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Collected Essays on War, Holocaust and the Crisis of Communism


Jan Tomasz Gross

The author undertakes an intellectual journey into the hidden past of the Polish history after 1939. He deals with Holocaust, collaboration, totalitarian rule, crisis of communism in Eastern Europe as well as Polish-Jewish relations during the war. The author is a founding father of a new approach in Holocaust research in Poland in which he has taken it from out of its intellectual ghetto as a strictly Jewish subject and repositioned it at the center of Poland’s wartime history. Among other topics, the collection of essays deals with Jewish community in the Soviet annexed territories on the eve of the Holocaust, opportunistic killings and plunder of Jews by their neighbors and Poland’s development from a civil society to a political nation.
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3. Polish-Jewish relations during the war. An interpretation


3.  Polish-Jewish relations during the war. An interpretation

For the last two hundred years, with the exception of a brief interval between the two World Wars, Poland has been either partitioned, or occupied, or governed by proxy. Squeezed between Russia and Germany Poles took nourishment and continuity as a historical nation from remembrance of things past whenever their sovereignty as a political nation was curtailed or abolished. Lately these efforts were inspired by a conviction that even if present day institutions could not be changed, a half-way victory over totalitarianism’s attempts to destroy social solidarity would still be won if the community’s history were rescued from the regime’s ambition to determine not only the country’s future but also its past. Thus, the profound intuition – that totalitarianism must destroy all context of social reality independent of its own dictate and acquire a copyright not only on what is but also on what had been – came to the Poles not because they read Orwell’s 1984, but because for well over one hundred years they nurtured the idea of the Polish nation against all the odds of nineteenth century geopolitics. Once before, when they had lost their national sovereignty, the Poles had locked in on their past spiritually and it worked: Poland was resurrected.

But since the Second World War, despite the dogged persistence of the Poles to reclaim their past, to go beyond, revise, and correct the government-approved version of their history manifested during every mass upheaval in...

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