Talk:Jedwabne pogrom

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PROPOSED REVISION, October 20, 2011[edit]


1. CORRECT THE CHRONOLOGY, as already discussed on ‘Talk’ page (IPN started its investigation a year before Kwasniewski’s speech, not after it).

2. VAGUE STATEMENTS are replaced by SPECIFIC, CLEAR STATEMENTS. (“IPN confirmed most of Gross’ account:” What is ‘most’? This phrase invites mis-interpretation. Which parts of Gross’ account did IPN confirm ? Where did IPN disagree? This Revision gives a clear, specific description).

3. ORGANIZE REFERENCES, MOVE REFERENCES to sections of text where they are relevant.


A number of references in the existing article do not relate to the sentence, or the section, to which they are attached. This might be due to editors who don’t read Polish inserting Polish-language references, not knowing that the references don’t say what those editors think they say. The References are well chosen, but they need to be moved to places where they belong.

4. OBJECTIVE, CLEAR AND DETAILED PRESENTATION. This proposed Revision is considerably more detailed than before. The Jedwabne Pogrom, and discussion thereof, has been the most important topic in Polish-Jewish relations in the decade since 2000. It is clearly an important subject for both Jews and Poles. Information on it should be objective and clear. It deserves to be described in adequate detail.

PROPOSED REVISION, 20 October 2011, follows:

NOTE: Please do not edit this text, but add your suggestions for changes at the end - see note at the end of the proposed Revision
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Prospero10 (talkcontribs) 20:09, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Neighbors, 2000–2001

Public awareness of the Jedwabne massacre was increased by two documentary films by Polish director Agnieszka Arnold: Gdzie mój starszy syn, Kain? (Where is my older son, Cain?) in 1999, and Sąsiedzi (Neighbors)' in 2001.

The Jedwabne pogrom became a topic of intense discussions in Poland in May 2000 when the Polish-American historian Jan Gross published Sąsiedzi (Neighbors), a Polish-language account of the Jedwabne pogrom, taking the title from Agnieszka Arnold’s film.(REF 38).[1] Because of the public demand, the publisher made the Polish edition of the book accessible free of charge on the Internet.[2] The next year, the book was published in an American edition, titled Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland., German, French and Hebrew translations were also published.

In ‘Neighbors’ Gross gave a gripping account, containing horrifying scenes of Jews being assaulted, rounded up and killed, describing how on "one day, in July 1941, half of the population of a small East European town murdered the other half - some 1,600 men, women and children." Gross concluded that the Jews in Jedwabne had been rounded up and killed not by the Germans as had previously been assumed, but by a mob of their own Polish neighbors.

Gross recognized that German forces were in Jedwabne during the massacre: 'There was an outpost of German gendarmerie in Jedwabne, staffed by eleven men. We can also infer from various sources that a group of Gestapo men arrived in town by taxi either on that day or the previous one." And Gross recognized that German occupying forces had control of the town:

'At the time, the undisputed bosses over life and death in Jedwabne were the Germans. No sustained organized activity could take place there without their consent. They were the only ones who could decide the fate of the Jews. It was within their power also to stop the murderous pogrom at any time....'

Nevertheless, Gross concluded that the massacre was carried out entirely by Poles from Jedwabne and the surrounding area. As for the German role, he wrote, “the only direct German involvement was........taking pictures”

Gross emphasized that Polish perpetrators were not coerced by the Germans: “the ‘’Einsatzgruppen,’’ German police detachments and various functionaries who imjplemented the “final solution” did not compel the local population to participate directly in the murder of Jews.......the so-called local population involved in killings of Jews did so of their own free will.” (p.133) On the broader topic of Polish-Jewish relations during the Second World War, Gross wrote that “Poles hurt the Jews in numerous interactions throughout the war.”

Gross’ principal sources were first, an account which Szmul Wasersztajn, a Jewish survivor from Radziłów near Jedwabne, had filed in 1945 with the Jewish Historical Institute (żydowski instytut historyczny, ZIH) in Poland; and secondly, the investigation depositions and trial records of the 1949-1950 trials. But Wasersztajn was not an eyewitness of many of the events he described, since he had spent the day of the pogrom in a hiding-place near Jedwabne (REF, page --- in “The Neighbors Respond”, Musial ). And in the 1949-1950 trials a number of witnesses gave testimony during the investigation which they recanted at the trial, leaving conflicting testimonies.

‘Neighbors’ sparked a controversy in Poland. Some readers refused to accept it as a factual account of the Jedwabne pogrom.(REF, Pogonowski) While Polish historians praised Gross for drawing attention to a topic which had received insufficient attention for a half-century, several historians criticized ‘Neighbors’ on the grounds that it included accounts which were uncorroborated, and that where conflicting testimonies existed, Gross had chosen that account which presented the Poles in the worst possible light.(3 REFS, Musial, Strzembosz, Chodakiewicz).

‘Neighbors’ was enormously successful in provoking an intensive two-year debate in Poland on Polish-Jewish relations. In response to ‘Neighbors,’ the Polish Parliament ordered an investigation of the Jedwabne pogrom, the IPN investigation which is described below. From May 2000 onwards, the Jedwabne pogrom became a frequent topic of discussion in Polish media. A list compiled by the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita listed over 130 articles in Polish on the Jedwabne pogrom. (REF). The Catholic periodical ‘Wiez’ published a collection of 34 articles on Jedwabne pogrom, ‘Thou shalt not kill: Poles on Jedwabne’ available in English.(REF) In 2003 an extensive collection of articles from the Polish debate, in English translation, was compiled by Joanna Michlic and Professor Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University and published under the title ‘The Neighbors Respond.’ (REF) (NOTE: there is a proposal to create a new Section, ‘Debate on the Jedwabne Pogrom.’ If such a Section is created, much of the preceding paragraph could be moved there)

(COMMENT: on the second paragraph ‘’Neighbors’ sparked controversy.: this is not intended to plunge the Wikipedia into the controversy, but to point out that THERE WAS, AND AMONG MANY PEOPLE STILL IS, A DISPUTE ABOUT THE HISTORICAL FACTS)
— User:Prospero10 18:41, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Among credible debaters, only in minor details. As far as ultra-nationalist deniers go, their controversy is unimportant. HammerFilmFan (talk) 11:57, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

IPN investigation 2000–2003

In July 2000, prompted by the publication of ‘Neighbors,’ the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, IPN), then a recently created independent successor to the Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, commenced an investigation of the Jedwabne pogrom, as its first project.[3] A major task assigned to IPN was the promotion of historical research on topics on which discussion was not permitted during the 1945-1989 period of Communist rule, and anti-Semitic pogroms were such a topic.

IPN interviewed 98 witnesses, mainly from Poland but also from Israel and the United States. One third of IPN’s witnesses had been eyewitnesses of some part of the 1941 pogrom.(REFS) Since the event had occurred 59 years earlier when most of the witnesses still living were children, their recollections varied. IPN searched for and examined documents in Polish archives in Warsaw, Białystok and Łomźa, in German archives, and at Yad Vashem in Israel.

In May-June 2001 IPN conducted a partial exhumation at the site of the barn where the largest group of Jewish victims perished. The scope of the exhumation was strictly limited by religious objections against disturbing the remains of the dead embodied in Jewish religious doctrine. IPN’s forensic examiner, based on a similar exhumation at Katyn where Stalin’s aides had murdered 20,000 Polish prisoners-of-war in 1942, estimated that the burial site in Jedwabne contained between 300 and 400 victims.

Leon Kieres, the President of IPN, also met in New York with Rabbi Joseph Baker (formerly Józef Piekarz) who had emigrated in 1938 from Jedwabne to the United States.

In January 2001, during a visit to New York, IPN President Leon Kieres made public that IPN had accumulated enough evidence to confirm Gross’ basic thesis that Poles were indeed perpetrators in the Jedwabne massacre. The IPN evidence was presented in reports by IPN to the Polish Parliament (REF) and in other public statements. While the IPN investigation continued for two more years, as of early 2001 the Polish involvement in the Jedwabne massacre was public knowledge in Poland.

Kwaśniewski's speech 2001, and Polish public opinion

In July 2001, on the 60th anniversary of the pogrom, Polish president Aleksander Kwaśniewski attended a ceremony at Jedwabne where he made a speech stating the murderers were Poles whose crime was both against the Jewish nation and against Poland. He said the murderers had been incited by German occupiers, but they alone carried the burden of guilt for their crimes. While ruling out the notion of collective responsibility, he also sought forgiveness "In the name of those who believe that one cannot be proud of the glory of Polish history without feeling, at the same time, pain and shame for the evil done by Poles to others."[4] The ceremony was attended by Catholic and Jewish religious leaders and survivors of the pogrom. Most of the locals of Jedwabne boycotted the ceremony.[5][6]

Awareness of the Jedwabne massacre among the Polish public was very high. A March 2001 poll conducted by the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita found that one-half of Poles were aware of the Jedwabne massacre; among Poles with a higher education the proportion rose to 81 percent. 40 percent of respondents supported Kwaśniewski's decision to apologize for the crime. A majority condemned the actions of the Poles involved in the Jedwabne massacre.[7]

(NOTE: if a new section “Debate on the Jedwabne Pogrom” is created, the paragraph immediately above could be moved there).


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference ydowskiego was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference The_Neighbors_Respond:_The_Controversy_over_the_Jedwabne_Massacre_in_Poland was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference guardian3 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference radzilow was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference guardian was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference dialog was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. '^ Wiemy i potępiamy, 'We know, and we condemn'

— User:Prospero10 18:41, 21 October 2011 (UTC)