The Convent at Auschwitz

Wladyslaw T. Bartoszewski, Author, Wadysaw Bartoszewski, Author George Braziller $17.95 (169p) ISBN 978-0-8076-1267-5
The opening of a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz in 1984 triggered worldwide protests; the controversy culminated in an attempt by U.S. Jews to enter the building by force in 1989 and the pope's subsequent agreement to relocate the convent and to erect a proposed educational/prayer center at a different site. Bartoszewski's balanced, thoughtful account sets the dispute in the historical context of Catholic-Jewish and Polish-Jewish relations. Secretary of Oxford University's Institute for Polish/Jewish Studies, he shows that a clash between two perceptions of the symbol lays at the core of the conflict. To Jews, Auschwitz is a universal symbol of the Holocaust, while Poles point out that the Nazi concentration camp's original function was to exterminate the Polish resistance. Bartoszewski is critical of Jews' ``tendency to downplay or ignore the fate of the Polish Gentiles'' in WW II, yet he blames the outbreak of the controversy on Poles' ``almost total lack of understanding of Jewish matters.'' (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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