Academics Furious at Poland President’s Threat to Strip Holocaust Scholar of State Honor


Academics in Poland and abroad are furious at a threat by Poland’s president to strip an esteemed Polish-American scholar of a state honor in punishment for work that exposes uncomfortable historical episodes of Polish anti-Semitism.
The office of President Andrzej Duda said recently it might strip Princeton-based historian and sociologist Jan Tomasz Gross of the Order of Merit he received in 1996.

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News about Poland as reported by English language media around the world.


  1. Witold Liliental on

    JT Gross is not a historian but a sociologist. Some of his phraseology may sound controversial and evoke a natural defensive reflex. Thus, his aspect is from a sociological point of view. It is a big pity that his second book “Fear”, in its Polish translation, does not contain the first chapter in which Gross wrote about the exceptional brutality of the German occupation and about those Poles who, risking their own and their family’s lives, helped to save Jews. Thus. English speaking readers found out about these facts, while readers in Poland did not know that Gross also defended Poles. The description of the Jedwabne massacre, carried out, unfortunately by Polish neighbours has been confirmed by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. Writing in the USA a rightist historian, Prof. Chodakowski stated then that Gross “dis not say anything new of which we didn’t already know”. Numerous Polish historians state that Gross should be given credit for starting the great debate about Polish-Jewish relations during and after the war. Thanks to this debate western media have acknowledged and praised Poland for not being afraid of dealing with its own history, which cannot be said of many other countries which had been occupied by Hitler, including France, where thousands of Jews had been caught by the French Police. J.T. Gross’s father was of Jewish origin, his mother was Polish. The language spoken in his home and by his children is Polish. Personally I doubt that he wrote anything as a paid assignment which some people accuse him of.

    • Mr. Witold,
      I does not matter if you are historian or sociologist – you still have to tell the truth. If anything evokes defensiveness, it’s lies and omissions that J.T. Gross writes on every page. I will not go in depth on the issue, there are books written on this very subject (I’m not kidding-books!!!). FYI: It’s not only the first chapter that’s missing from polish translation, there’s handful:
      – US edition, page 162, contains lies about polish clergy murdering Jewish children
      – US edition, page 152, accusation of polish clergy
      – US edition, page 261, again about Polish clergy: “in each district, where the voice of its representatives was not heard on his issue, the Church became complicitous in murderous assaults by Polish Catholics against their Jewish neighbours”
      – US edition, page 256, calumny against Poles and Poland
      – US edition, page 252, about Poles plundering Jewish property
      I can keep going and going, but I guess it makes my point enough: some of the nastier, obvious lies, that would not go well in Poland were skipped. So, there goes your “Gross also defended Poles” theory.
      When you say “Jedwabne massacre, carried out, unfortunately by Polish neighbours has been confirmed by IPN” and not mention the rest of the IPN findings, you are doing the same injustice as J.T. Gross. The Polish Institute of National Remembrance found:
      a) massacre in Jedwabne was not a spontaneous pogrom
      b) orders and instigation came from the Germans
      c) it was not whole community that was an accomplice to German crime, it was only 40 people from the village
      d) there was approx. 300 casualties, not 1600
      e) Most important: only exhumation will allow to obtain necessary facts and proofs
      You mention prof. Chodakowski and I assume that you mean dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz (professor of history) that wrote a book on Jedwabne: “The Massacre in Jedwabne. July 10, 1941. Before, During, and. After.” In that book he confirms that: “The murder took place within a framework imposed by the Germans and in accordance with the pace set by them.” (p.174)
      And this is what M.J. Chodakiewicz says about Jan Tomasz Gross’s “Neighbours”:
      “The scholarly work conducted in Poland has exposed the many methodological and factual weaknesses of “Neighbors”. The outcome of the official investigation of the murder in Jedwabne seriously damaged not only the reputation of Jan Tomasz Gross but also of the cause of Jewish-Polish reconciliation. In retrospect, it is plain that the failure to follow the scholarly standard deeply affected Jewish-Polish relations and caused Poland’s intelligentsia to question its reflexive philosemitism. Further, it also exacerbated the Jewish-Polish and Jewish-Christian relations in the United States, where the media and academia succumbed to even more outrageous simplifications and stereotypes than their counterparts in Poland initially had. Unlike in Poland, the American scholars and pundits remained largely impregnable to steadily mounting evidence undermining the extremist interpretation of the crime in Jedwabne.” (p.4)
      This also says well about the Gross’s “credits” into Polish-Jewish debate.
      I don’t want to repeat myself, but I’ll say it anyway: more integrity and honesty, please!

  2. Katarzyna Jaskiewicz on

    Esteemed scholar? You must be kidding me. There is nothing remotely “esteemed” about Mr. Gross now, and very little “scholarly”. For his vitriolic attacks on Poland, for falsified research used in his publications, for spreading of hatred he should be stripped not only of the Polish Order of Merit but also of any academic honour he possesses.

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