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1 Burnside Judaism- AntiSemitism

Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz

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Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz Cover

ISBN13: 9780375509247
ISBN10: 0375509240
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"The human response to such reports is simply to howl, 'Why?' It is to Gross's credit that he manages to turn his own howl — his meticulously researched book is not devoid of emotion — into a serious investigation of how these brutalities could have occurred." Ruth Franklin, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Poland suffered an exceedingly brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Close to five million Polish citizens lost their lives as a result. More than half the casualties were Polish Jews. Thus, the second largest Jewish community in the world — only American Jewry numbered more than the three and a half million Polish Jews at the time — was wiped out. Over 90 percent of its members were killed in the Holocaust. And yet, despite this unprecedented calamity that affected both Jews and non-Jews, Jewish Holocaust survivors returning to their hometowns in Poland after the war experienced widespread hostility, including murder, at the hands of their neighbors. The bloodiest peacetime pogrom in twentieth-century Europe took place in the Polish town of Kielce one year after the war ended, on July 4, 1946.

Jan Gross's Fear attempts to answer a perplexing question: How was anti-Semitism possible in Poland after the war? At the center of his investigation is a detailed reconstruction of the Kielce pogrom and the reactions it evoked in various milieus of Polish society. How did the Polish Catholic Church, Communist party workers, and intellectuals respond to the spectacle of Jews being murdered by their fellow citizens in a country that had just been liberated from a five-year Nazi occupation?

Gross argues that the anti-Semitism displayed in Poland in the war's aftermath cannot be understood simply as a continuation of prewar attitudes. Rather, it developed in the context of the Holocaust and the Communist takeover: Anti-Semitism eventually became a common currency between the Communist regime and a society in which many had joined in the Nazi campaign of plunder and murder — and for whom the Jewish survivors were a standing reproach.

Jews did not bring communism to Poland as some believe; in fact, they were finally driven out of Poland under the Communist regime as a matter of political expediency. In the words of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, Poland's Communist rulers fulfilled the dream of Polish nationalists by bringing into existence an ethnically pure state.

For more than half a century, what happened to the Jewish Holocaust survivors in Poland has been cloaked in guilt and shame. Writing with passion, brilliance, and fierce clarity, Jan T. Gross at last brings the truth to light.

Review:

"Signature Review by Deborah E. Lipstadt

Rarely does a small book force a country to confront some of the more sordid aspects of its history. Jan T. Gross's Neighbors did precisely that. Gross exposed how in 1941 half the Polish inhabitants of the town of Jedwabne brutally clubbed, burned and dismembered the town's 1,600 Jews, killing all but seven.

The book was greeted with a terrible outcry in Poland. A government commission determined that not only did Gross get the story right but that many other cities had done precisely the same thing.

Now Gross has written Fear, an even more substantial study of postwar Polish anti-Semitism. This book tells a wartime horror story that should force Poles to confront an untold — and profoundly terrifying — aspect of their history.

Fear relates, in compelling detail, how Poles from virtually all segments of society persecuted the poor, emaciated and traumatized Holocaust survivors. Those who did not actually participate in the persecution, e.g., Church leaders and Communist officials, refused to use their influence to stop the pogroms, massacres and plundering of the Jews. The Communists used the anti-Semitism to consolidate their rule. Church leaders justified the blood libel charges. Even Polish historians have either ignored or tried to justify this anti-Semitism.

Gross builds a meticulous case. He argues that this postwar persecution is 'a smoking gun,' which proves that during the war Poles not only acquiesced but, in many cases, actively assisted the Nazis in their persecution of the Jews. Had they been appalled by Germany's policies toward the Jews or tried to help the victims, Poles could never have engaged in such virulent anti-Semitism in the postwar period. Gross notes that when the Germans were trying to put down the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Poles — including children — not only cheered as Jewish snipers were spotted and killed but gleefully showed the Germans where Jews were hiding. Those Poles who helped Jews were often persecuted or even killed by their neighbors.

I am troubled by references to 'Polish death camps.' They were not Polish death camps but camps the Germans placed in Poland. I have taken even stronger issue with the opinion voiced by many Jews that the 'Poles were as bad as — and maybe worse than — the Germans.' I argue that while there was a strong tradition of anti-Semitism in Poland, Poles never tried to murder Jews in a systematic fashion. After reading Fear, the next time I hear someone say the Poles were as bad as the Germans, I will probably still challenge that charge — after all the damage wrought by the Germans cannot be compared to what the Poles did — but my challenge will be far less forceful. I may even keep silent. 8 pages of photos.(July 4)

Lipstadt is director of the Rabbi Donald Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University and the author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"In 1996, Poland's prime minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, invited a Jewish American writer to speak at a commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Kielce pogrom. The speaker reminded his listeners that if Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek and Sobibor were German initiatives, the killers this time on the ground were Polish, their language Polish and their hatred entirely Polish. He took advantage... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"After all the millions dead, after the Nazi terror, a good many Poles still found it acceptable to hate the Jews among them....The sorrows of history multiply: a necessary book." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Gross illustrates with eloquence and shocking detail that the bloodletting did not cease when the war ended....This is a masterful work that sheds necessary light on a tragic and often-ignored aspect of postwar history." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Provocative...powerful and necessary....One can only hope that this important book will make a difference." Boston Globe

Review:

"[A]n astonishing book....Gross has done a great service to the historical discourse by exposing the realities of what is, was and has been racist cruelty in Poland." The Baltimore Sun

Review:

"Though gripping, the book is not a page turner. It's more like a literary exercise in wincing and squirming....It is illuminating and searing, a moral indictment delivered with cool, lawyerly efficiency that pounds away at the conscience with the sledgehammer of a verdict." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

From the author of the acclaimed Neighbors comes a startling look at a tragic mystery, one fully revealed in this book for the first time. Gross questions: Why, after millions of Jews perished in Poland during the Holocaust, did anti-Semitism on the part of everyday Poles increase after the war's end?

About the Author

Jan T. Gross was a 2001 National Book Award nominee for his widely acclaimed Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. He teaches history at Princeton University, where he is a Norman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professor of War and Society.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Lobelio Kozicki, July 4, 2006 (view all comments by Lobelio Kozicki)
"The bloodiest peacetime pogrom in twentieth-century Europe took place in the Polish town of Kielce one year after the war ended, on July 4, 1946"

Although the statement above is untrue, for the bloodiest was in Kishinev in 1903, the thesis of book is an interesting one. It analyses the state of mind of Poles and Jews after the 2nd World War. When the picture of Jews who came back to Poland after the Holocaust is very true, deep and eloquent, it is not so with depicting Poles. An idea that anti-Semitism and pogroms after the Shoah were fueled mainly by Polish obsession of Jewish richness seems to me too Marxist.

The previous publications on the subject by different authors stressed on Communist apparatchiks' insiration to the pogrom. Gross shows us an alternative view.

I believe that a specific religiosity, a typical Polish Catholic ignorance of Old Testament, lack of an egalitarian tradition, and identification of Jews and the Soviet regime in eyes of the public - so ideological reasons - might give a more precise description to what happened in town of Kielce in 1946. (BTW: Adam Michnik tried to follow this thinking in his June 2006 essay published in Polish in the 'Gazeta Wyborcza' daily).
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(26 of 40 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375509247
Subtitle:
Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz
Author:
Gross, Jan T.
Author:
Gross, Jan
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Eastern Europe - Poland
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Jews
Subject:
Communism
Subject:
Discrimination & Racism
Subject:
Jewish - General
Subject:
Eastern Europe - General
Subject:
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Influence.
Subject:
Poland History 1945-1980.
Subject:
Europe - Eastern
Copyright:
Publication Date:
June 27, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 8-PP PHOTO INSERTS
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.42x6.62x1.15 in. 1.27 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Eastern Europe » Poland
Religion » Judaism » AntiSemitism

Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz Used Hardcover
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Random House - English 9780375509247 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Signature Review by Deborah E. Lipstadt

Rarely does a small book force a country to confront some of the more sordid aspects of its history. Jan T. Gross's Neighbors did precisely that. Gross exposed how in 1941 half the Polish inhabitants of the town of Jedwabne brutally clubbed, burned and dismembered the town's 1,600 Jews, killing all but seven.

The book was greeted with a terrible outcry in Poland. A government commission determined that not only did Gross get the story right but that many other cities had done precisely the same thing.

Now Gross has written Fear, an even more substantial study of postwar Polish anti-Semitism. This book tells a wartime horror story that should force Poles to confront an untold — and profoundly terrifying — aspect of their history.

Fear relates, in compelling detail, how Poles from virtually all segments of society persecuted the poor, emaciated and traumatized Holocaust survivors. Those who did not actually participate in the persecution, e.g., Church leaders and Communist officials, refused to use their influence to stop the pogroms, massacres and plundering of the Jews. The Communists used the anti-Semitism to consolidate their rule. Church leaders justified the blood libel charges. Even Polish historians have either ignored or tried to justify this anti-Semitism.

Gross builds a meticulous case. He argues that this postwar persecution is 'a smoking gun,' which proves that during the war Poles not only acquiesced but, in many cases, actively assisted the Nazis in their persecution of the Jews. Had they been appalled by Germany's policies toward the Jews or tried to help the victims, Poles could never have engaged in such virulent anti-Semitism in the postwar period. Gross notes that when the Germans were trying to put down the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Poles — including children — not only cheered as Jewish snipers were spotted and killed but gleefully showed the Germans where Jews were hiding. Those Poles who helped Jews were often persecuted or even killed by their neighbors.

I am troubled by references to 'Polish death camps.' They were not Polish death camps but camps the Germans placed in Poland. I have taken even stronger issue with the opinion voiced by many Jews that the 'Poles were as bad as — and maybe worse than — the Germans.' I argue that while there was a strong tradition of anti-Semitism in Poland, Poles never tried to murder Jews in a systematic fashion. After reading Fear, the next time I hear someone say the Poles were as bad as the Germans, I will probably still challenge that charge — after all the damage wrought by the Germans cannot be compared to what the Poles did — but my challenge will be far less forceful. I may even keep silent. 8 pages of photos.(July 4)

Lipstadt is director of the Rabbi Donald Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University and the author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

"Review A Day" by , "The human response to such reports is simply to howl, 'Why?' It is to Gross's credit that he manages to turn his own howl — his meticulously researched book is not devoid of emotion — into a serious investigation of how these brutalities could have occurred." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "After all the millions dead, after the Nazi terror, a good many Poles still found it acceptable to hate the Jews among them....The sorrows of history multiply: a necessary book."
"Review" by , "Gross illustrates with eloquence and shocking detail that the bloodletting did not cease when the war ended....This is a masterful work that sheds necessary light on a tragic and often-ignored aspect of postwar history."
"Review" by , "Provocative...powerful and necessary....One can only hope that this important book will make a difference."
"Review" by , "[A]n astonishing book....Gross has done a great service to the historical discourse by exposing the realities of what is, was and has been racist cruelty in Poland."
"Review" by , "Though gripping, the book is not a page turner. It's more like a literary exercise in wincing and squirming....It is illuminating and searing, a moral indictment delivered with cool, lawyerly efficiency that pounds away at the conscience with the sledgehammer of a verdict."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of the acclaimed Neighbors comes a startling look at a tragic mystery, one fully revealed in this book for the first time. Gross questions: Why, after millions of Jews perished in Poland during the Holocaust, did anti-Semitism on the part of everyday Poles increase after the war's end?
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