Another exhumation of Jews murdered in Jedwabne?

Following the most recent denial campaign conducted by the Polish Ministry of Education Anna Zalewska the plot seems to be thickening dramatically growing out of proportions and resulting in simply idiotic attempts to whitewash history from the national guilt. Dr Ewa Kurek from Lublin initiated a national appeal to gather signatures in order to resume the exhumation of Jews murdered in Jedwabne. She is hoping to present the initiative to the government at the end of the summer. She convinces the Polish taxpayers that the money will be well-spent.

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Dr Kurek is a graduate from the Catholic University of Lublin specialising in the relationship between the Poles and the Jews during the time of the Nazi occupation. She feels the urgent need to restart the exhumation which was halted in 2001 by Lech Kaczynski, who was then the Minister of Justice. He allied himself with the Jewish community, who strongly opposed the exhumation even though the Institute of the National Memory remained adamant that the process should be performed. The Chief Rabbi of Poland stated then that “the respect we [the Jews] hold for the bones of our victims is more important to us that knowing who died, how they died, who murdered them and in what manner”.

According to Dr Ewa Kurek, undertaking the painstaking process of exhumation will enable the authorities to ascertain how many people actually died in Jedwabne and what was the cause of their death. It will also enable the Jewish remains to be buried according to the Jewish law. She continues that she is “certain that the exhumation will finally put an end to the long years of story-telling by both Polish and Jewish journalists, politicians and governmental officials with regards to what happened in Jedwabne. Those back and forth arguments have been despised by inhabitants of Jedwabne and the majority of Poles, and Polish Jews”.

Historians asked for their opinions aren’t entirely certain whether or not to give an answer. After all, they say, “the case is very sensitive for religious reasons, however, in terms of historical accuracy there is a serious doubt about the actual number of victims. It also hasn’t been clarified, what sort of a weapons were used, which would potentially include the involvement of Germans in this atrocity. Exhumation could potentially shed more light on the issues that we are struggling with” said Dr Miroslav Szumilo from the Institute of 20th Century Social History from UMCs.

“There is also a question of whether we should interfere with anyone’s religion especially if it forbids exhumation. Collecting signatures in order to resume exhumation without prior consent from the Jewish community is certainly of bad taste.” (Dr Mariusz Mazur from the Institute of Contemporary History at UMCs)

Doubts certainly aren’t the centre theme of Jonny Daniels’ view on this attempt of whitewashing the history. His foundation, From the Depths, is dedicated to building bridges between the Poles and the Jews. He assures that “even if Dr Kurek manages to produce 40 million signatures the exhumation will not take place. The process of exhumation is against the Jewish law. The Jewish souls have suffered enough and there is absolutely no need to make them suffer again. The planned exhumation in Jedwabne would utterly destroy any existing agreeable relationship between the Poles and the international Jewish community. The attention-seeking, media-hungry Dr Kurek successfully destroys the international image of Poland and attacks the good memory of the Pope John Paul II, whose name her university is called by.”

Dr Ewa Kurek however does not intend to lay down her weapons and she demands that the exhumation takes place calling is the „freedom of historical investigation”. She is hoping that during the summer holiday she will be able to present the document with sufficient number of signatures and the national project could be presented to the government by autumn 2016.

Pogrom in Jedwabne is considered to be a mass murder committed by a group of Poles living in the town of Jedwabne on several hundreds of Jews living in that town and in the area. On the 10 July 1941, following the Nazi incitement, at least 340 people were murdered out of which 300 at least were burned alive in a barn.

Source: A historian from Lublin wants to resume exhumation of Jews in Jedwabne

About the Author
Esther Fuerster is originally from Poland and lived in Britain for many years. She now lives in Israel. She's a London university graduate and plans to do her PhD in Israel. She's a MASA alumni and a recognised blogger. Her article "30 ways why living in Israel has ruined you for life" has been followed around the world and received recognition by the Israeli media. She featured in YNet and LaIsha.
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