Marek Edelman – Communists in Poland before the war (20/145)

Marek Edelman – Communists in Poland before the war (20/145)


The communists wanted the Bund party to join them in 1919 and there were 19 conditions. The communists repeated this, the PPR and PPS, the same conditions, so entire organisations weren’t allowed to join but only individuals could become members after each person had been individually vetted. The Bund Party didn’t agree to this because at that point there weren’t any ideological differences between the party members, it was still unclear what kind of dictatorship it would be, but it was obvious they were mischief-makers. So they didn’t agree to this. These negotiations were held in Gdańsk, but they were broken off and no agreement was ever reached. When the People’s Front was formed in 1936 or 1937, there were more negotiations between the Bund party and the communists on unity of action, I can’t say what, in any event about the electorate, but nothing came of this. I don’t remember what the problem was but the Polish defense was involved. These talks were later announced in the newspapers. Apparently, the communists set such conditions that they weren’t able to reach one… Centrolew was unable to accept the communists with their attitude. So the situation with these communists varied. They were always very anti-Polish, they opposed Korfanty and believed that Upper Silesia ought to belong to Germany. All of this together wasn’t conducive to reaching a consensus with the communists, added to which they used hit-squads, and their greatest enemy weren’t the fascists but the socialists. They’d break up demonstrations and events organised by trade unions. So there were constant problems. I wasn’t very up-to-date on this but I remember that they always wanted to break up rallies against pay rises or pay drops, I can’t say which. The communists wanted, but didn’t manage, to break up anything organised by the PPS or by Bund. Then these organisations were formed, not military ones, called Schutzbund made up of young lads who were given sashes to wear and sticks to fight with, so during these demonstrations when the communists made trouble, these boys would fight back with their sticks. After that, there were these dreadful National Democrat riots. Even if there were no pogroms in Warsaw, there were constant attacks, on Jews, on shops, on whole streets, on trade union headquarters. I was too young at the time to know all of this, but the Schutzbund protected these sites. That much I do know.

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