Comment on the article titled "Revisiting a Massacre"
(Newsweek, March 5, 2001)
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Editor-in-Chief, NEWSWEEK
251 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019
  March 10, 2001
Dear Sir,

We would like to comment on the article titled "Revisiting a Massacre" by Andrew Nagorski (Newsweek, March 5, 2001). In spite of the allegedly "careful research" conducted by prof. Jan T. Gross in preparing the book "Neighbors", he used almost exclusively documents written in Poland in the postwar Stalinist era, when historical facts were arbitrarily changed or distorted and adjusted to communist ideology and its adherents. The scene of the described events, a small town - Jedwabne - was located in the region of eastern Poland, from where the Soviet occupiers with significant support of local Jews, during the period of September 1939 to June 1941, deported to Siberian concentration camps nearly 2 million Polish inhabitants. From Jedwabne itself - about 300 Poles were exiled, several of them in the last few days before the arrival of the German Army. Prof. Gross forgets repeatedly in his book about the massive Jewish cooperation with the Soviet NKVD - the Soviet secret police, much worse in cruelty than the German Gestapo. It is no wonder, that during the next German occupation Poles were none too eager to risk their and their families' lives in saving communist party Jews. In Poland and only in Poland capital punishment was meted out to the entire family, which was executed for the slightest evidence of aid given to Jews.

Gross' principal source for "Neighbors" - Szmul Wasersztajn alias Calka - collaborated with the Soviets, despised his Polish neighbors, and was personally responsible for many tortures and deportations. After the war, he served the Polish communist Soviet regime as an officer in the secret police. Therefore his maliciously anti-Polish testimony is not credible at all and it is surprising Gross sympathizes with his account. According to numerous eyewitnesses of the tragic July 1941 events, about 300-armed German soldiers (members of the so called "Einsatzgruppen", special troops for Jewish extermination) arrived at Jedwabne to terrorize Polish inhabitants and commit genocide on the Jews. That was a policy of the German occupant and Gross' insinuations regarding the Germans, as looking for Polish advice or protecting the Jews, is simply an incredible lie. As a rule, Germans confiscated Jewish property, so the incentive alluded to is falsely attributed. There were probably few Polish hooligans participating in marginal robbery, like the three in Jedwabne who were immediately shot and killed by Germans, since confiscated Jewish property was always considered to be the property of the Third Reich. However every nation has its dregs of society and such were also present among the Jews. The infamous role of numerous Jewish leaders and officials (Jewish Councils so called "Judenrat", Jewish Ghetto Police and so on) is well documented as collaborators with Nazi authorities.

The multitude of errors and distortions contained in Gross' book makes it a worthless secondary source in Holocaust studies. However, we are afraid, its publication and promotion could further deteriorate Polish-Jewish relationships and provoke mutual animosity. Is it the intent of NEWSWEEK to play into such a sinister role?

Mr. Nagorski with his article performed a very poor job in evaluating the book's validity equally as bad as that done by Jan T. Gross!

  Karol Gutowski Andrzej Zawadzki
  President Secretary

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