A Monument of Words
This article explores how the crime in Jedwabne happened. Starting from the basic observation that (almost) all the Jews of Jedwabne, and only the Jews, were killed on July 10, 1941, it investigates the sources of the efficiency of the murder. The article points to several factors, neglected in Jan Tomasz Gross’ book, Neighbors, such as the order of the killing, including division of labor and the question of leadership, the difference between a “regular” pogrom and a genocidal killing, the possible origins of the idea of the total murder and the role of the state in the genocide. Assuming the crimes in Jedwabne and vicinity had unique features, it attempts to explain them with political factors. It emphasizes the particular conditions in the Jedwabne area at the outset of the German attack on the USSR and the consequences of the prior Soviet occupation. Referring to the debate on what should be Polish reactions to the crime today, it points out that Polish participants in the crime were not only murderers but also traitors.