I knew this is going to be a controversial blog, even though there should not be any controversy about it. It is based on facts, but unfortunately there are quite a few people who don’t want to accept the facts.
Today, July 10, marks the 81st anniversary of the Jedwabne pogrom, a horrific event in the Holocaust when Polish residents of the town of Jedwabne, in cooperation with German police, massacred at least 340 Jews living there.
Polish-American scholar Jan Gross published a controversial account of the pogrom entitled Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish community in Jedwabne, Poland, which revealed that while Germans allowed the pogrom to occur, it was the Polish townspeople who murdered their Jewish neighbors.
Jedwabne was one of the territories occupied by the Soviet Union following the respective Nazi German and Soviet invasions of Poland at the start of the war, and the Russians even put up a statue of USSR founder Vladimir Lenin in the town center. This, according to some historians, raised some tensions as at the start, the Jews welcomed the Soviets over the prospect of Nazi Germany.
On 10 July 1941 Polish men from nearby villages began arriving in Jedwabne with the intention of participating in the premeditated murder of the Jewish inhabitants of the town. The town’s Jews were forced out of their homes and taken to the market square, where they were ordered to weed the area by pulling up grass from between the cobblestones. While doing this, they were beaten and made to dance or perform exercises by residents from Jedwabne and nearby.
40–50 Jewish men were forced to demolish a statue of Lenin in a nearby square and carry part of the statue on a wooden stretcher to the market square then to a nearby barn, they were also forced to sing communist songs. The local rabbi, Awigdor Białostocki, and the kosher butcher, Mendel Nornberg, led the procession. According to an eyewitness, Szmuel Wasersztajn, the group was taken to the barn, where they were made to dig a pit and throw the statue in. They were then killed and buried in the same pit.
Most of Jedwabne’s remaining Jews, around 300 men, women, children and infants, were then locked inside the barn, which was set on fire, probably using kerosene from former Soviet supplies. This group was buried in the barn near the first group. The 2001 exhumation found a mass grave within the barn’s foundations and another close to the foundations.
The IPN- Institute of National Remembrance issued a report On 9 July 2002 on the findings of its two-year investigation.
The IPN report stated: “From the morning hours the routing of the Jewish populace from their homes and assembly in the town square went on. They were ordered to pull out the grass protruding from between the stones with which the square was paved”
The IPN also concluded that, undoubtedly, at the very least, the Polish locals had played a crucial and essential role in carrying out the pogrom.
The IPN found that the “Polish population” had played a “decisive role in the execution of the criminal plan”. The IPN wrote: “On the basis of the evidence gathered in the investigation, it is not possible to determine the reasons for the passive behavior of the majority of the town’s population in the face of the crime. In particular, it cannot be determined whether this passivity resulted from acceptance of the crime or from intimidation caused by the brutality of the perpetrators’ acts.”
The Jedwabne pogrom wasn’t the only pogrom, but it is the most infamous one. In August 1945 , a few months after the war, there was also a pogrom in Krakow.
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