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The Statement of the Institute of National Memory
Commission on Investigation of the Crime committed in Jedwabne on 10 July, 1941

[The following is an unofficial translation by Peter K. Gessner of the statement as published in the Warsaw-based daily Rzeczpospolita on March 15, 2001. -- A large collections of Polish language articles published about Jedwabne by the Warsaw daily, Rzeczpospolita can be reached by clicking on the banner.]

Fulfilling its responsibility, the Institute of National Memory has initiated an investigation in the matter of the murder in the first days of the German occupation of the Jewish residents of the township of Jedwabne. This is the first proceedings in this matter in sovereign Poland, the earlier proceedings in 1949 and 1953 resulted in the conviction of 12 Poles. Those proceedings did not elucidate all the circumstances of the crime. There was a lack of precise information regarding the role of the German forces of occupation. The archival materials and the historical facts known at the time the investigation was begun indicate that Poles participated in the crime.

The task of the Institute of National Memory is to establish all the circumstance of the crime in Jedwabne and identifications of its perpetrators. The institute is guided by the belief that the murder of the Jewish neighbors was not done in the name of the Polish Nation. The Institute will do everything to establish the truth.

We must call this crime by its own name. Belonging to the family of civilize nations precludes any justification for the murder of children, women and men for national, political, social, racial or religious reasons, it requires that such actions be treated as crimes against all of humanity.

The completed investigation will reveal the true course of this tragedy; this will come about after advantage has been made of every item of evidence still accessible today. The materials of the investigation will be published, so that public opinion could learn of the dimensions of this tragedy. The White Book will also become evidence of our having taken account of our share of the responsibility for the wartime fate of the Jews, whose ancestors lived with us for centuries on the same land, adding their contributions to the common good and common history. We wish to emphasize that the drama of the events in Jedwabne cannot be the basis for prejudicial generalizations in the evaluation of the comportment of Poles during the tragic years of the Second World War.

Declaring the intent to commemorate the Jedwabne drama, we express the hope that the memory of it will serve in the reconciliation of Poles and Jews, nations so painfully tried by the century's genocide.

We shall conceal nothing
interview with Leon Kieres, head of Poland's Institute of National Memory

[The following is a translation by Charles Chotkowski of an excerpt of an interview published in the Warsaw-based daily Rzeczpospolita on February 17, 2001. The translation was first published in Dr. Michael Szporer's SIEC, an email newsletter.] -- A large collections of Polish language articles published about Jedwabne by the Warsaw daily, Rzeczpospolita can be reached by clicking on the banner.]

Krzysztof Darewicz: - Were any demands put forward?

Leon Kieres: - That we would conceal nothing and elucidate everything that has not been explained to this time. And so it will be, because we are proceeding in the spirit of truth. Jews also hope that the inscription on the memorial tablet in Jedwabne will be changed as quickly as possible, and that representatives of the highest authorities in Poland take part in ceremonies on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of this tragedy. Next during the meeting at the Simon Wiesenthal Center the problem of the discotheque at Auschwitz was raised. These are admittedly matters that do not belong directly to my competence, but I will transmit these demands to the appropriate officials, and I do not doubt that they will be realized.

Krzysztof Darewicz: - Soon the English translation of 'neighbors', the book by Jan Tomasz Gross about the murder in Jedwabne, is to appear in the United States. Some perceive in your visit an attempt to mitigate the reaction that this book can provoke among those who are prejudiced against Poland.

Leon Kieres: - Certainly there are people who will exploit the book "Neighbors" to criticize the attitude of Poles during the war. Where I could, I explained that this is a book arousing controversy also among Polish historians, for example as to the theses formulated in it or methodology. I hope that my visit contributed to creating a basis so that the discussion about Gross's book would not be one-sided and not concentrated exclusively on the guilt of Poles. This hope arises from the fact that none of those I spoke with came out with accusations, instead we were in agreement as to the need for cooperation and understanding.

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