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Polish Authorities Feature Anti-Semitic Poster in their 2012 Calendar

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Polish calendars for 2012 contain the above anti-Semitic illustration, in which rats wearing yarmulkes (bottom) flee from a flame thrower. The caption reads “Fight for the wellbeing of Poland through national solidarity. Defend Poland from the Jewish invasion.”
Polish calendars for 2012 contain the above anti-Semitic illustration, in which rats wearing yarmulkes (bottom) flee from a flame thrower. The caption reads “Fight for the wellbeing of Poland through national solidarity. Defend Poland from the Jewish invasion.”

Polish calendars for 2012 contain the above anti-Semitic illustration, in which rats wearing yarmulkes (bottom) flee from a flame thrower. The caption reads “Fight for the wellbeing of Poland through national solidarity. Defend Poland from the Jewish invasion.”

A tourism leaflet recently released by Polish authorities featured an anti-Semitic poster from the pre-World War II era. The poster, which was reproduced in a calendar for 2012, showed rats with yarmulkes fleeing from an advancing flame thrower. The leaflet was formed through collaboration of prominent Polish artists and organizations, and was characterized by the mayor of Warsaw as “a beautiful showcase for the masterpieces of Polish graphic art.” Members of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews have disputed the anti-Semitic resonance of the poster and questioned its implications.

Barbara Sulek-Kowalska, a lecturer at Warsaw University and a member of the Council, expressed her disapproval of the image in a formal letter to the Mayor of Warsaw. “Material of this kind should be used as research material by historians, not as part of a calendar that promotes the city,” she wrote. “Is it possible that you didn’t look at the calendar properly before you ‘passed’ it?”
The Council spokesman Bartosz Milczarczyk suggested otherwise. “The poster is anti-Semitic but the idea behind the project was to show the emotions of old Warsaw,” he explained. “Let’s not pretend we have nothing to be ashamed of –in those days, anti-Semitism was quite strong.”
Milczarczyk said that he thoroughly reviewed the illustrations in the calendar and found no objections. Though the poster vociferously voices its anti-Semitic message—the caption reads “Fight for the wellbeing of Poland through national solidarity. Defend Poland from the Jewish invasion”– the spokesman was confident the calendar was “unlikely to be seen by the narrow-minded.”
The calendar has proved a remarkable success, sold out, and a reprint has been ordered. Poland has made significant strides since the decline of the Soviet bloc, and its tourism leaflets demonstrate its transformation from a Soviet Satellite to a burgeoning European state.

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