polish version
translated by: Mariusz Wesolowski

Rzeczpospolita, 15 March 2001

Professor Tomasz Strzembosz believes that the testimonies of witnesses in the 1949 trial in Lomza, on which Jan Gross has based his account in "Neighbors", indicate a direct German participation in the murder of Jews in Jedwabne.

"In these documents the Germans - Gestapo agents and gendarmes - appear frequently and in specific roles. They take an active part in the hunt for Jews all over the town, in guarding them at the market square and in escorting them to Bronislaw Sleszynski's barn, where they have been burned alive", states Professor Strzembosz.

He refers to the testimonies deposited both in the course of investigation and later on before the state prosecutor, as well as to the transcripts of the actual trial, conducted in Lomza on 16-17 May 1949.

In Strzembosz's opinion, the said testimonies (coming from the witnesses as well as from the defendants) clearly point out to the fact that the Germans have forced the Polish inhabitants of Jedwabne to participate in that operation, especially in watching over the Jews gathered in the marketplace.

"The documents note instances in which Poles have been coerced - either by threats of violence, or simply by the presence of German police - to participate in these happenings. Once the Germans moved away, some of those Poles run and hid. The testimonies speak, for example, about a man who got hit on the head with a rifle butt for refusing to guard the Jews. There are witnesses who have seen him afterwards, covered in blood, in the street," said Strzembosz. In his opinion it is obvious that the German presence and their direct coercion have been vitally important for the actual turn of events.

Strzembosz described as surprising and disgusting the fact that "Professor Gross, who relied on the very same documents, did not mention the participation of Germans in this event, but rather presented the murder of Jedwabne Jews as an independent and voluntary act of the Polish community."

Strzembosz also holds that the records in question are not sufficient to determine who on the Polish side has participated in the killings. He stresses, however, that "they allow to determine the approximate size of the group [of those involved] as containing less than 50 people."

Original in Polish:

back to the english home page

Hosted by