The controversy over the book Fear


The book Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz by Jan Gross has unleashed a torrent of controversy and criticism in Poland which, until the last two decades, has long viewed itself as being equal victims of Nazi Germany.

Even today, many Poles feel they were the forgotten victim of World War II, while others have only recently begun to reexamine the past.

The book focuses on the July 4, 1946 Kielce pogrom in which Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were massacred by the local Polish population after false rumors spread that Jews had killed a Polish boy for his blood (ritual murder).

On July 1, an 8-year-old boy named Henryk Blaszczyk was reported missing by his father. The boy showed up two days later, explaining that he had hitchhiked to his old hometown a few miles away to see friends.

Undeterred by the facts, his father went to the police station and insisted that the boy had been held captive in the basement of Kielce's Jewish community center (which, it transpired, didn't even have a basement). Word quickly spread in the town that "the Jews had killed a Christian child," and a detachment of police, backed by a mob, broke down the door of the building. When soldiers arrived with instructions to quell the riot, they instead joined in, turning their guns on the Jews barricaded inside.

 The very fact that it took place after the Holocaust is what makes the Kielce pogrom so hard to comprehend. Was it possible, that killing Jews became a social norm in post-war Kielce?

Several thousand Jews of the estimated 250,000-300,000 Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in similar Polish violence after the Holocaust as they tried to rebuild their lives upon returning to their hometowns.

Particular attention should be paid to Gross’ findings regarding the representatives of the Catholic Church and the Polish Communist rulers to the pogrom, and the use they made of it in their efforts to shape postwar Poland. He also explained the attitude of the Communist regime toward Jews in Poland and the price many Jews paid as a result of this system, as well as the involvement of some Jews in Communist secret service agencies. The presented data discredits the well-known claim that Jews played a major role in the implementation of communism on Poland, an allegation used to justify the hatred and violence against them.

The allegation of Zydokomuna (Jewish Communism) necessitates an examination of the attitude of the Polish Church and their role in perpetuating anti-Semitism and their role in the Kielce pogrom.