A monumental work of nonfiction on a wartime atrocity, its sixty-year denial, and the impact of its truth.
Jan Gross’s hugely controversial Neighbors was a historian’s disclosure of the events in the small Polish town of Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, when the citizens rounded up the Jewish population and burned them alive in a barn. The massacre was a shocking secret that had been suppressed for more than sixty years, and it provoked the most important public debate in Poland since 1989. From the outset, Anna Bikont reported on the town, combing through archives and interviewing residents who survived the war period. Her writing became a crucial part of the debate and she herself an actor in a national drama.
Part history, part memoir, The Crime and the Silence is the journalist’s account of these events: both the story of the massacre told through oral histories of survivors and witnesses, and a portrait of a Polish town coming to terms with its dark past. Including the perspectives of both heroes and perpetrators, Bikont chronicles the sources of the hatred that exploded against Jews and asks what myths grow on hidden memories, what destruction they cause, and what happens to a society that refuses to accept a horrific truth.
A profoundly moving exploration of being Jewish in modern Poland that Julian Barnes called “one of the most chilling books,” The Crime and the Silence is a vital contribution to Holocaust history and a fascinating story of a town coming to terms with its dark past.
Anna Bikont (born 17 July 1954) is a psychologist and writer associated with the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper since its inception in 1989. Her book ‘Le Crime et le Silence’ won the European Book Prize in 2011.
Bikont was born in Warsaw. Anna Bikont got her MA in Psychology in the Warsaw University, and worked there until 1988. Between 1982 and 1989 She was an underground Solidarity activist; co-founder and editor of Tygodnik Mazowsze weekly, Poland’s largest underground publication. She was a co-founder of Gazeta Wyborcza works as journalist for the Gazeta Wyborcza where she still works today as senior journalist.
In 2011, ‘Le crime et le silence’ the French edition of her 2004 non-fiction book My z Jedwabnego won the European Book Prize.