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Jan T. Gross

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Jan Tomasz Gross (born 1947) is a Polish-American sociologist and historian. He is the Norman B. Tomlinson Professor of War and Society, and Professor of History at Princeton University.[1]


Gross was born in Warsaw to Hanna Szumańska, who was a member of the Polish resistance (Armia Krajowa) in World War II,[2] and Zygmunt Gross, who was a Polish Socialist Party member before the war broke out. His father was Jewish and his mother was Christian.[3] His mother, risking her own life, helped his father survive the German Nazi occupation of Poland. They married after the war. Gross studied physics at the University of Warsaw.[4]

He was among the young dissidents called Komandosi, and consequently among the university students involved in the protest movement known as the "March Events" – the Polish student and intellectual protests of 1968. Gross was expelled from the university, arrested and jailed for five months. As a consequence, and because the Polish government permitted the emigration of "people of Jewish origin" at that time, he emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1969.[1] In 1975 he earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University; and has taught at Yale, New York University, and in Paris. He acquired U.S. citizenship and is currently employed as Norman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professor of War and Society (Norman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professorship in War and Society was established by Norman B. Tomlinson '48 in memory of his father, Norman B. Tomlinson '16 for a professorship in the History Department, Princeton University. Gross has held it since 2003;)[5] he is also Professor of History, both positions emeritus.[6]

Gross and his wife Irena Grudzińska-Gross were awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by President Aleksander Kwaśniewski on 6 September 1996,[7][8] for "outstanding achievement in scholarship". As Professor at the Department of Politics, New York University, Gross was a beneficiary of the Fulbright Program, for research on "Social and Political History of the Polish Jewry 1944-49" at the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw, Poland (January 2001- April 2001).[9] In 1982 Jan T. Gross was awarded a fellowship in the field of sociology by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial.[10] Also in 1982, as an assistant professor of sociology at Yale University, he was among thirty three Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship competition entrants awarded, his project titled "Soviet Rule in Poland, 1939-1941."[11]


Photograph, initially published as Gorączka złota w Treblince ("Gold Rush in Treblinka"), that is said to have inspired Gross to write his book Golden Harvest (2011).[a]

Gross came to public attention on the occasion of his several works. He was at the center of a controversy regarding the publication of his 2001 book about the Jedwabne massacre, titled Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, which examined the wartime killing of Polish Jews in Jedwabne village in German-occupied Poland. In his book Gross wrote that the massacre was perpetrated by Poles and not by the German occupiers. The claims were the subject of vigorous debate in Poland and abroad. Norman Finkelstein accused Gross of exploiting the Holocaust.[13] Norman Davies describes Neighbors as "deeply unfair to Poles".[14] A subsequent investigation conducted by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance did not support Gross' thesis on issues such as the number of people murdered, and the extent of Nazi German involvement in the massacre.[15]

Gross' book, Fear - Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz, which deals with antisemitism and violence against Jews in post-war Poland was published in the United States in 2006 and had received praise in the United States; its Polish version, published in 2008, got mixed media reception restarting a nationwide debate about antisemitism in Poland during and after World War II.[16] The book has been welcomed by some Polish historians and criticized by others who do not deny the facts Jan Gross presented in his book, but dispute his interpretation.[17][18] Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising said in an interview with the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, "Postwar violence against Jews in Poland was mostly not about anti-Semitism, murdering Jews was pure banditry."[19]

Gross' Neighbors and Fear were subjected to scholarly criticism by e.g. historian Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, whose interpretations directly challenged Gross.[20][21]

Gross' latest book, Złote żniwa (pl) (Golden Harvest), co-written with his wife Irena Grudzińska-Gross and published in March 2011, about Poles enriching themselves at the expense of Jews murdered in the Holocaust,[22] has attracted criticism that it only shows one side of a complex issue.[23]

The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, commented: "Gross writes in a way to provoke, not to educate, and Poles don't react well to it. Because of the style, too many people reject what he has to say."[22]

The head of Znak, the book's publisher, stated: "It does not purport to provide a comprehensive overview of Polish rural communities' actions... The authors focus on the most horrid events, on robberies and killings. Those who say the book is anti-Polish make no sense."[23]

Gross's critics have argued that Golden Harvest is based on a one-sided interpretation of its sources, the vast majority of them secondary ones. Further, they have taken issue with what they consider a grossly unfair portrayal of marginal wartime social pathologies as an all-national Polish norm. They also see his interpretation of Polish history as "neo-Stalinist" due to its resemblance to postwar Stalinist propaganda alleging mass Polish collaboration and collusion with Nazi Germany, a claim used to justify the Soviet occupation of Poland.[24]

Neighbors and its surrounding controversy served as inspiration for Władysław Pasikowski's 2012 film Aftermath (Pokłosie), which he wrote and directed.[25] Pasikowski said, "The film isn't an adaptation of the book, which is documented and factual, but the film did grow out of it, since it was the source of my knowledge and shame."[26]


Later, in an essay published in 2015 in the German Die Welt, Gross said that during World War 2 "Poles killed more Jews than Germans".[27] Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski described it as "historically untrue, harmful and insulting to Poland". He added that Poland's Ambassador to Germany addressed a letter of protest to the editors of Die Welt. President of the Warsaw-based Stefan Batory Foundation, Aleksander Smolar, called the article "primitive, disgusting and irresponsible".[28]

On 15 October 2015, Polish Prosecution opened a libel probe against Gross. The office was acting under a paragraph of the criminal code that "provides that any person who publicly insults the Polish nation is punishable by up to three years in prison".[29]

On January 14, 2016 Polish President Andrzej Duda requested a reevaluation of Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland issued to Gross due to "an attempt to destroy Poland's good name". [30][31] This decision was met with local[citation needed] and international protests. For example, Timothy Snyder, a well-know historian of European genocides, stated that if Gross loses his order, he will renounce his own as well.[32]


  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (1979). Polish Society Under German Occupation - Generalgouvernement, 1939-1944. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 
  • Irena Grudzińska-Gross, Jan Tomasz Gross: War through children’s eyes : the Soviet occupation of Poland and the deportations, 1939-1941,
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz; Irena Grudzińska-Gross (1984). W czterdziestym nas matko na Sybir zesłali ... London: Aneks. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (1998). Upiorna dekada, 1939-1948. Trzy eseje o stereotypach na temat Żydów, Polaków, Niemców i komunistów. Kraków: Universitas. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (1999). Studium zniewolenia. Kraków: Universitas. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (2000). Istvan Deak and Tony Judt, ed. The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (2001). Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-14-200240-2. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (2003). Revolution from Abroad. The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09603-1. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (2003). Wokół Sąsiadów. Polemiki i wyjaśnienia (in Polish). Sejny: Pogranicze. ISBN 83-86872-48-9. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz (2006). Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz. Random House. ISBN 0-375-50924-0. 
  • Gross, Jan Tomasz; Irena Grudzińska-Gross (2012). Golden Harvest. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-973167-1. 
  • "Lato 1941 w Jedwabnem. Przyczynek do badan nad udzialem spolecznosci lokalnych w eksterminacji narodu zydowskiego w latach II wojny swiatowej," in Non-provincial Europe, Krzysztof Jasiewicz ed., Warszawa - London: Rytm, ISP PAN, 1999, pp. 1097–1103

See also



  1. ^ The photo was first published in Gazeta in 2008 by M. Kowalski and P. Głuchowski as Gorączka złota w Treblince ("Gold Rush in Treblinka").[12] Tadeusz Kiryluk, the former director of the Treblinka Museum, said the image depicted "diggers" caught by the militia looking for gold buried with the remains of Jewish victims murdered by the Nazi Germans in the Treblinka extermination camp. Investigative journalists from Rzeczpospolita debunked that account and found a member of the landscape crew shown in the image.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Norman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professor of War and Society. Professor of History. On Leave 2015-16". Princeton University History Department. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Piotr Zychowicz, Oko w oko z tłuszczą 'Eye to eye with mob', Rzeczpospolita, 26 January 2008 (in Polish)
  3. ^ Samuel Crowell, The Debate about Neighbors, May/June 2001,; ISSN 0195-6752.
  4. ^ Andrzej Kaczyński (6 February 2011). "Jan Tomasz Gross". – via Google translate. 
  5. ^ Norman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professorship in War and Society (2002) -Established by Norman B. Tomlinson '48 in memory of his father, Norman B. Tomlinson '16 for a professorship in the Department of History. 2003 - 2017 J. T. Gross at Accessed 3 February 2018
  6. ^ Jan Tomasz Gross, Department of History at Accessed 3 February 2018
  7. ^ Postanowienie Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 6 września 1996 r. o nadaniu orderów i odznaczeń. Order of the President of the Republic of Poland of September 6, 1996 on the awarding of orders and decorations. at Accessed 3 February 2018
  8. ^ "Bucerius Institute for Research of Contemporary German History and Society, University of Haifa, Israel". 12 March 2001. Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  9. ^ FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR PROGRAM 2000 2001 U.S. Scholar Directory at Accessed 3 February 2018
  10. ^ Jan T. Gross Fellow: Awarded 1982 Field of Study: Sociology (John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation) at Accessed 3 February 2018
  11. ^[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ a b Zespół (22 January 2011), "Kolejne wątpliwości co do rzetelności Grossa. Czy z ludzi porządkujących groby ofiar zrobił haniebnych 'kopaczy'?" [More doubts about Gross's reliability. Did he turn landscape crew ('re-organising the site in the 1940's or 50's') into 'grave robbers'?] Polityka, 2011, online. Research of Paweł Majewski i Michał Reszka of Rzeczpospolita,; accessed 31 October 2015.
  13. ^ Norman G. Finkelstein (20 June 2001). "Goldhagen for Beginners: A Comment on Jan T. Gross's Neighbors" [an abridged version of appeared in the Polish periodical, Rzeczpospolita]. Archived from the original on March 23, 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2015 – via 
  14. ^ Davies: "Strach" to nie analiza, lecz publicystyka Archived 2008-01-28 at the Wayback Machine., Gazeta Wyborcza, 21 January 2008. (in Polish)
  15. ^ Postanowienie o umorzeniu śledztwa Archived 2012-11-14 at the Wayback Machine.,, 30 June 2003. (in Polish)
  16. ^ Craig Whitlock, A Scholar's Legal Peril in Poland, Washington Post Foreign Service, 18 January 2008, p. A14.
  17. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz: "People's past has to be reviewed critically on individual basis" Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine., Rzeczpospolita, 11 January 2008. (in English)
  18. ^ Piotr Gontarczyk, Far From Truth Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine., Rzeczpospolita, 12 January 2008. (in English)
  19. ^ Ryan Lucas (24 January 2008). "Book on Polish anti-Semitism sparks fury". USA Today. 
  20. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, "The Massacre in Jedwabne: July 10, 1941: Before, During, and After" (Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 2005); ISBN 0-88033-554-8
  21. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, "After the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World War II" (Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 2003); ISBN 0-88033-511-4
  22. ^ a b Jeevan Vasagar; Julian Borger (7 Apr 2011). "A Jewish renaissance in Poland". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  23. ^ a b Wojciech Zurawski (8 February 2011). "Book on Polish Jews' WWII ordeal touches raw nerve". Reuters. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Wojciech Jerzy Muszynski, and Pawel Styrna, eds., Golden Harvest or Hearts of Gold? Studies on the Fate of Wartime Poles and Jews (Washington, DC: Leopolis Press, 2012); ISBN 0-9824888-1-5
  25. ^ "In the Polish Aftermath". Tablet Magazine. 17 April 2013. 
  26. ^ "The Past Can Hold a Horrible Power". The New York Times. 27 October 2013. 
  27. ^ Jan T. Gross: Flüchtlingskrise: Die Osteuropäer haben kein Schamgefühl. Die Welt, 13 September 2015. (in German)
  28. ^ Polskie Radio (14 September 2015). "Polish Foreign Min. rebukes Gross over Die Welt refugee article". 
  29. ^ "Warsaw acts over claim 'Poles killed more Jews than Germans", AFP, 15 October 2015; retrieved 31 October 2015.
  30. ^ "Czy prezydent chce odebrać prof. Janowi T. Grossowi Order Zasługi RP?" ('Does the president want to take from Professor Jan Gross the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland?')
  31. ^ "Do the words ‘Polish death camps’ defame Poland? And if so, who’s to blame?", The Times of Israel, February 26, 2016
  32. ^ "Naukowcy z Francji bronią Jana Tomasza Grossa" (Researchers from France defend Jan Tomasz Gross)

Further reading

External links