Ghetto benches

Ghetto benches (known in Polish as getto ławkowe)[1][2] was a form of official segregation in the seating of university students, introduced in 1935 at the Lwow Polytechnic.[3] Rectors at other higher education institutions in the Second Polish Republic had adopted this form of segregation when the practice became conditionally legalized by 1937.[4] Under the ghetto ławkowe system, Jewish university students were required under threat of expulsion to sit in a left-hand side section of the lecture halls reserved exclusively for them. This official policy of enforced segregation was often accompanied by acts of violence directed against Jewish students by members of the ONR (outlawed after three months in 1934) and other extreme right and anti-Semitic organizations like the National Democracy movement.[5][6]

Ghetto benches
The 1934 Index of a Polish-Jewish student at the Warsaw University Department of Medicine, with a stamp reading: Miejsce w ławkach nieparzystych (Seating in benches with an odd number)
LocationWarsaw University, Lwów Polytechnic, Wilno University
Period1935–1939

The seating in benches marked a peak of antisemitism in Poland between the world wars according to Jerzy Jan Lerski.[7] It antagonized not only Jews, but also many Poles.[7] Jewish students protested these policies, along with some Poles who supported them by standing instead of sitting.[8] The segregation continued until the invasion of Poland in World War II. Poland's occupation by Nazi Germany suppressed the entire Polish educational system. In the eastern half of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union, similar discriminatory policies were lifted and replaced with other repressive actions against Jews.[9]