70th anniversary of post-Holocaust Kielce massacre marked in Poland

(JTA) – The Polish prime minister marked the 70th anniversary of a Polish pogrom targeting Holocaust survivors by saying there is no place for racist violence in Poland.

Some 200 people gathered Sunday at the memorial marking the pogrom in the southeastern Polish town of Kielce on July 4, 1946.

Andrzej Bialek, vice-president of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, which organized the commemoration, read aloud a letter from Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo.

“Seventy years ago, shortly after the devastating war and the Holocaust drama, in Kielce again flowed the blood of innocent people,” the letter said. She said in the letter that there was no room in Poland for anti-religious and racist violence.

The prime minister stressed that although this tragedy is still studied by historians, however, no provocation can’t be an excuse for hatred and violence, because in Poland there is no permission to shaming anyone because of religion and there is no place for racism.

Poles in the town, spurred by a false rumor that returning Jews had attacked a local boy, killed at least 37 Jews. News of the pogrom spread quickly and chilled any prospects that Jews driven into refuge by the Nazis would return en masse to their European hometowns.

“We have to act together against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia,” Anna Azari, the Israeli ambassador to Poland, said at the ceremony.

Bogdan Bialek, the Karski Foundation official who organized the ceremony, said that the world without violence and without hatred is possible.

“We do not gather here in this place against anyone, even against those whom we think in our minds as our opponents, and perhaps – God forbid – as enemies. We gather here for us, for all people, for a better future,” said Bialek during the ceremony.

The Jan Karski Educational Foundation, named for the Polish underground fighter and Rughteous Gentile who was among the first to report the dimensions of the Nazi genocide, promotes Catholic Jewish interchanges and seeks to instill in youth Karski’s example.

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