11 July 2011
At a commemoration of the 1941 massacre in Jedwabne, Poland’s President Komorowski has asked Jews for forgiveness for the crimes committed by fellow Poles. For the first time, an official representative of the Catholic Church attended the ceremony. Poland marked the 70th anniversary of a dark spot in the country's history: the massacre of a hundreds of Jews by Poles during World War II. "The Polish republic hears the never-ending screams of its citizens... I again ask for forgiveness," Komorowski said at the ceremonies in the eastern town.
In 1941, after Nazi Germany's takeover of what till then had been an area under Soviet occupation, a number of pogroms by Poles against their Jewish neighbors took place in the region. In Jedwabne, at least 340 Jews were murdered, most of the victims having been herded into a barn that was then set on fire. Others were beaten to death. The involvement of German SS and Gestapo forces in the mass killings remains a subject of debate.
Public debate over Poland's own role in the Holocaust was only triggered with a book on the subject published in 2000. A year later, then President Aleksander Kwasniewski apologized for the pogroms on behalf of the Polish people.
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