The Verdict of Circuit Court in Lomza in 1949
Piotr Gontarczyk

Polish version
 
translated by: Miroslawa i Andrzej Zawadzcy

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Jan Tomasz Gross' book on Jedwabne crime (July 10, 1941) is based on the records of investigation conducted by the UB (Agency for Public Security) in the early 1949 and on the records of court proceedings that took place in Lomza in May that year. Those records were not available to historians for months on end while The National Memory Institute was being created. Therefore it was initially impossible to verify the information contained in The Neighbors 1/ - Gross was the only person to unofficially (illegally?) acquire the copy of the enclosed records from professor Paczkowski of The Institute of Political Sciences. The author then went on to silence all his adversaries on the account of their not being familiar with the records. 2/ - As soon as historians were allowed access to the archives, professor Tomasz Strzembosz and I simultaneously published our objections to the book by Gross in "Rzeczpospolita" and "Zycie". Our objections were of serious nature: ignoring inconvenient sources, lack of fundamental knowledge, quoting unreliable accounts of individuals who had not been witnesses of the crime, undermining the role of Germans, etc. 3/ - These objections have never been addressed in a rational manner by J.T. Gross, except for his attempts at discreditation or launching on personal attacks. 4/ - Enclosed is one of the most important archives in regards to the Jedwabne crime. This is the court sentence issued by The Circuit Court in Lomza, where 22 individuals were tried in 1949. They were charged with the collaboration in the crime committed on the Jews. In spite of some shortcomings, such as the date of the event or the overestimated count of the victims, this document is of great significance: it describes the course of the trial, and the preceding investigation. The damaged fragments of the records were marked [...], the alleged meanings of the damaged parts were marked [aaa?], and the necessary supplements were marked as [aaa].

Piotr Gontarczyk, Ph. D.

Call number, document KSU 33/49

THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE VERDICT

IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF POLAND

Date: May 16-17, 1949

Members of The Criminal Law Department of The Circuit Court in Lomza:

Chairman and speaker: Judge M. Malecki

Jury: W. Mortewicz, St. Skrzypkowski

Recorder: Cz. Mroczkowska

 

in the presence of the Assistant Prosecutor of The C[urcuit] C[ourt], Cz. Jagusinski, the members of the court considered on May 16-17, 1949, the case of the following:

  1. Boleslaw Ramotowski, son of Pawel and Jozefa, born on 4-7-1911 in the village of Janczewo, commune of Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  2. Stanislaw Zejer, son of Teofil and Jozefa, born on10-24-1893 in Orlikowo, commune of Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  3. Czeslaw Lipinski, son of Jan and Leokadia, born on 9-16-1920, in the village of Grzyniki, commune of Przytuly, county of Lomza
  4. Wladyslaw Dabrowski, son of Jozef and Katarzyna, born on 5-25-1810 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  5. Feliks Tarnacki, son of Julian and Konstancja Makowska, born on 5-16-1907 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  6. Jozef Chrzanowski, son of Ksawery and Kamelia, born on 11-1-1889 in the village of Kucze Duze, commune of Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  7. Roman Porski, son of Ludwik and Wiktoria, born on 8-15-1904 in Konopki Tluste, commune of Jedwabne
  8. Antoni Niebrzydowski, son of Andrzej and Jozefa, born on 1-5-1901 in the village of Jascze, commune of Stawiski, county of Lomza
  9. Wladyslaw Miciura, son of Jan and Jozefa, born on 9-21-1903 in Radom and residing in Jedwabne
  10. Jozef Zyluk, son of Ludwik and Katarzyna, born on 1-12-1910 in Baczkowo, commune of Szczuczyn
  11. Marian Zyluk, son of Ludwik and Katarzyna, born on 4-23-1918 in Folwark-Pruszka, county of Augustow
  12. Jerzy Laudanski, son of Czeslaw and Zofia, born on 4-14-1922 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  13. Zygmunt Laudanski, son of Czeslaw and Zofia, born on1-12-1919 in Jedwabne
  14. Czeslaw Laudanski, son of Antoni and Franciszka, born on 9-12-1894 in Przytuly, county of Kolno
  15. Wincenty Goscicki, son of Jozef and Antonina, born on 1-22-1890 in the village of Optow, commune of Zamojsc, county of Ostrow
  16. Roman Zawadzki, son of Marcel and Rozalia of Rysk, born on 8-3-1905 in Stawiski, county of Lomza
  17. Jan Zawadzki, s. of Marcel and Rozalia of Raszczyk, born on 10—22-1899 in Przestrzele, commune of Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  18. Aleksander Lojewski, s. of Adam and Michalina Fil, born on 1-14-1893 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  19. Franciszek Lojewski, s. of Pawel and Marianna Fil, born on 12-14-1910 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  20. Eugeniusz Sliwecki, s. of Jan and Jozefa Bruszkiewicz, born on 12-26-1905 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  21. Stanislaw Sielawa, s. of Stanislaw and Aleksandra, born on 1-6-1905 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza
  22. Karol Bardon, s. of Pawel and Zuzanna Kup, born on 10-11-1894 in Pastwiska, county of Cieszyn

charged with collaborating with German authorities in capturing 1200 individuals of Jewish nationality who were then mass burned by the Germans in Bronislaw Sleszynski's barn on June 25, 1941 in Jedwabne, county of Lomza. This is the charge described in the article1, p.2, decree from 8-31-1944.

The Court declares:

1. Karol Baron is guilty of collaborating with Germans in murdering 1500 individuals of

Jewish nationality on June 25,1941; 2) Jerzy Laudanski, 3) Zygmunt Laudanski, 4)

Boleslaw Ramatowski, 5) Wladyslaw Miciura, guilty of participation, at the time, place and circumstances mentioned above, by following orders from Germans, in murdering of about 700 people of Jewish nationality by escorting them to the barn which was then put on fire; 6) Stanislaw Zejer and 7) Czeslaw Lipinski have been found guilty of obeying the German order to capture and escort the first three highest ranking Jews to the assembly location at the above mentioned time and place; 8) Wladyslaw Dabrowski, 9) Feliks Tarnacki, 10) Roman Gorski, 11) Antoni Niebrzydowski and 12) Jozef Zyluk have been found guilty, under the same circumstances, of obeying German orders to guard the civilians of Jewish nationality at the assembly location from where they were escorted to the place of execution and for that:

2. 1) Karol Baron is to be sentenced to death along with the revocation of public and

civil rights for ever, and to have all property confiscated under article 1, p.1, decree from 8-31-1941 in the light of the text from 12-10-1946 ([...] 377); 2) Jerzy Laudanski to be sentenced to fifteen years in prison, from article 1, paragraph 1 and 5 clause 1 of the above mentioned Decree, 3) Zygmunt Laudanski, 4) Boleslaw Ramotowski and 5) Wladyslaw Miciura, all three to be sentenced to twelve years in prison and to have their public and civil rights revoked for the period of ten years; 6) Stanislaw Zejer and 7) Czeslaw Lipinski to be sentenced to ten years in prison with their public and civil rights revoked for eight years, and to have their property confiscated, from article 1, paragraph 2 and clause 1 Decree from 8-31-1949; 8) Wladyslaw Dabrowski, 9) Feliks Tarnacki, 10) Roman Gorski, 11) Antoni Niebrzydowski, 12) Jozef Zyluk to be sentenced to eight years in prison with the public and civil rights to be revoked for ten years and to have his property confiscated, Decree from 8-31-1944, article 1. For the following individuals the temporary confinement, from January 15, 1949 through May 17, 1949, is to be credited: Boleslaw Ramotowski, Stanislaw Zejer, Czeslaw Lipinski, Feliks Tarnacki, Roman Gorski, Antoni Zebrzydowski, Wladyslaw Miciura, Jozef Zyluk, Jerzy Laudanski, and Zygmunt Laudanski. They are to be relieved from the legal and trial costs. The following individuals are to be acquitted, the legal costs are to be covered by The State Treasury: Jozef Chrzanowski, Marian Zyluk, Czeslaw Laudanski, Wincenty Goscicki, Roman Zawadzki, Jan Zawadzki, Aleksander Lojewski, Franciszek Lojewski, Eugeniusz Sliwecki, and Stanislaw Sielawa.

On 2-9-1950 the verdict was sent to the Persecutor to be executed; prisoners were transferred.

On 1-30-1950 ten penal cards were made [signature illegible]

 

 

 

JUSTIFICATION

I. Boleslaw Ramatowski, Stanislaw Zejer, Czeslaw Lipinski, Wladyslaw Dabrowski, Feliks Tarnacki, Jozef Chrzanowski, Roman Gorski, Antoni Niebrzydowski, Wladyslaw Miciura, Jozef Zyluk, Marian Zyluk, Jerzy Laudanski, Zygmunt Laudanski, Czeslaw Laudanski, Wincenty Goscicki, Roman Zawadzki, Jan Zawadzki, Aleksander Lojewski, Franciszek Lojewski, Eugeniusz Sliwecki, Stanislaw Sielawa and Karol Bardon have been charged with participating, while cooperating with the Germans, in capturing of about 1,200 individuals of Jewish nationality who were then mass burned by the Germans in Bronislaw Sleszynski's barn on June 25, 1941.

As far as it is known from the court case, the crime committed on the Jewish population in Jedwabne on June 25, 1941 was of a horrible nature and it resulted in 700 fatalities, some burned alive in the barn, and the rest murdered in the cemetery. There were several dozens of Germans involved (witness J. Sokolowska), 68 of which were the Gestapo. The rest was the local population that was forced to cooperate. The Jews were assembled on the square, where, after many excesses such as carrying the statue of Lenin, they were escorted to the cemetery where some were shot to death and others were led to Sleszynski's barn and put on fire. The local population, including the defendants, was terrorized into participating by the large number of Germans who arrived in Jedwane on the critical day, as it becomes apparent from all accounts given at any time by both, the defendants and the witnesses to the prosecution. Germans, because of their relatively small number, needed the defendants' help in taking Jews out of their homes and bringing them to the place of the assembly. The defendants were forced into participating, however, the defendants were not individually supervised in carrying out the orders. One of the defendants, Stanislaw Zejer, stated that under the order of the Gestapo, he personally escorted two Jewish individuals to the square, a behavior typical of the remaining defendants. In the circumstances of the incident [...]

I. Karol Bardon's actions [...] stand apart, as they do not appear to be forced. According to witness Sokolowska's testimony the defendant was in the service of the gendarmerie at the time [...] and therefore, his participation in the crime resulted from voluntarily [joining?] the German service. On the critical day he appeared equipped with the carbine at the assembly location (witness Jozef Gradowski). Bardon remained to be engaged all through the day (w. Sokolowska). On that day Bardon demanded [kerosene?] of Niebrzydowski to put Sleszynski's barn on fire, he received it and so he put the barn on fire (the defendant Niebrzydowski). The defendant Z. Laudanski also talked about the defendant Bardon during the investigation (k. 103). Bardon had been sentenced to 6 years in prison for having had collaborated with the Germans. At the present time he deserves the capital punishment [for?] the extent of his wrong - doings, article 1, paragraph 1 of the Decree. The remaining defendants need to be classified according to the established evidence of their wrong - doings into those who took part in driving Jews into Sleszynski's barn to be burned, such as the following: Jerzy Laudanski, Zygmunt Laudanski, Boleslaw Ramotowski, and Wladyslaw Miciura, and then those, who drove Jews into the square, such as the following: Stanislaw Zejer and Czeslaw Lipinski and those who took part in guarding Jews at the square, as the following: Dabrowski Wladyslaw, Tarnacki Feliks, Gorski Roman, Niebrzydowski Antoni, and Jozef Zyluk. The Court acquitted the following defendants for the lack of the sufficient evidence: Jozef Chrzanowski, Marian Zyluk, Czeslaw Laudanski, Wincenty Goscicki, Roman Zawadzki, Jan Zawadzki, Aleksander Lojewski, Franciszek Lojewski, Eugeniusz Sliwecki and Stanislaw Sielawa.

As to the general characteristic of the evidence in the trial one should rate it as relatively scant since the witnesses to the persecution, [Eljasz] Gradowski and Boruszczak, failed to appear before the court, as they were not delivered the summons. Others, such as Stanislaw Sielawa, Sokolowska, and Kozlowski - withdrew their depositions made in the Agency for Public Security. Still others were not familiar with the case. The defendants generally revoked their previously made testimonies; Szmul Wasersztajn's testimony is an unofficial statement, and the late Henryk Krystowczyk's account is unreliable. In their testimonies made at UB (Agency for Public Security) Eljasz Gradowski and Abram Boruszczak stated that they escaped during the incident - therefore their accounts and [Eljasz] Gradowski's in particular could not be considered an indisputable evidence, and especially since it appears impossible for Gradowski in the circumstances of the incident to be able to witness the actions of 25 individuals indicated by him. In regards to those witnesses, Jozef Gradowski stated that they were not present in Jedwabne at the time of mass murder. For the reasons mentioned above the accounts of Szmul Wasersztajn, Eljasz Gradowski, and Boruszczak need to be treated as the subsidiary evidence, assuming that the only source of information for these witnesses were the defendants. Witness Krystowczyk stated that he watched the defendants Laudanski and Lojewski Aleksander from the distance of 250 meters by [raising?] a roofing tile in the attic of a house. It seems to be impossible in the circumstances described by the witness to register the actions of individual defendants. Some of the defendants testified that they had been tortured in the Agency for Public Security and therefore testified under duress. Because many defendants were investigated by The Prosecutor's Office at the same time, and their testimonies are in agreement with those made in the UB. Therefore the accusation that the testimonies had been forced needs to be dismissed and the evidence considered valid.

Considering each of the defendants the following needs to be observed:

II. Jerzy Laudanski denied his part in the crime during the trial. However, while being interrogated by the UB and The Prosecutor's Office he admitted that he had been driving Jews to Sleszynski's barn. From his explanations and from the depositions of Antoni Goscicki it turns out that at the critical time he was employed as a janitor at the gendarmerie station in Jedwabne and he had to do with Jews by leading them to the forced labors. Defendant Lipinski testified about him that he came with Kalinowski; the latter's name appears in several depositions of other defendants. Eljasz Gradowski, Abram Boruszczak, and Szmul Wasersztejn have also talked about Laudanski. The act of the defendant needs to be classified as described in article 1, clause 1 and 5j paragraph 2 of the Decree. Also, because he had been in the service of Germans and because of his attitude [...] for his part in the crime he needs to be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

III. Zygmunt Laudanski pleaded not guilty during the trial, however, during the investigation [...] in the UB and in The Prosecutor's Office he admitted to guarding Jews in the square and also [to being in the vicinity of] Sleszynski's barn, and therefore, to driving them to the crime scene. [He testified] in The Persecutor's Office about Bardon and Jozef Zyluk, that the latter escaped at the time when Jews were escorted to the barn; witnesses Borawska and Chrzanowska maintain that the defendant was being bro[ught?] to the market place by Germans, from where he then escaped, his act needs to be classified like that of Jerzy Laudanski, and he needs to be sentenced to 12 years in prison considering that he was less involved in the crime [than?] as mentioned by witness Henryk Krystowczyk.

IV. Boleslaw Ramatowski admitted that he was guarding Jews in the square and saw Jozef Zyluk standing by. In the UB he admitted that he escorted Jews to Sleszynski's barn, and in The Prosecutor's Office he admitted that he supervised Jewish population at the square. Eljasz Gradowski mentioned him as the one who was driving Jews into the barn. Witnesses Gradzka and Jarnutowska said that the defendant had been brought to the square by Germans. In the light of the above the Court has decided that the defendant was involved in driving to the barn, since he had no reason to lie before the UB, and therefore, his act has been classified like that of the preceding defendant with the sentence of 12 years in prison.

V. Wladyslaw Miciura pleaded not guilty during the trial. In the UB he testified to have seen Kobrzeniecki putting the barn on fire. This implies that he was in the vicinity of the barn where he certainly would not go to merely observe the incident. At the time the defendant was employed in the gendarmerie station as a carpenter and he was on the front line of those to be summoned in case there would be an action against Jews; for those reasons he needs to be considered guilty of driving Jews into the barn, classified the same as the three defendants above, and given the same sentence.

VI. Stanislaw Zejer explained at the trial that a Gestapo man ordered him to lead two Jews, whom he initially took and later released. Then he testified that he saw Germans escorting defendant Roman Gorski and how Jerzy Laudanski walked behind the Jews. In the UB and at the Prosecutor's he testified that on German orders he brought two individuals of Jewish nationality to the square where he guarded them and later ran away home. This evidence is enough to consider the defendant guilty of the crime from article1, clause 2 and 5, paragraph 1 of Decree from 8-31-44; considering the weight of the crime, as a penalty the Court has decided a 10 year sentence as proper.

VII. Czeslaw Lipinski, the defendant presently denies his participation in the crime. In the UB he testified to have brought one Jewish male and two young Jewish females. In the Prosecutor's Office he testified that he had been guarding Jews on the square. The defendants were of the opinion that it was not without a reason or incidentally that the defendant told about escorting Jews in the UB. His witnesses, like Rybicka, Lipinsk[...] Dolewski testified that the defendant had been brought by force and later he escaped. Under these circumstances the defendant needs to be considered guilty of the crime, and like Zejer, sentenced from article 1, clause 1 [...] and 5, paragraph 1 of the Decree.

VIII. Wladyslaw Dabrowski - the defendant pleaded not guilty during the trial, however, in the UB and in The Prosecutor's Office he admitted to guarding Jews for two hours. Witness Eljasz Gradowski talked about him, too. The defendant testified that he had refused to go and Germans hit him on the face and forced him to go. The testimonies of the witnesses: Dabrowska Maria and Jozef Kalczynski that the defendant was laying tiles on the roof of the church at the time, cannot be accepted in the light of the earlier quoted data. Because guarding Jews on the square meant harm in respect to life's safety - which the defendant was well aware of - based on how the events were developing, and how they resulted in bringing Jews to a place of execution - the defendant's act then qualifies from article 2 of the Decree. It needs to be indicated that from the initial stage of the German's conduct, which was assembling Jews - the defendant might have not been able to predict the course of the action, such as the burning and the shooting of the Jews at the cemetery. As for the penalty, considering the significant distance in time since the commitment of crime, the Court has established a sentence of 8 years in prison as satisfactory.

IX. Feliks Tarnacki - during the trial the defendant pleaded guilty of guarding Jews for 15 minutes before running away. His testimony in the UB and the Prosecutor's Office is the same. Witnesses Walczynski, Waclaw Krystowczyk, and Przestrzelski testified that at the critical time the defendant left Jedwabne on the bicycle. It has to be understood that it took place after he had participated in the crime.

X. Gorski Roman - admitted at the trial that he guarded Jews on the square for15 minutes. The same had been established during the investigation. Defendant Romatowski described the involvement of the defendant. Witnesses [...]ska, Borawska, Mroczkowska testified that the defendant was forced to the square by Germans.

XI. Antoni Niebrzydowski - denied his participation in the crime - admitted only that as a kerosene warehouseman under Soviets - he provided Bardon with 8 liters of kerosene as demanded. Both at The Prosecutor's and in the UB the defendant admitted to have guarded Jews on the square.

XII. Jozef Zyluk pleaded not guilty and explained that he took Zdrojewicz from the mill and later he let him go on the way. During the investigation the defendant testified that he released the Jew on the road from where the latter came to the square on his own. At the Prosecutor's he told that he then went home and watched Jews being brought to Sleszynski's barn. In the investigation the defendant did not say that it concerned Zdrojewicz; this last information was provided by witnesses: Brzeczko and Dlugolecki. However, considering the above depositions one should come to a conclusion that the defendant's actions harmed Jewish population and that he played a similar role as the 4 earlier mentioned defendants. In particular, the defendant had to be present on the square while Jews were being guarded since he lead the Jew in that direction and saw the barn on fire. Defendants Zygmunt Laudanski and Boleslaw Ramotowski talked about him during the investigation. The criminal act of Tarnacki, Gorski, Niebrzydowski, and Jozef Zyluk needs to be classified in the same manner as that of Wladyslaw Dabrowski. Consequently, their sentence is to be uniform.

At this point one needs to refer back to witness Henryk Krystowczyk to mention that his brother, witness Waclaw Krystowczyk testified that defendant Henryk Krystowczyk did not rely on direct observations but on the accounts of other individuals.

XIII. Jozef Chrzanowski pleaded not guilty and none of the defendants indicated that he had participated in any way. He had admitted to guarding Jews during the UB interrogation, however, he did not confirm that at The Prosecutor's Office. As it is apparent from witnesses' testimonies [...] Godlewska, Chrzanowska, Germans forced him but he managed to escape and hide in the rye field, as it is known Germans ordered him to make his barn available for burning Jews and that is why they seized him. Quite possibly, the whole thing took him some time and to avoid Germans and giving up his barn he rescued himself by fleeing. Merely the testimony given in the UB, without any supporting data as to what degree the defendant appreciated the content of the official record, is not the sufficient evidence to find him guilty.

XIV. Marian Zyluk - Defendant pleaded not guilty during the investigation as well as the trial. Witnesses Strzelczyk and Krystowczyk Stanislaw testified that at the critical time the defendant was ill. Antoni Niebrzydowski talked about him in the UB, and, Z. Laudanski talked about him in the UB and at the Prosecutor's - he talked about Jozef Zyluk. The evidence is not sufficient.

XV. Czeslaw Laudanski pleaded not guilty. Only Wasersztejn talked about him

k. 28 of the investigation and witness Waclaw Krystowczyk who had turned out earlier as unreliable. Witnesses: Rybicki, Malczynski, Chrzanowski, and Dobkowski testified that the defendant was seriously ill. Therefore, there is lack of evidence of guilt.

XVI. Wincenty Goscicki pleaded not guilty during the trial and in the course of investigation. Boleslaw Romatowski talked about him during the investigation at the Prosecutor's but during the trial the defendant renounced his testimony. Witness Goscicka testified that at the critical time he was sleeping.

XVII & XVIII. Roman Zawadzki and Jan Zawadzki pleaded not guilty and Boleslaw Ramatowski has mentioned about them during the investigation at The Prosecutor's. According to the UB documentation Jan Zawadzki was to guard [Jews]. Witnesses Jarnutowski and others have decided that both of the Zawadzkis were working: one in the mill - the other in the sawmill. The Zawadzkis should be acquitted for the lack of evidence.

XIX. Aleksander Lojewski pleaded not guilty. Witness Krystowczyk has mentioned about him (k.141 of the investigation) and today's testimony, however, the witness had grudge to Lojewski so his testimony is not reliable. Witnesses [...] Karwowski, Biedrzycki, and Kamalski have testified that at the critical time the defendant was at his daughter in law. [Eljasz] Gradowski and Boruszczak have mentioned about him, however for the reasons earlier explained their testimonies alone should not be considered as evidence.

XX. Franciszek Lojewski pleaded not guilty. According to the UB documents the defendant had orders from Germans but he fled. Niebrzydowski and Miciura have mentioned about him in the UB investigation. This evidence is insufficient and the defendant had to be acquitted.

XXI. Eugeniusz Sliwecki pleaded not guilty. Witness Krystowczyk has mentioned about him but his conviction comes only from the fact that he was a city council employee in Jedwabne. Eljasz Gradowski's testimony from the investigation cannot be considered sufficient evidence of the defendant's guilt.

XXII. Stanislaw Sielawa pleaded not guilty and only Szmul Wasersztejn has mentioned about him. This evidence is insufficient. -

Judge:

[three illegible signatures]

Aside from the evidence the assumption could be made that on that critical day, prior to the massacre, there happened isolated incidents of killings of Jews who were escaping and eluding the assembly, and it all happened in front of the defendants.

In regards to the significance of the crimes committed by the defendants, it needs to be stressed that it was a rarely witnessed case in the history of the mankind to mass murder 1,500 defenseless people.

Judge: [illegible signature]

Jury: [illegible signatures]

*******************

I want to remind three significant elements in the course of events as presented in the book by Jan Tomasz Gross:

1) Polish people came up with the idea of murdering Jews.

2) City council members signed an agreement with Gestapo concerning the murdering of Jews.

3) Jews have been murdered by the population of Jedwabne exclusively, and Germans took no part in those tragic events.

However, one implication prevails from the above document - and it is confirmed by other archives - that the murder in Jedwabne was planned, organized, and carried out by Germans, who were the main executive power in the described events all throughout its course. Polish people who were put on trial, were not responsible for murdering Jews, but for taking part in the crime of Germans, into which - as The Court clearly stated - Germans forced them.

The important issue in the verdict is the case of the physical force used during the UB interrogations. Nearly all defendants stated during the trial that they had been coerced into confessing their guilt by beatings, they were forced into signing earlier prepared records of interrogation without being able to view them, or that the records differed from their actual testimonies. Methods like these - because of the way the communist system operated and because of the low standards of the UB personnel - were the commonly used practices in the UB. Like the old Soviet saying goes, "Give me an individual and we will come up with the clause", for the interrogating officers it did not matter to establish the actual course of events as much as to produce the guilty parties, that could come up before The Court. The above mentioned practices were best described by the Minister of Public Security at the time, Stanislaw Radkiewicz:" A lack of objectivity in the investigations is a common practice, complete ignoring of circumstances and evidences provided by the accused, and manipulating the witnesses' testimonies to conveniently support the fabric of the charges, so they no longer tell what had really happened."/6

However, by recognizing the UB testimonies as doubtful evidences in terms of defining the true involvement of the sentenced individuals in the described events - some were later acquitted in the court of higher instance - the ruling was unanimous and without the shade of the doubt as to who bears responsibility for this tragic crime: " The local population, including the defendants, was terrorized into participating by the large number of Germans who arrived in Jedwabne on the critical day, as it becomes apparent from all accounts given at any time by both, the defendants and the witnesses to the prosecution. Germans, because of their relatively small number needed the defendants' help in taking Jews out of their homes and bringing them to the place of the assembly."

The only person accused of a voluntary participation in the crime was Karol Bardon, a local volksdeutch who already worked at the gendarmerie station and was soon promoted to a German gendarme. Undoubtedly however, there were other Polish individuals who voluntarily participated in the crime and never appeared before the court (Kalinowski, Wasilewski, Kobrzeniecki, and several others) either because they were deceased or could not be found. They might have been motivated by vengeance for the pro-soviet conduct of local Jews in the year 1941 or by the war frenzy (or by both of elements combined).

Considering the main arguments of Gross' book it needs to be observed that they are in a sharp conflict with the textbook knowledge about the German occupation. There could be no city council in Jedwabne as it is stated by Jan Tomasz Gross. There was only a municipal administration that was appointed by Germans and consisted of local scum and a few volksdeutch (vide: Bardon), who having German support played lords of life and death with the local populace. In the light of the above, the information about a Polish-Gestapo contract to murder Jews as provided by The Neighbors reflects the intellectual level of its author even more than the state of his historical knowledge. The information regarding the mentioned contract comes from three individuals who were even not witnessing the events in Jedwabne. These were the individuals named in the presented document: Henryk Krystowczyk, Adam Boruszczak, and Eljasz Gradowski.

The first of the named was collaborating with Soviets in the years 1939-41 and he fled the town as soon as the Germans arrived in fear of retributions from townspeople. He returned in 1945 with the Soviet army as a high-ranking communist party official and he testified against a number of innocent people who were repugnant towards communism. He was motivated by personal accounts and was taking revenge for his brother's assassination, who had been also collaborating with the Soviets and was later killed by the underground in 1946.

Eljasz Gradowski and Abram Boruszczak also have made allegations against several dozens people, reciting from the memory, identical with that of Krystowczyk and entirely false version of the events. Both have solemnly assured that they had seen everything with their own eyes and even had themselves been driven to the barn during this tragic incident. However, in the trial it was exposed that Eljasz Gradowski had been deported deep into The Soviet Union in 1940 for theft, and therefore he was not in Jedwabne at the time. /7 Similarly, Abram Boruszczak had never resided in the town and the address that he provided during the investigation was false. Both of the above mentioned "witnesses" did not appear before the court when summoned. Information concerning the lack of reliability in the testimonies of the above witnesses is contained in the above records, but Gross chose to ignore them. Interestingly enough, it is precisely Krystowczyk and Boruszczak, either quoted by their names or by indicating the relevant document's page, that are along with unreliable account of Szmul Wasersztejn, the chief narrators of The Neighbors. The presented court verdict has never been mentioned in Gross' book. I leave it up to the reader to draw conclusions resulting from the comparison of main arguments presented in The Neighbors and the quoted court verdict.

1/ See: acknowledgements of Jan Tomasz Gross; The Neighbors (Sejny: published by, Pogranicze ,2000): I would like to thank professor Andrzej Paczkowski with whose help I got access to the archives The Head Commission [sic! should be The Head Commission of Investigating the Crimes Committed on the Polish Nation] at the time when it was practically closed because all the materials were being transferred to the newly created National Memory Institute (p.10).

2/ A Different View of the Neighbors by Tomasz Strzembosz, from "Rzeczpospolita", no. 77 from 3/31-4/1/2001.

3/ A Different... by Tomasz Strzembosz, ; Gross Concealment by Piotr Gontarczyk, from "Zycie" no. 77 from 3/31-4/1/2001; "Passing by with the Facts" (interview by Piotr Semka with professor T. Strzembosz), from the same newspaper.

4/ See: Neighbors Anyway by J. T. Gross, "Rzeczpospolita" no. 86 from 4/11/2001.

5/ Archives of The National Memory Institute, call no. SOL (Circuit Court of Lomza), position 123, vol. II, 224-229.

6/ A speech of the Minister for the Public Security Stanislaw Radkiewicz about tasks for public security machine in the light of the resolutions of the VI Plenum of KC PZPR (March 1951). In: The Security Machine in Poland, years 1950-1952. Tactics, Strategy, Methods; introduction by Andrzej Paczkowski, selection and elaboration by Antoni Dudek and Andrzej Paczkowski (Warszawa: publisher: Bellona, 2000), p. 75.

7/ SOL 123, a record of the main trial, a deposition of Josef Gradowski.

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