Poland's Prime Minister Lescek Miller addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York Thursday, on the delicate subject of Polish-Jewish relations.
Jews have lived in Poland for 1,000 years, in relative peace, at first. But the Second World War marked the beginning of a long, complicated, and painful era that lives on even today.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said that, contrary to what many may think, persecution of the Jews in Poland did not end with the defeat of the Nazis. "Even after the war, there were pogroms that continued in places, particularly in Kwilcz and other places where the Jews returning to their hometowns were met by violence and murder by Polish citizens," he said. "Under Gomulka's reign, Jews were forced to leave often without being able to sell their property, and that relationship was more or less sustained through the communist eras."
Leszek Miller, who was elected Prime Minister of Poland in September of last year, went beyond making an apology in the statement he made before Mr. Hoenlein and his colleagues, assembled at a luncheon in mid-town New York.
The prime minister said "the Polish people, the Polish nation and the Polish State believes that what happened is alien and hostile, and the people who stained themselves by participating in such activities, are criminals towards Polish law and the Polish nation."
Mr. Miller's words of reconciliation included an enthusiastic invitation to Jews to come back to Poland in numbers, and he looked forward to a new and multi-faceted Jewish/Polish partnership in the years to come.