Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

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9780099441663: Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half, 1,600 men, women, and children, all but seven of the town's Jews. Neighbors tells their story.


This is a shocking, brutal story that has never before been told. It is the most important study of Polish-Jewish relations to be published in decades and should become a classic of Holocaust literature.


Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. His investigation reads like a detective story, and its unfolding yields wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. It is a story of surprises: The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne's Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed cordial relations. After the war, the nearby family who saved Jedwabne's surviving Jews was derided and driven from the area. The single Jew offered mercy by the town declined it.


Most arresting is the sinking realization that Jedwabne's Jews were clubbed, drowned, gutted, and burned not by faceless Nazis, but by people whose features and names they knew well: their former schoolmates and those who sold them food, bought their milk, and chatted with them in the street. As much as such a question can ever be answered, Neighbors tells us why.


In many ways, this is a simple book. It is easy to read in a single sitting, and hard not to. But its simplicity is deceptive. Gross's new and persuasive answers to vexed questions rewrite the history of twentieth-century Poland. This book proves, finally, that the fates of Poles and Jews during World War II can be comprehended only together.

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"One day, in July 1941, half of the population of a small east European town murdered the other half--some 1,600 men, women and children." This short sentence summarizes the subject of Neighbors, historian Jan Gross's account of a massacre that occurred in Jedwabne, in northeastern Poland. Gross describes the atrocities of Jedwabne in almost unbearable detail. Men and women were hacked to death with knives, iron hooks, and axes. Small children were thrown with pitchforks onto a bonfire. A woman's decapitated head was kicked like a football. Historians before now have blamed the massacre on the Nazis--whose participation in and responsibility for these crimes has been exaggerated, Gross says. In fact, he argues, a virulent Polish anti-Semitism was liberated by German occupation. Instead of explaining the horrors of Jedwabne, which would be impossible, Neighbors sets the record straight as to the identity of the criminals. In doing so, Gross has ensured that future histories of the Holocaust, particularly in Poland, will be more honest, because future historians will be answerable to his argument that the evil of the Nazis was not only forced on the Poles. In places such as Jedwabne, it was welcomed by them. --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Back Cover:

"Neighbors is a truly pathbreaking book, the work of a master historian. Jan Gross has a shattering tale to tell, and he tells it with consummate skill and control. The impact of his account of the massacre of the Jews of Jedwabne by their Polish neighbors is all the greater for the calm, understated narration and Gross's careful reconstruction of the terrifying circumstances in which the killing was undertaken. But this little book is much, much more than just another horror story from the Holocaust. In his imaginative reflections upon the tragedy of Jedwabne, Gross has subtly recast the history of wartime Poland and proposed an original interpretation of the origins of the postwar Communist regime. This book has already had dramatic repercussions in Poland, where it has single-handedly prised open a closed and painful chapter in that nation's recent past. But Neighbors is not only about Poland. It is a moving and provocative rumination upon the most important ethical issue of our age. No one who has studied or lived through the twentieth century can afford to ignore it."--Tony Judt, Director, Remarque Institute

"This tiny book reveals a shocking story buried for sixty years, and it has set of a round of soul searching in Poland. But the questions it raises are of universal significance: How do 'ordinary men' turn suddenly into 'willing executioners?' What, if anything, can be learned from history about 'national character?' Where do we draw the line between legitimately assigning present responsibility for wrongs perpetrated by previous generations and unfairly visiting the sins of the fathers on the children? The author has no facile answers to these problems, but his story asks us to think about them in new ways."--David Engel, author of The Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Jews

"This is unquestionably one of the most important books I have read in the last decade both on the general question of the mass murder of the Jews during World War II and on the more specific problem of the reaction of Polish society to that genocide. All of the issues it raises are handled with consummate mastery. I finished this short book both appalled at the events it describes and filled with admiration for the wise and all-encompassing skill with which the painful, difficult, and complex subject has been handled."--Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half - 1,600 men, women, and children - all but seven of the town s Jews. Neighbours tells their story. Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. The unfolding of his investigation yields wider truths about the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne s Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed cordial relations. After the war, the nearby family who saved Jedwabne s surviving Jews was derided and driven from the area. The single Jew offered mercy by the town declined it. Most arresting is the sinking realization that Jedwabne s Jews were clubbed, drowned, gutted and burned not by faceless Nazis, but by people whose features and names they knew well: their former schoolmates and those who sold them food, bought their milk, and chatted with them in the street. As much as such a question can ever be answered, Neighbours tells us why. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099441663

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half - 1,600 men, women, and children - all but seven of the town s Jews. Neighbours tells their story. Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. The unfolding of his investigation yields wider truths about the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne s Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed cordial relations. After the war, the nearby family who saved Jedwabne s surviving Jews was derided and driven from the area. The single Jew offered mercy by the town declined it. Most arresting is the sinking realization that Jedwabne s Jews were clubbed, drowned, gutted and burned not by faceless Nazis, but by people whose features and names they knew well: their former schoolmates and those who sold them food, bought their milk, and chatted with them in the street. As much as such a question can ever be answered, Neighbours tells us why. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099441663

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Book Description Cornerstone. Book Condition: New. One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half - 1600 men, women and children - all but seven of the town's Jews. This title tellstheir story. Num Pages: 288 pages, 20. BIC Classification: 1DVP; 3JJH; HBJD; HBTZ1; HBWQ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 198 x 129 x 19. Weight in Grams: 208. . 2003. 1St Edition. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099441663

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Book Description Cornerstone, 2003. Book Condition: New. One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half - 1600 men, women and children - all but seven of the town's Jews. This title tellstheir story. Num Pages: 288 pages, 20. BIC Classification: 1DVP; 3JJH; HBJD; HBTZ1; HBWQ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 198 x 129 x 19. Weight in Grams: 208. . 2003. 1St Edition. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099441663

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Book Description Cornerstone. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, Jan T. Gross, One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half - 1,600 men, women, and children - all but seven of the town's Jews. Neighbours tells their story. Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. The unfolding of his investigation yields wider truths about the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne's Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed cordial relations. After the war, the nearby family who saved Jedwabne's surviving Jews was derided and driven from the area. The single Jew offered mercy by the town declined it. Most arresting is the sinking realization that Jedwabne's Jews were clubbed, drowned, gutted and burned not by faceless Nazis, but by people whose features and names they knew well: their former schoolmates and those who sold them food, bought their milk, and chatted with them in the street. As much as such a question can ever be answered, Neighbours tells us why. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099441663

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