Bloomberg Businessweek

Polish Pride And Prejudice

At the heart of Europe is another problem: What to do about an increasingly nativist Poland
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, in December 2017

Curators at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews noticed a change among their visitors earlier this year: More people were pushing back against its version of history. Some asked why there was no mention of Jews selling out their neighbors to various enemies over the centuries. Others questioned whether Poles were really involved in a notorious World War II massacre. Anti-Semitism, it seemed, was acceptable again. Museum guides had to be trained to handle the verbal aggression.

“The dynamic changed overnight,” says Dariusz Stola, the history professor who runs the museum, observing that prejudices apparently had free rein in the wake of a proposed law. “The problem is that young people get used to hate speech. Some people don’t like chips, some people hate Coca-Cola—and some people hate the Jews.”

It’s a jarring piece of recidivism, set amid Poland’s economic boom. Every few months, a new glass building or office complex expands Warsaw’s skyline, which is anchored by the Palace of Culture and Science, the sand-colored gift from Stalin in the 1950s. Young office workers in smart skinny trousers and New Balance running shoes zip around on the city’s new cycle lanes. Poland’s $470 billion economy is expanding

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