„Alien and Unpleasant”. Antisemitic drawings from the Polish press of 1919–1939

The exhibition Alien and Unpleasant presenting one of the methods of stimulating aversion to Jews.

Wide zrzut ekranu 2013 10 7 o 12.01.41 pm

The exhibition Alien and Unpleasant at the Jewish Historical Institute will present anti-semitic drawings published in the Polish press in the years 1919–1939. Caricatures, usually accompanying anti-Semitic articles, were an important factor in shaping the image of the Jew, and thus influenced the feeling and views on „the Jewish question”. The exhibition Alien and Unpleasant presenting one of the methods of stimulating aversion to Jews, seems particularly important today when hate speech is gaining strength, and initiatives to promote „national purity” are becoming more popular and visible in public space.

At the exhibition at the JHI’s headquarters we will present antisemitic drawings published during the interwar period in papers including: „Kurier Poznański”, „Dziennik Bydgoski”, „ABC-Nowiny Codzienne”, „Wieczór Warszawski”, „Podbipięta”, „Prosto z mostu”, „Szczutek”, „Szopka”, „Mucha”, „Żółtea Mucha”, „Szarża”, „Pokrzywy”, „Szabes-Kurier”. The authors of the drawings were both well-known professional artists (including Jerzy Zaruba, Kamil Mackiewicz, Włodzimierz Bartoszewicz, Włodzimierz Łukasik, Jerzy Srokowski, Kazimierz Grus and Maja Berezowska) and anonymous ones, hiding behind monograms and pseudonyms. The anti-Semitic press publications amaze in terms of their quantity and diversity. Caricatures were to show supposed Jewish racial traits. They presented a symbolic image of the Jew as dominating over Poland and the Polish, as the perpetrator of all the evil throughout the country. The ways to solve the „Jewish question” were illustrated by a symbolic fighting with the Jews. All drawings in a way which was simple and understandable to the viewer / reader showed the Jew as an intruder, enemy, being worthy of contempt and hatred.

Quoting the curator’s words from the introduction to the exhibition: „You may ask yourself, do I need to remember about these testimonies of prejudice, superstition and hatred of the Jews? What purpose can it have, extracting them from magazines resting in peace, stored in libraries? A lot of answers can be given, but one of them seems to be the most important: you need to learn about the past in all its forms, including those that do not give reason to feel pride. You have to know them not only in order to examine your conscience, but also because, they should serve as a warning for the future. "

Curator of the exhibition:

Dariusz Konstantynow

Curatorial collaboration:

Grzegorz Krzywiec, Teresa Śmiechowska


The opening of the exhibition: 15th October, 2013 at 18.00

The exhibition is open till 31st January, 2014


Jewish Historical Institute

Tłomackie 3/5

00–090 Warsaw

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