WARSAW, MARCH 2 -- Poland's communist party conceded today that an anti-Semitic campaign following student demonstrations here in 1968 had "hurt many people" and damaged the country's intellectual life, and that the leadership had acted "not always in time nor thoroughly enough" in countering the move by hard-liners.
The lengthy statement, published as an article in today's issue of the party newspaper Trybuna Ludu, was the centerpiece of an elaborately orchestrated initiative to review the events of the crisis, which led to the emigration of almost all of Poland's remaining Jews and turned much of the intelligentsia against communist rule.
The reevaluation is described by party officials as a major step toward embracing the policy of glasnost, or openness, initiated by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The new official accounts, which also appear in several weekly papers as well as the party's ideological journal, blamed party leaders for economic and political stagnation that underlay the eruption of widespread student protests 20 years ago this month. They condemned party conservatives for launching anti-Semitic attacks against protest organizers and stimulating a widespread purge of Jews from professional and party posts.
However, the articles stopped short of naming the communist leaders responsible for initiating or implementing the anti-Semitic campaign or of rehabilitating the students and intellectuals who were expelled from the universities or jailed.
The Trybuna Ludu article exonerated the party as an institution as well as former leader Wladyslaw Gomulka from blame for the purges. It also repeated 20-year-old charges that the student protests were manipulated by "anticommunist and cosmopolitan" youth. In the Soviet Bloc, the term "cosmopolitan" has long had anti-Semitic connotations.
One major figure in the 1968 events condemned the Trybuna Ludu article as an empty gesture. "The whole article is a repeat of the basic official themes about 1968," said Adam Michnik, then a key student leader and now an opposition writer and strategist.
"There is nothing about breaking the law and nothing about who is guilty," Michnik said. "Instead, all the old calumnies against us are simply repeated."
Other observers said the mixed tone of the official review reflected uncertainties within the leadership of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski about how far to take the liberalization of public debate that it has promised.
This week, a new magazine, Confrontacje ("Confrontations"), published an unprecedented interview with one of Poland's leading opposition intellectuals, Bronislaw Geremek, as well as a report on details of the deportation of Poles to the Soviet Union during World War II. The magazine also began serializing George Orwell's anti-Stalinist novel "Animal Farm."
At the same time, censors blocked a literary magazine, Miesiecznik Literackie, from publishing an article on the World War II "Katyn massacre" of Polish officers. Editorial sources said the article was intended to break one of the most notorious taboos of political life here by presenting evidence that the crime was committed by Soviet forces, a charge Moscow has denied for 45 years.
A party official who holds a high post in the media said, "The censors don't know from day to day what is going to be allowed and what not."
During preparation of the review of the 1968 events, party sources said, official media had received instructions that articles should avoid discussing the responsibility of specific individuals. Authorities were concerned that the debate might touch officials still serving in high posts, including party leader Jaruzelski, the sources said.
Jaruzelski's role in the crisis remains unclear. But one chronology of the events, published in the weekly Polityka, noted that the general was promoted to defense minister in April 1968, in the midst of the crisis. An article this week in the party journal Nowa Drogi revealed that 341 Jewish officers were purged from the Army between mid-1967 and mid-1969.
The tone of the articles varies somewhat. The first to be published, in Polityka 10 days ago, opened with a commentary recalling the "brutal beating" of one of the authors at the hands of police during demonstrations at Warsaw University and bluntly criticizing party leader Gomulka.
It said the "heritage of March 1968" was "the infamous anti-Semitic witch hunt, the burying of the cause of socialism for years, the split between the intelligentsia and working people and the wrongs done to many people."
The Trybuna Ludu article published today was considerably more moderate in its judgments and bureaucratic in style. It said a large part of the intelligentsia had become justifiably dissatisfied with communist policies during the 1960s, but added that a more extreme opposition of "enemies of socialist Poland" also grew up.
In discussing the student protests that started the crisis, the party conceded that the violent breakup by police of a protest gathering at Warsaw University on March 8, 1968, "did not favor the disarming of the conflict" but instead led to student protests around the country. However, it praised the work of security forces and absolved them from any blame.
The Trybuna Ludu article said that between 1968 and 1971 about 13,000 Polish Jews emigrated. Fewer than 5,000 Jews now live in Poland.