Amid clouds of smoke (he likes unfiltered Gitanes) and in a room decorated with a striking mixture of modern Polish art and a Playboy calendar, I interviewed Marek Edelman, who is the last surviving commander (indeed one of the last survivors) of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising. If you are American or Jewish, you will certainly have heard of this: it is when the ghetto’s prisoners, armed with pathetically few weapons and even less ammunition, staged a Masada-like revolt against their Nazi tormentors. It is sometimes confused with the later Warsaw uprising of 1944 when the country’s underground army, loyal to the exile government in London, seized the capital and then defended it for two desperate months against hopeless odds, while Soviet forces cynically waited on the other bank of the Vistula river. The crushing of the uprising made it easier for them to install a puppet regime, which was driven from power only in 1989. So Edelman is speaking out, in uncharacteristically caustic terms. Law and Justice, which has roots in the dissident Solidarity movement, is betraying its heritage, he says. The party leadership’s “desire for power is so great that they would get cosy with the devil”. That cynicism is a “time bomb”.That was before the resignation of the prime minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and his replacement by the Law and Justice party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Marcinkiewicz oozed reasonableness. I don’t know what the provincial, conspiratorial Kaczynski oozes, but it certainly isn’t that. Edelman, sadly, may have to do quite a lot more complaining before he’s heard. Edward Lucas is central and eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist. It would be nice to think that this history would bring Jews and Gentiles together in Poland. Sometimes it does. But accusations of prejudice from both sides cloud Poland’s history of remarkable religious tolerance. Which is why I had gone to see Edelman. Unlike almost all Polish Jews, he was neither murdered by the Nazis, nor did he emigrate during the disgraceful periods of post-war persecution. He usually crops up in the media doughtily defending his homeland against accusations of ingrained anti-Jewish feeling and behaviour. That’s right. There is a lot of nonsense talked about Polish ‘anti-Semitism’. Sure: prejudice exists as it does anywhere. In my experience it’s more often shallow than deep; it was stoked by Communism and since then I think has been declining.But it is easy to exaggerate, particularly with the use of lazy phrases such as “Auschwitz, a Polish concentration camp” (when Auschwitz in fact was built and run by the hated Nazi occupiers). Now Edelman is troubled by the tone and status of Radio Maryja, an obnoxious station run by an unruly and opinionated Roman Catholic priest. It used be a fringe affair. But it is now close to the government.That’s the other thing bothering Edelman. The main coalition partner, Law and Justice, is a socially-conservative Catholic party with muddled views on economics and foreign policy but no trace of anti-Semitism. But it is in alliance with the League of Polish Families. This is an ultra-patriotic, ultra-Catholic party which idolises a pre-war politician, Roman Dmowski, who thought that only ethnically pure Poles could be real patriots. It also has a youth wing whose gatherings attract a thuggish type of supporter (entirely unwished-for, it insists). Senior figures habitually conflate paedophilia with homosexuality.