Diversity News

They Were Neighbors

Professor Gross, together with Dan and Litten Boxser, and the Presidents of the Florida Holocaust Museum and Temple Beth Sholom

Professor Gross, together with Dan and Litten Boxser, and the Presidents of the Florida Holocaust Museum and Temple Beth Sholom

On January 12, 2017 at Temple Beth Sholom, The Boxser Diversity Initiative, in conjunction with The Florida Holocaust Museum presented a Genocide and Human Rights Awareness Movement (GHRAM) lecture by Jan T. Gross titled “They Were Neighbors” in conjunction with the showing of Aftermath with the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival. Aftermath is a 2012 Polish film inspired by Mr. Gross’ historical book Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. The film Aftermath is about a Polish man who returns home after the death of his father and unearths a secret about the now-deceased Jewish residents of his village.

Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland tells the story of one summer day in 1941. In Nazi-occupied Poland, half of the population of the town Jedwabne murdered the other half—some 1,600 men, women, and children. Only seven of the town’s Jews survived.

In this shocking and compelling study, historian Jan Gross pieces together eyewitness accounts as well as physical evidence into a comprehensive reconstruction of the horrific July day remembered well by locals but hidden to history. Revealing wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism, Gross’ investigation sheds light on how Jedwabne’s Jews came to be murdered-not by faceless Nazis, but by people who knew them well.

Aftermath was written and directed by Polish director Władysław Pasikowski. The inspiration for Pasikowski to write and direct the film was the controversy in Poland surrounding the 2000 publication of Gross’ Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. According to Gross’ historical research into the 1941 Jedwabne pogrom, Polish gentiles had murdered the hundreds of Jewish residents of Jedwabne, contrary to the official history which held the Nazi occupying force accountable.