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The Holocaust in Occupied Poland: New Findings and New Interpretations

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Edited By 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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Alina Skibińska: Perpetrators’ Self-Portrait. The Accused Village Administrators, Commune Heads, Fire Chiefs, Forest Rangers, and Gamekeepers

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Alina Skibińska USHMM, Washington, DC, and Polish Center for Holocaust Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw Perpetrators’ Self-Portrait The Accused Village Administrators, Commune Heads, Fire Chiefs, Forest Rangers, and Gamekeepers It was at that time when the Germans were bagging the kikes. The wagon on which shirtless Sendrowicz was standing was surrounded by young men, Poles, village inhabitants. Only the peasants with unknown surnames killed. He was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, but for what? I turn to you as the Father of the working class of the People’s Republic of Poland, with grief and at the same time with a favor to ask of you, for I have been wronged. (excerpts of postwar testimonies and official documents) Józef Prokop, born in 1915, was a farmer and blacksmith by profession and had worked on a grange as a farmhand since childhood—just like his father. The family did not own land, and Prokop had to provide for his wife and three children. While in the army, he was promoted to corporal and was decorated for having fought the best in a bayonet fight. He was then transferred to the reserves and after the war moved with his family to the Recovered Territories (Ziemie Odzyskane), to the village of Goszcz in Wrocław province, where he was given nine hectares of arable land. Prokop’s is a typical peasant-worker’s biography. He completed four grades of elementary school and could read and write, though not fluently. Prokop’s wobbly and...

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