chapter  VIII
3 Pages

The Rise of Anti-Semitism

In the ’eighties o f the last century the Jews in Galicia, particularly in Western Galicia, experienced a rapid deteriora­ tion of their economic conditions. Their status in Poland was for centuries that of a middle class. The Polish people consisted in the main of various categories of landed nobility and of masses of peasant serfs, of manors and villeins, while the towns were inhabited by Jews, and here and there by Germans and Armenians. The Jews, as the middle class par excellence, performed a useful social function as traders, merchants, and craftsmen, and could therefore share in the national income. After the insurrection of 1863 and the opening of the liberal era, many Poles took to commerce and industry, to arts and crafts, with the consequence that a Polish middle class was in process of formation. This is the sociological law of the middle class in history.