Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Polandby Jan T. Gross, Jant T. Gross
Pub. Date: 03/26/2001
Publisher: Princeton University Press
"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/i>
"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
- Princeton University Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.80(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.98(d)
Table of Contents
|Outline of the Story||14|
|Before the War||33|
|Soviet Occupation, 1939-1941||41|
|The Outbreak of the Russo-German War and the Pogrom in|
|Who Murdered the Jews of Jedwabne?||79|
|What Do People Remember?||126|
|New Approach to Sources||138|
|Is It Possible to Be Simultaneously a Victim and a Victimizer?||143|
|Social Support for Stalinism||164|
|For a New Historiography||168|
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In the novel Neighbors, Jan Gross brings together all of the sources and written documents regarding the murder of Jews in Jedwabne, Poland. The story is a unique one because it displays how brutal people can be to their own neighbors; people they have known for generations. The entire Jewish Community in Jedwabne was destroyed by its Polish neighbors and, only years later, the people responsible were put on trial. The trial itself, though, did no justice to the suffering and humiliation Jews went through. Gross did an amazing job doing research for his novel. It feels like he dug up every paper and interviewed every witness regarding the mass murder. It truly feels like you get the whole inside look and that everything you read is fact. The only thing I did not like about the novel was how the information was presented. I got lost several times in the large amount of foreign names and leaps from topic to topic. The plot could have been presented in a more interesting and easy to read manner but I could see the need for straightforward facts. A major theme that stuck out to me throughout the novel was the lack of human compassion. Out of the 1,600 Jews in Jedwabne, only 7 survived due to a Polish woman named Wyrzykowska. Only one woman came to her senses and had compassion on the Jews out of all of the Polish people in the town. It is amazing to see how fast a human’s beliefs and ethics can be changed with propaganda. I would suggest this book to anyone looking to broaden his/her knowledge or view of World War II. The book is exhaustingly sad but it is an emotion worth risking. The book really gave me a new insight and appreciation for my blissful life. If you liked this book, I would suggest Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt.
Few books that I have read recently have succeeded to the same extent in evoking the feeling, the fear, the terror, the horror, the sheer egregious unreality of the Holocaust. . . as this book does.
My attention was drawn to this book by a review in Newsweek. Jan Gross is a man of courage, a true unbiased historian who seeks out the truth regardless of its consequences. He is a refreshing contrast to the contemporary 'historians' who study the first half of the twentieth century, and are unable to separate their biases from their work. Gross supports his findings with documented interviews and depositions of witnesses and the accused, which resulted from a trial held by the polish authorities in 1949, and was conveniently forgotten for fifty years. Unfortunately, the author has failed to provide any German witnesses or records that might be available in German archives of the massacre. However, he leaves no doubt that the genocide at Jedwabne was perpetrated with brutal fervor by the victim's non-jewish neighbors and other Poles from neighboring towns. Yet, according to Newsweek, the memorial marker at Jedwabne still blames the Germans for this atrocity, just like the memorial at Katyn. Up until this landmark book was published it has been all too easy for the Poles to blame their misdeeds during the war on the Germans. If nothing else, this book will force the Poles to recognize the reality of their own virulent anti-semitism that has pervaded their history for centuries.
Intrigued by 'Neighbors...,' I researched the topic and became shocked by arguments posted by several Polish historians who point to well-documented information, so different from that provided by Gross. The fact that Gross does not take it into account seriously undermines his credibility and the historic value of his book.
The author in his book says that Germans did not play any role in murdering the Jews. He also forgot to make any serious research on this issue. There are many things that are not included in that book. The first the book did not include the investigation which is under way and which could solve some facts including the role of the Germans. Overall the author did a poor work on this book, and is not critical on many issues.
German archives provide information, completely ignored by Gross, which establishes that it was a German unit, and not the Poles, who herded the Jews into a barn before setting it on fire. Gross also tries, unsuccessfully, in downplaying the fact that large numbers of local Jews had earlier collaborated with the Soviet occupants in sending Poles to horrible suffering and often death in Siberia.