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The Refusal to Mourn: Confronting the facts of destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne

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Chapter Summary

The Refusal to Mourn: Confronting the facts of destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne On July 10, 2001, Jedwabne, a town in north-eastern Poland, had become the focus of national and international attention. The 60th anniversary of the killing of local Jews by the Polish townspeople drew a score of esteemed guests, including the President, who uttered an apology to the Jewish people for the Polish guilt in this atrocity. This article backtracks to Jan T. Gross’s book Neighbors, which initiated the national debate culminating in the anniversary ceremony. It critically analyzes the reaction of the state and of the Polish elites to the revealing, after nearly 60 years of silence, of the facts of killing. It suggests that the insistence on the primacy of “historical truth” in resolving the Jedwabne controversy has limited the debate’s potential transformative dimension.



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