Date of Award:

8-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Tammy Proctor

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Jonathan Brunstedt

Third Advisor:

Anna Pechenkina

Abstract

This thesis examines the roots of antisemitic rhetoric expressed by Polish nationalists between 1918 and 1939. I argue that nationalist rhetoric and political campaigns during this period focused on calling for Poles to defend themselves against Jewish economic and political domination. The first half of this work utilizes pamphlets, books, newspaper articles, and other written works wherein Polish nationalists, in particular members of the National Democratic Party(NDP), expressed a fear of Polish Jews and called for their eviction from the country. Fear that Poland, a country that had been partitioned by surrounding empires for the past two centuries, would not last long as an independent country were central in the rhetoric of these authors. In their eyes, Jews threatened Poland’s already compromised political and economic position. Throughout the 1930s, the NDP and other nationalist groups began to call for Jews to emigrate.

The second half of this thesis uses three Polish counties (Siedlce, Sokołów Podlaski, and Węgrów) as a case study to examine the effects of the NDP’s campaign of boycotting Jewish businesses. All three counties had large Jewish populations concentrating in mostly urban areas. I undertake this study by examining reports produced by the Starosta Powiatowy, a state official in charge of describing political activities, crimes, and other major events in a given county. The reports revealed that there was a correlation between the increase in the NDP agitating for boycotts in 1936 and increased reports of Jewish families being terrorized by people breaking their windows.

By examining these dynamics, I illuminate some of the political, cultural, and economic forces that contributed to the rise of antisemitism in interwar Poland. In addition to emphasizing the NDP’s language of national self-defense, thesis also highlights some of the impacts of this rhetoric.

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6eba983724167479ebaed36f6eda1b6c

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History Commons

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