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Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz Paperback – August 14, 2007

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Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz + Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812967461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812967463
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. [Signature]Reviewed by Deborah E. LipstadtRarely does a small book force a country to confront some of the more sordid aspects of its history. Jan T. Gross's Neighbors did precisely that. Gross exposed how in 1941 half the Polish inhabitants of the town of Jedwabne brutally clubbed, burned and dismembered the town's 1,600 Jews, killing all but seven.The book was greeted with a terrible outcry in Poland. A government commission determined that not only did Gross get the story right but that many other cities had done precisely the same thing. Now Gross has written Fear, an even more substantial study of postwar Polish anti-Semitism. This book tells a wartime horror story that should force Poles to confront an untold—and profoundly terrifying—aspect of their history. Fear relates, in compelling detail, how Poles from virtually all segments of society persecuted the poor, emaciated and traumatized Holocaust survivors. Those who did not actually participate in the persecution, e.g., Church leaders and Communist officials, refused to use their influence to stop the pogroms, massacres and plundering of the Jews. The Communists used the anti-Semitism to consolidate their rule. Church leaders justified the blood libel charges. Even Polish historians have either ignored or tried to justify this anti-Semitism. Gross builds a meticulous case. He argues that this postwar persecution is "a smoking gun," which proves that during the war Poles not only acquiesced but, in many cases, actively assisted the Nazis in their persecution of the Jews. Had they been appalled by Germany's policies toward the Jews or tried to help the victims, Poles could never have engaged in such virulent anti-Semitism in the postwar period. Gross notes that when the Germans were trying to put down the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Poles—including children—not only cheered as Jewish snipers were spotted and killed but gleefully showed the Germans where Jews were hiding. Those Poles who helped Jews were often persecuted or even killed by their neighbors.I am troubled by references to "Polish death camps." They were not Polish death camps but camps the Germans placed in Poland. I have taken even stronger issue with the opinion voiced by many Jews that the "Poles were as bad as—and maybe worse than—the Germans." I argue that while there was a strong tradition of anti-Semitism in Poland, Poles never tried to murder Jews in a systematic fashion. After reading Fear, the next time I hear someone say the Poles were as bad as the Germans, I will probably still challenge that charge —after all the damage wrought by the Germans cannot be compared to what the Poles did—but my challenge will be far less forceful. I may even keep silent. 8 pages of photos. (July 4)Lipstadt is director of the Rabbi Donald Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University and the author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Professor Gross' widely acclaimed Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (2001) described the slaughter of Polish Jews by their fellow Poles as the Nazis watched approvingly. Now Gross illustrates with eloquence and shocking detail that the bloodletting did not cease when the war ended. Contrary to most expectations, many Polish Jews who survived the Holocuast wished to remain in Poland. After all, Jewish and Gentile Poles had generally coexisted peacefully, if not harmoniously, before the war, and many Polish Jews viewed themselves as staunch patriots. But when Jews attempted to return to their hometowns and to reclaim their property, tensions reached the boiling point; the explosion came in the town of Kielce, when the disappearance of an eight-year-old boy sparked the old blood libel of ritual murder. As the slaughter of Jews began, police and military officials either joined in the outrages or refused to intervene. In succeeding years, with the complicity of Communist authorities, the position of the remaining Polish Jews continued to deteriorate. By 1949, the goal of the Nazis had been achieved: Poland was essentially free of Jews. This is a masterful work that sheds necessary light on a tragic and often-ignored aspect of postwar history. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

That does not only concern the Polish Church.
Some resort to anti-Jewish slander and stereotypes to discredit this book, its subject matter, and its well-founded conclusions.
Polish Catholics were not inclined to participate in Nazi murders.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jan Peczkis on January 1, 2014
Format: Paperback
The author, Jan T. Gross, is a neo-Stalinist. This is not in the sense of rehabilitating Joseph Stalin, but in the sense of copying Stalinist-era Communist propaganda that demonizes devout Catholic and non-leftist Poles as incurable anti-Semites, fascists, Nazi collaborators, and other odoriferous political species.

This book is a "sequel" to Gross' NEIGHBORS. Contrary to media misrepresentation, the investigative Polish IPN Commission did not "prove Gross right" on Jedwabne. Please click on the Proceedings volumes, Wokól Jedwabnego, and read the detailed English-language Peczkis review.

There is a much better book on the subjects raised by Gross. It is After the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World War II (East European Monograph). Jan T. Gross does not even once mention this book. Read it and find out why. Read Gross, and you will only find Jews as victims and Poles as victimizers. Read Chodakiewicz, who, unlike Gross, is a historian, and you will learn about Jews and Poles as both victims and victimizers--of each other. By any rational measure, Chodakiewicz is much more objective.
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113 of 161 people found the following review helpful By pareto on August 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The invasion of Poland by Germany and Russia in September of 1939 was an unprovoked partition of the country. It is understood that the Poles were not pleased by the Russian occupation, but it may be thought that the Russian occupation was a minor annoyance compared to the occupation by the Germans. In an earlier book Revolution from Abroad written in his pre-postmodern days, when Gross was an associate professor at Emory, Gross carefully and with excellent documentation shows how wrong this notion was. He wrote (Revolution from Abroad, Princeton Univ. Press, 1st ed., p. 229):

"These very conservative estimates show that the Soviets killed or drove to their deaths three or four times as many people as the Nazis from a population half the size of that under German jurisdiction. This comparison holds for the first two years of the Second World War, the period before the Nazis began systematic mass annihilation of the Jewish population."

Gross shows that, for Polish Catholics, the Soviets were even worse, indeed much worse than the brutal Nazis. Essentially all the Polish professional and semiprofessional classes (doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, managers, foremen, farmers with holding beyond a few acres, etc.) were rounded up by the Soviets and then either killed immediately or retained in prisons for shipments to slave labor camps in Siberia and Central Asia. Prison conditions were hellish, worse than those in the Nazi concentration camps. Gross writes (Revolution from Abroad, p. 161): "In Lwów, twenty-eight people living in a 11.5 sq. m cell relied on the geometrical skills of a gifted high school student who fitted them most ingeniously by size into an intricate pattern.
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99 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Charles Chotkowski on July 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In his new book, "Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz" (Random House), Jan T. Gross advances a novel thesis: "it was widespread collusion in the Nazi-driven plunder, spoliation, and eventual murder of the Jews that generated Polish anti-Semitism after the war." His case in point is the Kielce pogrom of July 4, 1946.

The Kielce pogrom was a horrific massacre; an uncontrolled mob of soldiers, policemen and civilians murdered 42 Jews. Gross devotes two chapters of his book to Kielce, but his narrative of the pogrom does not prove his thesis.

Nowhere does Gross show that the victims were former residents who had returned to Kielce to reclaim their property, or that the perpetrators held formerly Jewish possessions. It's doubtful he could: the victims had arrived from the Soviet Union, and presumably came from the eastern Polish borderlands, not Kielce.

Nor is the allegation of "widespread collusion" in plunder and spoliation substantiated. The over 20 million ethnic Poles in postwar Poland could not, as a whole or in major part, have plundered the limited amount of property the 3.3 million Jews in prewar Poland owned.

The "eventual murder" of Jews was a German crime without Polish participation, except in a few instances like Jedwabne. The Germans did not use Poles as death camp guards or SS-auxiliaries. It is illogical to claim that a postwar pogrom is proof of Polish behavior during the war.

Gross prefaces his theory with "Until someone offers an alternative explanation, we must consider that..." He makes bald assertions, with scant statistical data behind them.

Deborah Lipstadt mistakenly wrote in Publishers Weekly that a government investigation confirmed Gross's book "Neighbors" about the Jedwabne massacre. The investigation found about 400 victims, not 1,600, about 40 perpetrators, not half the town, and two other cities, not "many," with similar size massacres.
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76 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Monia on August 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have been disturbed to read the acclaim for this book. I'd like to use someone else's words to give different perspective (Mark Kohan review): Calling post-war Poles property-grabbing murderers is racist. Were there Poles who resented Jews for what the Nazis had done to their country? Certainly. Does that make all Poles anti-Semitic? Certainly not. Were there Poles who, at the cost of their own lives, gave Jews food and shelter? Certainly. Does that make all Poles heroes? Certainly not. Why is blame not placed squarely on the occupying communist authorities, who--wishing to establish complete control over Poland--were the instigators of post-war pogroms? Gross and his ilk--writing as if obliged to deface Poland--refuse to see the truth, which is neither black, nor white, but a depressing gray." I have read enough history books to know that a book that villifies a whole nation has a squeued vision of what really happened.
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