Photo Credit: GPO
Polish President Andrzej Duda places bouquet of flowers on grave of Yoni Netanyahu at Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda apologized on Thursday to Polish Jews who were driven from their homeland 50 years ago.

Some 13,000 Jews were expelled from Poland, including Holocaust survivors and prominent thinkers and philosophers, by the communist party of 1968, using the excuse of a purge by the Moscow-backed communist regime in response to mass student protests.

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“The free and independent Poland of today, my generation, is not responsible and does not need to apologize,” Duda said. “But … to those who were driven out then … I’d like to say please forgive the Republic, Poles, the Poland of that time for having carried out such a shameful act.”

The 50th anniversary of the purge on Thursday was marked this week in events and lectures held throughout Poland.

The lower house of Parliament, the Sejm, passed a resolution in a landslide vote Tuesday condemning the anti-Semitic campaign of the past and honoring the anti-communist student protesters who rose up when the regime banned a play by the Polish Romantic-era poet Adam Mickiewicz, which was perceived as having an anti-Russian slant. Students demonstrated on March 8, 1968 when those who contested the ban were expelled from Warsaw University, triggering more protests around the country. A crisis soon followed, ending with a purge of the Jews within the communist party.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.