To conclude this investigation we return to the questions presented in the introduction: What elements constituted Polish identity during the interwar period? How did these elements impact the treatment of Polish Jews as an ethnic minority? British historian and director of the Centre for Research in Polish History Peter Stachura defined the aspects of Polish identity during the 1918-1935 interwar period as “language, literature, respect for education and, above all, what many Poles regarded as the perfect combination, an effervescent patriotism and a rejuvenated Catholicism,” (Stachura 101). These elements of education, patriotism, and catholicism are clearly reflected in the images presented throughout this exhibit. The intersection of patriotism and catholicism was essential to the solidification of Polish identity during the interwar period. These cultural ideals were perpetuated through Polish youth with a notable push for education.
With the elements that constituted Polish identity defined and analyzed, we can determine their impact on the treatment of Polish Jews. The interdependency between Polish identity, patriotism, and the catholic religion facilitated the exclusion of Poles outside of catholicism including Jews. As Polish identity evolved, individuals like Roman Dmowski implemented catholicism and nationalist sentiments to target Jews specifically, presenting them as the antithesis to catholic values and traitors aiming to dismantle the Polish state. The emphasis on education and the inclusion of catholicism in classrooms furthered the divide between Jews and Poles. Jews resisted assimilation into Polish identity by carrying out education in Yiddish and Hebrew, creating a language barrier between many Jews and Poles. The language barrier served to perpetuate the stereotype of the Jew as the other.
These trends that I investigated throughout this exhibit are significant to preventing the repetition of discrimination today. While having a unique and clearly defined culture is certainly not a negative thing, it is crucial that individuals do not use elements of culture to promote the exclusion of ethnic minorities.