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The Neighbors Respond

The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland

Antony Polonsky
Joanna B. Michlic
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 504
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7schb
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  • Book Info
    The Neighbors Respond
    Book Description:

    Neighbors--Jan Gross's stunning account of the brutal mass murder of the Jews of Jedwabne by their Polish neighbors--was met with international critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award in the United States. It has also been, from the moment of its publication, the occasion of intense controversy and painful reckoning. This book captures some of the most important voices in the ensuing debate, including those of residents of Jedwabne itself as well as those of journalists, intellectuals, politicians, Catholic clergy, and historians both within and well beyond Poland's borders.

    Antony Polonsky and Joanna Michlic introduce the debate, focusing particularly on howNeighborsrubbed against difficult old and new issues of Polish social memory and national identity. The editors then present a variety of Polish voices grappling with the role of the massacre and of Polish-Jewish relations in Polish history. They include samples of the various strategies used by Polish intellectuals and political elites as they have attempted to deal with their country's dark past, to overcome the legacy of the Holocaust, and to respond to Gross's book.

    The Neighbors Respondmakes the debate overNeighborsavailable to an English-speaking audience--and is an excellent tool for bringing the discussion into the classroom. It constitutes an engrossing contribution to modern Jewish history, to our understanding of Polish modern history and identity, and to our bank of Holocaust memory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2581-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-44)

    The complex and often acrimonious debate about the character and significance of the massacre of the Jewish population of the small Polish town of Jedwabne in the summer of 194—a debate provoked by the publication of Jan Gross’sSąsiedzi: Historia zagłady żydowskiego miasteczka(Sejny, 2000) and its English translationNeighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland(Princeton, 2001)—is part of a much wider argument about the totalitarian experience of Europe in the twentieth century. This controversy reflects the growing preoccupation with the issue of collective memory, which Henri Rousso has characterized as a central “value”...

  5. PART I: THE INITIAL REPORTING

    • [PART I: INTRODUCTION]
      (pp. 47-49)

      Even during the Communist period Poland had a well-established tradition of investigative journalism. Thus it is not surprising that journalists, both local and national, should have played an important role in researching and making public the massacre in Jedwabne. As early as July 1988, two local journalists, Danuta and Alexander Wroniszewski, wrote an extensive account of the Jedwabne massacre in the Łomża weeklyKontakty.¹ They underscored the poverty and isolation of the town, and pointed out that in the 1930s the local priest had been a “supporter of the ‘Nationalists,’ ” a strong advocate of the boycott of Jewish shops,...

    • “Burnt Offering,” Rzeczpospolita, 5 May 2000
      (pp. 50-59)
      Andrzej Kaczyński

      On 10 July 1941 in Jedwabne, in the Łomża region, the Germans ordered that the entire Jewish community of the small town be exterminated. Local Poles carried out the death sentence. Recently revealed eyewitness accounts by Jews who survived the Holocaust confirm this. Nor do Polish residents of Jedwabne who witnessed the tragedy deny it. From these same sources, it is also known that the Germans used Polish hands to commit similar massacres of Jews in Wąsosz, Wizna, and Radziłów. Many of these documented testimonies were previously known to Polish scholars. These scholars did not, however, contribute to exposing the...

    • “The Blood of Jedwabne,” Kontakty, 7 May 2000
      (pp. 60-63)
      Gabriela Szczęsna

      A letter from Montevideo in broken Polish: “Dear Mayor, I, Ester Migdal, born in Jedwabne, Łomża district, Białystok voivodeship, journeyed to Uruguay in 1937—me, my sisters, brothers, and mother. My grandmother, Chana Yenta Wasersztajn, stayed behind. I know that Poles killed all of the Jews, I know who killed my grandmother, her daughters—her entire family. He appropriated her home and now lives in this house. Forgive me, as I don’t remember much Polish now, I haven’t spoken the language for sixty-two years. I know no Jews remain in Jedwabne because the Poles killed them all and took everything,...

    • “In Memory and Admonition,” Gazeta Wspótczesna, 11 July 2000
      (pp. 64-66)
      Maria Kaczyńska

      Yesterday, 10 july, was the fifty-ninth anniversary of the extermination of the Jews of Jedwabne. Many visited the site of the mass murder and burial of about 1,600 people, although no one officially announced the commemoration. This case represents one of the blackest pages in the contemporary history not only of the region but also of Poland.

      The Jewish community of Jedwabne, consisting of some 1,600 people, was ruthlessly exterminated on 10 July 1941. A commemorative marker was placed at the site of the killing and mass burial of the victims in the 1960s. It states that the Gestapo carried...

  6. PART II: THE MORAL DEBATE

    • [PART II: INTRODUCTION]
      (pp. 69-71)

      Poland’s intellectuals have a long tradition of making pronouncements on the state of the nation and its moral predicaments, dating back to the nineteenth century, when the Polish intelligentsia took over from the nobility (theszlachta) the belief that it was the embodiment of the Polish nation, its conscience and guiding force. This tradition was strengthened in the 1880s and after, when writers bore the main responsibility for the preservation of the Polish language in the face of Germanization and Russification. As Zygmunt Wasilewski put it, “The intelligentsia was the guard that kindled the national spirit from a spark among...

    • “Prophecies Are Being Fulfilled,” Prawda, May 1942
      (pp. 72-74)
      Zofia Kossak-Szczucka

      It has fallen upon us to be passive witnesses of a horrible tragedy: the planned mass murder of the Jews by the Germans on the territory of the Republic. Every day news pours in that is startling in its ghastliness. Every day, thousands of people die—men, women, girls, children, infants, old people—because they were born Jews. Some are buried alive, others are beaten to death with rifle butts, machine guns are aimed at others, and recently there has been poisoning by gas. The executioners smash the heads of children against walls or against roadside trees. In a similar...

    • “Obsessed with Innocence,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 13–14 January 2001
      (pp. 75-86)
      Joanna Tokarska-Bakir

      Last summer three Nobel Prize laureates met in Vilnius to discuss the meaning of memory. From the many words spoken then, I best remember what Günter Grass said about the strange vicissitudes of German memory. Referring to the recent public discourse in his native land (Ernst Nolte and the historians’ dispute in the 1980s and the Wasler-Bubis debate in 1998 1999), Grass described the rituals of collective memory that cause some trouble for his countrymen, especially the older generation. Germans would not be Germans if they did not create a special neologism: “memory work” (a concept that Grass nevertheless mocks...

    • “A Need for Compensation,” Rzeczpospolita, 26 January 2001
      (pp. 87-92)
      Jan Nowak-Jeziorański

      The discussion around Jan Tomasz Gross’s bookNeighborsgoes on. Sixty years after the fact, the book casts a shaft of light on the bestial murder of the Jews of the small village of Jedwabne during the war, rescuing the incident from oblivion. Unfortunately, the debate is beginning to move in the wrong direction.

      It is not easy for any nation to acknowledge acts that cover it with shame. It is human nature that we are inclined to remember the wrongs done to us, and that we do not want to remember the wrongs that we have done unto others....

    • “The Revolution of Nihilism,” Gtos, 3 February 2001
      (pp. 93-102)
      Antoni Macierewicz

      It is difficult today to pinpoint with complete certainty when this all began. Perhaps it was when the Jews from Jedwabne publishedYedwabne: History and Memorial Book, containing a description of the tragedy of their hometown, or perhaps it was when Prof. Jan T. Gross received a grant to study the 1939—1941 Bolshevik occupation of Poland’s eastern territories and was given access to materials kept at the Hoover Institution.

      For Gross himself, the important date was 1998, when Agnieszka Arnold, who was at work on a documentary film, showed him footage from Jedwabne. Prof. Andrzej Paczkowski also played an...

    • “The Shortsightedness of the ‘Cultured,’ ” Gazeta Wyborcza, 6 April 2001
      (pp. 103-113)
      Hanna Świda-Ziemba

      With the revelation of the crime in Jedwabne, I now know that only a thin layer of ice, which can break at any moment, separates “innocent” prejudices from crime. Before I present my reflections on the crime committed in Jedwabne, I will declare my position on questions that have been at the center of the debate. Above all, I acknowledge only individual subjectivity and responsibility. At the same time, I believe that we are responsible for the social resonance and the social effects of our actions. The responsible person is thus obligated to know and understand social mechanisms and the...

    • “Homo Jedvabicus ,” Wprost, 22 July 2001
      (pp. 114-118)
      Jerzy Sławomir Mac

      The third millennium began with a year-long vivisection of Polish souls.

      Jan Gross’s book came out last May, andRzeczpospolitabrought it into the public eye the following July; a full year of collective shock reached its culmination a week ago on the sixtieth anniversary of the crime. During the course of the year, loud cries arose from the froth of national emotions, and louder still was the silence . . . ofHomo Jedvabicus.

      He is the direct descendant of those who, in July 1941, would not have lifted a hand to persecute the Jews except under duress but...

  7. PART III: OFFICIAL STATEMENTS

    • [PART III: INTRODUCTION]
      (pp. 121-124)

      In the years following the collapse of the Communist political system, Poland appeared to have achieved a degree of political stability based on the emergence of two camps: one derived from the Solidarity movement, sometimes called the post-Solidarity camp, and the other derived from the former Polish United Workers’ Party, now transformed more or less convincingly into a Social Democratic Party of the Western European type. Commentators have stressed the ideological differences between these two. Thus, according to Hubert Tworzecki, “Poland is achieving political stabilization rooted in the development of general political ‘tendencies’ among the mass public. The Left is...

    • Living in Truth: Special Statement by Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek regarding the Slaughter of Jews in Jedwabne in 1941, April 2001
      (pp. 125-125)

      The slaughter sixty years ago in Jedwabne of Polish Jews, our fellow citizens, is terrifying in its savagery. Our duty is to honor the victims in a dignified way and to establish the truth. The investigation that is being conducted by the Institute of National Memory will establish the particular circumstance of the crime and identify its perpetrators. As a nation we can live only in truth. The participation of Poles in the crime in Jedwabne is indisputable; it isn’t questioned by any respectable historian.

      The slaughter in Jedwabne was not committed in the name of the nation, or in...

    • Address Delivered by Władysław Bartoszewski, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., 5 April 2001
      (pp. 126-129)

      I am starting in this way because I see only friendly people in this hall. I think the unfriendly ones have simply stayed home. The authors of the anonymous letters I often receive regard me as a Jew. They think that that is a way to offend me, but it isn’t. I wonder why they do it. Do they want to show that there are some vigilant individuals who classify the views of others according to origin? Apparently that’s how things must be—not only in totalitarian systems.

      Those who know me realize that I regard all people as friends...

    • Address by President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski at the Ceremonies in Jedwabne Marking the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Jedwabne Tragedy on 10 July 2001
      (pp. 130-132)

      Sixty years ago, on 10 July 1941, on this land, then conquered and occupied by the Hitlerite Germans, a crime was committed against the Jews. It was a terrible day. A day of hatred and brutality. We know much about this crime, though still not everything. It may be that we shall never know the whole truth. That, however, has not stopped us from being here today. To speak with full voice. We know enough to be able to stand in truth—in the face of the pain, the screams, and the suffering of those who were murdered here, before...

    • Findings of Investigation S 1/00/Zn into the Murder of Polish Citizens of Jewish Origin in the Town of Jedwabne on 10 July 1941, pursuant to Article 1 Point 1 of the Decree of 31 August 1944
      (pp. 133-136)

      In the analysis of the body of evidence collected in the course of investigation S 1/00/Zn, the probable course of events on 10 July 1941 in Jedwabne has been established.

      On that day, a Thursday morning, the inhabitants of nearby villages began to arrive in Jedwabne with the intention of participating in the premeditated murder of the Jewish inhabitants of that town. On the evening preceding the events, some Jewish residents were warned by Polish acquaintances that a collective action was being prepared against the Jews.

      In the morning hours of 10 July 1941, the Jewish population began to be...

    • “Jedwabne—Let Us Be Silent in the Face of This Crime: Piotr Lipiński Talks with Professor Andrzej Rzepliński,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 22 July 2002
      (pp. 137-144)

      Piotr Lipiński: At the request of the Institute of National Memory, you have investigated the records of the court cases in which after the war people responsible for the murder of the Jews of Jedwabne were convicted. What emerges from these records?

      Andrzej Rzepliński: Reading them, one has a feeling of powerlessness in the face of the enormity and apocalyptic character of the crime committed by ordinary unorganized people, and not by the German industrial system for killing the Jews. In my life, I have examined more than fifteen hundred criminal cases and none has made as powerful an impression...

  8. PART IV: THE DEBATE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

    • [PART IV: INTRODUCTION]
      (pp. 147-154)

      On the issue of how to respond to the revelation of the massacre at Jedwabne, the Polish Catholic Church has been deeply divided. The main position of the Church on Jewish issues was articulated in the bishops’ letter of November 1990, which is described in the main introduction to this volume, and which was essentially derived from the 1962 papal encyclicalNostra Aetate.Within the Church, there is a small progressive group, much more strongly committed to Christian-Jewish reconciliation, that is linked with the liberal Catholic periodicalsTygodnik Powszechny, Znak, andWięźand includes people like Father Michał Czajkowski and Father...

    • “A Poor Christian Looks at Jedwabne: Adam Boniecki and Michał Okoński Talk with Archbishop Henryk Muszyński,” Tygodnik Powszechny88, 25 March 2001
      (pp. 155-165)

      Tygodnik Powszechny: In a letter published by the episcopate eleven years ago on the anniversary of the announcement of the conciliar declarationNostra Aetate, we read: “Unfortunately that same land [Poland] has become in our century a grave for several million Jews. This was neither by our will nor by our hand.” After the publication of Jan Tomasz Gross’s book about Jedwabne, does this last sentence remain current?

      Archbishop Henryk Muszyński: The Holocaust really was not carried out by our hand, nor was it by our will. This sentence has been questioned, unfortunately, by many Jews. But in the same...

    • Interview with the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Józef Glemp, on the Murder of Jews in jedwabne, 15 May 2001
      (pp. 166-172)

      The Catholic Information Agency (KAI): On 27 May the Polish episcopate will ask God’s forgiveness for wrongs committed by Poles. For what specific acts will the bishops apologize? Will it be primarily for the crime committed by Poles against Polish citizens of the Mosaic faith in Jedwabne, or will the context be much broader?

      Cardinal Józef Glemp: I do not know yet what the specifics of our prayer service will be, but it is clear that it cannot be limited only to Jedwabne. Jedwabne will remain a certain kind of symbol. In my view, ideology or politics motivates the suggestions...

    • “We Ask You to Help Us Be Better,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 23 May 2001
      (pp. 173-178)
      Rev. Stanistaw Musiat

      It is too bad that we will not meet together on 10 July in Jed wabne, where sixty years ago Polish citizens committed a horrible crime against Polish citizens—Poles against Jews. It is too bad because both the Polish State and the Catholic Church in Poland are joined in a sorrowful confraternity of guilt against Jews—in Jedwabne as well as over the entire extent of our history. The fact that on 10 July the Polish episcopate will be absent in Jedwabne must not mean that we should leave the president of the Polish Republic there alone—at the...

  9. PART V: VOICES OF THE INHABITANTS OF JEDWABNE

    • [PART V: INTRODUCTION]
      (pp. 181-185)

      One of the saddest aspects of the whole controversy has been the reaction of the people of Jedwabne. In his interview of 25 March 2001, Archbishop Muszyński expressed the hope that the town would be the scene of the “first step on the road to reconciliation among the victims of Nazism.” He went on:

      Here I would like to express sincere spiritual community with today’s residents of that town. The vast majority of them are innocent, are Christians, and in Christianity the suffering of innocents has a cleansing, even redeeming character. We must thank them for bearing the suffering with...

    • “We Are Different People: A Discussion about Jedwabne in Jedwabne,” Więź, April 2001
      (pp. 186-199)

      Participants in the discussion held at the Municipal Offices in Jedwabne on February 22, 2001:

      Krzysztof Godlewski, mayor

      Stanisław Michałowski, chairman of the town council

      Father Edward Orłowski, parish priest

      Stanisław Przechodzki, director of the Łomża branch of the

      Podlasie Public Health Center

      Senator Stanisław Marczuk, chairman of the Białystok chapter

      of Solidarność from 1981 to 1991

      Więź editors Jacek Borkowicz, Father Michał Czajkowski

      (cochairman of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews),

      and Zbigniew Nosowski

      Zbigniew Nosowski:We have come together to talk about how to deal with memories of the tragic events that took place here sixty years ago....

    • “My Jedwabne”
      (pp. 200-206)
      Marta Kurkowska-Budzan

      I was born and grew up in Jedwabne; I lived there for almost thirteen years. Now I live in Kraków, where I am a social historian at the Jagiellonian University interested in the past, the present, and the future. In June 2000, when I learned of the conference to be held in London entitled “The Shtetl,” I intended to present at it the results of my social-anthropological research on Jedwabne. It was a local study based on oral evidence. Then, perhaps two weeks later, I read Prof. Gross’s book on the massacre in Jedwabne. It did not shock me. I...

  10. PART VI: MEMORIES AND METHODOLOGIES:: THE HISTORICAL DEBATE

    • [PART VI: INTRODUCTION]
      (pp. 209-219)

      The debate among historians has so far been rather unfruitful. Partly this is because of the previously close personal ties between some of the key controversialists, notably Tomasz Strzembosz, Tomasz Szarota, and Jan Gross himself. It will not have escaped the attentive reader that Gross’s first discussion of the testimony of Szmul Wasersztajn appeared in the festschrift for Strzembosz. Strzembosz also seems to feel very defensive about the fact that although he had worked for more than thirty years in the area immediately surrounding Jedwabne, he had never, prior to the publication ofNeighbors, found it necessary to mention the...

    • “Collaboration Passed Over in Silence,” Rzeczpospolita, 27 January 2001
      (pp. 220-236)
      Tomasz Strzembosz

      I had not intended to lend my voice to the discussion that followed the publication of Prof. Jan T. Gross’s bookNeighbors, about the murder of Jews carried out in July 1941 in the little town of Jedwabne in the Podlasie region.¹ Above all, because the discussion to date, while raising many essential themes, had ignored the most crucial fact: what happened in Jedwabne after the German army entered the area—that is, who committed the mass murder of the Jewish population of Jedwabne, when, and under what circumstances.

      That is what should be written about first and foremost, the...

    • “How to Grapple with the Perplexing Legacy,” Polityka, 10 February 2001
      (pp. 237-246)
      Jerzy Jedlicki

      The bookNeighborsby Jan T. Gross has inspired heated debates and disputes. Its publisher, Fundacja Pogranicze, planned its circulation poorly: the book sold out just as sales were peaking. No wonder: it speaks of an event that is quite incredible. It speaks about how, on one summer day in 1941, supervised by German occupation troops, the Polish residents of a certain little town outside of Łomża murdered over a thousand of their Jewish neighbors, showing unusual cruelty and not sparing a soul. It also speaks of how reports of the event were silenced for over sixty years.

      It would...

    • “A Roundtable Discussion: Jedwabne—Crime and Memory,” Rzeczpospolita, 3 March 2001
      (pp. 247-266)

      Rzeczpospolita: The subject of our discussion is the events in Jedwabne in 1941, with all their surrounding circumstances and consequences. As a newspaper, we consider this matter very important, and we have been taking part in the public debate in Poland on this subject ever since the first publications by Prof. Gross appeared. We would like to start with a straightforward question that probably has still not received a definitive answer. What really happened in Jedwabne on 10 July 1941?

      Jan Tomasz Gross: I have described this matter, and I think most of the historians who have spoken out on...

    • “We of Jedwabne,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 23 March 2001
      (pp. 267-303)
      Anna Bikont

      Ayellowed form from half a century ago, filled out by some unskilled hand. The title above it reads, “Dossier on Individuals Suspected of Criminal Acts against the State.” Prepared by: the Łomża District Security Administration.

      Name and surname: Zygmunt Laudański

      Birth date: 12 January 1919

      Declared nationality: ———

      Actual nationality: Polish

      Religion according to birth certificate: ———

      Actual religion: Roman Catholic

      Relatives employed in state institutions: brother Kazimierz Laudański, district council secretary in the district administration in Pisz

      Profession: bricklayer

      Education and languages spoken: five grades of elementary school

      Properties owned: none

      Habits and addictions: nonsmoker

      Known to: the whole town of...

    • “The Pogrom in Jedwabne: Critical Remarks about Jan T. Gross’s Neighbor”
      (pp. 304-343)
      Bogdan Musiał

      Recently, Poland’s young democracy has been experiencing the most animated public controversy in its short history. The controversy was triggered by the bookNeighborsby Jan T. Gross, which examines the mass murder of Polish Jews on 10 July 1941, in the small town of Jedwabne near Łomża, where—according to Gross—1,600 Jews were herded into a barn and burned alive.¹ The alleged perpetrators were the Polish inhabitants of Jedwabne, who were motivated simply by greed and traditional antisemitism. Gross’s depiction of this event has deeply shocked Polish public opinion, and the ensuing polemic has become politically charged and...

    • “Critical Remarks Indeed”
      (pp. 344-370)
      Jan Gross

      Bogdan musiałconcludes the opening section of his “Critical Remarks” aboutNeighborsby asserting that I based my research on a “scant selection of sources,” and that “[e]ven more disturbing than the glaring narrowness of such a source base is the unprofessional way in which it has been interpreted by Gross.” I’ll deal with Musiał’s observations about the professionalism of my ways in what follows. Here, I simply want to state for the record that I used all the extant sources about the Jedwabne massacre; that no other sources of any significance have been found since; and that those developed after...

    • “Jedwabne without Stereotypes: Agnieszka Sabor and Marek Zając Talk with Professor Tomasz Szarota,” Tygodnik Powszechny, 28 April 2002
      (pp. 371-385)

      Tygodnik Powszechny: Professor, in following the historical discussion of the last ten years, one could come away with the impression that the world looks at the history of the Second World War and even at the entire second half of the twentieth century almost exclusively from the perspective of the Holocaust, treating the destruction of the Jews as the main point of departure both politically and morally.

      Tomasz Szarota: For some historians the destruction of the Jews is an event whose scale eclipses everything else. And in reality, no nation can

      compare its suffering to that of the Jews, because...

    • “Jedwabne: How Was It Possible?”
      (pp. 386-400)
      Dariusz Stola

      Writing history is a collective undertaking, which moves forward thanks to the proposal of new narratives of the past and sources previously unknown, followed by criticism, the positing of alternative narratives, critiques of these narratives, and so on. Jan Gross should be credited with setting this process in motion around a case that is not only confounding and difficult but of great significance as well. Thus I appreciate his book Neighbors, yet my appreciation does not preclude my criticism. Many objections—some of them warranted—have been raised againstNeighbors, but none of them can disqualify the book. By the...

  11. PART VII: THE DISCUSSION OUTSIDE POLAND

    • [PART VII: INTRODUCTION]
      (pp. 403-407)

      The debate outside Poland did not fulfill the alarmist predictions of those who feared that it would lead to a widespread assumption in theWest that the Poles were as guilty as the Germans in the mass murder of the Jews during the Second World War.¹ On the contrary, there was considerable understanding in the Jewish world for the dilemmas created for Polish society by the revelation of the Jedwabne massacre. The American Jewish Committee organized a delegation of Polish Americans and American Jews to attend the dedication of the monument in Jedwabne in July 2001. In the introduction to the...

    • “Introduction to the Hebrew Edition of Neighbors”
      (pp. 408-413)
      David Engel

      In a certain sense, Jan Tomasz Gross can be called the leading figure among Poland’s “new historians.” Like his Israeli colleagues who bear the same title, Gross, too, confronts his people’s collective memory and subjects it to the test of academic inquiry. Like them, he strives to hear the voices of individuals and groups whose memories are routinely relegated to the margins of public consciousness, and to allow those voices to be heard by all. And like the writings of the new historians in Israel, his research also arouses sharp public disagreements, for the memories and historical episodes they uncover...

    • “Do the Poor Poles Really Look at the Ghetto? Introduction to Hebrew Edition of Neighbors”
      (pp. 414-420)
      Israel Gutman

      The pioneering article by Jan Błoński, a well-known literary scholar in Poland, “The Poor Poles Look at the Ghetto” (after Czesław Miłosz’s poem, “A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto”), published in the weekly journalTygodnik Powszechnyin 1987,¹ ended a lengthy period of silence in Poland on the sensitive topic of Polish-Jewish relations during World War II. The article and the tumultuous debate that it precipitated undermined the dogmatic and befuddled view of the Holocaust and its significance that had been widely held in Communist Poland. This view, which overlooked inconvenient facts and Holocaust research throughout the free world,...

    • “HEROES AND VICTIMS” (EXTRACTS) New York Review OF Books, 31 May 2001
      (pp. 421-429)
      István Deák

      In 1941 polish townspeople and farmers who had been persecuted by the Soviet occupation forces took their revenge on their innocent Jewish neighbors by torturing them and burning them alive. In 1943 Bulgarian right-wing politicians saved virtually all the Jews in their country and were later rewarded for their efforts by execution or imprisonment under the Communist government. Throughout the war German religious zealots refused to say “Heil Hitler,” preferring to be guillotined by the Nazis to serving in the war.

      Such are the major themes of the three books under review. They raise questions that defy clear answers. Why...

    • “Jedwabne and the Selling of the Holocaust,” Polish American Journal, May 2001
      (pp. 430-433)
      Richard Lukas

      Selling the holocaust is a gigantic enterprise that has less to do with preserving the memory of Jewish victims than exploiting the Holocaust for political, ideological and economic purposes. The consequence is that history has become a major casualty. In the absence of any quality control on the type of books that are published, Holocaust historiography is subject to a kind of Gresham’s Law where bad history drives out good history, making it difficult for even professional historians to determine where sensationalism, propaganda and martyrology ends and history begins.

      To have a book published by a major publisher on the...

    • “Poles and the Jews: How Deep the Guilt?” New York Times, 17 March 2001
      (pp. 434-439)
      Adam Michnik

      Do poles, along with Germans, bear guilt for the Holocaust? It is hard to imagine a more absurd claim. Not a single Polish family was spared by Hitler and Stalin. The two totalitarian dictatorships obliterated three million Poles and three million Polish citizens classified as Jews by the Nazis.

      Poland was the first country to oppose Hitler’s demands and the first to stand against his aggression. Poland never had a Quisling. No Polish regiment fought on behalf of the Third Reich. Betrayed by the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, Poles fought alongside the anti-Nazi forces from the first day until the last. And...

    • “Washington Diarist: Righteous” and an Exchange of Letters, New Republic, 9, 17, and 24 April 2001
      (pp. 440-450)
      Leon Wieseltier

      I have learned from a friend about the pitfall of moral exquisiteness. By moral exquisiteness, I mean the sort of moral reasoning that has become so refined, so attentive to every aspect of every case, so sensitive to every standpoint in every situation, that all moral friction is dispelled, and every moral question is settled, and the individual is left with a pleasing sensation of his own clarity, his own rectitude. A diligent conscience can also be complacent; it can be complacent about its diligence. Professors of moral philosophy sometimes offend me in this way, when they seem like virtuosos...

  12. CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 451-458)
  13. EXPLANATORY NOTES
    (pp. 459-470)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 471-489)