Jedwabne – timeline of remebrance

Macewa z kamieniami pamięci
fot. K. Bielawski

10 July 1941

Pogrom of the Jewish population in Jedwabne.

May 1942

The “Prawda” monthly journal, a conspiratory body of the Front for the Rebirth of Poland, published the article Proroctwa się wypełniają by Zofia Kossak Szczucka, where she condemns the crimes committed with the participation of the local population in, among others, Jedwabne (referred to as Jagodno in the text) and other localities.

5 April 1945

Szmuel Wassersztajn gives the account of the crime in Jedwabne in front of the Provincial Jewish Historical Commission in Białystok.

14 June 1946

Menachem Finkelsztajn, an inhabitant of Radziłów in his 20s, testifies to the same commission and describes not only the pogrom in Radziłów, but also the one in Jewabne. He provides an unreliable number of victims (3,300).


Publication of brochure Walka i zagłada białostockiego getta by Szymon Datner, which includes the description of murders committed by Germans on 27 June 1941 in Białystok. The brochure also mentions “murders committed on the Jewish population, with the German approval, by local dark reactionaries and hoodlums” in the region of Białystok, but the name of Jedwabne is not included.

29 December 1947

Całka Migdał, a Jew from Jedwabne, sends a letter to the Central Committee of Polish Jews from Montevideo, in which he writes that Jews from Jedwabne were killed at the hands of Poles.

16-17 May 1949

Łomża – the trial of Bolesław Ramotowski and 21 accused of participating in the pogrom. Nine are acquitted, 11 are given prison sentences of 8-15 years.


The Grayevo Memorial Book is published in New York by a landsmanshaft from Grajewo. The book contains the first mention of the Jedwabne crime, which is included in the account of Menachem Finkelsztajn, published in Hebrew and Polish.


First commemoration of Jews from Jedwabne in the form of a stone with the inscription: “The site of the murder of the Jewish population. On 10 July 1941, the Gestapo and German military police burned 1,600 people alive.” It was probably unveiled on the initiative of the local branch of the Society of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy.


Szymon Datner’s article Eksterminacja ludności żydowskiej w Okręgu Białostockim in the Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute.” The author writes: “For the purpose of crimes in these areas (northern regions of Bezirk Bialystok), Germans engaged scum from the local population and the so-called blue police.”


The book Jewish Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Eastern Europe by Reuben Ainsztein is published in London. The author cites the work by Szymon Datner and points to “Polish anti-Semites” as the party responsible for the mass murder.


The Jedwabne Book of Memory Sefer Jedwabne – Historija ve-zikaron is published in Israel by the members of landsmanshafts from Jedwabne living in Israel and the USA; it contains accounts of eyewitnesses of the tragedy.


In the brochure Założenia i realizacja hitlerowskiej polityki okupacyjnej w regionie białostockim, written jointly by Prosecutor Waldemar Monkewicz and Józef Kowalczyk, the former writes: “On the day of 8 [sic!] July [1941], several hundred people were burned alive in a farm building belonging to Sutkowski, a farmer from Radziłów. On 10 July, almost all Jews from Jedwabne were killed in a similar way.”

7 July 1983

The article Komanda śmierci by Monkiewicz is published in the “Gazeta Współczesna” newspaper, issued in Białystok, Łomża, and Suwałki; it contains the description of the events taking place during the massacre, which was carried out “with the use of local military police and auxiliary police.”


Publication of The Holocaust. A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War by Martin Gilbert. He writes about Jedwabne: “On 10 July 1941 in the village of Jedwabne, the SS herded all 1,600 Jews to the market square, tortured them for several hours, and then herded them into a barn and burned alive.”


Morlan Ty Rogers from New York visits Jedwabne, where his father and 26 relatives were killed in 1941. Rogers was told by his grandfather that the mass murder had been perpetrated by Poles.


The article Napiętnowani znakiem śmierci by Zdzisław Sędziak, a local historian, is published in the magazine “Ziemia Łomżyńska” (vol.2); it describes the events of the Jedwabne pogrom.

10 July 1988

The weekly magazine ”Kontakty” from Łomża publishes a shocking feature story called …aby żyć by Danuta and Aleksander Wroniszewski. The authors cite, among others, extensive fragments of the account of Szmul Wasersztajn.


In “Studia Podlaskie,” a magazine issued by the University of Bialystok, Prosecutor Waldemar Monkiewicz presents the findings of the investigation of the issue of Jedwabne carried out by the Regional Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Białystok. The blame for the massacre is put on Germans.


Andrzej Żbikowski publishes the article Lokalne pogromy Żydów w czerwcu i lipcu 1941 roku na wschodnich rubieżach II Rzeczpospolitej (“Biuletyn ŻIH”, no. 162-163).


Morlan Ty Rogers writes a letter to the “New York Times” regarding the misleading monument located in the village in eastern Poland.

22 February 2000

In the book Non Provincial Europe (ed. Krzysztof Jasiewicz; Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm), dedicated to Prof. Tomasz Strzemboszcz, Jan Tomasz Gross cites the account of Szmul Wasersztajn.

18 April 2000

The TVP1 channel broadcasts the film Where Is My Older Brother Kain? (1999) directed by Agnieszka Arnold.

5 May 2000

Andrzej Kaczyński, a journalist, publishes the story called Całopalenie. W Jedwabnem zagłady Żydów Niemcy dokonali polskimi rękami in the “Rzeczpospolita” newspaper; it is one of the most important publications on the crime.

8 May 2000

The representatives of the local government, the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland come together and cooperate in order to commemorate the victims.

13-14 May 2000

The “Nasz Dziennik” magazine accuses Kaczyński and Gross of spreading lies regarding the massacre in Jedwabne.

End of May 2000

The book Neighbours is published in Sejny by the Pogranicze printing house.

31 August 2000

Prof. Witold Kulesza, Chief of the Investigation Department in the Institute of National Remembrance, orders Prosecutor Radosław Ignatiew from the institute’s branch in Białystok to launch an investigation into the mass murder of Jews in Jedwabne.

18-19 November 2000

The article Każdy sąsiad ma swe imię by Jacek Żakowski and his interview with Tomasz Szarota are published in the “Gazeta Wyborcza” newspaper, sparking a heated and emotional debate on the participation of Poles in the Jedwabne pogrom.

3 March 2001

A roundtable is organised by “Rzeczpospolita” and attended by, among others, Jan Tomasz Gross, Tomasz Strzembosz, Andrzej Żbikowski, Paweł Machcewicz, Radosław Ignatiew, and Andrzej Kaczyński.

4 March 2001

The Committee for the Defence of the Reputation of Jedwabne is established.

6 March 2001

Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek declares that “the participation of Poles in the Jedwabne crime is indisputable” and adds: “the murder was committed neither in the name of the nation, nor in the name of the Polish state.”

15 March 2001

The monument unveiled in 1963 is removed in the presence of Andrzej Przewoźnik, the president of the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites.

17 March 2001

An article on Jedwabne by Adam Michnik is published in the “New York Times.”

3 and 4 April 2001

The TVP2 channel broadcasts the documentary Neighbours directed by Agnieszka Arnold.

27 May 2001

A mass is held in the All Saints’ Church in Warsaw in commemoration of the victims of the massacre; it is celebrated by Primate Józef Glemp and 50 bishops.

30 May 2001

Exhumation of bodies is initiated at the request of then Minister of Justice Lech Kaczyński, who five days later decides to stop it under the pressure of protests from religious Jewish circles.

1-2 June 2001

Dariusz Stola’s article Pomnik ze słów is published in “Rzeczpospolita.”

10 July 2001

A ceremony is held in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the pogrom; President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski apologises for the crime in Jedwabne. The ceremony is not attended by the inhabitants of Jedwabne and the representatives of the Episcopate. The new monument has the inscription: “In memory of Jews from Jedwabne and its surroundings, men, women, and children, co-owners of this land, murdered, buried alive on this site on 10 July 1941. Jedwabne 10 July 2001.”

19 December 2001

Statement is made by Prosecutor Radosław Ignatiew from the Institute of National Remembrance: evidence shows that Poles were the perpetrators of the crime.

9 July 2002

Ignatiew makes the report confirming the Polish responsibility for the crime available to the public. The report puts into question the number of victims (1,600), indicating that partial exhumation showed that at least 340 people were killed in Jedwabne.

8-12 October 2008

Drama piece Nasza klasa by Tadeusz Słobodzianek, which makes reference to the Jedwabne massacre, is performed for the first time during the “Konfrontacje” theatre festival in Lublin.

10 July 2011

On the 70th anniversary of the massacre, President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski, similarly to his predecessor Alesander Kwaśniewski 10 years earlier, apologises for the crime.

August 2011

The monument in Jedwabne is destroyed, with someone writing on it: “We are not sorry for Jedwabne.”

9 November 2012

Premiere of the film Aftermath directed by Władysław Pasikowski, loosely inspired by the story of the Jedwabne pogrom.