Historian may face Charges in Poland for writing that Poles killed Jews in World War II

Polish-born American academic Jan Tomasz Gross says that if necessary, he will defend his statements in court. The prominent Polish-born American historian Jan Tomasz Gross, who revealed the crimes committed by Poles against the Jews during the Holocaust, is gearing up for a legal battle over the “historical truth” against Polish authorities who, it now turns out, are still considering putting him on trial for harming Poland’s reputation.

In a surprise move in October, the Polish public prosecutor general decided to reconsider closing the investigation of Gross and instead to pursue it further until a final decision is made on whether to charge him. Conviction would carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

“It’s very disturbing. It’s political. I don’t believe that court is the place where historical issues having to do with Polish-Jewish relations during the war should be debated,” Gross told Haaretz over the weekend from his home in the United States.


The investigation against him was opened several months ago following an article that Gross wrote in which he noted the large extent to which Jews were murdered by Poles during World War II. Gross wrote that the figure was larger than the number of Germans killed by Poles. “Consider the Poles, who, deservedly proud of their society’s anti-Nazi resistance, actually killed more Jews than Germans during the war,” Gross wrote.

After the article appeared, the public prosecutor general’s office reported receiving a large number of complaints about what Gross had written, from people who demanded that he be charged with harming Poland’s reputation.

“They got angry that a crazy guy like me writes something which is so banal that anybody who is a historian of that period and knows anything will tell you,” Gross told Haaretz. “I wanted to bring to people’s mind the enormity of the crimes made by Polish fellow citizens against Jews. This is unfortunately the case. Poles killed a maximum 30,000 Germans and between 100,000 to 200,000 Jews.”