WARSAW — Poland’s president made an emotional plea for forgiveness on Thursday for the expulsion of 13,000 Poles of Jewish origin from Poland 50 years ago, decrying the loss the country suffered with their departure.
President Andrzej Duda made his appeal during a speech marking the anniversary of mass student protests against the Moscow-backed communist regime in 1968. Those protests were exploited by the communist party to purge Jews from the party and from Poland.
Among those who were forced out were Holocaust survivors and prominent intellectuals including sociologist Zygmunt Bauman and philosopher Bronislaw
‘‘I want to ask forgiveness of those who were expelled,’’ Duda said. ‘‘Through my lips Poland is asking forgiveness, asking them to be willing to forget, to be willing to accept that Poland regrets very much that they are not in Poland today.’’
Speaking at the Warsaw University campus that was the site of the 1968 protests, he said that the expulsions were a ‘‘shameful act’’ and called the departures a ‘‘loss’’ for Poland.
Duda is allied with the ruling Law and Justice party, whose nationalist polices are blamed by critics for sparking a rise in xenophobia and a recent dispute with Israel.