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Polish Councilman Wants To Censor References To Pogroms In Bialystok

(JTA) — A Polish alderman is seeking the removal of references to anti-Semitic violence in the history of Bialystok from a graphic novel about the city.

Marek Chojnowski, who represents the ruling Law and Justice party on the Bialystok City Council, was quoted this week by the news site Onet as protesting references to a 1906 pogrom in the booklet published with municipal funding.  The 2014 booklet commemorates Ludwik Zamenhof, a Polish Jew who invented the international language Esperanto.

One page that Chojnowski wants censored shows dozens of civilians wielding clubs and hitting a group of Jews while they are prone on the street. Another shows four men dressed like Polish farmers beating three people — a woman wearing a torn dress and two young men.

The illustrations refer to pogroms carried out by Bialystok residents that were enabled by Russian authorities when they controlled the area. Some 90 people died in the violence.

But the inclusion of these scenes, which biographers of Zamenhof said had a profound effect on the linguist who was born in the eastern city, is unacceptable, Chojnowski said.

“This must show the city in the best light,” he said. “It is unacceptable that they are presented as anti-Semites.”

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