The Spine

Anti-semitism In Poland


I was at dinner last night with the Rosovsky's (he, the economic historian who had been dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard; she, the photographic historian of the Holy Land), and we were talking about--what else?--the Jews. Other subjects, too. But the Jews, as well.

We'd all read Jan T. Gross's book, Neighbors, reviewed in the April 9 & 16, 2001 issue of TNR by Jaroslaw Anders, about the massacre in Jedwabne in 1941, not by the Germans but by the Polish neighbors of the Jews. Gross has just published a second book called Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz. It was reviewed in the issue of October 2 by our gifted Senior Editor Ruth Franklin, not at all so senior in age, whose writing is elegantly subtle.

The book and the review explain how, after the Nazi nightmare, there was still energy and motive to kill off the small number of Jewish survivors. They also tell you why 40 percent of contemporary Poles still think that the country is ruled by Jews who number perhaps 25,000. If you are interested in the right-wing populism in Poland and in Eastern Europe, you might also want to read (or reread) the article by Niall Ferguson and Samuel J. Abrams about exactly that phenomenon.

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