North Winship on plans to “enact anti-Jewish legislation” in Poland, 1939

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I have the honor to refer to despatch No. 866, dated December 27, 1938, which in the last paragraph on page 2 mentions the growing tendency among certain politicians to enact anti-Jewish legislation, and to report that this movement is gaining momentum. In fact, at the beginning of the present budget session of the Parliament early in December, Deputy Stoch informed the press that he had worked out a concrete proposal embodying anti-Jewish legislation which he wished to present. […]

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Deputy Stoch project is based not so much on racial but on religious principles and proposes the extension of only temporary citizenship [sic] to all professed Jews, including even those who changed their religion as far back as 1918. Under his project these temporary citizens would lose: Their political rights, Employment in public service institutions and schools, with the exception of Jewish private schools, Title to military service, Right to handle public service supplies, Right to perform licensed professions, Right to publish and collaborate in Polish press organs, Right to own and operate advertising offices.

Furthermore the bill provides that pensions and insurance fees paid up to date by these citizens would be returned to them. Full citizenship rights would be enjoyed only by Jews converted to Christianity before the restoration of Poland’s independence, as well as

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Jews having special merits because of their service during the war or because of their outstanding work for Poland. […]

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As was pointed out in my despatch No. 560 of January 24, 1938 (Anti-Jewish Legislation), it is still true, as was then the case, that the Polish Government feels that the time is not ripe yet for the enactment of anti-Jewish legislation as such. However, the significant point in this report is that the tendency and trend of public opinion is in that direction. In the meantime the Government still endeavors to side-step the main issue, but working through OZON, continues its policy of guarded discrimination, limiting Jewish activity wherever possible without direct racial reference. Temporizing in this manner, the Government hopes to avoid hostile foreign censure, placate anti-Jewish circles here, and not to arouse Jewish apprehension or enmity. The Government is under no illusion, however, but that eventually this issue will have to be faced squarely.

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