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Neighbors, Term Paper Example

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Term Paper

In the book Neighbours by Jan Gross the brutal murder of some 1600 Jews took place in the summer of 1941.  Gross discusses these events in fairly graphic detail  and provides a compelling eyewitness account of the events that took place.  The Jews of Jedwabne were of polish extraction and the book focuses on wider truths about Jewish/Polish relationships.  The investigation was particularly poignant as the Nazis who murdered them knew the people very well and as such this could not be simply regarded as indiscriminate killing.

On Monday evening, June 23, 1941, Germans  entered the town. And as early as the 25th local bandits, from the Polish population, started  an anti-Jewish pogrom. Two of those bandits, Borowski (Borowiuk?) Wacek with his brother Mietek, walked from one Jewish dwelling to another together with other bandits playing accordion and flute to drown the screams of Jewish women and children. I saw with my own eyes how those murderers killed Chajcia Wasersztajn, Jakub Kac, seventy-three years old, and Eliasz Krawiecki. Jakub Kac they stoned to death with bricks. Krawiecki they knifed and then plucked his eyes and cut off his tongue. He suffered terribly for twelve hours before he gave up his soul. (Gross)

The book demonstrates complicity between certain criminal element polish sects with that of the anti-semetism programs carried out by the Nazi soldiers/regime.  Hitler saw the Jews as the biological root of bolshevist society and many Jews were branded as communists. This equated the Jews with subversion against the German people and considered a threat to the rise of National Socialism and the Nazi party.  Hitler stated : … His is no master people; he is an exploiter: the Jews are a people of robbers. He has never founded any civilization, though he has destroyed civilizations by the hundred…everything he has stolen. Foreign people, foreign workmen build him his temples, it is foreigners who create and work for him, it is foreigners who shed their blood for him.” ( Adolf Hitler, Munich July 1922).

Hitler and the Nazi party set the stage early in order to make the Jews responsible for the economic woes of Germany.  This established the justification for their ethnic cleansing program and the elimination of the Jewish race from European society  and the need to place the German Arian race as the supreme leaders of Europe.  As Germany expanded its influence across Europe from 1938-1945 it quickly poisoned other peoples minds and those that aligned themselves with this doctrine including elements in Poland, France, Italy, Czechkolsovakia and Hungary.  Not everyone was against the crimes carried out by the Nazi party.  The occupation of  France saw the country divided into two halves.  Occupied France under the control of the German Army and Free France that was under the control of the Vichy and collaborated with the Germans.

Even though the Germans gave the order, it was Polish hooligans who took it up and carried it out, using the most horrible methods. After various tortures and humiliations, they burned all the Jews in a barn. During the first pogrom and the later bloodbath the following outcasts distinguished themselves by their brutality: Szleziãski, Karolak, Borowiuk (Borowski?) Mietek, Borowiuk (Borowski?) Waclaw, Jermalowski, Ramutowski Bolek, Rogalski Bolek, Szelawa Stanislaw, Szelawa Franciszek, Kozlowski Geniek, Trzaska, Tarnoczek Jerzyk, Ludaãski Jurek, LacieczCzeslaw. (Gross) The Polish criminal sect readily supported the Nazi aims and were complicit in the persection of the minority groups living in Poland, in this case the Jews.  Both Hitler and Stalin were equally against other minority groups like Romany’s and gypsies, these also received similar treatment to the Jews and it was estimated that Joseph Stalin of the Russians ethically cleansed 10+ million dissidents, gypsies and Romany people; compared to the 6+ million that were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.  Hitler used the excuse as a right to self-determination for the Nationalist Social Party of Germany and Stalin used the excuse to get rid of what he believed were vagrant that might one day form an insurrection against the USSR communist state.

At the time of the invasion of Poland in 1939/40 the Germans were obsessed with the elimination of communism in Europe and this later led to the invasion of Russia with Operation Barberossa.  As the first victims of their devilish instincts they selected seventy-five of the youngest and healthiest Jews, whom they ordered to pick up a huge monument of Lenin that the Russians had erected in the center of town. It was impossibly heavy, but under a rain of horrible blows the Jews had to do it. While carrying the monument, they also had to sing until they brought it to the designated place. There, they were ordered to dig a hole and throw the monument in. Then these Jews were butchered to death and thrown into the same hole. (Gross)

The above extract from Gross clearly indicates how the Germans saw the minority group of Polish Jews as linked to communism and the analogy of burying the Russian statue of Lenin along with the Jews who represented the living embodiment of communism in Poland. The hatred of ethnic cleansing is used as a means of manipulation, deceit and power in order to achieve a majority right to self determination.  This was witnessed again in more recent times with the war in the Balkans and the conflict between Serbia and Bosnia; it was a horrific reminder of the ethnic cleansing described by Gross and again illustrated the means by which Serbia used a similar plan to determine its right to self-determination and annex land like Kosovo that it believed had historic claim to.

Works Cited

Gross, Jan. “Neighbours.” Gross, Jan. Neighbours. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

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