Polish Prosecutors Will Not Reopen Case Into 1941 Jedwabne Pogrom

Prosecutor's office says exhuming victims killed when 300 of the 340 Jews were burned alive by neighbors would not provide any new evidence

File photo: Participants place pebbles on a monument to honor Jews murdered by their Polish neighbors during a ceremony marking 70 years since the World War II massacre in Jedwabne, Poland, July 10, 2011.
AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

The Polish National Prosecutor’s Office has decided that there are no grounds for re-exhuming the victims of the 1941 pogrom in Jedwabne and resuming the proceedings in the case.

The decision was first reported on Monday. The director of the Institute of National Remembrance earlier had declared that it was ready to start exhumation work.

The prosecutor’s office said that exhuming the bodies of the Jewish victims would not provide any new evidence that could lead to the reopening of the case.

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In February, the director of the Institute of National Remembrance, Jaroslaw Szarek, announced that his institution was ready to conduct an exhumation in Jedwabne. A previous investigation into the 1941 crime was discontinued in June 2003, after it was determined that all guilty parties had been identified.

According to previous findings by the Institute of National Remembrance on Jedwabne, some 340 Jews were killed there, of which about 300 were burned alive in a barn. The murder was carried out by a group of 40 residents of Jedwabne and the surrounding area. According to the Institute, the crime was inspired by the Germans. Exhumation helped to determine the approximate number of victims. It previously was believed that around 1,600 Jews were murdered in Jedwabne.

The pogrom in Jedwabne was described by professor Jan Tomasz Gross in his book “Neighbors.”