Primed for Violence
Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics
in Interwar Poland
Winner of the Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies
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.
is an independent historian who lives in Ontario.
“An outstanding and welcome contribution to scholarship on Polish nationalism, the history of antisemitism, political violence, fascism, and democratic politics [that] will resonate with the public at large as we grapple with contemporary challenges to democracy across the globe.”
“This assiduously researched, impeccably argued, and well-illustrated book should be required reading for anyone interested in modern Polish history and/or the evolution of the Polish nation more broadly.”
“On the whole, Brykczynski’s study is innovative and ground-breaking. It provides a fascinating window into the role of antisemitism in Polish politics between the two world wars, and clearly demonstrates how hateful rhetoric and violence can transform political culture.”
“The book is undoubtedly a valuable contribution to the history of interwar Poland.”
“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
“Discusses the 1922 election of Gabriel Narutowicz as the first president of the new Republic of Poland; describes how his victory, with the support of a Jewish political party, enraged the right, provoked riots, and led to his murder less than a week later.”
—Chronicle of Higher Education
“Brykczynski gives his narrative considerable immediacy by relying on available newspaper accounts.”
New in paperback!
LC: 2015036809 DS
240 pp. 6 x 9
21 b/w illus.