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Acta No. 5 Jerusalem: SICSA, 1994


Antisemitism in Post-Communist Eastern Europe: A Marginal or Central Issue?


Leon Volovici


Copyright ©1994,  Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism. All rights reserved


Surveys on present trends of post-Communist antisemitism in Eastern Europe reveal contradictory images of the weight and significance of current anti-Jewish manifestations and rhetoric.

An evaluation of the main themes of the present antisemitic discourse points to the predominance of irrational myths -- the “Jewish (or Israeli) conspiracy” and world-wide “Jewish power.” In addition, the public debate on the Holocaust and collective responsibility for crimes against the local Jewish population has had a significant impact on public discourse. Questions of national identity, a tendency towards historical distortion and mystification, and the propagandistic accusation of “Jewish guilt” for the former repressive communist regimes form another area of contention which leads to anti-Jewish manifestations.

The reproduction and spread of antisemitic motifs is found mainly in political discourse. In order to understand whether antisemitic political groups are central or marginal, it is necessary to consider the degree of their acceptance or support by mainstream political forces, direct or insidious forms of legitimation for them, as well as the force of the antisemitic tradition, and the amplitude of public or official reactions against either the vulgar or the sophisticated expressions of antisemitism.


In analyzing the current social and political situation in Eastern Europe, common features, and developments there after the breakdown of the communist camp, are usually stressed. Commentaries tend to make global evaluations of the recent evolution in politics and the general mood, or they emphasize nationalist and antisemitic manifestations. Nevertheless, in the three or four years since the dramatic political and social overthrow of communist governments, differences on many levels are more and more evident, and it is harder to generalize without falling into the use of clichés, or making irrelevant or superficial assertions. Perhaps the first task should be to detect not common traits, but common problems, of the past and present.

The Western and Israeli press frequently report antisemitic manifestations (violence, vandalism, cemetery desecrations, as well as the proliferation of the antisemitic press, and political declarations of an antisemitic character). It would be easy to form an apocalyptic image (as indeed, some have done) of the fascist-style extreme right groups and movements, or to collect huge quantities of antisemitic articles and leaflets published recently whose antisemitic language is no less shocking than that used formerly in Nazi propaganda. A rich selection of such material can be had in the Romanian newspapers Europa and Romania Mare, the Hungarian Szent Korona (no longer published) and Hunnia Fuzetek; there are the paranoic revelations in the Czech Politika (whose publication is now banned by law), in the declarations of Hungarian neo-fascist leaders, or those of the Polish extremist B. Tejkowski.

More balanced assessments conclude that all these groups and journals represent peripheral movements. Where do such contradictory images and judgments originate, contradictory even in the pronouncements of those who attempt to take a competent and objective view of the matter? 1 Are we dealing with a marginal phenomenon, or is it central, and of exceptional gravity and danger?

Antisemitism is now a topic frequently found in the headlines of the Eastern European press. The former taboo on the subject, and the manipulations of Jewish issues is no longer in effect; yet old cliches remain, and one finds new forms of manipulation. In the press, antisemitism is sometimes seen as an extremely important and urgent topic, yet it can also suddenly disappear, set aside from the public agenda.

Equally contradictory assessments can be made in comparying the reemergence of antisemitism against surveys which indicate remarkable improvements in the situation of the Jewish communities in these countries, and the widespread general interest in Jewish themes. Alarming reports on antisemitic incidents alternate with enthusiastic accounts of the current free expression of Jewish communal and religious life, the recovery of Jewish identity, normalization of relations with Israel and Western Jewish organizations, and the right to emigrate. 2 One finds open interest in Judaism and Jewish history, including an almost obsessive attraction for kosher food products in the Eastern European capitals. There are many publications on Jewish topics; academic chairs for Jewish studies have been established, conferences organized; and official declarations opposing antisemitism are most impressive.

At the same time, with new antisemitic manifestations of varying intensity to be found in every country, there is a continuing debate on the problems of relations between Jews and non-Jews. Such debates are out of proportion to the present number of Jews in Eastern European countries. Some Jewish communities are reduced to a nearly symbolic existence, and have little weight in the economy or political life.

We thus witness two parallel phenomena, those on both sides either ignore the other, or hold the other in contempt. Observers wishing to obtain an objective view continue to ask, which of the two views is the dominant one? Despite the enormous intellectual differences between the two aspects, they must be considered together.

Antisemitic propaganda, as well as the debates surrounding it and the opposition to antisemitism, concentrates on certain themes and motifs in the public discourse. In this paper, the significant themes of the antisemitic discourse will be chosen and defined, delimiting the fields and contexts, and an attempt will be made to explain the fluctuations and paradoxes described above.

In a period overwhelmed with symbolic gestures marking the tremendous renewal and change in the post-communist states, it is not hard to find events symbolizing the end of official antisemitism in the USSR and Eastern Europe. It can be seen, for example, in Gorbachev's 1991 message to the participants at the commemoration of the massacre at Babi Yar, in which the condemnation of antisemitism was no longer associated with the reproval of Zionism; in the address of Polish President Lech Walesa to the Israeli Knesset; and the impressive gathering of the heads of the former communist countries at the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; or the amazing appearance of the Red Army Choir singing the Israeli anthem, “Hatikvah” in Hebrew near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

With the end of official antisemitism, the “privatization” of it followed immediately, openly used by both the new nationalist organizations which wished to follow in the footsteps of prewar xenophobic right wing extremism, and by groups of former communists to promote a dogmatic opposition to the process of democratization and liberalization.

Antisemitism, however, is not the main issue in the present political and ideological confrontation; it is only implied, and artificially provokes discussion of an imaginary “Jewish question.” A glance at the enormous number of texts of an antisemitic character (articles in the press, polemics, electoral leaflets, public declarations and parliamentary speeches, books and propaganda material, popular articles on religious matters) shows the variety of contexts in which anti-Jewish remarks appear. Here are some of the contexts, in order of their frequency, not of their importance:

political: the Jewish origin of political opponents; a supposed Jewish conspiracy against the country or against nationalist leaders; Jewish implication in ethnic or territorial conflicts;

debates on the catastrophic situation of the economy: on the social and political models to follow in order to overcome the crisis and political instability;

ideological debates on national problems: modernity vs. traditionalism; clerical vs. lay leadership; western-style democracy vs. an ethnocratic state following an autochtonous tradition;

interpretations and polemics on the national heritage: the responsibility for the mass crimes of World War II; the causes for the advent of the communist regime and the disasters provoked by it;

confrontations with national identity and myths: the nationalistic tradition; the reevaluation of former statesmen and nationalist ideologues;

theological argumentation: the Christian position toward Judaism, the question of deicide, etc.

The Post-Communist Mythical Jew

In March 1994, following the Hebron massacre perpetrated by an Israeli settler, the head of the ultra-nationalist Romania Mare (Greater Romania) Party, C. V. Tudor, the most assiduous and blatant author of antisemitic texts in Romania, published an extensive commentary entitled “Church or Butchery.” 3 The text, whose accumulation of antisemitic myths and stereotypes is paradigmatic, illustrates nearly the full range of antisemitic language now in use in the extremist press of Eastern Europe: the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus; the idea of the “chosen people” as the “first fascist slogan in the history of mankind”; the Holocaust is a “Zionist stratagem” and a “physical and technical impossibility,” as “proven by English and American scholars;” the guilt of Jews for the murder of 11,000 people in Romania during the 1907 peasant uprising, and for the deaths of Romanian soldiers in Bessarabia and Odessa in 1940-41; the figure for Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Romania is said to be 1,200 and not 400,000, “as they [the Jews] charge against us”; after the establishment of the State of Israel, its army, police and intelligence service (the Mossad) was trained by former SS and Gestapo officers; the Hebron massacre is a “genocide” without precedent in the twentieth century; Israel is an “ultra-Nazi” state; the world press is 80% in Zionist hands; the United States is an “Israeli colony” with a “diabolic master,” the World Jewish Congress; Romanian politicians now visiting Israel are actually hidden Jews and it would be better for them to remain there; accusations that the nationalists are antisemites are unjustified; actual antisemitism is provoked by the Jews themselves, and practiced by them against Palestinians; the author of the essay has Jewish friends.

On first reading these and other types of antisemitic cliches and stereotypes, one notes their eclecticism: traditional, religious, of the extreme right or left; others held over from Nazi and “anti-Zionist” Soviet propaganda. Communist “hackneyed speech” makes up an important layer, but it is mixed with reanimated nationalist and antisemitic jargon of the 1930s.

The disappearance of Jews within the society has not led to the disappearance of antisemitism, but rather to its abstraction through the emphasis on the mythical character of the Jew. Even the abovementioned interest in Jewish topics contributes to the process of mythologizing the Jew (in a philosemitic sense also), in contrast to the actual numerical Jewish presence in Eastern European societies. As Yehuda Bauer has pointed out, “the non-existent Jews have become a major issue in public discourse.”4 In this abstraction of antisemitic stereotypes, the irrational component dominates, and there is a diminution of the negative stereotypes connected to actual Jews such as their character or physical image. In this new situation, the danger from Jews is perceived as an invisible, demonic conspiracy in which the concrete presence of Jews is no longer relevant or necessary.

Political manipulation of antisemitism is a current phenomenon which would have been impossible without a real or presumed set of expectations. The predisposition to accept and reproduce negative stereotypes is generated by their persistence in religious tradition and folklore, their penetration in everyday language, as well as by the existence of common phantasms.5 An antisemitic element could be detected in public discourse, in culture, and in every manifestation expressing a state of mind, ideological orientation (and disorientation), and political options. Well-known stereotypes and myths were reproduced, and new ones forged.

Jewish World Conspiracy and Domination

A rich sub-literature of mysterious and phantasmagoric conspiracies has invaded the bookstalls of Eastern European cities. Frequently, a Jewish demonic character is at the center of the plot, for the old myth of a Jewish world conspiracy has been revived to explain present day conditions.6 New editions and reprints of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are circulating in Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, in Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia; the greatest exploitation of the text remains in its birthplace, Russia.7 Those who utilize and promote the Protocols rely on the receptivity of the reader, preconditioned by cultural and religious images of the Jew, especially in a period of sudden social and political upheavals with a climate of fear, insecurity and an obsession with conspiracy theories.

The supposed Jewish or Freemason plot seemed the ideal, magical key for deciphering the secret of the extraordinary changes of the last few years. Officially imposed ideological “meaning” collapsed; only the hidden, irrational and mystical meaning remained uncompromised, for it had been banned and rejected by Marxist ideology and the atheistic educational system. The myth of a Jewish conspiracy seemed to offer a clear explanation for the events and the complex and radical changes in society. It gave coherence and unity to the imaginary, contradictory Jewish prototypes (i.e., both capitalist and communist), for the mythical Jew could use any and all means in order to control or dominate the world.

Derived from the myth of a Jewish conspiracy is the obsession with “Jewish power,” as attested by recent public opinion surveys (in 1991 and 1992), in amazing contrast with the actual insignificant numbers of Jews in these countries.8 “Jews have too much power” is an opinion shared by 31% of those surveyed in Poland; 42% in Slovakia. In the Czech Republic, 24% of those questioned are convinced that the 1989 Prague revolution was organized by Jews supported by Freemasons; similar comments are made about the Romanian “Judaic revolution.” The idea of excessive Jewish power is also to be found in the rhetoric of public figures, as in Polish Cardinal Glemp's speech during the Carmelite convent crisis, and that of Hungary's rightist politician, Istvan Csurka.

Conspiracy theories, needing no objective proofs, have begun to penetrate even neutral texts which have no ideological or propagandistic intentions. For example, the official Bulletin of the Ministry of Culture in Romania, which lists new publications, comments on a new book on Freemasonry which was translated from the French: “After so much mystery, one could understand the interest in a phenomenon which linked the whole modern world, which produced the French and Russian revolutions, controlled and controls the most powerful state in the world.”9

A new element has been added to the classic myth, that of the malign and dominant role of Israel in present day conspiracy scenarios, especially in the work of the Mossad. In some antisemitic texts, the CIA and even the KGB are only a subsidiary of the Mossad and its Tel Aviv-based general staff (never in Jerusalem, which is not perceived as having a malefic Zionist function).

The positive changes in the status of Jews, such as permission for the operation of Jewish organizations, the right to emigrate to Israel, etc., have been immediately translated into a mythical scenario: the new Jewish organizations are seen as agencies of the Mossad designed to prepare new social cataclysms. Mass emigration from the Soviet Union is viewed as the first step in a secret plan to invade and colonize the ex-communist countries in order to create a second Jewish state. Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are the ones immediately threatened by this “project.”

If the number of Jews who identify themselves as such represents only a very small, sometimes insignificant percentage of the population, the number of purported crypto-Jews in Eastern Europe shows an alarming increase. In Poland, according to Tejkowski, the number of crypto-Jews is two million (!), and includes not only the former premier, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and Jerzy Turowicz, the editor-in-chief of the leading Catholic journal, Tygodnik Powszechny, plus figures in the Catholic hierarchy and even the pope. This last extraordinary discovery “explains” the “hidden” motive behind recent attempts by the Church to promote Polish-Jewish reconciliation and its condemnation of antisemitism. According to these same sources, the “Jews” are the ones who insist on women's free choice concerning abortions, a particularly sensitive moral issue for Catholics.10

The fantastic claims of a Jewish invasion or colonization are not only connected with the mythical notion of Jewish omnipresence and power. The Judaization of political opponents in order to compromise them is a current propagandistic method noted by many analysts of the East European scene. “Every Jew is an enemy” is no longer an effective slogan in the present circumstances, but every enemy has become ipso facto a Jew. The “class enemy” --a basic concept in communist ideology, is now replaced by the ethnic enemy or the mythological enemy --the Jew. Another function of this Judaization is to repudiate political figures which have become discredited and irremedially hateful. In the Romanian antisemitic press, for example, Elena Ceaucescu became Jewish post-mortem; not so her husband, Nicolae, who is posthumously adulated and identified with a nationalist orientation.11

Those who promote this anti-Jewish discourse do not accept the characterization of their attacks as antisemitic, nor would they call themselves antisemites. This has led to the paradoxical situation of “antisemitism without Jews and without antisemites.” 12

Why is it undesirable to be labelled antisemitic? Antisemites are often affiliated with political parties which avoid an open, programmatic antisemitism because their goal is a broader political legitimacy. They must take into account such considerations as good or acceptable relations with Western governments, media, and public opinion. The word “antisemite” is still associated with Nazi propaganda and its consequences; it was also hypocritically banned in Soviet communist ideology, although antisemitism under the Soviets was promoted insidiously, using a specific allusive and codified language.

It is thus necessary to use a coded language so that one can disclaim the antisemitic nature of statements or assertions. Allusions and euphemisms transmit the real message, and depend on the receptor's knowledge and ability to understand it. Many of the terms formerly used by the Soviets remain: “cosmopolites,” “stateless,” “liberals,” “strangers,” etc. In personal attacks against those of Jewish (or half-Jewish) origin, the use of their supposedly real names serves to unmask them. This was the case with Adam Michnik and Bronis_aw Geremek in Poland, and with Petre Roman and Silviu Brucan in Romania.

Nationalism and Antisemitism

Various explanations for the current antisemitic attacks have pointed to historical, political, or psycho-social roots. Certainly the phenomenon is deeply rooted in the political culture of the area, in its basic historical and cultural myths, in the place of the “Jewish question” in the political and intellectual histories of the countries, and in the persistence and spread of antisemitic stereotypes.

For historical and geo-political reasons, the basic element of the political culture of these countries has been the problem of asserting and defending national and state identity. In the modern period, this was first expressed by the nationalistic ideology of the romantic period, followed, in times of social or national crisis, by radical and exclusivist stands. 13

The production of visible and invisible enemies to support an ideology and raison d'etre is not solely the province of totalitarian systems, but also of ethnocentrist ideologies. In this case, nationalism was first molded around genuine external dangers. The countries of Eastern Europe have always felt threatened with being swallowed by empires or stronger neighbors. In the collective memory, the enemy tends to take on mythological traits and power, and the Jew preeminently embodied the sense of universal danger, and does so today as well, offering a simple explanation for recent and previous disasters.

After 1989, there was a total reversal of the “official” patterns and symbols of national history as promoted by communist regimes. “Black” chapters of history that were considered compromising according to the communist script, once again came to be viewed as periods of national glory. This has included periods of right wing dictatorship, or the rule of pro-Nazi leaders. By contrast, the entrance of the Soviet army in these countries at the end of World War II, which had been celebrated under the communist regimes as liberation (in some cases this became the National Day), now marks the beginning of Soviet occupation and anti-national terror.

The reestablishment of national values and myths has also engendered a change of symbols: new flags and national anthems; monuments have been demolished and replaced by others; the names of streets changed. All of this reveals a deep revolution in the national consciousness and a crisis of national identity with considerable effect on the collective psychology, a “return to history,” as Shlomo Avineri has called it, implying the challenge of past controversial events. 14

In areas in which the values of society are derived from the national history, the power of the tradition determines present social and cultural values; people justify their ideology and present day political projects using historical arguments.

The end of the communist period, the failure of the promised utopia, saw an emphatic return to themes of national definition, national sovereignty, and even a quest for previously defined state borders. The nationalist ideology, as well as the political praxis in some cases, tends to concentrate around the slogan of ethnic purity and a desire for a mono-ethnic state; society is defining itself in ethnic terms rather than as a civil society.15

The recently abandoned communist language has almost instantly changed into nationalist language, revealing the same preference for cliches and taboos, and for euphemisms which hide rather than reveal the thought of the writer or speaker.

Political ethnocentrism, and the ideological fantasy that an ethnically pure state can be achieved has brought about wars and massacres, as in the former Yugoslavia. In Eastern Europe, extreme nationalist parties have appeared, and populist leaders, usually coming from the former communist nomenklatura, are now “recycled” as nationalists. In the context of social and political instability in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, the chauvinist discourse can reach dangerous heights.

Various conflicts in the post-communist countries result from ethnic tensions. Some are derived from cultural and linguistic considerations (such as the freedom to use minority languages in schools). Yet ethnic conflicts have escalated at a rapid and shocking rate. Besides being manipulated by politicians wishing to gain or consolidate power, there are additional causes. With the abolition of the one-party political structure, and in the initial absense of a civil society and alternative political structure, the ethnic dimension became paramount. There was a sense of “we” versus “they”--the strangers. The continuing weakness of the civil society and lack of a democratic tradition increases the risk of unpredictable escalations of ethnic tensions from either real or artificial causes. Social and political problems are readily perceived as ethnic problems through the return to traditional models of indigenous political culture with their well-known patterns emphasizing the dangers of ethnic annihilation, the potential loss of territorial integrity, and/or state sovereignty, the phobia of aggressive neighbors, a minority's sense of inferiority, and a sense of victimization due to “betrayal” by other states.

Jews are no longer directly implicated in these crises and debates. But the return to themes and myths of nationalist ideology does imply the return to mental habits and the specific historical nationalisms of these countries. When extreme nationalism is confronted with the prospect of an open, pluralistic, and democratic society, it usually returns to the tradition of antisemitic arguments, preferably the mythological stock, which is even more effective in present circumstances.

In order to fully discredit the foreign “enemy,” nationalists draw on established stereotypes of the mythical demonic Jew. For example, the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party points to “Judeo-Magyars” in its anti-Hungarian attacks; in Poland, Tejkowski's supporters warn the Poles against “Jewish-American” and “Judeo-Soviet” plots, as well as the anti-Polish “Jewish-German” coalition. The Serbian correspondent of Tanjug in Moscow claims that the “Jewish lobby in the Russian Foreign Ministry has helped Croatia and Slovenia to obtain diplomatic recognition from Russia.”16 A Bulgarian politician close to the former communists claimed that some Bulgarian parliamentary deputies were being used by the “Jewish pro-Turkish lobby” in the United States Congress.17

Whenever attempts are made to examine nationalist myths, personalities, and historical events critically, violent disputes arise and there is a recourse to myths of treason and conspiracy. In this case, the antisemitic stereotypes are immediately found in a central place if the issue under debate is the responsibility for the crimes against the Jews during the Second World War.

National Myth and National Responsibility: The Holocaust as a Litmus Test

No historical event is so troubling to the myth of national innocence as the Holocaust. The conflict between the nationalist discourse and Jewish memory reaches its culmination in this area, and easily becomes a point of departure for antisemitic recrimination. It can be explosive in public debates concerning former political leaders who were ultra-nationalist or pro-Nazi, and who have been reinstated as national heroes in the collective memory. Public and parliamentary debates concerning Roman Dmowski (in Poland), Jozef Tiso (in Slovakia), Ion Antonescu (in Romania), and others occupy a central place in such arguments. The polemic and confrontation passes beyond the local setting, and has even led to international political disputes.18

The legitimacy and character of the Slovak state led by Tiso, the Croat state proclaimed by the Usta_e, Antonescu's regime in Romania and its responsibility for the deportation and massacre of the Jewish population, the anti-Jewish legislation of the Horthy government in Hungary and the Hungarian responsibility for the annihilation of a great part of its Jewry in 1944, are subjects of dispute. Similar debate has been provoked by the book published by Croatian president Tudjman, and his letter of excuse of February 20, 1994.

Negative or critical reactions found in the Western media or made by Jewish organizations to the above debates or to specific events in Eastern Europe can spark a recourse to old antisemitic responses in Eastern Europe. Reactions differ in intensity and violence depending on who or what is being criticized. Sometimes mainstream political leaders resort to euphemism and elliptical speech, but the more extreme elements, less concerned with diplomatic nuances and respectability, are often blatantly antisemitic.

The best example of tension and confrontation in this area can be seen in the debates which have taken place in Romania over the past two years about the image of Antonescu, the former dictator and ally of Hitler. Entering the fray has been the present Romanian president and government, the recently deceased leader of the Jewish community, Rabbi Moses Rosen, Romanian intellectuals (including those in exile), as well as the American Congress and Senate, the Anti-Defamation League, and the international media.

In the nationalist discourse, only one criterion is used in judging political leaders--their quality as “good patriots” and their faithfulness to nationalist ideas. Ethnocentric logic eliminates as irrelevant attitudes towards Jews or other minorities, even when it comes to questions about mass deportations and murder. The discussion revolves around the opportunities which resulted from the alliance with Hitler during the war years. Neglected are the questions of the participation of these countries in a war which led to hundreds of thousands of victims, the establishment of pro-Nazi dictatorships, discriminatory legislation, and the justification of plunder. First place in the discussion goes to military strategy and bravery, patriotism, or rather the solemn proclamation of nationalist slogans, and the role of former leaders as national heroes and “martyrs.” of the communist regimes.

Such thinking is not solely the province of the nationalists, but is the dominant perception of the majority, a consensus beyond considerations of political parties or coalitions. There is little or no concern about the attitudes of former military and political leaders towards the civilian Jewish population; discussion of the crimes committed against this population is avoided, historical facts are concealed, or else the fate of the Jews is justified as due to the supposedly hostile or disloyal behavior of the Jews themselves. Criticism encountered in the Western press concerning the apologetics and the glorification of controversial figures is said to be due to ignorance, the Western lack of understanding, its hostility, or its surrender to Jewish pressure. While there is a general consensus on this reasoning, among the extreme nationalist or fascist wing, one finds a frenetic antisemitism.

It is well to remember that the conflict between this return to traditional and nationalist myths and the challenge of facing the Holocaust is in fact very recent. In the previous official communist discourse, the Holocaust as a concept did not exist. In the official historiography there was no acknowledgement of the participation of local authorities in discriminatory policies, nor in the deportations and massacres. Following the Soviet model, the presence of Jews as such was downplayed; the tragic isolation of the Jews under the Nazi occupation was ignored. Jewish victims were part of the general category of victims of fascism and nazism.19 The 1948 essay by Istvan Bibo on Hungarian responsibility for the suffering of the Jewish community during the war remained a striking exception.20

The theme of national and local responsibility appeared only in the 1980s, especially in Poland, occurring along with the weakening of official control over the press, and the increasing strength of the dissident movement.21 The best known and impressive examples are the debate in Poland around Jan Blonski's article “Poor Poles Look at the Ghetto,” and the declaration of the Slovak dissidents in 1987.22 Now, however, the debate on the Holocaust is being carried out by leading intellectuals against the disturbing and noisy background of exalted patriotic declarations.23

In Romania, the parliament has observed moments of solemn recollection in memory of the victims of the pogrom in Jassy in June 1941, as well as in memory of Antonescu. As the Romanian historian Andrei Pippidi commented:

“a hollow rhetoric seems to reconcile the most evident contradictions.... There is more and more a tendency to elude a sincere and consequential judgment of a past which formed us as we are now and whose infamies cannot be forgiven, the more so as they are still alive.”24

Of the present political leaders of Eastern Europe, only Vaclav Havel, the former Czech dissident, has remained true to his moral criteria and has refused, at the risk of lowering popularity, to adopt a nationalist defensive discourse. He is unafraid to face the past: “Let us finally face ourselves--ourselves, our present, our past, and our future --calmly and honestly.” 25

A frequent form of avoiding responsibility and the process of a conscious assessment of the past involves the attribution of some sort of noble mission to the alliances with Hitler. Horthy, Tiso, and Antonescu are viewed as champions in the struggle against communism and Bolshevik expansionism. What is easily forgotten is that Hitler's war was not in order to promote democracy, but rather to achieve victory for the Nazi Reich and the Aryan race.

The Banalization of the Holocaust and the Theft of Symbols

An extreme consequence of the avoidance of facing the historical truth and neglecting to take responsibility for the past can be seen in the denial that the Holocaust took place, although this denial is less complete than what one finds sometimes, in certain extreme circles, in the United States and Western Europe. Nearer to the “scene of the crime,” debates in Eastern Europe center on “proving” the innocence of local authorities in the perpetration of the massacres, or seek to diminish substantially the number of victims.

This phenomenon can be seen in the public and official discourse, as well as in political and judicial acts. There is the rehabilitation of former war criminals, granting them the status of victims, including special allotments to those who had been prosecuted under communist regimes for their participation in crimes against the civilian population (mostly Jews).

By using the same terms to describe the victimization of local population as those used for the Holocaust, the Jews are deprived of their status as primary victims of the Nazis. Seeing oneself as a primary victim has become an “enviable” attribute.

The problem of the usurpation of the symbols of the Holocaust goes beyond the area of the language of propaganda and clichés, and has more general significance within European culture and philosophy and the history of Christianity. This was most acute in the controversy over the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz.26

In the language of antisemitic propaganda, as well as in respectable neutral discourse, the words “Holocaust” and “genocide” are used especially in the concrete sense (meaning genocide), and in the figurative sense for events real or imagined, in which the Jews are not implied, or in which they are presented as allegedly guilty. A few examples can be seen in the titles of recently published books such as The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation, and Polski Holokaust na Wschodzie. “It is the Jews in particular, wrote a Polish author of a recent antisemitic brochure, “who are responsible for the genocide against the Polish people during the so-called `consolidation of people's power.”27 In Romania, examples include Holocaustul rosu (The Red Holocaust), and Genocidul comunist in Romania. A series of articles entitled “The Holocaust of the Romanian Culture” appeared in the journal Romania Mare, claiming that Jewish communists have destroyed Romanian culture. Another, more serious newspaper wrote about “The Romanian and Jewish Holocaust.”

Another symptom of the tendency to avoid a critical examination of the past is the antisemitic rhetoric which is heard whenever there are public debates on the collaboration of local authorities in the massacres of the Jews; these also have occurred as a response to ceremonies of commemoration of the victims. All the known forms of antisemitism may be found, but the dominant and most popular theme has been that of promoting the image of the Jews as the importers of communism and the establishment of pro-Soviet regimes in Eastern countries.

Jews = Communism

The identification of Jews with communism is widespread in the political culture, and is used to deny responsibility for national failures and crimes during the fascist period, the war, and the communist period which followed it. Similarly, the presence of Jews among dissidents and opponents to the communist regimes was also used in communist propaganda in order to discredit these movements by demonstrating their “foreign,” “cosmopolitan,” or “Zionist” character. The stereotype of Jews as communists has such persistence and the appearance of incontestable truth, that it is frequently accepted and repeated by both Jewish and non-Jewish commentators unthinkingly.

The problem of the large numbers of Jews in the higher echelons of the communist regimes, and in the security forces of the first period of communist rule is a very important topic, and must be approached from multiple perspectives.

The bitter irony in the post-Holocaust history of Eastern European Jewry is that Jewish demands for equal rights, legislation against antisemitism, and the opening of possibilities for social promotion, begun to be fulfilled at the time of the installation of communist regimes in countries which came under Soviet control and influence.

For Jews, the gain of equality before the law was paid through a loss of ethnic identity, and the acceptance of the Stalinist policy toward the Jews and the State of Israel (the consequences of which became more and more grave as time passed). Although formally abolished, antisemitism merely assumed new forms, sometimes insidious, sometimes obvious and aggressive. Promotion on the social and public level, or in the political sphere necessarily meant participation in a repressive and abusive regime. For Jews as an ethnic group, this was a period of de-nationalization and communist-style assimilation.

Why did this equivocal promotion, alternating with massive purges of Jews from the political and repressive aparatus, revive popular antisemitism and create the legend of a Jewish-communist symbiosis? For the first time, Jews began to appear in public functions, in politics, as high-ranking career officers in the military, and in the secret police -- that is, in positions of power to which they had had no access in the past. The shock of Jewish visibility in such positions, even though it did not at all represent a Jewish collective body, following as it did the period of total exclusion and mass annihilation, and in the face of latent and traditional antisemitism, seemed only to confirm all the fears and resentments of the populace. Once again, the traditional stereotypes came to the fore: Jew = Bolshevik; the Jews are the new owners of power and the agents of Moscow.

Only a small percentage of the Jews who survived the Holocaust made use of the doubtful opportunity for advancement in Eastern European societies. Most preferred emigration, even in difficult conditions. With the exception of a small number of old (and convinced) communists, promotion went to careerists, opportunists, and champions of anti-Zionist campaigns, and campaigns against Jewish “nationalism.” The point consistently missed in the abovementioned “objective” stand was that the real target of the Jew = Bolshevik propaganda was not the number of Jews in the communist elites, but the alleged Jewish collective culpability for the misdoings and disasters of the communist regimes. Marxism was and is presented as a “Jewish” ideology, emanating from Judaism as a tool to rule the world and enslave other nations. This propaganda points to an absolute and imaginary “Jewish guilt” in order to balance it with the real culpability and real responsibility for crimes committed against the Jewish population. In a discussion intended to “reveal” the Jewish origins of sinister figures in postwar communist history, the essential is concealed ¾ that Jewish communists made great efforts to break away from their Jewishness, and participated or led the official policy of de-ethnicization of Jews; they repressed Jewish communal life; they were the most zealous in destroying Zionist organizations, in prosecuting Zionists, and in preparing anti-Israel campaigns.

Political Antisemitism: From the Outskirts to the Center

It is within the political realm that the force and persistence of antisemitic stereotypes can best be assessed. Taking into account the semantic burden of anti-Jewish prejudice, its explosive negative charge, and its irrationality, it can and does play an important role in political discourse as a propaganda factor. In this, it is totally disproportionate in relation to the actual Jewish presence, and the possible tensions between the Jewish community and the majority of the populace.

The intensity of antisemitic attacks and their frequency, as well as their acceptance, depends on some basic factors. These include the force of the antisemitic tradition; the prestige of personalities of the past who are involved in this tradition; the acuity of the conflict between the Jewish and non-Jewish collective memories, especially regarding the behavior of the local population and authorities during the war; the intensity of Soviet-style antisemitism, or “national communist” antisemitism; the character and strength of the dissident movement; the instability and vulnerability of the present day political situation.

In public discourse and in the new political life, antisemitism is used mainly to delegitimize political opponents, particularly those who represent a pro-Western orientation open to Europe and to democracy. Following a long-term stereotype, everything which is liberal, reformist, anti-traditionalist, is of Jewish origin.

By using antisemitic arguments, any critical evaluation of the nationalist tradition is avoided. An “extra-national” explanation, simple and effective, accounts for the failure of communism, and the present difficulties.

Surveys of Eastern European extremist movements and parties which include antisemitism in varying degrees, point to significant differences for each country, but generally conclude that these parties are marginal.29 Most prominent are radical-nationalist parties who are represented in legislative and political bodies. These have made impressive gains in Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

The Greater Romania Party, which edits part of the most antisemitic journals, gained 16 seats in parliament (3.89%) in the 1992 elections, and 6 seats in Senate. And it is not the only nationalsitic party which is represented in the present Romanian parliament. In the Czech Republic, the Republican Party of Miroslav Sladek gained in the 1992 parliamentary election 14 seats (5.98%).

Outside of parliament, there are fascist groups, such as in Hungary or Romania, and of course, the skinhead gangs, most visible and noisy in Hungary, Poland, and in the Czech Republic. It is worth noting the popularity of these groups among younger people (motivated largely by anti-Gypsy feeling), provoking an alarming analogy with the early development of fascist movements such as the Romanian Legionnaires, or the Hungarian Arrow Cross.

One characteristic of the extremists is the tendency to form mergers between extreme right wing or even fascist groups and hard-line, dogmatic communists. This phenomenon, labelled the “red-brown alliance” is most visible in Russia and the Ukraine, but can be found in Romania and Poland as well. With its mixture of both extreme left and extreme right slogans, both of which contain strong emotional and populist messages, this new ideological “syndrome” could become a dangerous source of fanatic xenophobia. Within antisemitic discourse, it strengthens the eclectic mixture of stereotypes, with a particular emphasis on the Jewish conspiracy theory and Holocaust denial.

Antisemitism is marginal in the social and political life of Eastern Europe, yet it has a continuous tendency to return to the center of political life and public discourse. This dynamic serves to bestow a certain legitimacy on active antisemitic groups. Fluctuations and movement from the periphery to the center result from the abovementioned factors, and take place in the midst of specific conditions in each country.

We can examine a series of these ebbs and flows over a relatively short period in Eastern European political life, and we will find certain similarities with the “waves” of antisemitic violence described by Simon Epstein.30 Movement toward the center of the political scene took place during the first election campaigns, especially in Poland and Hungary. In public debates, a similar tendency was noted in the hot polemic surrounding the Auschwitz convent controversy, and in the nationalist campaign in Romania which aimed at the rehabilitation and symbolic martyrdom of Antonescu. The same trend is noticeable in the Baltic countries following a change in official attitudes towards former war criminals.

Most impressive of all is the trend of antisemitism toward the center in Romania, which coincides with the growing legitimization of extreme nationalist groups. Antisemitic discourse, even blatant and vulgar expressions of it, is tolerated and even accepted due to the relatively weak reaction against it, with the exception of the strong reaction of the leader of the Jewish community. Other than the specific contexts, such as the economic situation and the lack of credibility of the old-new leaders, there is the acceptance of antisemitic discourse at the center of political life.

Trends to Legitimize the Fringe

Generally speaking, the present East European political leaders represent a moderate, nationalistic trend seeking a consensus, wishing to avoid extremes but without alienating the extremists, whose support they may need in order to form coalition governments. Such leaders frequently condemn antisemitism, especially since doing so creates a more favorable image of their countries in the West.

There is an obvious gap between Western sensibility concerning antisemitic manifestations, and the evasive, ambiguous, and belated reactions of these new political leaders, who in specific, concrete cases refuse or avoid a clear-cut distancing from politicians or groups which practice xenophobic nationalism and make explosive antisemitic declarations. There are many examples from the Polish presidential elections, or the inability of former Hungarian Premier Antall to condemn the extremist statements of his long-time ally I. Csurka, and in Romania, Iliescu's “cohabitation” with parties such as the Greater Romania Party or Gheorghe Funar's PRNU party.

This is not only a matter of political calculation and interest, but there is a deeper reason for refusing to separate oneself totally from such groups. The nationalist extremists are in fact considered “good patriots”; their antisemitic stance is a shortcoming “exaggerated” and “misinterpreted” of course. A Romanian minister, referring to the most vulgar of the antisemitic journals, Europa, stated that its substance is “good”; it is only that certain expressions are “too strong.”31 The “good substance” is precisely the common “patriotic” layer which forms a bridge between antisemites and non-antisemites and forms the nationalist ideology. In this framework, xenophobia and antisemitism are “understandable” elements, even when not shared by all. The “toleration for intolerance” explains the weak reaction to antisemitic propaganda.

Politicians often utter a global condemnation of antisemitism but minimalize it by claiming that antisemitic behavior is an exception to the rule, not representative of “our nation,” and on the other hand they exhibit ambiguous complicity with the antisemites. There also exists a conscious tendency (although it may be concealed) within mainstream political groups to legitimize antisemitic and xenophobic positions as being due to political opportunism.

The intensity of the antisemitic discourse and the degree in which it is accepted is mediated by the degree of conjectural or genuine legitimacy acquired by the political groups bearing xenophobic and antisemitic messages. For example, the fact that in Poland, the extremist parties are outside the political consensus, with no, or an insignificant, representation in parliament tends to decrease the use of antisemitism in political discourse. In the elections of 1993, for example, there was a noticeable decline in the use of antisemitism over that of the elections of 1991.

The opposite situation can be seen in Romania. President Iliescu has played a political game of cohabitation and threats of “divorce” with the nationalist extremists, and a process of legitimization has taken place with regard to these parties. For example, the ultra-antisemitic journal Europa has featured long interviews with government ministers, printed next to outright antisemitic texts written by the journal's editor. Highly-placed politicians and army generals support this extremist press. Both Europa and România Mare have received distinctive awards from the Romanian Ministry of Defense for their “patriotic education.” An association with extremists is acceptable--not out of fear or opportunism --but because they are perceived as “good Romanians” and patriots; ultra-nationalists from other, mainstream, parties sympathize with them.

The significance of figures attesting to the marginality of an extremist political formation must be examined against their actual influence in the political dynamic, and in relation to the comportment of the mainstream parties. The Czech radical nationalist Republican Party, for example, gained nearly the same number of seats (and the same percentage) in the Czech parliament as did its counterpart, the Greater Romania Party. Unlike in Romania, however, the Czech party remained on the fringe because of the clear-cut delimitation and antagonism to its policies as expressed by the Klaus government and President Havel.

An analogous situation exists with regard to the antisemitic press. The Czech journal Politika was banned by the authorities in 1992. The Romanian Politica and Romania Mare, issued by C. V. Tudor, and Europa, edited by I. Neacsu, have all three specialized in issuing blatant antisemitic and xenophobic attacks and pamphlets, but are not troubled by the government or prosecutor.

Extremists are accepted in the name of democracy -- freedom of the press, the right to present views in a publication without considering its political orientation and profile. Matched with this is an emphatic condemnation of neo-fascism, and of course, antisemitism. It is not without irony that the representatives of the Greater Romania Party hurried to praise the president's attacks on fascist groups because of their national-communism and communist-type anti-fascism inherited from Ceaucescu. By contrast, President Iliescu's participation in Holocaust commemoration ceremonies in Bucharest and Washington, D.C. provoked a wave of threats to the coalition, accusations that he had given in to Jewish influence, and of course, a number of antisemitic pamphlets were published, along with denials of Romanian responsibility for the massacres of Jews during the war.

In both the condemnation of fascist organizations and the acceptance of other extreme groups, the name of the game is political interest and opportunism. In a political ambience which continues the tradition of duplicity and ambiguity, even the existence of special anti-racist laws signifies little. Official statements must therefore be read between the lines with attention to what is missing, and should be judged according to their actual effectiveness.

A factor which contributes to the legitimization of antisemitism is indifference, the silent acceptance of both vulgar and more sophisticated forms of antisemitism -- from graffiti on walls to articles and debates in parliament. “The greatest part of society,” wrote the Polish historian Krystyna Kersten, “does not agree with the shameful slogans, is revolted, sometimes is even ashamed--but does nothing, goes on as before, more or less indifferently, turning the head with unease, and persuading others and themselves that one shouldn't exaggerate this Polish antisemitism.” 32

Such indifference and passivity results from the lack of a significant tradition of opposition to antisemitism, the absense of publicly outspoken criticism of antisemitism, even though antisemitism may be perceived as wrong and even condemned in private conversation.

Antisemitism, even when peripheral, contains within its nature the capacity for sudden movement towards the center of political life due to its direct connection on the ideological, cultural and emotional plane with the other essential “cell” of political culture - nationalism and all that is associated with an ethnocentric vision and its myths. It is little wonder that antisemitic manifestations become acute during periods of social or political tension, with little relationship to the actual number or prominence of Jews within the society.

Whether antisemitic discourse is peripheral or central depends on the character of the civil society, and in this, the differences from one country to another are readily perceptible. In places where the debate on political and economic issues stresses the individual, and liberal values, then the antisemitic discourse loses much of its relevance and impact. By contrast, societies which emphasize traditionally “tribal” and ethnocentric values tend, in periods of crisis, toward an immediate and emotional transposition to ethnic tensions and antagonism, an irrational approach to reality, and a reanimation of old demons. Similar conditions result from enforcing a certain religious identity on public life as well, restricting civil society to fixed religious models of social behavior.

Intellectuals are strongly implicated in the development of post-communist antisemitism, due to its “spiritualized” and mythical character with clear-cut ideological components. In ideological confrontations, those intellectuals who attempt a critical reflection on national history and myths, who oppose populist slogans and nationalist demagoguery, as well as those who prefer democracy, find themselves accused of being affiliated with the “Jews” and are frequently labeled crypto-Jews. “An honest intellectual,” wrote Adam Michnik, “has to count on being confronted with attacks as brutal and aggressive as those of anti-Semites against the Jews. And the honest intellectual may also have to play the role of a scapegoat, the `sacrificial Jew.' But to be a Jew is always better than to be an anti-Semite.”33

As in the interwar period, antisemitism finds a place in the debate on tradition versus modernity, and on national isolationism versus openness and an entry into Europe.

Intellectual circles sometimes explain the dissemination of antisemitism as due to the post-communist moral dissolution. Particularly in the discourse of former dissidents, the theme forms a leit-motif, moral misery as a late effect of the communist system, characteristic of a society in the transition period, lacking orientation, with anarchic tendencies, all of which has led to a crisis of moral values.34 Vulgar antisemitic attitudes are therefore included among the symptoms of moral decay, and are expressions of the triviality which has entered a good part of the press. Antisemitism is seen by such intellectuals as obscene, a kind of political “pornography.”


Among the complex problems of Eastern Europe today, antisemitism is not the most important, nor the most acute and serious. Why then, is so much being written on this subject? The question is a reproach to those who have overreacted and thereby distorted reality. Yet the question is also raised by those who are inclined to disregard the problem. Many accept the fact that antisemitism exists (“not in my country, perhaps elsewhere, in a neighboring country...”) and must be challenged, yet those of antisemitic inclination deny that they themselves are antisemites, and are offended that anyone should think so.

There are a number of “signals” used to evaluate the strength or the weakness of a society, the main trends in political culture and the efficient functioning of democratic institutions. One may observe the progress of elections, the programs of the various political parties, the degree of violence in political life, and so on. Among these, antisemitism and reactions to it represent one of the most important, for it touches on a number of essential elements in society: the collective mentality, national religious and historical fantasms and myths. Due to the complexity of the relationship between societies and their real or imaginary Jews, antisemitism can point to the degree of “moral health,” the “obsessions” of a society, and the tendencies of the public spirit.35

In some circumstances, a crisis with obvious antisemitic implications --the classic example is the Dreyfus Affair --even if initially of a peripheral nature, can develop into a debate of national or international importance. This can occur because the antisemitic core has larger implications due to its presence within political culture, as an element of national myths and taboos, due to its relation to the prestige of institutions such as the army, the Church, and the law, as well as that of intellectuals and their moral values.

The current processes of reevaluating one's own national history, and the complex of beliefs and myths have become a central theme in public discourse. The nature of the prevailing ideas will have a profound influence on the future course of antisemitism because the process of restructuring and redefining the historical components of the national history includes, as a secondary element, the re-writing of the antisemitic discourse.

Most frequently, antisemitic manifestations have resulted from the process of reevaluating the policies and behavior of national leaders of the recent past, the myths which are spun around these persons, and the auras of martyrdom or victimization which are derived from the debate over the responsibility of these leaders for what happened to the Jewish communities under their authority.

Generally, antisemitism is a marginal phenomenon, judging from the electoral results of parties which have taken an openly antisemitic stance. However, direct and indirect legitimization of antisemitism by the mainstream political parties may have a decisive influence on the future. Influential individuals and political leaders who have taken an antisemitic stance are far from marginal. C. V. Tudor in Romania is the editor of journals with large circulations and is head of a party with a substantial representation in parliament. Istvan Csurka in Hungary is a well-known playwright and heads a newly-established political party; nor is Miroslav Sladek a marginal figure in the Czech Republic. The progress of their political careers and the potential enhancement of their prestige in their respective societies could radically advance the impact of antisemitic slogans and move debate on the “Jewish danger” and “conspiracy” to the very center of political life.

This potential for centralization of “Jewish” issues is always present due to the importance of the stereotypical and mythical Jew in nationalist rhetoric and in historical and cultural tradition.

In unfavorable political circumstances --movement in an anti-democratic or anti-pluralist direction, economic crises, serious social unrest, or unexpected international events --the marginal nature of antisemitism could radically change. As has happened in the past, not only in Eastern Europe but elsewhere, an emotional flareup of nationalist rhetoric could invade the political and public discourse and lead to a dramatic change in the public opinion indicators. Overnight, whether or not there are Jews present, the “Jewish question” might again assume national importance. Not at first for the few remaining Jews, but for a society which is attempting responsibly to confront its own social ills and malignant myths.


1. General surveys and evaluations in: Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (London: Thames Methuen, 1991); Yehuda Bauer, ed., The Danger of Antisemitism in Central and Eastern Europe in the Wake of 1989-1990 (Jerusalem: The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, 1991); Howard Spier, ed., “Antisemitism in Central and Eastern Europe: A Current Survey,” IJA Research Report 4-6 (1991); Charles Hoffman, Gray Dawn: The Jews of Eastern Europe in the Post-Communist Era (New York: HarperCollins, 1992); Antony Lerman and Howard Spier, eds., Antisemitism World Report 1992, 1993, 1994 (London: Institute of Jewish Affairs); Raphael Vago, “Eastern Europe,” in Anti-Semitism Worldwide 1993, The Project for the Study of Anti-Semitism (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1994).

2. Antony Lerman, ed., “Central and East European Jewry: The Impact of Liberalization and Revolution,” IJA Research Report 2-3, (1990).

3. Romania Mare 191 (4 March 1994).

4. Yehuda Bauer, “On the Applicability of Definitions: Antisemitism in Present Day Europe,” International Seminar on Anti-Semitism in Post-Totalitarian Europe (Prague, May 1992), 8.

5. On antisemitism as an European cultural code and heritage, see Yehuda Bauer, “Antisemitism as an European and World Problem,” Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 27, no. 1 (1993).

6. A new theoretical approach of the topic and updated surveys of the spread of the Protocols, in Pierre Andre Taguieff, ed., Les Protocoles des Sages de Sion, 2 vols. (Paris: Berg International, 1992).

7. On the transformations of the Jewish conspiracy myth in the post-communist countries, see Konstanty Gebert, “Antisemitism in the 1990 Polish Presidential Election” Social Research vol. 58, no. 4 (Winter 1991) 723 755; Janusz Tazbir, Protokoly Medrcow Syjonu: Autentyk czy falsyfikat (Warsaw: Interlibro, 1992); Paul Zawadski, “Usage des Protocoles et logiques de l'antisemitisme en Pologne,” in Pierre Andre Taguieff, ed., Les Protocoles, vol. 2; Idem, “Antisemitisme en Pologne a l'heure de la transition vers le post communisme,” Lignes 19 (May 1993); Vera Ebels Dolanova, “Ideological Patterns of Antisemitism in Post Communist Societies--Revival or Continuity?” Paper presented at the International Seminar on Anti-Semitism in Post-Totalitarian Europe (Prague, May 1992); Michael Shafir, “Best selling Spy Novels Seek to Rehabilitate Romanian Securitate,” RFE/RL Research Report 45 (12 November 1993); see also the surveys mentioned in note 1.

8. Opinion polls including questions on “excessive Jewish influence and power,” in Ranae Cohen, Jennifer L. Golub, Attitudes toward Jews in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia: A Comparative Survey (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1991); Zora Butorova and Martin Butora, Wariness Toward Jews and `Postcommunist Panic' in Slovakia (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1992); Helena Datner Spiewak, “A First Glance of the Results of the `Poles, Jews and Other Ethnic Groups,'” East European Jewish Affairs 23:1 (Summer 1993).

9. Universul cartii,1 January 1994, 11.

10. Gazeta Wyborcza, 4 July 1991; see also Abraham Brumberg, “Poland, the Polish Intelligentsia and Antisemitism,” Soviet Jewish Affairs, 20:2-3 (1990).

11. On the “Judaisation” of the opponents or compromised people, see also Alina Ca_a, “Contemporary Anti Semitism in Poland,” Polish Western Affairs 32:2 (1991) 161-69; Marcin Kula, “Problem postkomunistyczny czy historycznie uksztaltowany polski problem?” Biuletyn Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce 4 (1991); Kinga Dunin, Malgorzata Melchior, “Zyd” i “antysemita,” in Marek Czyzwski et al., eds., Cudze problemy: O waznosci tego, co niewazne. Analiza dyskursu publicznego w Polsce (Warsaw: OBS, 1991) 37-78; Michael Shafir, “Antisemitism in the Post Communist Era,” in Randolph L. Braham, ed., The Tragedy of Romanian Jewry (Forthcoming).

12. Andrei Cornea, “Les deux paradoxes de l'antisémitisme en Roumanie,” in Alain Gresh, ed., A l'Est, les nationalismes contre la democratie? (Paris: Edition Complexe, 1993), 121-25.

13. See Istvan Bibo, Misee des petits Etats d'Europe de l'Est [1946] (Paris: Albin Michel, 1993); Shmuel Almog, Nationalism & Antisemitism in Modern Europe, 1815-1945 (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1990).

14. Shlomo Avineri, The Return to History (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1992).

15. Pierre Kende, “Du nationalisme en Europe centrale et orientale,“ in Gresh, A l'Est, les nationalismes, 17.

16. See Laslo Sekely, “Antisemitism and Nationalist Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia,” Patterns of Prejudice, 27: 2 (1993), 80.

17. Antony Lerman, Howard Spier, eds., Antisemitism World Report 1993 (London: Institute of Jewish Affairs), 67.

18. On the Slovak, Romanian and Croatian pro Nazi regimes and the present debates on this topic, see Yeshayahu A. Jelinek, “Slovak and the Holocaust: An End to Reconciliation?” East European Jewish Affairs 22:1 (Summer 1992), 5-22; Michael Shafir, “Marshal Ion Antonescu: The Politics of Rehabilitation,” RFE/RL Research Report no. 6 (11 February 1994); Jennifer Golub, The Jewish Dimension of the Yugoslav Crisis (New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1992).

19. Jean Charles Szurek, “Le Camp musee d'Auschwitz,” in A. Brossat et al., eds., A l'Est, la memoire retrouvee (Paris: Editions de la Decouverte, 1990).

20. Istvan Bibo, “The Jewish Question in Hungary after 1944,” in his Democracy, Revolution, Self determination. Selected Writings (Boulder: Atlantic Research and Publications, 1991).

21. Iwona Irwin Zarecka, Neutralizing Memory: The Jews in Contemporary Poland (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1988).

22. Antony Polonski, ed., `My Brother's Keeper': Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust (London: Routledge, 1990).

23. See Daniel Blatman, “Between Communism and Antisemitism: Polish-Jewish Relations during the Holocaust and After. Recent Trends in Historiography.” A lecture at the Institute of Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 31 October 1993.

24. Andrei Pippidi, “Jocul memoriei si al uitarii,” 22, 1 (7 January 1993).

25. Vaclav Havel, “Le discours de Salzbourg,” La Regle du Jeu 3 (January 1991), 143.

26. Carol Ritter and John K. Roth, eds., Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy (New York: Praeger, 1991).

27. Wieslaw Romanowski, Antisemitism or Anti-Polonism (Warsaw, 1991); quoted by Adam Rok, “Antisemitic Propaganda in Poland: Centres, Proponents, Publications,” East European Jewish Affairs, 22:1 (Summer 1992) 23-37.

28. Andrei Cornea, “Les deux paradoxes.”

29. See Peter Andras Heltai and Zbigniew Rau, “From Nationalism to Civil Society and Tolerance,” in Zbigniew Rau, ed., The Reemergence of Civil Society in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991); Joseph Held, ed., Democracy and Right wing Politics in Eastern Europe in the 1990s (Boulder: East European Monographs, 1993); Michael Shafir, “Growing Political Extremism in Romania,” RFE/RL Research Report 4 (2 April 1993); “The Politics of Intolerance,” Special Issue, RFE/RL Research Report 3:16 (22 April 1994).

30. Simon Epstein, Cyclical Patterns in Antisemitism: The Dynamics of Anti Jewish Violence in Western Countries since the 1950s (Jerusalem: The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, ACTA no.2, 1993).

31. Interview with Mihai Golu, Minister of Culture, Europa 111 (2 February 1993).

32. Krystyna Kersten, Polacy, Zydzi, Komunizm: Anatomia polprawd, 1939-68 (Warsaw: Niezale_na Oficyna Wydawnicza, 1992), 179.

33. Adam Michnik, Lecture at the Conference “Intellectuals and Social Change in Central and Eastern Europe,” Rutgers University, April 1992, in Partisan Review 4 (1992), 627.

34. See Vaclav Havel, “Paradise Lost,” New York Review (9 April 1992), and the lectures given by George Konrad, Norman Manea, Adam Michnik, and Vladimir Tismaneanu at the conference “Intellectuals and Social Change in Central and Eastern Europe,” Rutgers University, April 1992, in: Partisan Review 4 (1992).

35. Raoul Girardet, Mythes et mythologies politiques (Paris: Seuil, 1986), 53.

Leon Volovici received his Ph.D. from Jassy University, Romania, and has published studies on Romanian culture and Romanian Jewish intellectual life. Since moving to Israel in 1984, he has been a researcher at the Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem. Currently he is head of research at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, under whose auspices he published Nationalist



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