Essay on Jews in Poland in-between the Wars

Essay on Jews in Poland in-between the Wars

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In Images before My Eyes: a Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland

before the Holocaust, Lucjan Dobroszycki and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

both contributed to explaining the history of the Polish Jews through a compilation of pictures taken by photographers in Poland in-between the years of the wars. These photographs show aspects of Jewish life in politics, job, and community in Poland. As seen through the photographs, a change in equality and power of the Jews occurred as Jews went from taking part in the Parliament to riding in freight trains and leaving Poland. One could fully understand the significance of the photographs by the background information that Lloyd P. Gartner in History of the Jews in Modern Times and Ezra Mendelsohn in The Jews of East Central Europe Between the World Wars provide. Both Gartner and Mendelsohn bring light to the difficulties that the Jews of Poland experienced with those that tried to assimilate with the Polish nation. When assimilation became too difficult and unattainable, Zionists and Polish anti-Semites believed that emigration was the only solution.
The Jews in Poland were very politically involved as seen through the photographs in Images Before My Eyes. The minority-protection clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and the Polish Constitution of 1921 granted Jews equal rights and cultural antonomy (Dobroszycki 128). The political system of Poland allowed for the election of many Jews to both houses of Parliament and municipal councils. Images Before My Eyes shows the first national convention of Jewish municipal representatives in Poland on page 134. As seen in Images Before My Eyes, one could see voters lined up at the polls in a Warsaw Jewish neighborhood to elect represent...


... middle of paper ...


...aftsmen and completed jobs that the Polish could not. Politically, the Jews took part in elections of Polish representatives but also held positions as representatives themselves. Culturally, the Jews created communities and organizations that benefitted them, such as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. However, once the Polish started to believe that the Jews were becoming nationalistic, they withdrew their protection of the Jews and became hostile. Pogroms were enacted and the only solution to the conflict and tension between the Jews and the Polish was emigration.



Works Cited


Dobroszycki, Lucjan, and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. N.p.: Schocken,
1994. Print.
Gartner, Lloyd P. History of the Jews in Modern Times. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.

Mendelsohn, Ezra. The Jews of East Central Europe between the World Wars.
Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983. Print.

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