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

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

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

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

Synopsis

"Jan Gross's revelations about the Jedwabne massacre have shaken Polish public opinion such as no other issue since the fall of communism. Now English-speaking readers will be able to sample the richness and complexity of that discussion."--Brian Porter, University of Michigan

"There was a wide range of responses to Jan Gross's Neighbors around the world, for the good reason that the book frankly astonished us when we learned what happened in a tiny Polish village during the Holocaust. Polish citizens murdered their innocent Jewish neighbors in the cold light of day. Reactions to the book in Poland have varied, but in addition to positive accolades, many journalists, clergy, and 'experts' disputed the book's findings and attacked its author. Until this incredibly important volume, most non-Polish speakers have not been able to follow the interesting debates that ensued. This book provides a wealth of information and translates many key Polish reviews and reactions to Neighbors. The editors' scholarship is first-class from beginning to end. There simply is no comparable book."--Robert Gellately, Earl R. Beck Professor of History, Florida State University

Excerpt

The debate provoked by the publication of Jan Gross’s book Sąsiedzi: Historia zagłady żydowskiego miasteczka (Sejny, 2000) and its English translation Neighbors: the Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton, 2001) has been the most prolonged and far-reaching of any discussion of the Jewish issue in Poland since the Second World War. It is also probably the most profound examination of any social issue since the end of the Communist regime in 1989 and the establishment of a pluralistic and democratic political system. the number of articles on the topic runs into the hundreds, not to mention the large number of Web sites on which the issues it raises have been aired. in this volume it has been our goal to enable a non-Polish reader to understand the issues in the debate and the positions adopted by the various participants. Poland’s complex and painful past, with its long struggle to regain its lost independence and the traumas the country experienced in the twentieth century, has often made it seem to outsiders that Polish culture is hermetic and difficult to grasp. We do not believe this to be the case. the issues raised by the controversy over the Jedwabne massacre are echoed in many other European countries and have a wide significance in a world in which large numbers of national groups and states are struggling to come to terms with the difficult aspects of their past.

We have tried to orient the reader by providing an introduction and explanatory notes, both in individual articles and at the end of the volume. We have divided the book into seven parts. the first deals with the initial reporting of the issue, both before and after the publication of Neighbors. the second examines the response of the Polish intelligentsia, which still sees itself as charged with the heavy responsibility of articulating the national stance in the face of disturbing and complex issues. the third investigates the way the official organs of Polish society have reacted to the crisis, and the fourth looks at the divisions that have arisen over the issue in the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. the fifth outlines the way the inhabitants of the town of Jedwabne itself have attempted to deal with their painful past. the largest section, the sixth, deals with the historical debate. This is because we firmly believe that the way forward must lie above all in a thorough and careful analysis of the past, which will go beyond the necessary moral reckonings and will lead to a degree of agreement and understanding about what occurred. Even if we cannot change the past, we can at . . .

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