Few issues have divided Poles and Jews more deeply than the Nazi occupation of Poland during the Second World War and the subsequent slaughter of almost ninety percent of Polish Jewry. Many Jewish historians have argued that, during the occupation, Poles at best displayed indifference to the fate of the Jews and at worst were willing accomplices of the Nazis. Many Polish scholars, however, deny any connection between the prewar culture of antisemitism and the wartime situation. They emphasized that Poles were also victims of the Nazis and, for the most part, tried their best to protect the Jews.
This collection of essays, representing three generations of Polish and Jewish scholars, is the first attempt since the fall of Communism to reassess the existing historiography of Polish-Jewish relations just before, during, and after the Second World War. In the spirit of detached scholarly inquiry, these essays fearlessly challenge commonly held views on both sides of the debates. The authors are committed to analyzing issues fairly and to reaching a mutual understanding. Contributors cover six topics:
- The prewar legacy
- The deterioration of Polish-Jewish relations during the first years of the war
- Institutional Polish responses to the Nazi Final Solution
- Poles and the Polish nation through Jewish eyes
- The destruction of European Jewry and Polish popular opinion
- Polish-Jewish relations since 1945.