Historian Jan Tomasz Gross was facing possible charges by Polish prosecutors on grounds his latest book represents slander against the Polish nation. The book examines the murder of hundreds of Jews in Poland after the end of World War II. The Polish-American historian’s book, “Fear: Anti-Semitism in POland After Auschwitz” has aroused controversy with some claiming he is guilty of making generalizations about the murder of Jews by their former neighbors. His book focuses on the famous 1946 pogrom in Kielce in which 40 Jews were killed. Gross argues the murders were symptomatic of widespread lingering anti-semitic attitudes among many Poles, particularly those who had seized the property of Jews that had been sent to the death camps by the Nazis. Gross argues the pogroms were a major factor why about 200,000 Jews left Poland after the war, many going to Israel.
Prosecutors are investigating whether his book constitute a crime since Poland has a law which makes slander against a nation a possible criminal act. Some members of the Catholic church are upset because they would rather than get into the behavior of some priests during the Holocaust. A significant number of historians recognize that some Poles cooperated with the Nazis and that anti-semitism was a powerful feeling in Poland of that era. It is also baffling how anyone could be convicted of “slandering a nation.” If such a law existed in America millions would be in jail for daily insulting President Bush and his foreign policy.