chapter
2 Pages

Warsaw

WithJoseph Rykwert

Warsaw was an 'artificial' capital. The old centres of the Polish Kingdom, Gniezno, the primatial seat and Krakow, the Royal castle, were marginalized by the Union of 'the Kingdom' that is Poland and 'the Grand Duchy'. From the late eighteenth century, the Jewish population of Warsaw grew rapidly so that, by 1900, Jews were a third of its inhabitants – until it was overtaken by Tel-Aviv and New York, it held the largest Jewish community in the world. Several Yiddish newspapers were published there, as well as a Hebrew daily – and one, in Polish, concerned with a Jewish 'angle' on affairs, but a good newspaper for all that, read by many non-Jews. Post-1918 Poland had not been – as popular wisdom has it – a solidly Catholic, near-fascist, anti-Semitic country. Roman Catholics were two-thirds of the population in the reconstituted Poland of 1918.