Primed for Violence: Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics in Interwar Poland (University of Wisconsin Press), by Paul Brykczynski
In 1922, an anti-Semitic painter assassinated Poland’s president at an art opening. The president wasn’t Jewish but outraged the opposition for being elected with the support of Jewish politicians. The events surrounding the incident are the subject of this case study in the rise of anti-Semitism in post-World War I Europe. The targeted president was the bête noir of the National Democrats, a party that remained committed to parliamentary democracy even as it espoused a Social Darwinist doctrine of struggle for supremacy among ethnicities. They believed Poland was for ethnic Poles only. Ironically, their ideology paralleled the racism of the nascent Nazis, except that the Nazis consigned the Poles to inferior status. Primed for Violence is especially interesting for its depiction of a “culture of hatred” that infected Poland, fueled by conspiracy theories and fake news. Democracy is fragile in such environments.