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Ceremony held on anniversary of Jedwabne massacre

PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 10.07.2012 14:36
A ceremony was held in Jedwabne on Tuesday marking the 71st anniversary of the WWII massacre of Jewish inhabitants of the town in north eastern Poland.
Old synagogue in Jedwabne Photo: cc/wikipedia

The crime, which was carried out by ethnic Poles during the Nazi German occupation, saw the murder of at least 340 Jews, who were herded into a barn which was then set alight.

Among those attending Tuesday's ceremony was Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, who was joined by representatives of Warsaw's Jewish community and members of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the state-backed body charged with investigating crimes against Polish citizens.

As in previous years, neither the mayor of Jedwabne nor any of the town’s other inhabitants attended the anniversary ceremony.

“I believe that the day will come when we will all be here together,” Rabbi Schudrich reflected, as cited by Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

Public debate about Jedwabne was ignited by the 2001 book Neighbours, which was written by Polish-born Princeton academic Jan T. Gross.

The debate which the book spawned, coupled with the 60th anniversary of the pogrom, prompted the then president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, to make a public apology to the Jewish nation.

An investigation by IPN that was completed in 2003 upheld most of Gross’s thesis, but put the estimates of those murdered as not less than 340, as opposed to around 1,600.

Although a trial involving 23 Jedwabne citizens had been held in 1949 under the then communist authorities, the crime subsequently disappeared from the sphere of historical debate.

Poland’s centuries-old Jewish past was not studied in Polish schools under the communist regime, and the subject became especially taboo following a government-led anti-Zionist campaign in 1968, following which several thousand Poles of Jewish background were compelled to leave the country.

It was not until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 that conditions allowed for a more open exploration of the country’s past. (nh)

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