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The Holocaust in Occupied Poland: New Findings and New Interpretations

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Jan Tomasz Gross

New archival materials have provided the basis for rethinking the dynamic of the Holocaust in Poland. These historical sources consist primarily of court papers from postwar trials of Polish citizens. Using such files, historians are now better able to document and write the dramatic story of antagonism between Jews evading the Nazi dragnet, and a hostile rural populace which sometimes collaborated in persecution. Although important works on the Holocaust appeared earlier in Poland, only during the last several years has a scholarly milieu emerged in the country for taking the Holocaust out of its intellectual ghetto as a strictly «Jewish» subject, and repositioning it at the center of Poland’s wartime history.

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Krzysztof Persak: Jedwabne before the Court. Poland’s Justice and the Jedwabne Massacre – Investigations and Court Proceedings, 1947–1974

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Krzysztof Persak Polish Academy of Sciences and Institute of National Remembrance Jedwabne before the Court Poland’s Justice and the Jedwabne Massacre—Investigations and Court Proceedings, 1947–1974 The Jedwabne massacre of 10 July 1941 is the most famous and was probably the largest—in terms of the number of victims—pogrom against Jews by the Poles during World War II. The first scholar to reveal and describe the tragedy was Jan T. Gross,1 who thereby initiated a great nationwide debate about the at- titude of Poles to Jews during the Holocaust.2 Thanks to his book and subse- quent publications, which both supplemented and corrected Gross’s findings (e.g., a two-volume report by historians of the Institute of National Remembrance and those invited to contribute to the project;3 a journalistic investigation by Anna Bikont;4 and finally an official investigation carried out during 2000–2003 by the Main Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Na- tion,5 associated with the Institute of National Remembrance), the Jedwabne murder is one of the most thoroughly studied pogroms that took place in the Białystok region in the summer of 1941. The basic corpus of primary sources used by researchers of the case are the files from two trials of perpetrators before Polish criminal courts in 1949 and 1953. Far less known are the documents generated in relation to the 1947 to 1948 civil proceedings, regarding the property of the victims of the crime, and the files of a new...

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