Polish-led Kielce Pogrom Ensues, 42 Jews Killed & 40 Injured, 1946
Updated: Jul 4, 2021
On This Day in Jewish History: July 4th, 1946
A mob of Polish soldiers, police officers, and Polish civilians murdered at least 42 Jews and injured over 40 in the worst outburst of anti-Jewish violence in post-war Poland.
Inspired by the age old-blood libel, hordes of Poles attacked Jewish Holocaust survivors the local Jewish Committee that was sheltering up to 180 Jews at the time.
By the end of the Holocaust, no Jews were left in Kielce and the surrounding villages. After the war some Jews who had survived had gone back to the areas they had lived prior to the war to see if they can find any surviving family or friends.
By the summer of 1946, approximately 200 Jews had gone back to Kielce from Nazi camps or the Soviet Union. The Kielce pogrom began with a blood libel. On July 1st a 9 year old boy was reported missing and claimed he had been kidnapped by a Jew. Later it was revealed that he had not been kidnapped but was staying by a friend, and in 1988 the boy (who was then an adult) admitted that his father told him to say that he had been kidnapped by Jews. He even pointed out the house where he claimed he had been held captive, the Jewish committee building.
The Jewish committee building, which housed approximately 180 Jews was searched and policemen spread rumors that the Jews were kidnapping and killing Polish children in there. Hundreds of angry Poles, including police officers gathered outside. The police officers went into the house and began shooting Jews and the angry mob descended upon the Jews, beating and killing them and looting their property. The pogrom spilled over into other parts of Kielce and by the end of the day 42 Jews were murdered and another 40 injured.
After the pogrom, the majority of the Jews who remained in Poland (many of whom had snuck back in illegally after the Holocaust ended) decided to leave, feeling that they wouldn’t remain safe if they stayed in Poland.
Before the pogrom the Jewish population in Poland had been increasing by about 1000 returning refugees each month. In the three months after the pogrom approximately 60,000 Jews left Poland.