PILSUDSKI, JÓZEF° (1867–1935), Polish statesman, first marshal of Poland. In the early years of his political life, Pilsudski came into contact with Jews, especially Jewish workers, and the PPS (Polish Socialist Party) founded by him even published a periodical in Yiddish, Der Arbeter, between 1898 and 1905. However, he was sharply critical of the *Bund, accusing it of "commercial and religious Jewish separation," of favoring Russification, and of opposing the Polish independence movement. Since he was fiercely anti-Russian, he dissociated himself from the pro-Russian antisemite Roman *Dmowski. When Pilsudski, supported by the left, seized power in 1926, the Jews hoped for improved conditions, and indeed the prime minister, K. Bartel, proposed the abolition of several cultural, religious, and economic restrictions on the life of the Jews. However, these proposals came to nothing; on the contrary, by a law of Oct. 4, 1927 the government interfered in internal Jewish affairs and curtailed the autonomy of the Jewish communities. As a result of the pressure of the ND (*Endecja), in 1931 further restrictions were placed on Jewish economic and social life. Now opposed to the left, Pilsudski formed a front with the land owners and did nothing to curb the antisemitic right wing. In 1934 the Pilsudski government signed a pact with Hitler's Germany, with tragic results for the Jewish community in subsequent years.
P. Szwarc, Józef Pilsudski (Yid., 1936); S. Segal, The New Poland and the Jews (1938), index; R.L. Bruell, Poland: Keyto Europe (1939), 297–99, 301; Y. Gruenbaum, in: EG, 1 (1953), 100–13; Wielka Encyklopedia Powszechna, 8 (1966), 669–71; J. Rothschild, Pilsudski's Coup d'Etat (1966). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Kozlowski, Zarys Dziejow Polskiego Ruchu Robotniczego do 1948 roku (1980), index; A. Ajnenkiel, Od "Rzadow Ludowych" do przewrotu majowego 1918–1926 (1964), index; idem, Polska po prrzewrocie majowym (1980), index; A. Micewski, W cieniu Marszalka Pilsudskiego (1969), index.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.