As several incidents of antisemitism came to the forefront in Poland over the past few months, a recent disruption of a commemorative event caused major concerns for the Jewish community residing in Jedwabne.
Dozens of nationalist protesters took to disrupting a commemoration ceremony for Jewish victims of a 1941 pogrom in Jedwabne, Poland, symbolizing the country’s debate over who should be blamed for World War II-era atrocities. The violent disrupters brought flags and signs and disturbed people praying at the site of the pogrom on Saturday.
Some of the nationalists held signs defaming Princeton historian Jan Tomasz Gross who published “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland” in 2001. In his publication, Gross asserted that the murder of the 300 Jews was carried out by Polish civilians, not Nazi forces, and the book sparked a debate over Polish complicity in the Holocaust that is still raging.
The nationalists were led by Robert Bąkiewicz, who organizes a march of nationalists through Warsaw every November. With a majority of the funding for nationalist organizations coming from the government, Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said, “There is a much larger issue in that ultra-nationalists [and] neo-Nazis are now tolerated by too many of our people in government. Rather than clearly condemning such hate, too many government officials are looking to placate them.”