As if the deceased have risen from their graves


It is a book that won’t appear until March, yet it has already been hailed as „the most important publishing event of 2011”. Newspapers have written about it. Journalists and politicians have discussed it on television. It is enough to type the first word of its title into a search engine and hundreds, if not thousands, of references come up. Internet fora are flush with comments. Some are full of indignation, outrage and hatred for the author. He has been called a traitor, a renegade, a liar, a cheat and a slave of mammon. Furious bloggers swear they won’t touch the book with a bargepole, let alone buy it, lest they help this scoundrel and bastard make money. There is even a social movement calling for a boycott of the book’s publishers. There have also been calls for fisticuffs and lawsuits. Of course, other voices have also been heard. These, however, typically assume a somewhat different tone. One that is calmer, free of scorn and aggression. The more sensible of them suggest we wait until the book has been published to read it and only then start the mud-slinging, if necessary. Others also insist they are not buying the book as it contains only well known facts, so it would be a waste of money. However, the voices of reason and moderation seem to be in the minority. You will ask what sort of book this is. It is a history book. What is it about? About Poles and Jews, of course. Its author is the Polish sociologist and historian Jan Tomasz Gross, who has been living in the US for decades. Its title, „The Gold Harvest”, refers to activities carried out by Polish peasants in villages situated in the vicinity of the German extermination camps in eastern Poland: Treblinka, Sobibor and Bełżec, but particularly Treblinka.

more from Andrzej Stasiuk at Salon) here.