First of all, let me express my gratitude to you for giving me a rare opportunity to read a critique of my position on the Polish-Jewish question that is not from the far-right perspective. I would be happy to see you or me, rather than the typical mixture of nationalist hypocrisy and clichés about Jews and Poles, occupy the center in this debate.
Yes, I fully consciously wrote that 20,000 Poles were expelled from Poland as a result of the anti-Semitic campaign launched in 1968. If I had written instead that “20,000 Jews” or “20,000 Poles of Jewish origin,” I would fully or partly share the perspective of the oppressors, or at best some kind of common, though strange to me, political correctness (when political correctness emancipates, I am totally for it). When people refer to Józef Piłsudski or Donald Tusk, they never say "Lithuanian Pole" or "German Pole" or "German-Kaschubian Pole." Why, then, do they automatically refer to Adam Michnik or Jan Gross as "Poles of Jewish origin" or “Jews"?
What I understand from the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 is that stigmatization by Polish anti-Semites, inspired by the communist party, forced ordinary Polish citizens to emigrate. A large share of them didn’t care, or sometimes even know, about their Jewish origins. Whether emigres identified as "Poles of Polish origin” (does that sound normal?) or as Jews living in Poland, all of them were Polish citizens. To distinguish who is who by “origins,” to throw individuals into one one basket and label it “Polish Jews” or “Jews,” is to partake of the stigmatization that drove 20,000 Poles from the country. All I know for sure about their nationality is that they were Polish citizens with the same right to live in Poland as all other citizens, regardless of “origins." We condemn the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 precisely because it stripped them of their right to live in Poland (and their passports).
Thank you very much once again for your letter. I wish you all the best,
Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is a senior fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.