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Historisk tidskrift 123:3 • 2003

Innehåll (Contents) 2003:3

Uppsatser (Articles)

Mordet i Jedwabne – en utmaning för polackernas kollektiva minne. En analys av den polska debatten kring Jan Gross bok S siedzi (”Grannar”)

Barbara Törnquist-Plewa

Fulltext (pdf)


The Killings in Jedwabne – A Challenge for Polish Collective Memory. An Analysis of the Polish Debate on Jan Gross’ book Sasiedzi (”Neighbors”)

The article analyses the stormy debate in Poland caused by the publication in 2000 of Neighbours, a book written by the Polish-born American scholar Jan Gross. The book, that deals with the war-time mass murder of the Jewish population in the Polish town Jedwabne, encouraged by the Nazi Germans but perpetrated by local Poles, brought about shock and created a challenge to Polish collective memory. Poles used to perceive themselves as victims of Nazi aggression, not anti-Semitic helpers or executors in the Nazi destruction machinery, and the Holocaust was seldom a topic of reflection in the Communist era in Poland. Using K-G Karlsson’s typology of different uses of history (scientific, moral, existential, political and ideological), the author of the article shows how the Poles responded to the challenge. She also discusses the timing and the circumstances of the Jedwabne debate. The underlying purpose of the study is to examine whether the debate has brought forth more profound changes in Polish historical consciousness, memory and self-perception. A considerably longer version of this article in English is found in Klas-Göran Karlsson & Ulf Zander (eds), Echoes of the Holocaust. Historical Cultures in Contemporary Europe, Lund 2003.