nasza witryna THE TRUTH ABOUT JEDWABNE AND HEROIC DEEDS OF THE POLISH NATION IN THE 20TH CENTURY
Prof. Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski


 

An Introduction to Those Who Risked Their Lives

The controversy

The memory of the massacre of Jedwabne of July 10, 1941 was revived in 2001 by a film and a book both entitled "Neighbors."  The film was sponsored by George Soros through his Batory Foundation in Poland. It
was produced by Agnieszka Arnold while the book was written by J. T. Gross, a sociology professor at the New York University, an immigrant form Poland, now one of directors of the Batory Foundation.

An extraordinary coverage of the alleged massacre was staged in the Polish media. It exceeded anything Poland has ever experienced. The worldwide media campaign accused the local Poles of having committed the atrocity and accused the Polish nation of complicity in the Holocaust. The massacre of Jedwabne of 1941 as a Polish national crime - a serious misrepresentation of the history of Poland. It is a well-established historical fact that the Germans were in charge and controlled the commission of their atrocities at gun point. The contention that the secondary roles in German crimes by people who were held at gun point, represent Polish national responsibility is absurd. Thus, many Poles saw the media frenzy as a mixture of the Jewish cult of the Holocaust acting out as a cult of vengeance and associated with it Holocaust profiteering that dengrates and belittles the fact that more Poles than members of any other nationality sacrificed their lives in saving Jews from the Nazis.

To describe the massacre of Jedwabne of 1941 as a Polish national crime is a serious misrepresentation of the history of Poland. It is a tremendous disappointment to see the editors of  prestigious publications such as the New York Times and later the Foreign Affairs having taken such a dubious and unsupportable position. It is a
well-established historical fact that the Germans were in charge and controlled the commission of their atrocities at gun point.  The contention that the secondary roles in German crimes by people who were held at gun point, represent Polish national responsibility is absurd.

Unfortunately, the defamation campaign was also supported by post-communists led by president Kwasniewski and a prominent leftists daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza. These post communists are former members of the communist elite who managed to stay in power.

In contradistinction to his disdain  Kharkov, Ukraine at the graves of Polish leadership community members, killed by the Soviets in 1940, where he became so intoxicated that he could hardly walk, this time
president Kwasniewski was very solemn and wore a yarmulke at the graves of Jews who were killed by burning in a barn in 1941.  Mr. Kwasniewski apologized in the in the name of those Poles who in their conscience
felt the need to apologize to the to the Jews for the horrible crime of sixty years ago.  Naturally the world press carried news of the presidential apology as a proof of the Polish national guilt in the massacre. The politics of apology and contrition was soon characterized by anticommunists as a way to smear the Polish nation with a German crime in order to whitewash communist crimes on one hand and provide ammunition to Holocaust profiteers, on the other, as Poland was readied by them for a shakedown after Germany and Switherland.

Until the site of the atrocity in Jedwabne is fully exhumed and thoroughly examined by forensic scientists, no one is justified in accepting the version of events presented by Gross. This author as well as self serving opportunistic politicians in the Polish government and their supporters have their reasons for propagating their version of events, which is largely contradicted by reliable eyewitness accounts and lacking in scientific evidence. The size and nature of the two graves at Jedwabne make physically impossible such assertions as those of J. T. Gross.

Long before Gross's book "Neighbors," was published by Princeton University Press, 2001, the New York Times published an extensive interview with the author. The hardcover book itself was unusual. The text was much shorter than usual; the font and the margins were made larger to fill the space. The question arises why such an effort to make the book appear more important?  What is the historic perspective of the Polish-Jewish controversy? Obviously the long term friendship of two peoples can not be based on Voltaire's notion that history is a lie agreed upon.

I am unaware of any organized Jewish efforts to save Polish lives at the time when Jews were in disproportionally favored position within the Stalin's terror apparatus as members of Polish government.  Poles, who know their history, are outraged by having the crimes of Nazi invaders attributed to them.

The history tells us that Poland saved Jews from extinction in late medieval and early modern times as Jew had been expelled from virtually every other country in Europe; however, the Jews were not integrated in Poland. During the century of partitions the masses of formerly Polish Jews were interested to find accommodation with the partitioning powers, while Poles wanted to rebuild Poland. Despite the fact that in 1918 all Jewish organizations were against the rebirth of Poland, in1926 Poland gave full citizenship to some 700,000 Jewish refugees from USSR ,while at the same time Jewish refugees who escaped to France remained stateless until WWII.  In 1938 some 20,000 to 30,000 Jews evicted from Germany were resettled in Poland by Polish authorities.

Unprecedented terror as a price of the heroism of the Polish nation.

The great heroic deeds of Poland of the 20th century benefitted the entire world. Such was the derailing of Lenin's world revolution based on the Moscow- Berlin axis in 1920 as well as ruining of Hitler's strategy for domination of the entire world in 1939. Poland's heroism lived on in the wartime combat of Polish soldiers, airmen, and seamen, as well as Europe's largest resistance movement and the very existence of the Polish underground state under enemy occupation.

In order to understand why during the Second World War Poland suffered the worst terror in Europe at the hands of the Nazis and the Soviets we have to remember how the Poles first derailed Lenin's attempt to stage communist world revolution in 1920 and then eighteen years later how they wracked Hitler's plans for the domination of the world.

Derailing of Lenin's world revolution

After World War I the Poles declared their independence on Nov. 11, 1918. To keep their independence, the Poles had to win borderland wars.

By far the most important was the Polish victory, led by Marshal J贸zef Pilsudski, over Lenin's Red Army in 1920. Lenin had attempted to overrun Poland and form a Moscow-Berlin alliance in order to stage a worldwide
communist revolution.

Germans resented their defeat in World War I; at the time there were six millions communists in Germany and millions more who were ready to accept a communist government in return for the re-annexation of western and northern Poland, once those lands would be occupied by the Soviets. The Polish victory deprived Lenin of a chance for a worldwide revolution. The Soviets then retaliated with terror and eventually murdered more Polish nationals than did the Germans, during the World War II, in 1939-1941. In the Spring of 1940 alone the NKVD
executed 21,857 members of Polish leadership community. About four-fifths of all victims were betrayed to the NKVD by local leftists mostly of Jewish background.

The doctrine of Lebensraum and world domination

Meanwhile the doctrine of Lebensraum was revived in Germany. The doctrine of Lebensraum or "German living space" was first stated in 1848 during the All-German Congress at Frankfurt, when an attempt was made to
unify Germany, fragmented for centuries into more than three hundred fifty independent principalities. The same year Pan-Slavic Congress at Prague bitterly reacted to the doctrine of Lebensraum as a new version of the 1000-year-old German "push to the east to conquer Slavic lands, known as the "Drang nach dem Slavischen Osten"or simply as the "Drang nach Osten." Soon along the doctrine of Lerbensraum appeared plans for German domination of the world.

"Mein Kampf" of 1924 as an early warning to Poland

Karl Haushofer, a mentor of Rudolf Hess, founded Zeitschrift f眉r Geopolitik, with German domination of world affairs as his editorial mission. *When Hess was imprisoned in 1924, together with Hitler in Landsberg, (now Gorz贸w Wielkopolski in Poland), Haushofer visited Hess and Hitler in prison at least eight times. It was during the time when Hitler dictated to Hess his "Mein Kampf", in which the doctrine of the Lebensraum was included. (After both Hitler and Hess were released from prison, Hess became Hitler's private secretary and in 1933 was appointed the "Stellvertreter des F眉hrers" or a deputy F眉hrer.) Thus, since 1924 with the publication of Hitler's program the Poles were aware that these grandiose German plans could be realized only at the expense of Poland and other Slavic lands.

When Hitler became the chancellor, the essence of the policies of his government at all times was the implementation of the doctrine of Lebensraum. In order to accomplish German domination of the globe Hitler considered the defeat of Russia as fundamental for German control of the Eurasian Heartland and the eventual subjugation of the rest of the world, called the Rimland. Hitler following the teachings of Haushofer regarded the British Empire to be eventually dominated by Germany as an indispensable part of the world order. For this reason in 1940, when some 300,000 British soldiers were most vulnerable during their escape across the Channel, Hitler decided to let them go rather than killing most of them, which he could easily have done.

Hitler's urgency to start the war

Hitler, in an advanced stage of Parkinson's disease, was in a hurry to start an anti-Soviet crusade to build his "1,000 year Reich" from Riga to the Black Sea and control world's main oil resources for his "war of the engines." Hitler hoped that Poland, a physical barrier between Germany and the USSR, could be persuaded to join Germany and Japan in the conquest of the Soviet Union.

Hitler was seen by most of the Germans as a "man of destiny"and an "incarnation of Germany." He himself believed in this preposterous notion and repeatedly stated that he preferred to go to war in 1939 when he was fifty, rather than later, when he expected to be less vigorous at fifty five or sixty. He was bothered by trembling of his left hand and thought that his Parkinson's disease markedly shortened his life expectancy.

Warnings about the risks of a world war by several leaders of the German military-industrial complex only served to reinforce Hitler's belief in his role as the one and only leader in German history who, thanks to almost total public support, could lead Germany to start a global war for Lebensraum and world supremacy by the German race. Thus, Germany was about to bring a tragic end to the European phase of Jewish history, when the vast majority of all Jews lived in Europe.

Hitler's efforts to get Poland to join Germany and Japan in an attack on the USSR

Hitler admired the Poles for inflicting a crushing defeat in 1920 on Lenin's invasion of Poland and derailing Soviet attempt to advance westward, "over the corpse of white Poland, to worldwide communist revolution."

Hitler hoped to include some 3,500,000 Polish soldiers in his anti-Soviet crusade because his generals told him that Germany did not have enough men to win the Lebensraum and dominate the Eurasian Heartland. (A well known fact is that Germany was short 1,000,000 soldiers per year on the front lines from 1941 on.) Thus, Hitler, warned by his generals that Germany had insufficient military manpower for his grandiose schemes, strived in 1935-1939 to have on his side Poland with its potential 3,500,000 soldiers. The Berlin government felt that
combining German and Polish forces in Europe with Japanese forces in Asia would bring a decisive victory over the USSR and with it a German control over the world's main oil fields which were also essential to
secure Hitler's world domination.

Hitler's efforts to persuade Poland to join the Anti-Comintern Pact were recorded in detail by J贸zef Lipski in his book Diplomat in Berlin 1933-39 covering the period when the author served as Polish ambassador to Germany.

Already on Aug. 5, 1935 Hitler declared that good Polish-German relations are of primary importance. German proposals included: military cooperation, alliance against Russia, an air pact, etc. A year later on Aug. 31, 1936 German gold payments to Poland for transit through Pomerania between Germany and East Prussia was settled
and Hitler declared that it was as a financial and not political matter.

On Nov. 25, 1936 the Anti-Comintern Pact against the USSR was signed by Germany and Japan and on Aug. 13, 1937 the Germans met with the Japanese for consultations on their pressure on Poland to join the Anti-Comintern Pact and their analysis of Polish politics.

Japanese Gen. Sawada suggested a carrot and stick approach. On one hand the Nazis were to order ethnic Germans in Poland to cease anti-Polish hostilities and on the other they were to concentrate the German army on Poland's borders and occupy Klajpeda-Memel in Lithuania (the latter happened in March 1939). Meanwhile Herman Goering used his frequent "hunting trips" to Poland to persuade the Poles to join the Anti-Comintern Pact.

When on Nov. 6, 1937 Italy Joined the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact - the need for Poland's participation in the pact was stressed.

Three days later Poland's Foreign Minister Beck commented evasively on the participation of Poland in the Anti-Comintern Pact. However the next day on Nov. 10, 1937 German and Polish Ambassadors to the Quirinal discussed the pact in Musolini's residence. (At the same time Vatican considered the USSR to be more dangerous to the Church than was Hitler's Germany.)

On Jan, 1938 Italy proposed a membership in the Anti-Comintern Pact to Poland, Spain, and Brasil.

Three weeks later on Feb. 4, 1938 German Minister von Ribbentrop intensified his campaign to get Poland into the Anti-Comintern Pact. Two months later, on March 31, 1938 German pressure was exerted on Poland to sign the Anti- Comintern Pact in a direct conference.

On Sept. 27, 1938 during the Czech crisis Germany asked again about Poland's attitude towards the pact. A month later, on Oct. 24, 1938 Germany offered a general settlement of Polish-German problems within the pact. Three months later, on Jan. 26, 1939 Ribbentrop was told in Warsaw that Poland will not join the Anti-Comintern Pact and Polish participation in German and Japanese attack on the USSR was out of question.

When on March 31, 1939 Poland, Gr. Britain and France exchanged common defense guarantees, Poland shaped the history of the world.

Poland did this by refusing to take part in a simultaneous attack on the USSR from the east and the west - such an attack that most likely would have destroyed the Soviet state. Hitler realized that Poland's refusal critically weakened his plans for the domination of the world and reacted with a fury verging on criminal insanity.

On Aug. 22, 1939 Hitler delivered a secret speech in which he stated that the complete destruction of Poland and especially its population was his primary target. Hitler talked about the conquest and colonization of Poland. He ordered his military commanders to use the utmost ferocity in merciless killing Polish men, women, and children.
Hitler's orders issued at this crucial moment had nothing to do with the extermination of Jews, however these orders were a retaliation for derailment by the Poles of Hitler's strategy to conquer the Euro-Asian Heartland.

German betrayal of Japan, German-Soviet pact

After Germany and Japan had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936, Japan attacked the USSR in 1938. Later, in Aug. 1939 in the middle of a bloody battle for control of the Trans-Siberian railroad the Japanese learned that Germany betrayed them by signing a nonaggression pact with the Soviets in order to partition Poland and get a common border with the USSR.

Soviet-Japanese battle on Aug 20 - 23, 1939 on the Khalka River in Mongolia was won by Marshal G. Zhukov who used new tactics of coordinated attacks of tanks, assault aircraft, and deception, which consisted of broadcasting of sounds of moving tanks by microphones far away from the location of the intended attack. Thus, when Japan expected German help against Russia, Germany was signing a non-aggression pact with the Soviets.

On Aug 23, 1939 the Soviet-German pact on non-aggression set the stage for the outbreak of World War II.

The secret clauses on the partition of Poland opened the stage of the Hitler-Stalin partnership which resulted in obliteration of Poland and of mass murders and deportations of Polish citizens. The full content of the Soviet-German pact was immediately revealed to the government of the United States by Hans von Horwath, an employee of the German ministry of foreign affairs in Berlin and by agents in Moscow. The United States did not warn Poland about the secret content of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Japan felt betrayed by the new German partnership with the USSR. The Japanese lodged a sharp protest in Berlin against the German-Soviet pact.

The Soviets were quick to participate in the fourth partition of Poland and hoped for a long war of attrition on Germany's western front as Great Britain and France would declare war on Germany in fulfillment of their common defense treaty with Poland. The pact with Germany strengthened the Soviet position in negotiations for conclusion of the armistice with Japan on Sept. 15, 1939, two days before Soviet invasion of Poland.

The Japanese never forgave the Germans for the betrayal. Even after Germany declared war on the United States four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Japan did not renew its attacks on the USSR in 1941 which would have helped Germany to take Moscow and defeat the Soviet Union by pinning down the Siberian army (and keeping it from rescuing the Soviet capital).

Deciphering of Enigma and the plan to attack Poland

On July 25, 1939, Poland gave Great Britain and France each a copy of a linguistic deciphering electro-mechanical device for the German secret military code system Enigma, complete with specifications, perforated
cards, and updating procedures. Thanks to the Polish solution for breaking the Enigma, the British project Ultra was able to interpret German secret messages during the entire war of 1939-1945. The invasion of Normandy would not have been possible without it. In 1999, the American code expert David A. Hatch of the Center of Cryptic History, NSA, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland wrote that "the breaking of the Enigma by Poland was one of the cornerstones of Allied victory over Germany."

The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs J贸zef Beck, following the strategic advice of the late Marshal Pilsudski, held both the Germans and the Soviets at bay as long as it was possible. The Polish refusal by the end of January 1939 to join the Anti-Comintern Pact derailed Hitler's plans and caused him to lose his chance to join Japan in the attack on the USSR. Poland, Great Britain, and France exchanged common defense guarantees on March 31, 1939. Hitler signed Fall Weiss plan on April 11 and ordered the attack on Poland on September 1, 1939.

Fall 1939 - Winter 1941. The high tide of German conquests and the Soviet occupation

German aggression resulted in a complete destruction of the power basis for the control of the globe by Europeans which Germany began with the First World War. The Jewish population of 8,700,000 was trapped under the control of the Berlin government; at least sixty percent (or about 5,100,000) were exterminated by the Germans during World War II. The second world war was not fought to save the Jews. However, during first years of war the rate of German and Soviet murder of the Poles was much higher than that of the Jews.

On Sept. 21, 1939 Reinhad Heydreich, the head of German National Security Office (which united state and Nazi party police) ordered to concentrate Jews and isolate them from the Poles in newly created ghettos, each administered by a Jewish council called the Judenrat, which was "fully responsible... for precise and timely execution of all orders [given by German authorities]" Heydrich knew that military horror would lead Ghetto Jewish Police to horrible crimes. Jews were to wear bands displaying the Star of David. Jews 14 to 60 years old were to be used as a slave labor force working on starvation diet.

German plans for the starvation of ghetto inmates was sabotaged by illegal deliveries of about 250 tons of flour daily to the Warsaw Ghetto alone. J贸zef Dabrowski and others were shot by Germans for such deliveries. By then the daily food ration in Warsaw was 184 calories for a Jew, 669 for a Pole, and 2,613 for a German. Eighty percent of the food consumed by the Jews was smuggled into the ghettos by Poles.

Despite these facts, German propaganda, stating that the Poles rather than the Germans were the principal enemies of the Jews, was still effective in the ghetto. Neither the extensive smuggling of food into the ghetto by the Poles nor the illegal Polish trade convinced the Jews that Germans, not Poles, were their deadly enemies.

The Jewish Ghetto Police was to enforce German policies towards the Jews in each ghetto. Jewish Ghetto Police were to arrest non-Jews who made purchases in stores exclusively designated for the Jews or brought
merchandise or food with them. Arrested Polish gentiles were to be turned over to the Germans for execution. A number of such executions actually took place in Konin and other localities. Polish underground courts prosecuted traitors and criminals during the war. Crime was rampant inside and outside ghettos. It included extortions, robberies and murders.

During the Soviet invasion a very visible part of the Jewish and Byelorussian population received the Red Army with triumphal arches, flowers, and symbolic gifts of bread and salt, trying to ally themselves with the invaders. Before long, many were collaborating in NKVD arrests, deportations, and the killings of Polish cultural leaders, business people and their families. A Jewish lawyer from Lw贸w observed:"When there was a political meeting, parade, or any other happy occasion the visual impression was always the same ...the Jews [were most visible]."

A paradoxical situation developed. Jews started to see themselves as first class citizens, much above local Christians, while in fact the Soviets were in a short time abolishing all Jewish communal institutions and destroying the rich cultural Jewish heritage in eastern Poland. Jewish religious schools were closed, teaching of the Hebrew language forbidden, Zionist movement and youth organizations were declared illegal, Jewish political parties were liquidated, and members of the traditional Jewish leadership community were arrested.

The German-Soviet Population Exchange Commission received from Jewish refugees applications for permission to return to German-occupied Poland; soon the lists of the applicants were turned over to the NKVD and used for their deportation despite the fact that many Jewish refugees shouted "Long live Hitler."

The Soviets deprived the Jewish inhabitants of eastern Poland of their ethnic and cultural identity while they made the Jews feel superior to others in their access to government jobs, universities, professions,
etc.

However, anyone, whether Christian or Jew, who lived comfortably before the war, was automatically considered by the Soviets to be an enemy of the Soviet Union. Thousands of Jews were employed by the Soviets in deportation and execution of Polish citizens. Among the deportees 52 percent were Poles, 30 percent were Jews, and 18 percent were Ukrainians and Byelorussians.

Soviet order of June 24, 1941 to execute imprisoned counter-revolutionaries

German attack on the USSR stared on June 22, 1941. In the Polish area occupied by the Soviets there were about 40,000 Polish citizens imprisoned, mostly non-Jews. Two days later Laurenty Beria ordered the execution of the prisoners. Some 30,000 Polish citizens were murdered within two weeks. Soviet mass murders of Polish civilians played an important role when the government in Berlin learned about these executions and used them to brutalize the war. Massive pogroms of Jews and communists were soon ordered on the newly conquered land.

Berlin's order of June 29, 1941 to hide the German role in executions of Jews

Five days after Beria's order to conduct massive executions of Polish "counter-revolutionaries" in the NKVD prisons, the government in Berlin formulated its propaganda that the population terrorized by the Soviets started massive pogroms of Jews and communists. Therefore Reinhard Heydrich ordered his men to eradicate all traces of their presence at the executions staged by the Germans. The Nazis were able to radicalize the war and make it even more brutal as German soldiers saw masses of corpses and among the dead some German prisoners of war still in uniform. Thus, Soviet mass murders at the start of German-Soviet war put Germans into a killing frenzy. They shot to death one million civilians, mostly Jews, up till the end of 1941.

In reality all mass executions of Jews and communists were conducted according to German plans and under German control. The usual German scheme was to gather the local Jews and make them wash the bodies of the
victims of recent Soviet executions for identification by their relatives. Afterwards the Jews had to bury the corpses. Once the burials were over the Germans killed the Jews and proceeded to eradicated all traces of their presence at the execution sites.

Soviet collaborators, mostly Jews, fled with the NKVD, only to return at the end of the war to help in bloody pacification of Poland in the process of converting it into a Soviet satellite state.
As we all know, despite the crucial Polish contributions and sacrifices for the Allies' victory, Poland was betrayed by Roosevelt and Churchill first at Teheran and then at Yalta; it was handed over to become a Soviet satellite state, after a ruthless pacification by the communist terror apparatus.

Truth vs. propaganda about the tragedy of Jedwabne

One of the tragedies resulting from the brutalization of the war in the wake of mass murders ordered by Beria happened in Jedwabne, north east of Warsaw.

Sixty years later a "media battle of Jedwabne" resounded in Poland and elsewhere. Dr. M. J. Chodakiewicz, of the University of Virginia showed in his study that during the war more Christians than Jews were killed in the town of Jedwabne. In the discursive world of the media Holocaust profiteers feeding on fear and selective truth presented the tragedy of Jedwabne as a Polish national crime. Using systematic distortion of information taken out of the true context of war and terror, authors like Jan.T. Gross make the horrors of occupation virtually invisible. Polish Christians are shown as the vile and sadistic criminals whom the Nazis tried to restrain.

On July 10, 1941 German executioners collected Jews of Jedwabne in the town square and drove them by physical violence to the site of their murder. First they shot some 50 Jews and then burned alive 250 others
(not 1600 or 1800 as inaccurately reported in the American press on the basis of false information published by J. T. Gross who ignored Soviet and other sources as well as German archives in his book Neighbors , published in 2001). The number of victims will not be known until a full exhumation and detailed forensic studies will be performed at the site of the massacre - now we are left with preliminary estimates that range from 100 to 400 victims.

The executioners of the Einsatztrupen enlisted help of 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." The latter must have 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.

According to eyewitnesses still living today, uniformed Germans committed this wartime atrocity. 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 Einsatzgrupen 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 agricultural machinery from it and prepared it for the execution of the Jews next day. (The daughter of the owner of the barn repeatedly testified about this facts, most recently on the CBS "60 minutes" on March 24, 2002.)

The 50 Jewish men were ordered to dig a large grave inside the barn, ostensibly for burying Lenin's concrete head. (J. T. Gross wants his readers to believe that the head of Lenin was buried in the Jewish
cemetery.)
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 bodies emanating a horrible odor. Remains of about 250 victims were buried in the grave #2 located along the barn (the high content of water in human bodies requires temperature of some 800 degrees Centigrade for more than thirty minutes in order to obtain a complete cremation).

At that time there was no gasoline available to the local population of Jedwabne (only a small amount of hydrocarbons in form of kerosene for lamps was available to the rural population). Such small amounts of kerosene (as mentioned by J. T. Gross) with its flashpoint of about 50 degrees Centigrade could not produce a sudden fire to engulf the entire barn at once.

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 an Orthodox Rabbi who objected, rigorous forensic studies and full exhumation of all victims and the determination by autopsy of 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's agency, the Institute of National Memory (IPN).

The veracity of Gross's book and the film Neighbors is further compromised by a baseless, non-corroborated claim that a cut off head of a Jewish female was kicked around in Jedwabne. Jerzy Robert Nowak, the author of the book "100 Lies By Gross" (published in Poland) claims that after its publication he determined additional factual errors in Neighbors.

"The book of Prof. Gross can not be considered as a serious scholarly work: it is rather a tendentious propagandistic pamphlet. He jumps to farfetched conclusions before examining the existing evidence." wrote to the New York Times M. K. Dziewanowski, Professor of History, author of: History of Soviet Russia, 5th edition, Prentice Hall, 1996.

As Alexander B. Rossino, historian at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. writes in an article to be printed in Polin, Volume 16, 2003:

"The evidence collected by the West Germans, including the positive identification of [Hauptsturmfuehrer Herman] Schaper by witnesses from 艁omza, Tykocin, and Radzil贸w, 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 Radzil贸w, Tykocin, Rutki, Zambr贸w, 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 [Einsatsgrupen] to kill the Jews of Radzilow only three days earlier."

During the initial investigation of 1964, German investigator Opitz in Ludwigsburg, Germany, concluded that Hauptsturmfuerer Hermann Schaper's Einsatskommando conducted the 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 艁om偶a district, Count van der Groeben testified that Schaper conducted mass executions of 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 kommando SS Zichenau-Schroettersburg, of executions of Poles and Jews. Schaper was sentenced to a six-year prison, but was soon released for medical reasons. (The 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 the 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 information. However, the Polish government's agency the Institute of National Memory (IPN) gave the press a report that "Hauptsturmfuehrer Hermann Schaper confirmed known facts."

This kind of behavior by the Institute of National Memory in Warsaw is unacceptable. The men of the Institute have apparently learned from their colleges in the United States and Western Europe to manipulate information; they omit inconvenient facts and make conclusions convenient for their career objectives. This is done regardless of objective reality in order to win the favor of those in position to further their economic and professional prospects. Perhaps they have seen the wisdom of Pontius Pilate, who solved the moral dilemma by simply saying "What is truth?" He knew better than to antagonize either the government or the Jews.

Attempts to stop the Final Solution

On Jan. 20, 1942 the Wannsee Conference in Berlin finalized the plans for the implementation of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question."

The Berlin government, in the wake of its defeat in the battle of Moscow, announced invitation for bids from German industry for equipment for an industrial process of extermination of eleven million European Jews. Terrorized Jewish personnel were to be used in the extermination process, with the nominal involvement of Germans. No Jewish "germ cell" was allowed to survive. Procedural guidelines were specified.

On Dec. 4, 1942 the headquarters of the Council of Assistance for the Jews was established in Warsaw with financial support of the Polish Government-in-Exile. It had code name "Zegota" and it was unique in occupied Europe. Zegota provided over 100,000 Jews with living quarters, "Aryan" documents, food, medical care, and financial aid. It donated money for weapons for Jewish resistance fighters. However most of the help for the Jewish victims of the brutal German policies was provided by private people who risked their lives helping Jewish victims.

On Dec. 10, 1942 Polish Government-in-Exile issued an urgent appeal to the Allies, primarily addressed to the governments of the United States and Great Britain, to stop German genocidal operation by bombing the access railways, gas chambers, and crematoria. It was the only such governmental initiative during the war.

Only a small fraction of the number of Poles who were killed by the Germans because they helped Jews and those who succeeded and actually were recognized by the Israeli Yad Vashem Institute - The Holocaust
Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, as "Righteous Among Nations" could be identified because of the destruction brought by the and following Soviet occupation.

Remembering the horrific events of the war Poles and Jews must understand in the full historical context the tragedies caused by the Nazis and by the Soviets. Now is the time for full reconciliation and coming together in our joint humanity.

Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski

author of: Poland, an Illustrated History (Hippocrene Books, New York, 2000), Jews in Poland, The Rise of Jews as a Nation from Congressus Judaicus in Poland to the Knesset in Israel (Hippocrene Books, New York,
1993), Poland, a Historical Atlas (Hippocrene Books, 1987).

* Karl Haushofer was influenced by Alfred Kjellen, the Swedish creator of the term "geopolitics;" Frederick Ratzell's organismic theories of the growth of nations; and Sir Halford John Mackinder, who put forth the concept of strategic importance of the Euro-Asian heartland.

Prof. Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, , 2002-12-25

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