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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 00:24 GMT 01:24 UK
Poland marks anti-Semitic pogrom
Poland's chief rabbi Michael Schudrich (l) and Bishop Marian Florczyk (r)
A monument to the victims was unveiled at the ceremony
Polish President Lech Kaczynski has said there is no place in his country for anti-Semitism.

His comments came at a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of an anti-Semitic massacre in which 42 people, mostly Jews, were killed by Poles in Kielce.

In a statement read out on his behalf, Mr Kaczynski said what had happened in Kielce was a crime.

His remarks come as Poland faces new allegations by the EU that racism and homophobia are on the rise.

During World War II, 90% of Poland's 3.5m Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

But the Kielce pogrom was particularly shocking because it took place just over a year after the end of the war.

It was one of the blackest pages in Polish history, the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says.

Fresh concerns

After rumours spread that a young Polish boy had been kidnapped by a Jewish family, some of the city's residents and the police killed an estimated 40 Jews.

The violence caused many of Poland's 250,000 Jews who survived the Holocaust to emigrate.

In a speech read out in the president's absence due to illness, Mr Kaczynski said, "As the president of Poland, I want to say it loud and clear: what happened in Kielce 60 years ago was a crime.

"This is a great shame and tragedy for the Poles and the Jews, so few of whom survived Hitler's Holocaust."

The recent entry of the far-right League of Polish Families party into the conservative coalition government has raised concerns about anti-Semitism in Poland.

"There is anti-Semitism in Poland today. It, however, still does not play a significant role in society, in large measure thanks to the teachings of John Paul II," Poland's chief rabbi Michael Schudrich told the BBC.

"The level of anti-Semitism here is actually far less than in almost any other European country today," he said.

At the ceremony on Tuesday, a white monument in the shape of the number 7 was also unveiled, a reminder that the killings took place at 7 Planty Street in the seventh month of the year.

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28 May 06 |  Europe


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