Diffrent versions of crime
polish version
translated by: Emilia Wisniewska

Heated discussion in Ksieznica Podlaska marked the end of the visit to Bialystok by the Professor Jan Gross, author of the book 'Neighbors'

You wrote that Germans were not present at the scene of pogrom yet there were plenty of Germans forcing Poles with their whips to guard Jews at the main square - said, , on Friday in Ksieznica Podlaska, clearly upset, Irene Chrzanowska, family name Reniewska, who as 16 years old girl witnessed the pogrom of Jewish people in Jedwabne.

- I have accounts from witnesses who claim otherwise - reposted Professor Jan Thomas Gross, author of the book' Neighbors', which was written about this murder.

At Ksieznica Podlaska, there amassed a big crowd and in it historians, officers of the Institute of National Rrmembrance, who are leading an open investigation in the matter of the murder of Jews in Jedwabne on 10 of July 1941. Residents of Jedwabane were there as well.

Jan Thomas Gross explained at the beginning what was his inspiration to write this book - A few years ago I read the narration by Shmul Wesersztajna, who described the murder in Jedwabne, and this text is coming back to me - said Professor Gross. He emphasized that what frightened him the most was the fact that the crime was committed on Jewish neighbors by the very Poles. Inspirators of the murder were supposed to have been the city council with its mayor.

How many Germans were there?

According to the witnesses, there were no Germans in town on that day except for 10 people at gendarme station. At the same time, Gross added, if not for Nazism and the Hitler's politics oriented towards extermination Jewish nations, there would not be this murder.  

On the contrary, Irena Chrzanowska, family name Reniewska, recalled, that through the holes in the huge gate, she saw Germans urging Poles with long whips to go to the main square. In her view, there was at least 300 of Germans. Wieslaw Biedrzycki, the grandson of the owner of the barn, in which Jews burned, is questioning credibility Wersersztejn's report. - Was he perhaps Calko,living on Przytulska Street? He has been hiding in Janczewo then. He is writing only what was told him by others. How siting in the bush at the pond, 1.5 km (about 2.5 miles) away from the main square, would he be able to see through the buildings, what was going on there? - asked I am not denying that Poles participated in this crime, but do you know what were deeds of the Jews during Russian occupation? They were walking with the Russian secret police (NKVD), and they were turning the people in.

- Does this excuse murder of women and children? - responded Professor Gross.  

Testimony, trial, rapport.

Prof. Gross responding to his critics, that claimed incomplete source materials, mostly in the context of explaining if Germans were or were not in Jedwabne during the pogrom, answered, that based on the trial materials of 1949 and the story told by Wasersztajn, and German reports about the operation of the special SS squads at that territory, he can be certain that the only perpetrators of the murder were Poles themselves.

- Do you know, by what means, was the Security Office ( UB) making people to sign up for anything, what interrogators wanted then for? - said one of Jedwabne's residents.

- I know that they were biting people during the interrogations. UB officers in 1949, however, did not have a cause to falsify the testimonies about the murder of the Jews in 1941 - explained Professor Gross. Those testimonies give the impression of being sloppy - as if workers of the Security Office had a job to go through interrogating people, and suddenly decided to cut it short.

- The book has much to be desired, the source material is treated selectively, and now it will go into the world, and people will not be studying details, but will claim that Poles are co-responsible for the Holocaust - some of the historians from Bialystok talked about it. Why they did not discuss anything during the meeting?

- I am an employee of the University of Bialystock, he is a professor in New York City, who will believe me? - Stated one of them.  

At the end of the meeting, I asked Professor Gross, would he be writing more about Jedwabne. - This is not my interest any longer, now it is a matter for historians - he rebuffed.


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