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Bialystok stands up to racism and Jew-hatred

Memorial stone at Treblinka

Some 130 turned out for a "Unity March" in the Polish city of Bialystok Sept. 4, in response to a wave of local racist and anti-Semitic attacks—including the defacement with swastikas of a memorial to a pogrom where hundreds of Jews were killed in 1941 at the nearby town of Jedwabne. Bialystok's Mayor Tadeusz Truskolaski, as well as a senator and a member of the Sejm (Poland's parliament) participated in the silent march, which culminated at the city's monument to Ludwik Zamenhof—a Jewish doctor born in Bialystok, who invented the Esperanto language. There, the protesters gathered signatures for a manifesto calling for an end to the "wave of thoughtless hatred." A group of some 30 right-wing nationalists tried to disrupt the march, chanting "One Polish nation," "Our weapon is nationalism" and "Down with communism."  (, Sept. 5; AP, Sept. 4)

The march came days after vandals painted a green swastika on a stone monument at Jedwabne, where up to 1,500 Polish Jews were killed in a July 1941 massacre perpetrated by local Poles under instigation by the Nazi German occupiers. The vandals also wrote the words "I am not sorry for Jedwabne" and splattered paint over a memorial plaque written in Hebrew.  (AFP, Sept. 5)

Some 50 Jews and Christians prayed together in Jedwabne after the attack Sept. 3, including the leader of Warsaw's Jewish community, Piotr Kadlcik.   

Poland's Internal Security Agency (ABW) is leading the hunt for the perpetrators, who are believed to also be responsible for other recent attacks in the region. These include an arson attack on Bialystok's Muslim Cultural Center, an arson attack home of a mixed Polish-Pakistani couple, menacing graffiti on the walls of the 18th century synagogue in the village of Orla, and the defacing of 28 signs in Lithuanian (there is a significant Lithuanian minority in the area).  (, Sept. 2)


im a yedvabne

from my father's father's side. my grandfather was born in england and entered the u.s. thru canada as a babe.

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