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The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland
Jan T. Gross

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [HTML] or [PDF format] | Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]


"An important contribution to the literature of human bestiality unleashed by war. Neighbors tells a story that has long been known in Poland but one that has shocked the rest of the world and even, it seems, the Poles themselves . . . [A] fine, careful book about the awful massacre in Jebwabne . . . [Gross] is cautious and fair to the facts."--Steven Erlanger, New York Times Book Review

"Nothing can make up for the horror. But if the screams of those burning alive at Jedwabne are heard at last, they may not have been completely in vain."--George Steiner, The Observer

"Horrifying and thoughtful."--Times Literary Supplement

"[This] small book detailing the massacre of the Jews of Jedwabne raises large questions about the roles Poles and Germans played in some of the boodiest actions against Jews during World War II. . . . Neighbors tells a compelling story admirably. It should be widely read and discussed, for the complex, unsettling issues it raises still need to be fully explored."--Alvin H. Rosenfeld, The New Leader

"Sixty years ago, on July 10, 1941, half the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half. Why did the murderers do it? Prof. Jan Gross of New York University may not fully realize he has found the answer. It is in his astonishing little book. The title, Neighbors, is an ice dagger to the heart, but only after the book has been read."--George F. Will, Newsweek

"[Gross] brings much art to the enterprise. . . . Neighbors. . . is possessed of the key virtues: moral energy, commitment to accuracy, and the maintenance of a continuing open dialogue between historian, sources, and reader."--Inga Clendinnen, London Review of Books

"[Gross] brings much art to the enterprise.Neighbors is possessed of the key virtues: moral energy, commitment to accuracy, and the maintenance of a continuing open dialogue between historian, sources, and reader."--Inga Clendinnen, London Review of Books


"Neighbors is a truly pathbreaking book, the work of a master historian. Jan Gross has a shattering tale to tell, and he tells it with consummate skill and control. The impact of his account of the massacre of the Jews of Jedwabne by their Polish neighbors is all the greater for the calm, understated narration and Gross's careful reconstruction of the terrifying circumstances in which the killing was undertaken. But this little book is much, much more than just another horror story from the Holocaust. In his imaginative reflections upon the tragedy of Jedwabne, Gross has subtly recast the history of wartime Poland and proposed an original interpretation of the origins of the postwar Communist regime. This book has already had dramatic repercussions in Poland, where it has single-handedly prised open a closed and painful chapter in that nation's recent past. But Neighbors is not only about Poland. It is a moving and provocative rumination upon the most important ethical issue of our age. No one who has studied or lived through the twentieth century can afford to ignore it."--Tony Judt, Director, Remarque Institute

"This tiny book reveals a shocking story buried for sixty years, and it has set of a round of soul searching in Poland. But the questions it raises are of universal significance: How do 'ordinary men' turn suddenly into 'willing executioners?' What, if anything, can be learned from history about 'national character?' Where do we draw the line between legitimately assigning present responsibility for wrongs perpetrated by previous generations and unfairly visiting the sins of the fathers on the children? The author has no facile answers to these problems, but his story asks us to think about them in new ways."--David Engel, author of The Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Jews

"This is unquestionably one of the most important books I have read in the last decade both on the general question of the mass murder of the Jews during World War II and on the more specific problem of the reaction of Polish society to that genocide. All of the issues it raises are handled with consummate mastery. I finished this short book both appalled at the events it describes and filled with admiration for the wise and all-encompassing skill with which the painful, difficult, and complex subject has been handled."--Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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