BOOK REVIEW: ‘Fear’ by Jan T. Gross Shows That Murdering Jews in Europe Didn’t End with Defeat of the Germans; ‘Ordinary’ Polish Gentiles Murdered Their Neighbors in Kielce in July 1946 — Among Many Other Locales

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen
Huntington News Network Book Critic

Hinton, WV (HNN) – The cruelty and depravity of “ordinary�? people – to use a word popularized by both Daniel J. Goldhagen and his rival Christopher R. Browning – never fails to amaze me. Most particularly, the murder of Jews surviving the destruction of more than 90 percent of Poland’s 3.5-million-strong Jewish community was a fact of life in many cities and towns in postwar Poland and is vividly described by Jan T. Gross in “Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz�? (Random House, $25.95, 336 pages, illustrated, indexed, sources, bibliography).

Gross created a firestorm of controversy with the publication by the Princeton University Press (where Gross teaches) of “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland�? (2001), which showed that not only the occupying Germans were murdering Polish Jews, but also their Gentile neighbors. Half the Polish Catholic residents of the town clubbed, burned and dismembered the town’s 1,600 Jews in July 1941, killing all but seven. A government commission in Poland found that not only did Gross get his facts right but that many other cities had done exactly the same thing, something that Browning (see below) confirmed. In 1938, Jews numbered about 3.5 million, fully 10 percent of Poland’s 35 million people.