THE NEIGHBORS RESPOND: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland

Antony Polonsky, Editor, Joanna B. Michlic, Editor . Princeton Univ. $55 (504p) ISBN 978-0-691-11643-3 ISBN 978-0-691-11306-7

Jan Gross's 2001 history Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (a National Book Award and an NBCC Award finalist) documented that the Jewish population of a small Polish town was barbarically slaughtered not by German troops but by their fellow-townspeople. Neighbors unleashed a series of popular and academic controversies not only because of his detailed narrative of the murders but because of the explicit charge that rife anti-Semitism allowed Poles to be complicit with the Holocaust. This comprehensive, compelling and thoughtful collection of articles, interviews, opinion pieces and transcripts of public discussions from Poland and elsewhere brings these controversies to a boil. Holocaust scholars Polonsky and Michlic have done a splendid job of collecting and arranging this material to highlight the inherent intellectual, moral and historical tensions. The editors lend context and clarity to a complex subject by breaking the controversy into seven sections—including the primary source material, the debate with the Polish Catholic church and responses from Jedwabne residents. Most of the disagreement here centers on three questions: Polish "collective responsibility" for the murders; the role of entrenched popular anti-Semitism in Polish culture; and what, if any, role Polish Jews' sympathy for the Soviet Union played in these events. Debating essays between Leon Wieseltier and Adam Michnik are gripping, and others are frequently shocking—as when Polish primate Józef Cardinal Glemp states, in a 2001 interview, that the Jews "knew how to take [economic] advantage of the Poles." This is a major addition to Holocaust studies for both popular and academic readers. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Open Ebook - 504 pages - 978-1-4008-2581-3
Paperback - 489 pages - 978-0-691-11306-7
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!