Anna Bikont on PiS v. Jan Gross

Anna Bikont had an article in Tablet in mid-March about the new Polish government’s attack on the historian Jan Gross.

Poland held a presidential election in May 2015. At a televised debate, the most important of the campaign, the pro-Kaczynski candidate Duda and the pro-Civic Platform Komorowski were supposed to ask each other questions:

The first round of these questions, posed by candidate Andrzej Duda, did not deal with the state of the Polish economy, nor relations with Ukraine and Russia. It had to do instead with a crime committed over 70 years ago in Jedwabne, a village in northeastern Poland where Polish Catholics incinerated their Jewish neighbors. This event was uncovered decades later by Polish-American historian Jan Gross, now a professor at Princeton. Duda admonished his opponent, then-incumbent President Bronisław Komorowski, for allowing Poles to be “wrongfully accused by others for participating in the Holocaust.”

The election was won by Andrzej Duda, the candidate who resolutely rejected the painful truth of Jedwabne… In January, President Duda went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an opinion on the question of rescinding Gross’ Polish Order of Merit.

Gross published his essay on Jedwabne, Neighbors, in 2000-1. According to Bikont, it earned him his second Order of Merit, the one Duda and Kaczynsku want rescinded. Gross had received his first in 1996…

…for his books on the underground structures of the state during World War II and Polish children sent to Siberia, as well as for his personal record of opposing Soviet rule, for his participation in the protests of 1968 and his support of the independent resistance movement after his emigration.

Anna Bikont wrote her own book on the subject, The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne. Reviews can be read here, here, here, and here.

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