860C.4016/548

The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

No. 422

Sir: In continuation of the series of despatches submitted by this Embassy on significant developments affecting the Jewish population in Poland, I have the honor to inform the Department that it became quite apparent during the course of the Ordinary (Budgetary) Session of the Polish Parliament which closed on March 31, 1938, that there is a growing support in official circles, particularly in both Houses of the Parliament, of anti-Semitic tendencies and activities in Poland.

The Jewish question was injected into almost every matter considered by the Sejm and the Senate with extensive anti-Semitic remarks by responsible members of both bodies and more than usual vigorous replies thereto by spokesmen of the Jewish minority. Some six anti-Semitic measures were introduced and, although only three of them were pushed through the entire legislative procedure and became law, it was quite noticeable that the Government was not as active, openly at least, as heretofore in opposing measures manifestly harmful to Jewish interests or an invasion of their rights as Polish citizens. Towards the end of the session the public indignation aroused by the alleged unpatriotic attitude of Jewish citizens during the period of the Polish-Lithuanian crisis encouraged anti-Semitic elements in the Parliament and tended to soften any open opposition by unpartisan members and representatives of the Government to measures directed against Jewish interests.* The Government, however, manifestly arranged behind the scenes to have final consideration of certain legislative projects postponed until the next session. In that manner it managed to avoid criticism in aroused nationalistic circles which are all too ready to accuse it of being, under Jewish and foreign pressure, too well disposed towards the Jews.

The three measures passed by the Parliament dealt with (1) the withdrawal of Polish citizenship from Polish nationals residing abroad, (2) the manufacture and sale of religious articles, and (3) [Page 654]the reorganization of the legal profession. The first two of these measures and their anti-Semitic implications have been extensively treated in my telegram No. 39 of March 28 [29], 1938 and despatches Nos. 411 and 412 of March 31 and April 1, 1938,35 respectively, and they will not be considered further in this report, Three additional matters of anti-Semitic significance were also considered by the Parliament, namely, the prohibition by law of “Jewish-Masonic-Communist” activities, the prohibition of all ritual (kosher) slaughter of meat animals, and the elimination of Jews from the trade in tobacco and tobacco products.

[Here follows discussion of the proposed legislation mentioned above as not passed.]

Respectfully yours,

A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
  1. Anti-Semitic riots took place in Warsaw when numerous Jews endeavored to withdraw their deposits from banks during the course of the Polish-Lithuanian crisis. It should, however, be pointed out in this connection that the Government found it necessary to step in and support the banks and the Warsaw stock market in order to prevent a violent decline in Polish securities in harmony with the declines on the New York and other non-Polish markets. Sales on the stock market were primarily from non-Jewish sources but no comment in the press was made with regard to the necessity for Government action in support of Polish credit. [Footnote in the original.]
  2. Neither printed.
  3. The measure with respect to withdrawal of citizenship arose in connection with the possibility of a large number of Polish Jews domiciled in Austria for many years applying for re-admittance into Poland. It is also understood that numerous radical racial Poles in France and Spain may have the law used against them. The law on religious articles is intended to restrict Jews, who now carry on an extensive trade in articles used in the Christian religion, to the trade in articles used only in the Jewish rite. [Footnote in the original.]