Immigrants from Poland want to go back: The politics of return migration and nation building in 1950s Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many immigrants from Poland to Israel applied to return to the Polish People's Republic in the 1950s, but few were able to obtain the coveted permission. Neither Israel nor Poland facilitated their return and both implemented a locked-gate policy. For both countries, return migration interfered with the building of a nation-state that needed immigration by members of the nation represented by the state. From Poland's standpoint, return migration meant a return of undesirable elements whom Poland had foresworn when it had let them leave, and who were thenceforth considered foreigners. Israel perceived it as a threat to the aliyah enterprise and the hope of free emigration to Israel from all East European countries. However, both countries were inclined to let non-Jewish immigrants who so desired to return to Poland. From Israel's standpoint, these non-Jews had not become an integral part of Israeli society, while the Polish authorities apparently still considered these non-Jewish immigrants ours even after they renounced their Polish citizenship and moved to Israel. Their return also reinforced the nation-building process and the ingathering of the scattered nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Israeli History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Immigration
  • Israel
  • Nation building
  • Poland
  • Return

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Immigrants from Poland want to go back: The politics of return migration and nation building in 1950s Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this