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Primed for Violence
Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics in Interwar Poland

The assassination that changed a nation

In 1922, the new Republic of Poland democratically elected its first president, Gabriel Narutowicz. Because his supporters included a Jewish political party, an opposing faction of antisemites demanded his resignation. Within hours, bloody riots erupted in Warsaw, and less than a week later the president was assassinated. In the wake of these events, the radical right asserted that only “ethnic Poles” should rule the country, while the left silently capitulated to this demand.

As Paul Brykczynski tells this gripping story, he explores the complex role of antisemitism, nationalism, and violence in Polish politics between the two World Wars. Though focusing on Poland, the book sheds light on the rise of the antisemitic right in Europe and beyond, and on the impact of violence on political culture and discourse.


Author. Photo credit, Name Paul Brykczynski holds a PhD in modern European history from the University of Michigan. He lives in Ontario, Canada.





“The interwar period was an often violent time in which the demons of the twentieth century increasingly had their way. Brykczynski places the assassination of President Gabriel Narutowicz in the context of growing antisemitism and the emerging challenge to democracy in the recently independent Polish nation. An important story, thoroughly researched and compellingly told.”
—John Merriman, Yale University

“Makes significant, interesting contributions to a wide range of historiographies, including debates about the place of civic nationalism in interwar political discourse and about the power and reach of interwar antisemitism.”
—Eva Plach, Wilfred Laurier University

“As exciting as a good novel, but meticulously researched and offering sophisticated historical analysis.”
—Piotr Wróbel, University of Toronto



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Primed for Violence
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May 2016
LC: 2015036809 DS
240 pp. 6 x 9
25 b/w illus.

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Casebound $65.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-30700-4
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ISBN 978-0-299-30703-5
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