On July 10, 1941, half the residents of Jedwabne, a Polish village 85 miles northeast of Warsaw, murdered the other half. The mob, led by the mayor, were Catholics; their 1,600 victims were Jewish, slaughtered over several nightmarish hours with bats, knives, rifles and other improvised weapons. Those who survived the massacre were then rounded up in a barn donated by a local farmer, which was then set ablaze. A plaque erected at the site blamed Nazis for the massacre, but, in fact, Nazis had only authorized it. Locals walked by the plaque for half a century, knowing the truth, but saying nothing.
Jedwabne's terrible secrets were at last laid bare in "Neighbors," an explosive account of the massacre by Princeton University historian Jan T. Gross. That 2001 book shattered carefully held myths, promulgated by Communist leaders, that Poles were only victims of World War II, not perpetrators. (Poles ---who unlike many European countries never officially collaborated with the Nazis --- lost close to 6 million citizens to the Nazis,, or about 17 percent of the population. Just over half of those were Jewish.) Now, 12 years later, comes "Aftermath" --- premiering stateside Nov. 1.
I am not sure I am going to see this. Most of my extended family was slaughtered by the Nazis or their fellow travelers in various countries in Germany, and I have a pretty serious case of paranoia already, such that I do weird things like hoard food and weaponry.