860c.4016/67: Telegram

The Minister in Poland ( Gibson ) to the Acting Secretary of State 12

41. My 37, May 31, 7 p.m.13 Dolbeare14 telephones me this morning as follows:

Chenstokhov, town 60,000 inhabitants, on short rations, only three days reserve, unemployed number 12,000 large portion these given some light employment by municipality to keep them quiet. About 1,000 working near center of city.

On Tuesday, May 27th, shot was fired by unknown person severely wounding Silesian soldier. Some time later small group went to a house from which they thought shot had been fired. Police came at once to rescue of the Jew whom they had caught in the house. There was some disorder at this time. The Jew was somewhat hurt and one of the policemen very seriously injured trying to protect him. This excitement came at a time when large number of workmen were leaving their place of employment and streets were thronged with them. About 3,000 people quickly gathered. Police succeeded in getting young Jew to Police Headquarters. Threatening crowds gathered before it, there were about six Silesian soldiers with crowd. This occurred [between] one and four. At this time a sailor, formerly of German Navy, who apparently had not been seen in the town before, [summoned hungry] to go to the market place which is in the Jewish quarter. The [gangs] proceeded to market place and entered two or three houses. Another mob of like character surged around various parts of the city. Police authorities, district commissioners, local commandant and headquarters of 7th division acted quickly. General in command 7th division with several of his officers went to the scene of trouble, ordered out patrols and at 7 o’clock order was restored. In [first] riot one person was killed, in the second four others were so badly hurt that they died in the hospital, eight wounded now in hospital, number of policemen injured.

Dolbeare and his colleagues convinced that [conditions] arose through economic difficulties and that there was no religious question involved. I learn from relief heads that Chenstokhov is famous for smuggling of food supplies into Germany, that the Jews [Page 756] have been very active in this work and since [sic] a number of them have been caught bearing regular licenses from the Germans for smuggling. Food is scarce and prices very high. There is rough element in the population of this district which with hunger and lack of work are for the present out of hand.

Dolbeare states that loyal authorities seem to have handled situation well and so as not to arouse the population. They regard the affair as sporadic and do not look for further trouble, [provided] they can get some food soon.

I expect further telephonic report [from our] representative. [Large number] people in hospital and sailor who led the mob has been [convicted].

Gibson
  1. Forwarded by the Commission to Negotiate Peace as No. 2403.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Frederic R. Dolbeare, Secretary of the Legation.