Letter to Princeton Univ. Press
Anna R. Dadlez, Ph.D.
Dear Mr. Vaughn;
I am deeply disturbed by your publication of J.T. Gross's latest book entitled Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne (Polish title: Sasiedzi) in which he attributes to Poles the horrendous crime perpetrated on Jews (the number he quotes is being investigated) in Jedwabne, a town which in July 1941 found itself under German control after having been in the Soviet zone from September 1939 - June 1941. There appear to be serious doubts about the veracity of the work.
The particular questions that arise are as follows:
1. Mr. Gross's thesis relies on several witnesses. However, reports describing other witnesses' testimony contradict those provided by Mr. Gross. Assuming that Mr. Gross knows Polish, it is troubling to find that he used incomplete excerpts from the source (documentation connected with the 1949 trial) he claims to have relied on most, i.e., that he rejected the testimonies which invalidated his thesis. (Among other sources: Prof. Tomasz Strzembosz, "Inny obraz sasiadow" ("A different Image of the Neighbors" in Rzeczpospolita March 31, 2001, or Waldemar Moszkowski, " Jedwabnym szlakiem klamstw; rozmowa z historykiem Leszkiem Zebrowskim" (" On the trail of Jedwabne lies; conversation with the historian Leszek Zebrowski") Nasz Dziennik, 31 March - 1 April, 2001
I have recently read of both German and Polish documents which strongly suggest the innocence of the Polish community in Jedwabne in this horrific crime. The investigation is ongoing. Records of the 1949 trial became unavailable shortly after Gross gained access to them some years ago (see "Jan Gross on Poland's Shame" The New Yorker On Line Only, posted March 5, 2001) They finally became available again in March of this year. Historians are examining them. Many disagree with the conclusions drawn by Gross from these very sources. German documentation is also becoming available. Any historian, myself included, should be willing to suspend judgement in this matter until final conclusions are reached. However, I must deplore the negative publicity the Polish nation has received through your publication of Neighbors, publicity that may very well be totally unwarranted. In a country which prides itself on a free press, a book advancing horrific accusations without substantial evidence should not have seen the light of day.
Anna R. Dadlez, Ph.D.