Jan Gross: Poland fuming over American historian's book

Historians in the News

The newly released Polish edition of a book by a Princeton University professor has dredged up painful memories in Poland, forcing the country to confront a difficult chapter in its history: the deaths of Jews at the hands of Poles in the aftermath of World War II.

Jan T. Gross' "Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz" hit bookstores in Poland earlier this month, and has sparked a debate about anti-Semitism in this Eastern European country, which saw its Jewish population - once Europe's largest - nearly wiped out in the Holocaust....

This week, Gross has headlined a pair of debates in front of news cameras and standing-room only crowds in Kielce and Warsaw, highlighting the nerve he has struck in Poland with "Fear." The discussion Monday in Kielce was even broadcast live on national television and local radio.

Gross, who was born in Poland to a Jewish father and a gentile mother and left the country in 1968 during an anti-Semitic wave sponsored by Poland's then-communist regime, has said he wrote "Fear" as a Pole.

"I would like for my book to show people what an incredibly strong toxic poison anti-Semitism is in the general psychology of Poles, because it made us incapable of withstanding temptation," Gross told a crowd of some 250 people who crammed into a cultural center in Kielce, a town of 200,000 inhabitants, some 180 kilometers south of Warsaw....

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