Historical story

Who was the perpetrator of the crime in Jedwabne?

Years after the crime in Jedwabne was discovered, doubts are still raised as to the perpetrators. There are calls for the Institute of National Remembrance to resume the investigation. But is there anything else to discover about this? Do we really still do not know who committed the mass murder of Jews on July 10, 1941?

Over the past year, the dispute over the murder of Jews in Jedwabne has flared up again. In July 2016, on the 75th anniversary of the crime committed in 1941, the Minister of National Education, Anna Zalewska, who appeared in Monika Olejnik's television program, writhed like a whistle, not to say that the perpetrators of the murder were Poles. She suggested that "the dramatic situation that took place in Jedwabne is controversial" and that it is hardly known what the truth is.

At the same time, doctor Jarosław Szarek, candidate for president of the Institute of National Remembrance, told the parliamentary committee that questioned him that "the perpetrators of this crime were Germans who used a group of Poles in the machine of their own terror under duress".

These statements contradicted the results of the IPN investigation from 2000-2003, according to which the direct perpetrators of the murder of Jews on July 10, 1941 were at least several dozen inhabitants of Jedwabne and the surrounding villages, and the Gestapo and German gendarmes who were present in the town on that day played the role of inspirers and mongers but did not take an active part in the crime.

No wonder that the statements of Minister Zalewska and President Szarek were perceived as an attempt to relativize the previous findings of the Institute of National Remembrance and encouraged those who did not want to come to terms with them for a long time (however, it should be noted that in August 2016, in an interview for Rzeczpospolita, Jarosław Szarek found the findings of the IPN investigation still binding).

Archive in the former seat of the Institute of National Remembrance at ul. Towarowa in Warsaw. It is the archival department that is responsible for recording, collecting, storing as well as preparing and securing all documents of the state security organs.

As a result, there were voices demanding the resumption of the completed investigation and, above all, the completion of the exhumation of the mass grave of the victims, interrupted in 2001. On the initiative of the Lublin historian, Dr. Ewa Kurek, in April 2017 the Prosecutor General received an application in this case signed by over eleven thousand people. There was also information about new eyewitnesses to the events in Jedwabne. At the end of August 2017, the prosecutor of the Białystok branch of the Institute of National Remembrance questioned 90-year-old Aleksandra K. living in Orzysz, but she did not provide any new, previously unknown information on the circumstances of the crime in Jedwabne and its perpetrators, so - as follows from the communiqué of the IPN's investigative division of September 5, 2017 - no grounds have been found for resuming and continuing the legally discontinued investigation.

What happened in Jedwabne?

The public learned about the crime in Jedwabne in 2000 from Jan Tomasz Gross's book Neighbors. The history of the extermination of the Jewish town . This small study, written with a polemical temperament, caused a shock because it undermined the established self-portrait of Poles as only victims of the war. Gross described how on July 10, 1941, Poles from Jedwabne, inspired and with the consent of the Germans, murdered their Jewish co-inhabitants by burning them in a barn. The Holocaust was preceded by a performance of tormenting the Jewish families gathered in the town square, which was also accompanied by individual killings and the plundering of Jewish houses.

You can read the continuation on the website TwójHistoria.pl