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November 2, 2016 4:18 pm

Major Jewish Group: By Threatening to Prosecute Holocaust Scholar, Poland Attempting to ‘Rewrite History Through a Political Lens’

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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A massacre memorial in Jedwabne, Poland. Photo: Aw58 via Wikimedia Commons.

A massacre memorial in Jedwabne, Poland. Photo: Aw58 via Wikimedia Commons.

By threatening to prosecute a prominent Holocaust scholar for claiming that Poles killed more Jews during World War II than they did Germans, the Polish government is “apparently attempting to intimidate researchers and to rewrite history through a political lens,” an official with a leading US-based Jewish human rights organization said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mark Weitzman — the director of government affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center — was referring to the case of Polish-born American historian Jan Tomasz Gross, who is facing a renewed investigation by a Polish state prosecutor for the alleged crime — punishable by up to three years in prison – of “publicly insulting the nation.”

Weitzman said the probe against Gross “bears all the hallmarks of a political witch-hunt.”

“While this had been customary under Communist rule, it is a clear departure from the vigorous and healthy debate that had been occurring in Poland since independence,” Weitzman noted.

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“Any attempt by the Polish government to stifle or distort historical research on the Holocaust through legal or other means must be rejected, and the right to pursue historical research free from government interference must be clearly affirmed,” Weitzman stated.

In an interview with The Algemeiner in August, renowned antisemitism expert Manfred Gerstenfeld said there was no doubt that Poles have not yet come to terms with their country’s Holocaust history.

“On one hand, Poles saved Jews,” Gerstenfeld said. “On the other hand, they killed Jews. The Jews were put in ghettos. Jews fled from the ghettos, and some of those Jews fought with the resistance, and others were murdered by the resistance or delivered to the Germans.”

The issue of the murder of Jews by Poles was first focused on by Gross a decade and a half ago, with his publication of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. The book details a July 1941 incident in which at least 340 Polish Jews were murdered by a group of non-Jewish Poles.

Since the publication of that book, Gerstenfeld said, Gross has found evidence that the Jedwabne massacre was “not the exception.”

“There were massive killings, of which we do not know the number, of Jews by Poles,” Gerstenfeld said. “The Poles have not faced up to their history and they have not been able to disprove what Gross has said.”

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  • cbusa

    “publicly insulting the nation”!? Are they serious? I thought only totalitarian dictatorships and Islamic states considered that sort of speech a crime.

  • margolioth770

    There’s actually a sort of way-out for the Polish government. And that is to expose another deficiency in historical textbooks: The first recorded Jewish blood- libel occured in Norwich, England in 1144. The crusade of 1147 decimated many of the Jewish communities in Western Eutope. In 1190 a third crusade swept through England, and then France. Most of the Jews of York, England, were killed, culminating in the expulsion of all Jews from England in 1290. The extent of the massacre in York resulted in subsequent rabbis ruling to prohibit any Jew travelling through York from sleeping over. The crusades swept through the entire European Continent.The countries accounting for the brunt of Jewish massacres were Germany (1336), Spain (1391), and Portugal (1496). In 1648, three hundred Jewish communities were destroyed by the invading Cossacks under the rule of Bogdan Chmielnitzki, torturing, mutilating and killing around 300,000 Jews. These consisted mainly of Jewish peasnts living in Poland, while the massive devastation was perpetrated by the Rusdian Cossacks seeking to establish an independent Ukraine from Polish rule. Over 60,000 Jews were killed during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1918, while hundreds of thousands perished during official Russian Pogroms or by being drafted to the Russian army, never to return. More recent Jewish massacres include Babi Yar (200,000) in 1941; the Warsaw Resistance, (where 400,000 Jews perished attempting to ward-off the German invasion); and the deportation of the 300,000 remaining Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in 1944. At that point the German High-Command was willing to barter-off the Jews of Budapest in exchange for their own safety, but this was sabotaged by the Muslim leader Hajj Amin el-Husseini successfully engaging the Hungarian leadership. He was adament to ensure that any remnants of the Holocaust should not find refuge in Palestine, where the Jewish populaion at the time of 700,000 already exceded that of the arabs. In summary, the mass-execution of Jews in Poland resulted from the unexpected invasion by Nazi-Germany, who preferred the idea of an off-site location to perfect their experiment to extinguish the entire European Jewish population, together with their culture and civilization at an industrial level. (Adapted from the Chronological Indexbof Jewish History, by Rabbi Mattis Kantor, Zichron Press, NY, 2005).

    • rafael

      THANK YOU for very nice post, thank you again.
      logical and very unbiased.

  • Jeremy Given

    Jews out.

  • Jeremy Given

    Poland doesn’t care what you think.

  • Holy Shirt

    Poland has long claimed Nazis murdered many more Poles than Jews. Lingering claims and counterclaims could soon prove rather interesting.

  • KB

    According to Gross, Poland being 4rth ally force and the only fighthing on both eastern and western front killed 0 Germans. How that adds up? I think it is time for some to finally face the consequences of their disgusting Goebbels style antipolish propaganda

  • adamjab

    Gross is the one attempting to rewrite history. The guy has no credibility

  • Professor Gross must have his “day in court” to present his evidence. The Polish people need to hear about Professor Gross’s findings. And the Polish government must allow Dr. Gross to share his research. Anything less, is a cover-up of Polish atrocities against their Jewish countrymen.

    • rafael

      good point and in reverse
      polish gov have a obligation, and duty to show the evidence against mr.Gross
      but first mr.Gross in NOT a historian
      Jan T. Gross, author of “Neighbors” and “Fear,” is not a historian, and has no idea about the methods of historical research. His knowledge of Jedwabne was based, among others, on the stories of Shmuel Wasersztejn, a Jew whose credibility was undermined by IPN investigation, and Marcel Reich-Ranicki, also a Jew, who in 1939-1942, as an employee of the Warsaw Judenrat, collaborated with the Germans in the murder of his Jewish brethren, and who after 1945 worked for UB [the Communist secret police], and was commonly known for telling egregious nonsense about the times of war. A number of other sources, on which Jan T. Gross based his revelations, also raise concerns. One of them is a report of emissary “Celt,” which according to information turns out to be Jan T. Gross. In this way, born in 1947, Jan T. Gross was supposed to be, in 1944, the government emissary nicknamed “Celt,” who published his report in Krakow in 1998, all of which comes out as cosmic nonsense. Jan T. Gross must therefore decide: either to reveal to the world that he has supernatural abilities that allowed him before his own birth to play a certain role in the world of living people, or to admit that his works are confabulation. In general, Jan T. Gross has mighty trouble with historical sources.A demonstration that he has no idea about methodology in the historical scientific workshop.he was required to carry out appropriate historical research and support his thesis with the results of such studies. Because the books “Neighbors” and “Fear,” devoted to Polish-Jewish relations during the Second World War, were not based on accurate historical research, and they do not recite a reliable historical knowledge about Poland and Jedwabne, they are rather a collection of misrepresentations, fabrications and distortions that foster an image of Polish anti-Semitism. so there is not much to share his research!!!! and
      you should quot ” alleged” polish atrocities against Jewish countryman???

  • Hilltop Watchman

    May I suggest that we Boycott, Sanction and Divest from Polish products until the Poles face up to their guilt. My wife’s uncle was persecuted by his fellow Poles and shopped to the Germans. He survived, tens of thousands didn’t. My grandfather in escaping from Russia faced greater Jew hatred from the Catholic Poles than when he went through Germany. Meanwhile Donald Tusk lectures the UK.

    • rafael

      you can Boycott whatever Polish product you want.
      and you face up to your guilt first like Jews killed more Jews than Germans.