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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 13Focusing on the Holocaust and its Aftermath$
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Antony Polonsky and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774600

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774600.001.0001

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Jewish Reaction to the Soviet Arrival in the Kresy in September 1939

Jewish Reaction to the Soviet Arrival in the Kresy in September 1939

Chapter:
(p.62) Jewish Reaction to the Soviet Arrival in the Kresy in September 1939
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 13
Author(s):

Andrzej Żbikowski

, Gwido Zlatkes
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774600.003.0003

This chapter examines why the Jews welcomed the Soviet armies entering the Kresy (Polish eastern borderlands) in September of 1939. It highlights a number of factors which led the Jews to welcome the Soviet troops. Perhaps the most important phenomenon is the fact that a wave of peasant revolts swept over the Kresy in September of 1939, the principal victims of which were the landowners and the Jews, as in the revolts of Khmelnytsky and Gonta. It may be worth recalling the often expressed adage that a vacuum in state authority creates danger for any minority surrounded by hostile neighbours—a view which has been confirmed by the long history of the Jewish diaspora in Europe. Certainly, for the Jews, any kind of authority was better than anarchy. Moreover, to all Jews it was obvious that the Soviets prevented the Germans from entering the area. The German attitude towards the Jews was widely known, and refugees arriving in the east gave graphic accounts of how the Jews were treated in central Poland. Finally, and importantly, under the new regime, antisemitism was prohibited.

Keywords:   Jews, Soviet armies, Kresy, peasant revolts, Jewish diaspora, Germans, Poland, antisemitism

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