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An astonishing and heartbreaking study of the Polish Holocaust survivors who returned home only to face continued violence and anti-Semitism at the hands of their neighbors
“[Fear] culminates in so keen a shock that even a student of the Jewish tragedy during World War II cannot fail to feel it.”—Elie Wiesel
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
Poland suffered an exceedingly brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War, in which 90 percent of the country’s three and a half million Jews perished. Yet despite this unprecedented calamity, Jewish Holocaust survivors returning to their hometowns in Poland after the war were further subjected to terror and bloodshed. The deadliest peacetime pogrom in twentieth-century Europe took place in the Polish town of Kielce on July 4, 1946.
In Fear, Jan T. Gross addresses a vexing question: How was this possible? At the center of his investigation is a detailed reconstruction of the Kielce pogrom and how ordinary Poles responded to the spectacle of Jews being murdered by their fellow citizens. Anti-Semitism, Gross argues, became a common currency between the Communist regime and a society in which many were complicit in the Nazi campaign of plunder and murder—and for whom the Jewish survivors were a standing reproach.
For more than half a century, the fate of Jewish Holocaust survivors in Poland was cloaked in guilt and shame. Writing with passion, brilliance, and fierce clarity, Jan T. Gross brings to light a truth that must never be ignored.
Praise for Fear
“That a civilized nation could have descended so low . . . such behavior must be documented, remembered, discussed. This Gross does, intelligently and exhaustively.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping . . . an especially powerful and, yes, painful reading experience . . . illuminating and searing.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Gross tells a devastating story. . . . One can only hope that this important book will make a difference.”—Boston Sunday Globe
“A masterful work that sheds necessary light on a tragic and often-ignored aspect of postwar history.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Astonishing . . . Gross supplies impeccable documentation.”—Baltimore Sun
“Compelling . . . Gross builds a meticulous case.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)