Demonstration against Stalinism and Anti-Semitism in Poland (March 13, 1968)
On January 16, 1968, Polish authorities declared a ban on Adam Mickiewicz’s nineteenth-century drama Forefather’s Eve, which was in the middle of a successful run at Warsaw’s National Theater. Deemed both subversive and anti-Soviet, the play was to close ahead of schedule on January 30, 1968. That day, hundreds of students protested the government’s decision, clashing with police. In the following weeks, two student participants in the January 30th protest – Adam Michnik and Henryk Szlajfer – were expelled from the University of Warsaw on political grounds. On March 8, 1968, Warsaw students began their own protest in support of their peers. Although the police used tear gas and plastic bullets to control some of the demonstrators, the protest continued for days, attracting thousands of participants, and sparking similar demonstrations in the cities of Lublin and Cracow. With barely concealed anti-Semitism, the ruling Polish United Workers’ Party (and the party-controlled press) blamed Poland’s Jews for initiating the protests. In response, German student groups and youth associations organized a protest march that took place on March 13, 1968, in West Berlin. Demonstrators marched from the Kurfürstendamm boulevard to the Polish military mission in Grunewald. The sign in the photograph is directed against the government of Polish Minister President Jósef Cyrankiewicz, specifically its “Stalinism” and “Anti-Semitic Pogrom-Agitating.” The “Jewish Working Group for Politics in Berlin” was behind the message.