Like many Americans interested in the Holocaust, Anne S. Lewis accepts Jan Gross' allegations as irrefutable truth [“Reexamining History at AJFF
,” Picture in Picture, April 6]. In fact, since the publication of Gross's controversial book (Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland
), volumes of documentary evidence have been available showing that it was the Germans (under SS commander Hermann Schaper, later prosecuted for war crimes) with the participation of approximately 40 local townsmen who were responsible for the massacre of about 300 Jews at Jedwabne.
In any case, according to history professor Richard Lukas (author of The Forgotten Holocaust
), “It was an atrocity that every decent person should deplore." At least Poles are willing to examine darker episodes of their history, something not forthcoming from other European countries which – in contrast to Poland – spawned collaborationist regimes during the German occupation and produced thousands of volunteers for the Waffen SS.
It is a poor reflection on Ms. Lewis that she judges an entire nation by the actions of a few dozen; she is engaging in the same stereotyping committed against Jews for centuries. She is callously dismissive of the fact (not "revisionist") that the Germans murdered millions of Polish Christians; among those were Poles who aided Jews and paid the ultimate price. Poland was the only occupied country where the Germans carried out an automatic death sentence for even the smallest token of help to a Jew.
The greatest irony of Neighbors
and the resulting Aftermath
is that if Jan Gross' mother, a Polish Catholic member of the Polish Resistance, had not risked her life to save his Jewish father, Gross would not be alive today to defame his native country and distort its history.