Elie Wiesel Accuses Poland
commentary by Adam Michnik
Adam Michnik editor-in-chief
Gazeta Wyborcza, June 27 2006
influential US daily Washington Post published on
Sunday a review, by Nobel prize winner and Auschwitz
survivor Elie Wiesel, of a new book by Jan Gross,
the author of Neighbors. The subject of the book,
titled Fear, is the persecution of Jews in post-war
Poland in the years 1945-1946.
In the review,
Elie Wiesel recalls his own experience from 10
years ago. His speech during the event commemorating
the 50th anniversary of the pogrom in Kielce sparked
- he writes - attacks across the wide range of the
Polish press and those attacks were 'in fact anti-Semitic.'
Contrary to what Wiesel writes, his 1996 speech - chiefly
the fragment referring to the dispute over the presence
of Catholic crosses at the former Birkenau camp - was
criticized by many people far removed from anti-Semitism,
such as by father Józef Tischner on the pages of the
Moreover, Wiesel's review conveys the image of a country
unable to confront the plague of anti-Semitism.
Several years ago, following the publication of Gross's
book Neighbors about the destruction of a Jewish community
in Jedwabne, Poland became the stage of a broad debate
that was ignored by neither the Polish president nor
the primate of the country's Catholic Church.
There is probably no other country in East Central
Europe that would be accounting for the dark chapters
of its own history with such seriousness and honesty.
That debate was as important as the publication of
A couple of weeks ago rabbi Michael Schudrich was assaulted
by a hooligan on a Warsaw street. This was probably
not the only case in the world of a hooligan assault
on a rabbi.
Poland, however, is likely the only country where on
the next day the president ostentatiously invited the
rabbi to meet him and in front of the cameras expressed
his solidarity with the victim of the assault.
Anyone who writes about anti-Semitism in Poland and
ignores those facts, falsifies - even if unintentionally
- the truth about Poland.
Gazeta Wyborcza, June 27, 2006
Adam Michnik editor-in-chief, Gazeta Wyborcza