Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Shevat 5768 - January 24, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Poland Threatening to Try Jewish-American Holocaust Historian

By Arnon Yaffeh, Paris

As soon as a few copies of Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz were sold, the General Prosecutor of Krakow announced he was opening a criminal investigation against the author, Jewish-American historian Jan Thomas Gross. Born in Poland, Gross has been accused of "slandering the Polish state." After sparking a fiery debate several years ago with the publication of a study of the massacre of Jews by Poles in the town of Jedwabne in 1941, the authorities didn't wait long to file charges against him. In the meantime Poland has passed a special law stipulating, "Those who accuse the Polish nation of cooperating with Nazi and Stalinist crimes taint its reputation."

This time Gross is accusing the secretary of the Polish Communist Party, which ruled in Poland after the war, of ethnic cleansing to prevent Jews from returning to their homes and reclaiming their looted property. According to the book, the Polish communist government encouraged the pogrom that took place in the city of Kielce in 1946, where 39 Jews were slaughtered and 80 injured. Following the incident 90,000 Jews fled Poland.

The right also launched a defense of the communist government and sees the book as an insult to Poland. The book explores the motives behind the pogrom and arrives at the conclusion that it was carried out to drive the Jews out of Poland. After the war, 200 Jews returned to the city of Kielce and when a Polish boy vanished, a rumor started circulating that the Jews had kidnapped him to use his blood and had imprisoned other children in the building where they were living. A large mob descended on the building, broke in and started throwing Jews out the windows and viciously murdering them in the street. The missing child came back home two days later.

According to Gross, the authorities condemned the massacre, but an investigative committee set up by the Communist Party justified the mob's anger toward the Jews, who were described as "parasites," and recommended to government officials that they be encouraged to leave Poland.

According to a French reporter in Warsaw, the fury the new book has raised and debates in the media and the street are liable to strengthen antisemitic elements in Poland. Right-wing extremist control by the Kaczynski brothers was replaced by a moderate left-wing government headed by Donald Tusk, but the antisemitism has remained. The Poles refuse to accept the blame for crimes against the Jews perpetrated on their soil or to discuss the restitution of Jewish property.


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