The Crime and the Silence Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2015-09-15
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category

A monumental work of nonfiction on a wartime atrocity, its sixty-year denial, and the impact of its truth

Jan Gross's hugely controversial Neighbors was a historian's disclosure of the events in the small Polish town of Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, when the citizens rounded up the Jewish population and burned them alive in a barn. The massacre was a shocking secret that had been suppressed for more than sixty years, and it provoked the most important public debate in Poland since 1989. From the outset, Anna Bikont reported on the town, combing through archives and interviewing residents who survived the war period. Her writing became a crucial part of the debate and she herself an actor in a national drama.
Part history, part memoir, The Crime and the Silence is the journalist's account of these events: both the story of the massacre told through oral histories of survivors and witnesses, and a portrait of a Polish town coming to terms with its dark past. Including the perspectives of both heroes and perpetrators, Bikont chronicles the sources of the hatred that exploded against Jews and asks what myths grow on hidden memories, what destruction they cause, and what happens to a society that refuses to accept a horrific truth.
A profoundly moving exploration of being Jewish in modern Poland that Julian Barnes called "one of the most chilling books," The Crime and the Silence is a vital contribution to Holocaust history and a fascinating story of a town coming to terms with its dark past.

Author Biography

Anna Bikont is a journalist for Gazeta Wyborcza, the main newspaper in Poland, which she helped found in 1989. For her articles on the crimes of Jedwabne and Radziłów, she was honored in 2001 with Poland’s most prestigious award in journalism, the Press Prize. In 2011 she received the European Book Prize for Le crime et le silence, the French version of the book. In 2008 and 2009, Bikont was a Cullman Fellow of the New York Public Library. Alissa Valles is a poet and the cotranslator of the collected poems and prose of Zbigniew Herbert, as well as the translator of other modern Polish poets, including Aleksander Wat, Miron Białoszewski, and Ryszard Krynicki.

Table of Contents

Journal 1
Chapter 1
Lord, Rid Poland of the JewsOr, On Polish-Jewish Relations in Jedwabne in the Thirties

Journal 2
Chapter 2
I Wanted to Save her Life, Love Came LaterOr, The Story of Rachela Finkelsztejn and Stanislaw Ramotowski

Journal 3
Chapter 3
We Suffered Under the Soviets, the Germans, and People's PolandOr, The Story of the Three Brothers Laudanski

Journal 4
Chapter 4
You Didn't See That Grief in JewsOr, Polish and Jewish Memory of the Soviet Occupation

Journal 5
Chapter 5
I'll Tell You Who Did It: My FatherOr, The Private Investigation of Jan Skrodzki

Journal 6
Chapter 6
If I'd Been In Jedwabne Then
Or, The Story of Meir Ronen, Deported to Kazakhstan

Journal 7
Chapter 7
A Time Will Come When Even Stones Will SpeakOr, Soliloquies of Leszek Dziedzic

Journal 8
Chapter 8
Your Only Chance Was to Pass for a Goy Or, The Story of Awigdor Kochaw's survival

Journal 9

Chapter 9

Desperately Seeking Something Positive
Or, Soliloquies of Krzysztof Godlewski, Ex-Mayor of Jedwabne

Journal 10
Chapter 10
Only I Knew There Were Seven Of ThemOr, The Story of Antonina Wyrzykowska

Chapter 11
I, Szmul Wasersztejn, Warn YouOr, The Road from Jedwabne to Costa Rica
Journal 11

Chapter 12
They Had Vodka, Guns and HatredOr, July 7, 1941 in Radzilów
Journal 12

Chapter 13
The Dreams of Chaja FinkelsztejnOr, The Survival of a Radzilów Miller's Family
Journal 13

Chapter 14
Decent Polish Kids and Hooligans
Or, On the Murderers of Jedwabne, Radzilów, Wasosz and surroundings
Journal 14

Chapter 15 Strictly Speaking Poles Did ItOr, A Conversation with Prosecutor Radoslaw Ignatiew
From the Ruins of a Lost WorldOr, The Names, Surnames and Addresses of the Jews of Jedwabne

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