Anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Galicia involving soldiers of the Blue Army
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During the course of the Polish-Ukrainian war and the Polish-Soviet war, soldiers within the ranks of the Blue Army were involved in acts of violence against segments of the local Jewish population in Eastern Galicia. The attacks ranged from individual acts of petty violence, intimidation and looting, to loosely organized pogroms carried out by units of the Blue Army. The causes of the violence ranged form anti-semitic prejudice, to a suspicion, legitimate or not, that some Jews were collaborating with Poland's enemies, such as the West Ukrainian People's Republic and Bolshevik Russia.
The antagonism exhibited towards non-Polish ethnic groups inhabiting Eastern Galicia (modern Western Ukraine) by some of the Blue Army's soldiers directly stemmed from earlier events of the Greater Poland Uprising when Poles rose up against German rule only to find out that the Jews in the region sided with the German authorities, a decision primarily based on economic factors. Soldiers who targeted local Jewish and Ukrainian civilians believed that they were collaborating with Poland's enemies, either the Ukrainian Galician Army or Bolshevik Russia. Some of the more significant incidents of abuse were inflicted by the Polish-American volunteers. It is likely that the cultural shock of finding themselves confronted by a multitude of unfamiliar ethnic, political and religious groups that inhabited Western Ukraine led to a feeling of vulnerability, that in turn provoked the violent outbursts. Encyclopaedia Judaica writes that because of its French ties the Blue Army enjoyed independence from the main Polish command, and some of its soldiers exploited this when engaging in undisciplined action against Jewish communities in Galicia.
In Częstochowa on 27 May 1919, a soldier by the name of Stanislaw Dziadecki who served in one of the Blue Army's rifle divisions was shot and wounded while on patrol. A Jewish tailor was suspected, and killed by civilians and Haller's soldiers on the street, after which Jewish homes and businesses were looted, by estimates between 5 and 10 Jews were killed, and a few dozen wounded. Historian Pavel Korzec wrote that as the army traveled further east, some of Haller's soldiers, as a way to exact retribution, looted Jewish houses, with bayonets cut off the beards of Orthodox Jews and pushed local Jews off moving trains—however the socialist newspaper Robotnik in its article dated 8 June 1919, described the incident as an ordeal of Jewish passengers who were dragged off the train at Łuków railway station. Also, historian Alexander Victor Prusin wrote that Haller's troops, along with the Poznań regiments, committed pogroms in Sambir, the area around Lviv and Grodek Jagiellonski, committing acts of rape and destroying prayer books and sacred scrolls in the synagogues, however these three sites do not appear in the Anglo-American Investigating Commission's Morgenthau Report as locations where significant "excesses" occurred or were reported during the war.
On 27 June 1919 in Chizanow, Haller's troops attacked Jews and cut off their beards. on 2 July, following an anti-Jewish riot in Warsaw that killed one Jew and wounded 15, General Haller issued a proclamation (signed by Polish, French, and English representatives) ordering his troops to cease cutting beards. Following additional incidents, on the 15 of August Jews approach the Morgenthau commission to report the continuing cutting of beards and anti-Jewish actions. On 14 August 1919, the British undersecretary for Foreign Affairs said the British government is aware of the participation of soldiers of Haller's army in anti-Jewish riots on 26 June 1920 in Warsaw in which beards of several Jews were torn, and that Haller's troops assaulted and injured Jews in other towns as well.
Ignacy Jan Paderewski, on his return from negotiations in Paris, warned the Polish cabinet that reports of atrocities from Poland were "producing adverse consquences for Poalnd's international policy". Reports of additional anti-Jewish violence by Haller's army in Galicia prompted the Polish prime ministed to announce an "immediated investigation". However, despite pleas from Jewish and Allied leaders to order stiff reprisals and to condemn the violence, the Polish government denied the reports and derided the "transparent" German attempts to disgrace Poland and sent a delegation of Polish Jews supportive of the Polish cause to the negotiations in Paris.
Historian William W. Hagen wrote that the Blue Army carried out pogroms in Lviv on 21 November 1918 and in Lida on 14 April 1919. However, other historians note that the first units of the army did not leave France until 15 April 1919.
According to historian Howard Sachar, in the year and a half prior to the Blue Army's arrival, the total number of Jewish casualties in the region was between 400 and 500, with Haller's troops doubling this number. The Morgenthau Report estimated that the total number of Jews killed as a result of actions made by the Polish military (including the Blue Army) did not exceed 200–300. As a result of the Blue Army's activities, General Haller's visit to the United States was met with protests from American Jewish and Ukrainian communities. Sociologist Tadeusz Piotrowski has written that far more Poles and Ukrainians in the region were killed than were Jews, and that in most cases it was impossible to disentangle gratuitous antisemitism from commonplace looting and brutality of the soldiery. Piotrowski wrote the application of the term "pogrom" in the accepted sense of the deliberate killing of Jewish civilians could not be applied to the great majority of the incidents which occurred.
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- Heiko Haumann (2002), A History of East European Jews. Archived 2018-10-02 at the Wayback Machine Central European University Press; pg. 215, via Google Books. Notes not included.
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- Alexander Victor Prusin (2005). Nationalizing a Borderland: War, Ethnicity, and Anti-Jewish Violence in East Galicia, 1914–1920. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama
- Alexander Victor Prusin (2005). Nationalizing a Borderland: War, Ethnicity, and Anti-Jewish Violence in East Galicia, 1914–1920. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press. p. 103. ISBN 0817314598.
Note: the exact phrase 'Blue Army' is not being used inside this book. It refers to it as Haller's ArmySearch this book on
- Joanna B. Michlic. (2006). Poland's threatening other: the image of the Jew from 1880 to the present . University of Nebraska Press, pg. 117
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- Strauss 1993, pp. 1034–1035 footnote 20
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- American Jewish Committee.(1920). American Jewish year book, Volume 22 . Jewish Publication Society of America pg. 250
- American Jewish Committee.(1920). American Jewish year book, Volume 22 . Jewish Publication Society of America pg. 256
- American Jewish Committee.(1920). American Jewish year book, Volume 22 . Jewish Publication Society of America pg. 178
- Hagen, William W. (2008). "Murder in the East: German-Jewish Liberal Reactions to Anti-Jewish Violence in Poland and Other East European Lands, 1918–1920". Central European History. Cambridge University Press. 34 (1): 8. doi:10.1163/156916101750149112. ISSN 0008-9389. JSTOR 4547031.
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- Reddaway, William Fiddian; Penson, J. H.; Halecki, O.; Dyboski, R., eds. (1971). The Cambridge History of Poland: From Augustus II to Pilsudski (1697–1935). Cambridge University Press Archive. p. 477. GGKEY:2G7C1LPZ3RN. Search this book on
- Andrzej Nowak, Kronika Polski Kluszczynski Publishers, 1998[page needed]
- Howard M. Sachar. (2007). Dreamland: Europeans and Jews in the Aftermath of the Great War, Random House LLC: page 25.
- "The Jews in Poland : official reports of the American and British Investigating Missions". Chicago : National Polish Committee of America. 8 October 2018. Archived from the original on 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2018-10-09 – via Internet Archive.
- "General Haller's Visit to Boston Curtailed". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 27 November 1923. Archived from the original on 2017-10-16. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- "Bnai Brith of Boston Decry Reception to Haller". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 13 November 1923. Archived from the original on 2017-10-16. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- Tadeusz Piotrowski. (1998). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918–1947, McFarland: page 43.
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