublin : [J. Grzesik?]. p. 79.  
  33. ^ Roland Brockmann; Dieter Luippold; Rainer Eisenschmid (2006). Polen (in German). Mair Dumont Baedeker. p. 347.  
  34. ^ Tadeusz Lipinski; Hans Duda (1971). Hans Duda und die Askaris (in German). Tel-Aviv: Hamenora. p. 17.  
  35. ^ (Polish) Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk [3]
  36. ^ (Polish) Dariusz Libionka's opinion about Cichopek's version in Polish WorldHeritage


External links

  • Tomasz Konopka, Historia Krakowa pisana protokołami sekcyjnymi (Polish)
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