Agnieszka Pufelska, Die “Judäo-Kommune”. Ein Feindbild in Polen. Das polnische Selbstverständnis im Schatten des Antisemitismus 1939–1948 (Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Ferdinand Schöningh, 2007) in East European Jewish Affairs 38,

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   East European Jewish Affairs 355 intercepts that are likely to contain some very interesting material indeed. In the meantime,this volume is as good as it currently gets, and for the time being it will have to suffice. Neill Lochery University College London © 2008 Neill Lochery Die “Judäo-Kommune”. Ein Feindbild in Polen. Das polnische Selbstverständnis imSchatten des Antisemitismus 1939–1948 , by Agnieszka Pufelska, Paderborn, Munich,Vienna, Zurich, Ferdinand Schöningh, 2007, 284 pp., € 39.90 (hardback), ISBN 978-3-506-76380-8In this slightly revised version of her doctoral thesis, Agniezska Pufelska examines theevolution and dynamics of the pejorative concept of the [zdot  ]  ydokomuna . Pufelska insists thatthe term [  zdot  ]  ydokomuna should be rendered as Judaeo-Commune in order to emphasise theequal weight it affords to Jewishness and Communism, thus underscoring the contentionthat “the Jews” are supposedly responsible for all manner of misfortunes that befall Poland,Communism being only one of them (23). On her account, the concept of the [zdot  ]  ydokomuna stands for an othering process that was integral to Polish national identity for much of thetwentieth century and drew on a centuries-old tradition presenting Jewishness as a politicaland religious antithesis to Polish identity. She argues that in the period at the heart of her discussion, the Polish body politic subscribed without exception to what she characterisesas the “ideology of the three fronts (the Germans to the West, the Russians to the East, and the Jews within)” (107). While various groups vacillated in their attitudes towards NaziGermany and the Soviet Union and few had a chance to do a whole lot about either, theobsession with the enemy from within, in the form of the [  zdot  ]  ydokomuna , emerges as the moststable component part of the “ideology of the three fronts” and one capable of creating points of contact and consensus between groups and orientations that were otherwise (oftenantagonistically) opposed to one another. Indeed, in the course of the 1940s the notion of the [zdot  ]  ydokomuna even took hold as a means of denunciation within the Communist move-ment itself, allowing Polish Communists to emphasise their “national” credentials by iden-tifying Jews in their own rows as a “hindrance to the establishment of Communism in amanner amenable to Poles” (176).Pufelska gives short shrift to any attempt to offer a kernel-of-truth explanation for this phenomenon. Since one can “only instrumentalize sentiments that are already in existence”(133), those instances in which the actual behaviour of some Jews is cited because it seemsto confirm the existence of the [zdot  ]  ydokomuna in fact show not cause but effect. It is the pre-existing anti-Jewish animus, not the actual behaviour of Jews, that makes patently falsegeneralisations about the role of “the Jews” seem plausible. On Pufelska’s account, theconcept of the [z dot  ]  ydokomuna has largely ceased to denote a live issue since 1968 at the latest,yet it remained a highly contentious historiographical issue and one that has become allthe more virulent since 1989. For many, the assumption that a genuine kernel of truthunderpinned the notion of the [  zdot  ]  ydokomuna continues to grant some degree of legitimacy tothe prevalence of anti-Jewish attitudes and practices in non-Jewish Polish society in thetwentieth century.Pufelska is successful in demonstrating that there is absolutely no room for any compla-cency on this count and that in fact “no political camp or social stratum was immune to anti-semitism” (202). She is rather less successful, though, in offering a compelling account of   z ˙ z ˙ z ˙ z ˙ z ˙ z ˙ z ˙ z ˙    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   C  o   l   l  e  g  e   L  o  n   d  o  n   ]  a   t   1   4  :   4   2   1   2   O  c   t  o   b  e  r   2   0   1   3  356 Book reviews the exact function and dynamics of the [  zdot  ]  ydokomuna concept in its various contexts. Sheamasses a wealth of poignant quotations and intriguing references. Take the breath-takingstatement from a right-wing publication of 1942 that “the Germans and the Jews have setthe world ablaze together so they must burn together” (111). She also makes an interestingcase for the suggestion that the spectre of the [z dot  ]  ydokomuna played a crucial role in allowingnon-Jewish Polish activists to maintain their stance vis-à-vis “the Jews” even as (and after)they became aware of the unfolding genocide against European Jewry. Yet when all is said and done, it is, with some exceptions, very hard to infer from Pufelska’s account just howrepresentative and significant the various utterances that she cites are and how exactly theyfit into the bigger picture. In many instances the material she presents does more to illustratethan actually bear out her conceptual assumptions (something I find all the more regrettable precisely because I am broadly sympathetic with these conceptual assumptions). Nor doesthe stilted and occasionally clumsy prose help the author’s case. Given that this is the revised version of a doctoral thesis, the frequency with which primary-source material is actuallycited from the secondary literature also seems surprising. Pufelska’s study adds to the grow-ing body of literature that militates against any complacency in the evaluation of Polish soci-ety’s dealings with Jews in the twentieth century yet ultimately, rather than contributing toa compelling answer, it only really helps raise some of the pertinent questions.Lars Fischer  University College London © 2008 Lars Fischer   z ˙ z ˙    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   C  o   l   l  e  g  e   L  o  n   d  o  n   ]  a   t   1   4  :   4   2   1   2   O  c   t  o   b  e  r   2   0   1   3
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