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Zaremba, Marcin

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Polityka - Poland | 07/07/2006

Marcin Zaremba on the Kielce pogrom of 1946

On July 4, 1946, just one year after the end of the Holocaust, the Polish residents of the city of Kielce murdered more than 40 Jews. The crime was motivated by rumours that the Jews were kidnapping children for a ritual murder. Historian Marcin Zaremba contemplates the Kielce Pogrom in the context of the German crimes of the Second World War. "The rapid spread of the rumours of ritual murders can be attributed to the psychological impact of witnessing the destruction of the Jews. Those who actively helped the Germans must have had mixed feelings of fear and guilt… The sense of guilt is very uncomfortable, especially as it contradicted one of the key elements of the Polish identity: the image of the heroic Pole who was willing to suffer for the sake of others… The myth of ritual murder was a convenient solution; it quashed feelings of guilt, revitalised the national stereotype and re-established the moral order."

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