(JTA) — A senior state historian in Poland is seeking the exhumation of bodies of Jews murdered by Polish villagers, citing a witness whom he said claims that Germans organized the slaughter.
Krzysztof Krasowski, a leader of the regional office of the Institute of National Remembrance, or IPN, in Białystok, last month sent the request for exhumation in the village of Jedwabne to his organization’s headquarters in Warsaw, the PAP news agency reported Wednesday, citing the testimony of an 89-year-old woman identified in the Polish media only as Antonina K.
The 1941 massacre at Jedwabne, where according to historians from IPN and beyond at least 340 Jews were butchered by the neighbors amid a power vacuum following Germany’s invasion into Poland, became a highly polarizing issue in Poland since 2001, when historian Jan Gross published a groundbreaking book about it.
Revisionist historians and nationalistic activists insist that Poles were merely victims of Nazi savagery who never perpetrated atrocities against Jews.
The campaign to exhume bodies at Jedwabne intensified following Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party’s rise to power in the 2015 elections.