The National Polish American - Jewish American
Council Statement on the Jedwabne Massacre
March 26, 2001 Washington, D.C.: In April 2001, the English translation of Jan Tomasz Gross's book Sasiedzi [Neighbors] will be released in the United States. Gross's book was published in Polish last year, and initiated a serious and important public discussion concerning a pogrom in Jedwabne, a small village in northeast Poland, and the role Poles played in the crime. Gross's book examines the massacre of approximately 1600 Polish Jews on July 10, 1941 and relates the participation of Jedwabne Poles in the killings. At that time, Jedwabne, which was under Soviet occupation from 1939 to 1941, had just passed under Nazi occupation.
We call on the Polish and Jewish communities in the United States and around the world to carefully read and assess the results of the ongoing investigation to examine the historical facts surrounding the tragedy, and engage in an honest and constructive public discussion about the events that occurred in Jedwabne.
The Council commends the responsible and professional work of Professor Leon Kieres and Poland's National Institute of Remembrance [NIP] for their prompt investigation, which commenced prior to the publication of Gross's book. The National Institute of Remembrance is a truth and reconciliation commission established by the Polish Sejm [parliament], which is currently investigating 600 crimes committed against the Polish nation. Gross's book
and the NIP's investigation should initiate a broader and responsible discussion about the moral implications of the Jedwabne tragedy for Poland and Polish-Jewish relations. Shortly after the release of Professor Gross's book in the United States, the National Institute of Remembrance will publish the results of its investigation of the Jedwabne massacre.
We also commend President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, Archbishop Józef Zycinski, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Rabbi of Warsaw, and Cardinal Józef Glemp for their recent remarks that express regret for the tragedy, call for the pursuit of the facts, and mourn the victims of Jedwabne.
Prime Minister Buzek's statement is especially noteworthy: "We are ready to face even the darkest facts of our history, in the spirit of truth, without searching for seeming justifications. Nevertheless, we cannot allow the case of Jedwabne to serve the purpose of spreading false theses about Poland's co-responsibility for the Holocaust". It is exceedingly important not to perceive the tragedy of Jedwabne as a reflection on the Polish people.
The Council is pleased that the erroneous memorial tablet in Jedwabne was removed, and we hope that a new memorial tablet will reflect the historical truth. The Council is also pleased that representatives of the highest authorities in Poland, including President Kwasniewski, intend to participate in ceremonies commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of this tragedy.
The Council's mission remains focused on promoting understanding and cooperation between the two communities. Only an open and civil dialogue, without political manipulation, demagoguery, anti-Polish or anti-Semitic sentiments, will move Poles and Jews forward from a difficult chapter in our shared history.
For over 20 years, the National Polish American-Jewish American Council has convened prominent leaders from the Polish American and Jewish American communities to address issues of common concern and improve Polish-Jewish relations in the United States, and the world over.
For more information, contact Guy Billauer, (202) 785-4200.
The National Polish American - Jewish American Council Expresses Sorrow and Disappointment with Regards to the Recent Statement made by Edward Moskal, President of the Polish American Congress on the Jedwabne Massacre.
March 26, 2001, Washington, DC: For over 20 years, the National Polish American Jewish American Council has convened prominent Polish Americans and Jewish Americans committed to improving relations between Poles and Jews, both in the United States and abroad. It is in this spirit that we express our profound disappointment and sorrow with the recent statement of Polish American Congress President Mr. Edward J. Moskal in a Chicago Polish-language newspaper Dziennik Zwi± zkowy (February 24, 2001). Mr. Moskal's irresponsible statement that addressed the massacre of approximately 1600 Jews in the village of Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, further places him on the margins of American society.
Mr. Moskal's statement in Dziennik Zwi± zkowy and recent remarks on the tragedy in Jedwabne do not reflect the serious public discussion that is taking place in Poland following the release of the Polish edition of historian Jan Tomasz Gross's book S±siedzi [Neighbors] last year. Mr. Moskal's statement is inconsistent with attitudes in modern Polish society and incongruent with the responsible statements made by Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, and Poland's Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Przemyslaw Grudziński. Mr. Moskal's attack on Professor Leon Kieres, head of Poland's National Institute of Remembrance that is investigating the historical details of the Jedwabne massacre, is reprehensible and entirely unacceptable.
Mr. Moskal's remarks damage Polish-Jewish relations in America, where there has been considerable and encouraging progress in the last two decades. His remarks do not represent Polish American values and distort the good name of Polish-Americans and the Polonia that he claims to represent. In spite of what appears to be an Mr. Moskal's inexplicable agenda, Polish Americans and Jewish Americans will continue to move forward and remain committed to building constructive and meaningful relations.