I decided to leave the country with the last of Polish Jews, many of whom were my students
In the early 1960s, the authorities started to strip back the civil freedom granted to the society after the Polish October of 1956, e.g. the Crooked Wheel Club (Pol. Klub Krzywego Koła, a political debate club) in Warsaw was shut down. At the same time, the factions within the Polish United Workers’ Party engaged in bitter in-fights for power. The influence of the so called “partisan” group, headed by Minister of the Interior Mieczysław Moczar, was steadily growing. The members of the group used nationalist rhetoric and exploited the anti-Israeli sentiments of the party leadership prevalent after the Arab-Israeli war (Six-Day War, June 1967) in order to reshuffle the military (as a result of the purges carried out in 1967–1968, almost all Jewish officers of the Polish Army were discharged). They also drew up lists of people believed to be Jews, whom they called “Zionists.”
The decisions made by the authorities, including increased censorship, aroused indignation among artistic circles (Letter of 34). Independent youth groups, the so-called “commandos,” were founded in response to the actions of the regime. On 30 January 1968, the Warsaw “commando” organised a student demonstration in front of the monument of Adam Mickiewicz, protesting against the ban on the performance of Mickiewicz’s Forefathers’ Eve directed by Kazimierz Dejmek. The participants of the rally were arrested and fined, and some were unlawfully removed from the university, which sparked acts of protest among students (petition sent to the Sejm) and writers (extraordinary meeting of the Polish Writers’ Union held on 29 January). The student rally organised on 8 March in the quadrangle of the University of Warsaw was brutally suppressed by units of the Volunteer Reserve Militia (ORMO), and “worker squads.”
From 9 March on, rallies and sit-in strikes were organised in most higher education institutions in the country. During numerous street demonstrations, protesters demanded the authorities end police violence and punish those responsible for beating up students. They also demanded freedom of speech and freedom of assembly guaranteed by the Constitution.
By the end of March, most protests organised by the academic circles had been crushed (with over 2,500 arrests) and its participants suffered repressions.
On 11 March, the authorities used the student protests as an excuse to launch an anti-intellectual and anti-Semitic (officially: anti-Zionist) campaign in the mass media, mainly instigated by the Ministry of the Interior. Factories and other workplaces organised mass rallies in support of the ruling party policy, while those opposing the way the authorities dealt with students were brutally attacked (Stefan Kisielewski was battered, Paweł Jasienica was defamed). At the same time, the factions within the party continued to fight for power and influence (First Secretary Władysław Gomułka managed to retain his position), which resulted in a dismissal of many party members and state officials, most of whom were Jewish or believed to be Jewish. Over the following few years, approximately 13,000 Jews and people of Jewish descent were forced to emigrate from Poland.
source: Virtual Shtetl
Ewelina Lipko-Lipczyńska née Szymańska, teacher at a Warsaw high school, decided to leave Poland in 1969, as a result of the anti-Semitic campaign launched by the authorities of communist Poland. Her poem Pożegnanie [Farewell] begins as follows: “I shall not answer your question / which place is better.” She died on emigration in Sweden.
Ewelina Lipko-Lipczyńska came from Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. Her parents, members of the Polish Socialist Party, raised Ewelina and her sisters in the spirit of engagement and sensitivity to another human being. During World War II, the family was active in conspiration and helped those in need. “Papa Szymański’s Guest House” became a shelter for Jews in hiding.
“Throughout the war, about fifty people stayed in our house, some for a short period of time, some for longer. Some received immediate help”, she said after the war.
In 1966, Ewelina Lipko-Lipczyńska went to Israel to plant her tree in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations in Yad Vashem.
Two years later, for her actions against the March ’68 anti-Semitic campaign, for the “demoralization of youth” and contacts with Israel, she lost her job as a Polish language teacher at the General K. Świerczewski-Walter High School in the Mokotów district of Warsaw.
“[…] she had the audacity (today we would rather say: courage) to express her opinion on the ruling party during one of her lessons. Someone reported it to the school headmaster”, her friend Maria Karaś recalled.
“People doomed people to this fate” – the motto of Medallions, a collection of eight short stories by Zofia Nałkowska, was consistent with Ewelina Lipko-Lipczyńska’s perception of the world. “Contrary to the official propaganda, she claimed that the term «people» also referred to murderers,” recalled her student, Bronisław Świderski. In a study written under her supervision, he argued that it was the German fascists who doomed Jews and Poles to a tragic fate. “I ended the essay with a conclusion that people do not exist, that there are only specific classes and nations. However, the teacher defended the book’s motto. […] Even though I didn’t manage to convince her, she gave me the highest mark.”