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Ian Wilhelm
Religion News Service

Polish officials have announced that they will allow Jews who fled the country four decades ago to reclaim their Polish citizenship.
After anti-communist protests erupted in Warsaw and other cities in 1968, the authorities blamed “Zionists” for the social unrest and expelled about 20,000 Jews. They were stripped of their citizenship and passports.
Many of them were survivors of the Holocaust, which claimed 3 million Polish Jews, and were forced to flee their homeland for Israel or the United States. Today, no more than 30,000 Jews live in Poland.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the uprisings and the government’s new policy, Polish President Lech Kaczynski renaturalized 14 people at a ceremony on Saturday (March 8) at Warsaw University, where the protests originated.
His office said that expelled Jews can have their citizenship reinstated by sending a letter to a Polish embassy.
Piotr Kadlcik, president of Poland’s Union of Religious Jewish Communities, applauded the decision, which his group had advocated for several years.
He told the JTA News Agency that he did not expect a large number of Jews would reclaim their citizenship. However, he said Poland’s offer was a positive development in a country that has had a troubled history with Judaism.
“(It) shows that we as a Polish Jewish community can have dialogue with the Polish government,” he said.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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