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

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9780142002407: Neighbors: 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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Review:

National Book Award Finalist
Selected Entry for the National Book Critics Circle Award

"Nothing could have prepared the 1,600 Jews in Jedwabne, a town in northeast Poland, for the hell of their final days in the summer of 1941. . . . It is an especially gruesome Holocaust horror story. But it is a tale that, 60 years later, has stunned Poland. For what Poles have learned recently is that the perpetrators in this case weren't Germans, though the Nazi occupiers clearly approved the slaughter. They were Poles, the Jedwabne neighbors of the Jews. And the revelation of their role has triggered a wave of agonized soul-searching since it emerged . . . in Neighbors, a slim, carefully researched book [that] has guaranteed that Poles will never see their wartime history in the same way. . . . The controversy over Neighbors is already spreading across the Atlantic." --Andrew Nagorski, Newsweek

" Neighbors strikes squarely at Poland's accepted historical narrative . . . One Polish critic compares the gathering controversy to the uproar with which Germans greeted Hitler's Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen's 1996 study of civilian participation in the Holocaust." --John Reed, Financial Times

"The first question that leaps to mind is why the story of a massacre so monstrous, and of such historic significance, should surface only now, half a century after the fact. The answer to this question is both startling and complex. . . . A detailed account is provided by the sociologist and historian Jan T. Gross in his book. . . Gross's scrupulously documented study challenges another cherished myth: the noble attempts of most Poles to save Jews." --Abraham Brumberg, Times Literary Supplement

"An important contribution to the literature of human bestiality unleashed by war. Neighbors tells a story that has long been known in Poland but one that has shocked the rest of the world and even, it seems, the Poles themselves . . . [A] fine, careful book about the awful massacre in Jebwabne . . . [Gross] is cautious and fair to the facts." --Steven Erlanger, New York Times Book Review

"Nothing can make up for the horror. But if the screams of those burning alive at Jedwabne are heard at last, they may not have been completely in vain." --George Steiner, The Observer

"Horrifying and thoughtful." --Times Literary Supplement

"[This] small book detailing the massacre of the Jews of Jedwabne raises large questions about the roles Poles and Germans played in some of the boodiest actions against Jews during World War II. . . . Neighbors tells a compelling story admirably. It should be widely read and discussed, for the complex, unsettling issues it raises still need to be fully explored. . . ." --Alvin H. Rosenfeld, The New Leader

"Sixty years ago, on July 10, 1941, half the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half. Why did the murderers do it? Prof. Jan Gross of New York University may not fully realize he has found the answer. It is in his astonishing little book. The title, Neighbors, is an ice dagger to the heart, but only after the book has been read." --George F. Will, Newsweek

"[Gross] brings much art to the enterprise. . . . Neighbors. . . is possessed of the key virtues: moral energy, commitment to accuracy, and the maintenance of a continuing open dialogue between historian, sources, and reader." --Inga Clendinnen, London Review of Books

"[Gross] brings much art to the enterprise. Neighbors is possessed of the key virtues: moral energy, commitment to accuracy, and the maintenance of a continuing open dialogue between historian, sources, and reader." --Inga Clendinnen, London Review of Books

Book Description:

An extraordinary piece of historical writing, as illuminating to our views of human nature and the history of twentieth-century Europe as Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners.

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 196 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. On a summer day in 1941 in Nazi-occupied Poland, half of the town of Jedwabne brutally murdered the other half: 1,600 men, women, and children-all but seven of the town s Jews. In this shocking and compelling study, historian Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts as well as physical evidence into a comprehensive reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but hidden to history. Revealing wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism, Gross s investigation sheds light on how Jedwabne s Jews came to be murdered-not by faceless Nazis, but by people who knew them well. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780142002407

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