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In June 2006, Jan Tomasz Gross published FEAR: Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz - An Essay in Historical Interpretation. This work promises to become, like his earlier work on the Jedwabne massacre, a public sensation. The book is more than an attempt to study the terrible Kielce Pogrom of July 1946, as the event has already been studied better and in more detail by other Polish, Jewish and American scholars, primarily historians. In fact, Professor Gross draws on that substantial body of work to construct his own narrative.  Professor Gross’s aim is more ambitious. At the heart of his work is an attempt to not only explain the Kielce pogrom but to provide an overarching interpretation of Polish History and Polish-Jewish relations in the postwar period.

Reviewers in major newspapers such as the New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times, none of whom has any expertise in Polish or East Central European history, have reacted to the book and its thesis with uncritical acclaim and considerable anti-Polish rhetoric. As such, it is clear already that FEAR will have a serious and negative effect on Polish-Jewish relations in the United States. It may well fuel a new wave of anti-Polonism.

It is for this reason that the Piast Institute has chosen to make FEAR the subject of its first symposium. We have invited scholars with expertise on this topic to do a careful analysis of the work and the reaction to it using the best available scholarship, or to submit for re-publication reviews that have already appeared in other places. In particular, we have asked our experts to address the historical context and the socio-psychological theory which Professor Gross has constructed to interpret post-war Poland.

The Piast Institute, a National Institute for Polish and Polish American Affairs, is a research center, Census Information Center and the only independent think tank in North America devoted to Polish and Polish American affairs.


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