July 10, 1941 – Jedwabne Massacre in Poland

On this day in history, a group of some forty Polish residents, recruited by the Germans and by the order of the Polish mayor, rounded up at least 340 Polish Jews, including their own neighbors as well as some forty other Jews from nearby towns who had sought refuge in Jedwabne. The Jews were taken to the town square, attacked, and beaten. Some forty were killed on the square. The others were then taken to a barn, locked in, and burned alive in the presence of eight German gendarmes, who shot those who tried to escape. German photographers took pictures.

In 2003, a new investigation by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) confirmed that the pogrom was committed by Polish inhabitants of the town but they attributed responsibility for the crime to the Germans, who “inspired” it. The IPN added that the majority of Jedwabne residents were “utterly passive,” although they did not “participate” in the pogrom.

The IPN reported that a small group of Jews survived the massacre, and were transferred by the Germans to a ghetto in Lomza. The number of Polish Jews compressed in the Lomza Ghetto ranged from 10,000 to 18,000. They came from the villages of Jedwabne, Stawiski, Piątnica, Łomża, Wizna, Rotki and others. The Ghetto was liquidated on November 1, 1942, when all inhabitants were shipped out to extermination camps.

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