JTA – Polish nationalists shouted “death to Jews” when they burned a book representing a historic pact protecting the rights of Polish Jews.
The book that burned on Thursday during a demonstration in Kalisz, a city of about 100,000 inhabitants located 120 miles southwest of Warsaw, was part of a series of nationalist events on November 11, National Independence Day, which is the anniversary of Poland’s recapture. its sovereignty in 1918.
Videos and eyewitness accounts on social media show that Wojciech Olszański, a right-wing extremist activist, lit a red-covered book to symbolize the statute of Kalisz.
The document issued in 1264 by Prince Bolesław the Pious regulated the legal status of Jews living in Poland and provided some protection by punishing attacks on them. The statute served as the legal basis for the relationship between non-Jews and Jews in Poland for centuries later.
Olszański poured a flammable liquid on the book, which had been stuck on a sharp metal object, and set the book on fire while the crowd cheered and shouted, “Death to Jews.” Some also shouted: “No to Poland, yes to Poland.” “Polin” is both the Hebrew-language name for Poland and the name of the most important Jewish museum in Warsaw.
“This is a frightening and symbolically important event,” said Rafal Pankowski, leader of Poland’s Never Again anti-racism group. He compared the demonstration to the burning of books in Nazi Germany, including the pogroms of Crystal Night in 1938. The Pogroms’ 83rd anniversary was Wednesday. “After monitoring anti-Semitism for more than 25 years, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Pankowski told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Coming to Kalisz to burn the “Statute of Kalisz” amid hateful shouts in the main square – a testament to the centuries-old tradition of tolerance and openness, it’s like spitting in the face of all the inhabitants of Kalisz. Where were the city authorities? pic.twitter.com/uV4dsE7jX3
– Karolina Pawliczak (@ KarolinaPawli15) November 11, 2021
Police are studying the footage, the PAP news agency reported.
“These images send shivers down my spine,” Katharina Von Schnurbein, EU anti-Semitism coordinator, wrote on Twitter.
Other major nationalist events took place across major Polish cities in the last few days. One of the main themes of the marches concerned the current crisis in relations between Belarus and Poland. In recent days, Belarus’s dictator Alexander Lukashenko has encouraged immigrants to cross from his country to Poland and the EU, allegedly to punish Poland and other countries for housing Belarusian dissidents.
Poland’s right-wing government refuses to admit immigrants, which includes Afghan asylum seekers.