Did Christian half murder the Jewish half of Jedwabne as J. T. Gross
claims in "Neighbors"?
Prof. Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski
Facts prove this to be a baseless slander.
According to eyewitnesses still alive today, uniformed Germans committed a wartime atrocity in Jedwabne, Poland; on July 10, 1941, they forced some 300 Jews to march in a mock-funeral procession while carrying a concrete head of Lenin that had been removed from a monument.
The Germans of the Einsatztrupen divided the marchers into two groups. The first group consisted of some 50 Jews, men strong enough to put up a fight. The second group was formed from the approximately 250 remaining Jews, mostly old people, women, and children.
While the second group was held back, the first group was directed into a
62.4 by 23 feet wooden barn. The keys to the barn were confiscated a day earlier
by uniformed Germans, who removed from it
The 50 Jewish men were ordered to dig a large grave inside the barn, ostensibly for burying Lenin's concrete head. As the diggers stood near the grave, the Germans shot them and then ordered several Poles to drag into the shallow grave the bodies of the Jews, some slain and some wounded but possibly still alive. Lenin's concrete head was placed on top of the victims in the grave #1.
The German executioners then ordered the second, more defenseless, group into the barn, which moments later would be turned into a gigantic funeral pyre.
Stefan Boczkowski, Roman Chojnowski and five other eyewitnesses reported seeing the following: A small German military truck loaded with soldiers and gasoline canisters quickly pulled up to the barn crowded with Jews. Some of the soldiers jumped down from the truck, and those soldiers staying in the truck handed them the canisters, whose contents they poured on all outer walls of the barn. The flames engulfed the barn at once.
Pyrotechnic analysis indicates that the Germans used approximately 100 gallons (over 400 liters) of gasoline to soak some 1000 square ft. of walls of the barn in order to engulf all of it with fire, burn it and in process suffocate the victims (by inhalation of the hot smoke).
Later (reportedly the next day) the Germans ordered Poles at gunpoint to bury
the partly burned and decomposing bodies of about 250 victims in grave #2
located just outside of the barn (the high
At that time there was no gasoline available to the local population of Jedwabne, to which only small amount of hydrocarbons in form of kerosene for kerosene lamps was then available. Such small amounts of kerosene with its flashpoint of about 50 degrees Centigrade could not produce the sudden barn engulfing fire.
To summarize, the German executioners collected Jews of Jedwabne in the town square and drove them by physical violence to the site of their murder. They shot some 50 Jews and burned alive 250 others (not 1600 or 1800 as inaccurately reported in the American press).
The executioners of the Einsatztrupen were helped by several ethnic Germans (the "Volksdeutche" known as traitors and spies), and a group of primitive and illiterate criminals, both local and from out of town, as well as possibly a few avengers, who believed that they and their relatives had suffered murderous persecution by Soviet security officers, and deportation to the Gulag, because of the betrayal by some of the Jews living in Jedwabne.
German executioners forced an additional number of Poles, at gunpoint, with blows of rifle butts, and with threats, to help bring Jewish victims to the town square (the marketplace) ostensibly to clean the pavement.
In the 2001 investigation by the Polish government bodies of the victims of the July 10, 1941 massacre were found buried in the graves #1 and #2. Thorough search and drilling some 170 test cores in the vicinity found no other graves of the 1941 massacre of the Jews in Jedwabne; however, at the request of a local rabbi rigorous forensic studies and full exhumation of all victims and the determination of the causes of death of every one of them was prematurely terminated.
Thus, only an approximate number of victims could be estimated by the size of the two graves.
Unfortunately these unanswered questions inevitably discredit the veracity of the final report of the official investigation by the Polish government.
"The evidence collected by the West Germans, including the positive
identification of [Hauptsturmfuehrer Herman] Schaper by witnesses from Lomza,
Tykocin, and Radzilow, suggested that it was indeed Schaper's men who carried
out the killings in those locations. Investigators also suspected, based on the
similarity of the methods used to destroy the Jewish communities of Radzilow,
Tykocin, Rutki, Zambrow, Jedwabne, Piatnica, and Wizna between July and
September 1941 that Schaper's men were the perpetrators... The method used to
kill the Jews of Jedwabne was exactly the same that had been employed by the
Gestapo [Einsatztrupen] to kill the Jews of Radzilow only three days
During the initial investigation of 1964, German investigator Opitz in Ludwigsburg, Germany, concluded that Hauptsturmfuerer Hermann Schaper's Einsatzkommando conducted mass execution of Jews in Jedwabne.
Nonetheless, Schaper gave conflicting answers to his interrogators.
First, he lied that in 1941 he had been a truck driver and he used false names. Later he claimed to have been an administrative officer, and another time a hunter of double agents, when the Gestapo was busy finding and killing communist commissars and Jews.
Court documents at Ludwigsburg archives show that the chief of the German civilian administration in the Nazi occupied Lomza district, Count van der Groeben testified that Schaper conducted executions ofÂ Jews in his district, which included the town of Jedwabne.
That notwithstanding, legal proceedings against Schaper were terminated Sept. 2, 1965 despite positive identification of the defendant by Jewish survivors of the execution in Radzilow and Tykocin.
In 1974 Schaper's case was reopened and in 1976 a German court in Giesen, Hessen, pronounced the then 68 year old Schaper guilty, together with four other members of the komando SS Zichenau- -Schroettersburg, of executions of Poles and Jews. Schaper was sentenced to a six-year prison, but was soon released for medical reasons. (Facts of Schaper's dossier are quoted from article by Thomas Urban, reporter of the Suddeutsche Zeitung; Polish text in Rzeczpospolita, Sept 1-2, 2001.)
To make any legal sense in 2002 the Polish Government should have demanded
either extradition or deposition under oath of Schaper by a German court and not
an interview which has no legal meaning and can not give legally binding
Prof. Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, , 2002-08-31