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Endecja

ENDECJA

ENDECJA (so called after the pronunciation of N.D., abbr. of Polish "Narodowa Demokracja," National Democracy; also Endeks), right-wing political party which became a focus for Polish antisemitism in the first half of the 20th century. The party was active in all parts of partitioned Poland. It originated from the "National League," established at the end of the 19th century, to unite Poles of various political allegiance to work for the resurrection of Poland. At first the liberal and right-wing tendencies in the party were balanced, but from 1903 the chauvinist tendency gained in strength, finding expression in struggle against the Jews and a stand against liberalism, among other objectives. It also adopted a pro-Russian and anti-German policy. In Galicia, Endecja was set up in 1905, where it was anti-Ukrainian, and in 1907 won a victory in the elections to the Austrian parliament in which its representative was elected president of the "Polish club" of all Polish deputies in the parliament. Between 1907 and 1911 Endecja was split and weakened by an internal crisis over its pro-Russian policy. During the elections to the fourth Duma in 1912 in Warsaw, when the Jewish vote tipped the balance in favor of a Socialist candidate against the Polish majority, the occasion was used by Endecja as a springboard to strengthen the party. Under the leadership of Roman *Dmowski, Endecja proclaimed an anti-Jewish economic boycott, which was carried out by the mass of Poles. During World War i, the party supported Russia and the Allies and achieved its maximum influence on the future of Poland through the establishment of the National Polish Committee, in which Dmowski played a decisive role as chairman. This committee was recognized as the official representative of the Polish nation at the Versailles Peace Conference. The Endecja-led delegation took part in the coalition government of 1919 headed by I. Paderewski. Endecja became the dominant party in the first elected Polish parliament (Sejm), and took a share in several governments until Pilsudski's coup in 1926. Active mainly on behalf of the interests of the petty bourgeois urban classes, the party was adept in making political capital out of emotionally charged issues, such as a chauvinistic attitude toward the national minorities. Endecja continued its extreme antisemitic stand in its struggle to preserve the Polish character of the towns in Poland against Jewish influence and economic competition. Its connections with capitalist circles and the clergy determined its objectives in domestic policy. Endecja was instrumental in the passing of various laws intended to curtail Jewish influence on the Polish economy and culture. It was active in the numerus clausus case of 1923, and later influenced the youth in the universities to demonstrate against the Jewish students, leading to bloody incidents. Concerning discrimination in commercial taxation Endecja found it difficult to remain consistent, since the party largely represented the urban element in Poland. However it acted energetically regarding the extension of the government monopoly, and in support of Polish cooperatives – all in an anti-Jewish direction – and in the economic restriction of Jews, even if the aims did not correspond with the party's basic principles concerning the sanctity of private property and free enterprise. Through the economic boycott Endecja inspired the *Rozwoj organization. The party's antisemitic influence was strong in military circles, particularly among the Polish volunteers who returned after the war from France and the United States, led by General *Haller. With Hitler's rise to power and the spread of Nazism in Europe, Endecja changed its traditional attitude toward Germany, which it had always considered Poland's principal enemy. The party's youth faction, influenced by Fascist ideas, founded a new body, *nara, that saw in the Nazi regime a desirable example for Poland. After the outbreak of World War ii and the collapse of the Pilsudski regime, which had been Endecja's political opponent, the party's influence increased among Polish émigré circles, both among the army reorganizing abroad and the government-in-exile, established first in France and later in England. During the Nazi occupation Endecja was also active in the nationalist underground movement "Armja Krajowa," which in many cases acted against Jews. In 1970 it still had adherents among Poles outside the country.

bibliography:

S. Segal, The New Poland and the Jews (1938); R.L. Buell, Poland, Key to Europe (1939), index, s.v.Endeks; A. Bełcikowska, Stronnictwa i związki polityczne w Polsce (1925); L. Oberlaender, Opatrznośiowy żyd (1932); A. Micewski, Z geografii politycznej II Reczypospolitej (1964). add. bibliography: R. Wapinski, Narodowa Demokracja; S. Rudnicki, Oboz narodowo radykalny, geneza i dzialalnosc (1985).

[Moshe Landau]

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