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A National Institute for Polish and Polish American Affairs


Analysis of Deborah Lipstadt's Review of FEAR
Lipstadt's review appeared in "Publisher's Weekly" on May 29th, 2006

Link to PDF of Article

Deborah Lipstadt’s review contains a number of significant errors.

  1. She repeats the statement from Professor Gross’s earlier book Neighbors that of 1,600 Jews in Jedwabne, only seven survived the July 1941 attack by their Polish neighbors. The respected Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which investigates crimes against citizens of Poland, and which Lipstatdt cites as the Polish government agency that confirmed Professor Gross got "the story right," did in fact confirm that a terrible crime had taken place at Jedwabne, but it reported that the number of victims was actually 300 to 400. According to the IPN, there is no documentary or physical evidence whatsoever to justify a higher figure. Professor Gross himself refrains from discussing or even mentioning his original 1,600 figure when referring to Neighbors or Jedwabne in FEAR. 
  2. There is no evidence that Polish historians tried to ignore or justify the Kielce pogrom when it became possible to investigate it after the fall of communism. In fact, Professor Gross’s work is based almost entirely on the work of Polish historians and documentary collections on the event published by Polish government agencies. The strongest case for the involvement of the authorities in instigating the pogrom was published in 1982 in English in the by Michael Checinski, a former member of the security service in who immigrated to Israel. His work is: Communism, Nationalism and Anti-Semitism (New York: Karz-Cohl, 1982).
  3. Aside from some speculation by an elderly auxiliary bishop living far from Kielce about the possibility of the truth of the blood libel, no Church leader of any stature asserted a belief in the blood libel in the wake of the Kielce incident. No matter how they explained the reasons for the pogrom, all condemned the blood libel charge and anti-Jewish violence.
  4. Lipstadt summarizes Professor Gross's thesis that the pogrom was the result of guilt over widespread Polish collaboration with the Nazi genocide of Jews, but she does not anywhere note that this is a hypothesis created and introduced for the first time in FEAR, and that Professor Gross substitutes his own brand of psycho-analytical assertions in place of evidence to substantiate these newly created charges. 
  5. Lipstadt seems to be completely unaware of the historical context within which the Kielce pogrom took place. The Jewish victims represented about 2% of those killed during this period of civil war and lawlessness. The Jewish deaths were perhaps the best known nationally and internationally because of the communist regime’s desire to use the incident to smear anti-communist and independentist resistance. Not all of the Jewish deaths during this period were the result of specifically anti-Semitic actions. Some were military casualties suffered by combatants and bystanders in the civil war and others were the result of the same banditry that was visited upon their gentile neighbors.
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