Set in Poland

One summer day in 1941, half of the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half, 1,600 men, women, and children, all but seven of the town's Jews. Neighbors tells their story.


This is a shocking, brutal story that has never before been told. It is the most important study of Polish-Jewish relations to be published in decades and should become a classic of Holocaust literature.


Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts and other evidence into an engulfing reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but forgotten by history. His investigation reads like a detective story, and its unfolding yields wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism. It is a story of surprises: The newly occupying German army did not compel the massacre, and Jedwabne's Jews and Christians had previously enjoyed cordial relations. After the war, the nearby family who saved Jedwabne's surviving Jews was derided and driven from the area. The single Jew offered mercy by the town declined it.


Most arresting is the sinking realization that Jedwabne's Jews were clubbed, drowned, gutted, and burned not by faceless Nazis, but by people whose features and names they knew well: their former schoolmates and those who sold them food, bought their milk, and chatted with them in the street. As much as such a question can ever be answered, Neighbors tells us why.


In many ways, this is a simple book. It is easy to read in a single sitting, and hard not to. But its simplicity is deceptive. Gross's new and persuasive answers to vexed questions rewrite the history of twentieth-century Poland. This book proves, finally, that the fates of Poles and Jews during World War II can be comprehended only together.
An astonishing and heartbreaking study of the Polish Holocaust survivors who returned home only to face continued violence and anti-Semitism at the hands of their neighbors

“[Fear] culminates in so keen a shock that even a student of the Jewish tragedy during World War II cannot fail to feel it.”—Elie Wiesel

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD

Poland suffered an exceedingly brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War, in which 90 percent of the country’s three and a half million Jews perished. Yet despite this unprecedented calamity, Jewish Holocaust survivors returning to their hometowns in Poland after the war were further subjected to terror and bloodshed. The deadliest peacetime pogrom in twentieth-century Europe took place in the Polish town of Kielce on July 4, 1946.

In Fear, Jan T. Gross addresses a vexing question: How was this possible? At the center of his investigation is a detailed reconstruction of the Kielce pogrom and how ordinary Poles responded to the spectacle of Jews being murdered by their fellow citizens. Anti-Semitism, Gross argues, became a common currency between the Communist regime and a society in which many were complicit in the Nazi campaign of plunder and murder—and for whom the Jewish survivors were a standing reproach.

For more than half a century, the fate of Jewish Holocaust survivors in Poland was cloaked in guilt and shame. Writing with passion, brilliance, and fierce clarity, Jan T. Gross brings to light a truth that must never be ignored.

Praise for Fear

“That a civilized nation could have descended so low . . . such behavior must be documented, remembered, discussed. This Gross does, intelligently and exhaustively.”The New York Times Book Review

“Gripping . . . an especially powerful and, yes, painful reading experience . . . illuminating and searing.”Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Gross tells a devastating story. . . . One can only hope that this important book will make a difference.”Boston Sunday Globe

“A masterful work that sheds necessary light on a tragic and often-ignored aspect of postwar history.”Booklist (starred review)

“Astonishing . . . Gross supplies impeccable documentation.”—Baltimore Sun

“Compelling . . . Gross builds a meticulous case.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Gabriela Zapolska (1857-1921) was an actor, journalist and playwright. She was born during the 123 year partition of Poland by Austria, Prussia and Russia and wrote over thirty plays. The Morality of Mrs. Dulska (1906), a 'petty-bourgeois tragic-farce', is probably her best known. Mrs Dulska is a cross between Patricia Routledge1s Hyacinth Bucket and Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage. She is the tyrannical and hilarious landlady of a fine stone tenement building - proud, shrewd and highly preoccupied with appearances. Dulska keeps her purse strings tightly drawn and exploits her tenants in a most unforgiving fashion. To the unhappy woman from the first floor apartment who tries to poison herself by swallowing some match heads, she shows no mercy. To her serving maid, who she effectively prostitutes to her son in order to keep his philandering under her own roof and within her control, she shows no compassion. Her daughters struggle through the torments of adolescence with the facts of life skillfully concealed from them, and her husband, worn down over the years by his power-hungry wife, has barely a word to say to his family. It is her son that Mrs Dulska loves - loves with an unhealthy possessiveness. Her fear that he will leave prompts her to fund the servicing of his every desire. Why is it, then, that he resents her so much? Why is it that he feels compelled to seek revenge? Zapolska's uncompromising look at gender construction and class oppression in fin-de-siecle Poland is witty, entertaining and incisive. This is the first published UK translation of this popular Polish classic. It was prepared by Teresa Murjas, a lecturer in Theatre at the University of Reading. In her introduction, Teresa discusses how the translation and first UK production, which she directed, were developed. She introduces Zapolska's work in its historical contexts, provides the reader with relevant biographical information and considers the play's performance history up to the present day. She draws these strands together into a narrative of deportation, exile and emigration.
“A remarkable—and singularly chilling—glimpse of human behavior. . .This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust."—Newsweek 

Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever.

While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition.  

Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.  

Jan Karski’s Story of a Secret State stands as one of the most poignant and inspiring memoirs of World War II and the Holocaust. With elements of a spy thriller, documenting his experiences in the Polish Underground, and as one of the first accounts of the systematic slaughter of the Jews by the German Nazis, this volume is a remarkable testimony of one man’s courage and a nation’s struggle for resistance against overwhelming oppression.

Karski was a brilliant young diplomat when war broke out in 1939 with Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Taken prisoner by the Soviet Red Army, which had simultaneously invaded from the East, Karski narrowly escaped the subsequent Katyn Forest Massacre. He became a member of the Polish Underground, the most significant resistance movement in occupied Europe, acting as a liaison and courier between the Underground and the Polish government-in-exile. He was twice smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto, and entered the Nazi’s Izbica transit camp disguised as a guard, witnessing first-hand the horrors of the Holocaust.

Karski’s courage and testimony, conveyed in a breathtaking manner in Story of a Secret State, offer the narrative of one of the world’s greatest eyewitnesses and an inspiration for all of humanity, emboldening each of us to rise to the challenge of standing up against evil and for human rights. This definitive edition—which includes a foreword by Madeleine Albright, a biographical essay by Yale historian Timothy Snyder, an afterword by Zbigniew Brzezinski, previously unpublished photos, notes, further reading, and a glossary—is an apt legacy for this hero of conscience during the most fraught and fragile moment in modern history.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish-Lithuanian born in 1746, was one of the most important figures of the modern world. Fleeing his homeland after a death sentence was placed on his head (when he dared court a woman above his station), he came to America one month after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, literally showing up on Benjamin Franklin's doorstep in Philadelphia with little more than a revolutionary spirit and a genius for engineering. Entering the fray as a volunteer in the war effort, he quickly proved his capabilities and became the most talented engineer of the Continental Army. Kosciuszko went on to construct the fortifications for Philadelphia, devise battle plans that were integral to the American victory at the pivotal Battle of Saratoga, and designed the plans for Fortress West Point—the same plans that were stolen by Benedict Arnold. Then, seeking new challenges, Kosciuszko asked for a transfer to the Southern Army, where he oversaw a ring of African-American spies.

A lifelong champion of the common man and woman, he was ahead of his time in advocating tolerance and standing up for the rights of slaves, Native Americans, women, serfs, and Jews. Following the end of the war, Kosciuszko returned to Poland and was a leading figure in that nation's Constitutional movement. He became Commander in Chief of the Polish Army and valiantly led a defense against a Russian invasion, and in 1794 he led what was dubbed the Kosciuszko Uprising—a revolt of Polish-Lithuanian forces against the Russian occupiers. Captured during the revolt, he was ultimately pardoned by Russia's Paul I and lived the remainder of his life as an international celebrity and a vocal proponent for human rights. Thomas Jefferson, with whom Kosciuszko had an ongoing correspondence on the immorality of slaveholding, called him "as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known." A lifelong bachelor with a knack for getting involved in doomed relationships, Kosciuszko navigated the tricky worlds of royal intrigue and romance while staying true to his ultimate passion—the pursuit of freedom for all. This definitive and exhaustively researched biography fills a long-standing gap in historical literature with its account of a dashing and inspiring revolutionary figure.
*As heard on NPR’s All Things Considered*

“Utterly original.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Mixing bold journalism with bolder allegories, Mr. Szabłowski teaches us with witty persistence that we must desire freedom rather than simply expect it.” —Timothy Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of On Tyranny and The Road to Unfreedom

An incisive, humorous, and heartbreaking account of people in formerly Communist countries holding fast to their former lives, by the acclaimed author of How to Feed a Dictator 

 
For hundreds of years, Bulgarian Gypsies trained bears to dance, welcoming them into their families and taking them on the road to perform. In the early 2000s, with the fall of Communism, they were forced to release the bears into a wildlife refuge. But even today, whenever the bears see a human, they still get up on their hind legs to dance.
 
In the tradition of Ryszard Kapuściński, award-winning Polish journalist Witold Szabłowski uncovers remarkable stories of people throughout Eastern Europe and in Cuba who, like Bulgaria’s dancing bears, are now free but who seem nostalgic for the time when they were not. His on-the-ground reporting—of smuggling a car into Ukraine, hitchhiking through Kosovo as it declares independence, arguing with Stalin-adoring tour guides at the Stalin Museum, sleeping in London’s Victoria Station alongside a homeless woman from Poland, and giving taxi rides to Cubans fearing for the life of Fidel Castro—provides a fascinating portrait of social and economic upheaval and a lesson in the challenges of freedom and the seductions of authoritarian rule.

From the Introduction:
“Guys with wacky hair who promise a great deal have been springing up in our part of the world like mushrooms after rain. And people go running after them, like bears after their keepers. . . . Fear of a changing world, and longing for someone . . . who will promise that life will be the same as it was in the past, are not confined to Regime-Change Land. In half the West, empty promises are made, wrapped in shiny paper like candy. And for this candy, people are happy to get up on their hind legs and dance.”
When Glenn Kurtz stumbles upon an old family film in his parents' closet in Florida, he has no inkling of its historical significance or of the impact it will have on his life. The film, shot long ago by his grandfather on a sightseeing trip to Europe, includes shaky footage of Paris and the Swiss Alps, with someone inevitably waving at the camera. Astonishingly, David Kurtz also captured on color 16mm film the only known moving images of the thriving, predominantly Jewish town of Nasielsk, Poland, shortly before the community's destruction. "Blissfully unaware of the catastrophe that lay just ahead," he just happened to visit his birthplace in 1938, a year before the Nazi occupation. Of the town's three thousand Jewish inhabitants, fewer than one hundred would survive.
Glenn Kurtz quickly recognizes the brief footage as a crucial link in a lost history. "The longer I spent with my grandfather's film," he writes, "the richer and more fragmentary its images became." Every image, every face, was a mystery that might be solved. Soon he is swept up in a remarkable journey to learn everything he can about these people. After restoring the film, which had shrunk and propelled across the United States; to Canada, England, Poland, and Israel; and into archives, basements, cemeteries, and even an irrigation ditch at an abandoned Luftwaffe airfield as he looks for shards of Nasielsk's Jewish history.
One day, Kurtz hears from a young woman who had watched the video on the Holocaust Museum's website. As the camera panned across the faces of children, she recognized her grandfather as a thirteen-year-old boy. Moszek Tuchendler of Nasielsk was now eighty-six-year-old Maurice Chandler of Florida, and when Kurtz meets him, the lost history of Nasielsk comes into view. Chandler's laser-sharp recollections create a bridge between two worlds, and he helps Kurtz eventually locate six more survivors, including a ninety-six-year-old woman who also appears in the film, standing next to the man she would later marry.
Painstakingly assembled from interviews, photographs, documents, and artifacts, Three Minutes in Poland tells the rich, harrowing, and surprisingly intertwined stories of these seven survivors and their Polish hometown. "I began to catch fleeting glimpses of the living town," Kurtz writes, "a cruelly narrow sample of its relationships, contradictions, scandals." Originally a travel souvenir, David Kurtz's home movie became the most important record of a vibrant town on the brink of extinction. From this brief film, Glenn Kurtz creates a poignant yet unsentimental exploration of memory, loss, and improbable survival—a monument to a lost world.
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