Another Tack: The Humanistic Ardor of Interwar Poland

Jewish storefronts in prewar Krakow: the mandatory name-sign decree was hardly innocuous

Jewish storefronts in prewar Krakow: the mandatory name-sign decree was hardly innocuous.

Poland made history on Monday morning, April 19, 1937. It taught the world how to implement a boycott without actually admitting that it’s doing anything of the sort.

Headliners of today’s European Union have learned the lesson well, even if few of the EU’s sanctimonious sermonizers can likely cite the source and inspiration for their very unoriginal charade.

The Polish non-boycott was no mean feat on the eve of WWII, when dark clouds of impending doom already gathered over the heads of European Jewry. Given the bestial goings-on and the brutish anti-Jewish boycotts next-door in the Third Reich, Poland appeared positively refined by comparison – the soul of sophistication.

The Poles never sank as low as the crude and vulgar Germans. They didn’t adopt the practice of daubing storefronts with giant Jude inscriptions, smashing windows or sending out storm troopers to form scary picket lines, carry offensive signs in the formidable Teutonic tradition and warn off the super-race away from subhuman Jewish shopkeepers.

Instead, Poland’s Minister of Industry and Commence Antoni Roman issued an edict that looked impeccably non-discriminatory. It ordered that all business signs boldly display the proprietor’s name, directly above any other incidental scrap information such as what was sold at the premises. Precise rules were stipulated regarding the size of the letters required.

What could possibly be wrong with that? Continue reading