Solidarity with prof. Barbara Engelking and prof. Jan Grabowski

Update August 16, 2021 – great news!

The lawsuit against Professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski has been rejected by the Warsaw Appellate Court.

The Warsaw Appellate Court rejected today the lawsuit filed against us by Mrs. Filomena Leszczynska. The Court of Appeals upheld the arguments raised by us in our appeal and roundly rejected the verdict of the Warsaw District Court. We greet the verdict with great joy and satisfaction all the more, that this decision has a direct impact on all Polish scholars, and especially on historians of the Holocaust. We are deeply grateful to our attorneys, Mr. Michal Jablonski and Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczynska-Grabias, who agreed to represent us. We are also indebted to all those, who gave us their support over the last two difficult years.” (the quotation – courtesy of prof. Grabowski)

Context: Scholars of Holocaust face trial for “defamation”, as heirs of a person portrayed in Engelking & Grabowski’s work, Dalej jest noc (Night Without End), supported by a “Polish Anti-defamation League”, disagree with the content of a few lines in the book.

Once it became impossible to silence books published by Polish scholars of the Holocaust, a decision has been made to brand them as liars and falsifiers of history. The entire machinery of the nationalist Polish state (including state-funded NGO’s) set in motion. The trial against the authors of “Night Without End” is now to become a testing ground for this strategy. 
Sitting on the bench of the accused are Professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, co-authors of a two-volume study devoted to the fates of Jews who, during the war, went into hiding in several counties of occupied Poland. What is the case of the plaintiffs? In one of the footnotes the authors have allegedly slandered a former village elder from the Podlasie region. The sentence will be handed down on February 9, 2021.

Translation published on the page Jewish.pl, and the original article appeared in Polish: Wojciech Czuchnowski, in Gazeta Wyborcza on January 22, 2021, p. 4.

Déclarations of support for prof. Barbara Engelking and prof. Jan Grabowski (non exhaustive)

Major press outlets commenting on the story


Statement of Zygmunt Stepinski,
the Director of the Museum of History of Polish Jews POLIN.
On behalf of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN

Let me express solidarity with eminent scholars – prof. Barbara Engelking and prof. Jan Grabowski.

It is with regret that I see the unjustified attacks (personal and institutional) launched against scholars who conduct their research according to the best practices and standards accepted in the academic world and whose mission is to study facts and phenomena related to one of the most tragic periods in the history of Poland and the world.

My deepest concern is linked to the ongoing civil trial, which targets the above mentioned historians, co-editors of a two-volume study entitled “Night Without End”. The Fate of Jews in the Selected Counties of Occupied Poland”. The involvement in this trial of an organization heavily subsidized with public funds can be easily construed as a form of censorship and an attempt to frighten scholars away from publishing the results of their research out of fear of a lawsuit and the ensuing costly litigation.

I appeal, that the institutions and groups which have a full right to criticize the studies published by the Center for Holocaust Research (and in academic world a critique is one of the forces propelling further research) abstain from doing so in a atmosphere of fear and intimidation. One cannot but recall the bad memories of the past.

The truth will defend itself.

Zygmunt Stepinski

Director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN.

(English translation: Jan Grabowski)

Oświadczenie dyrektora Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN

W imieniu Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN pragnę wyrazić wyrazy solidarności dla wybitnych uczonych – prof. Barbary Engelking i prof. Jana Grabowskiego.

Z ubolewaniem przyjmuję pozbawione podstaw merytorycznych ataki – personalne oraz instytucjonalne – na badaczy, którzy zgodnie z najlepszymi praktykami i standardami obowiązującymi w świecie naukowym, realizują misję odkrywania faktów i zjawisk dotyczących jednego z najtragiczniejszych okresów w historii Polski i świata.

Najgłębszy niepokój wzbudza proces sądowy z powództwa cywilnego, który wytoczono wymienionym historykom, współredaktorom dwutomowego opracowania “Dalej jest noc. Losy Żydów w wybranych powiatach okupowanej Polski”. Zaangażowanie w tę sprawę fundacji zasilanej znacznymi kwotami ze środków publicznych jest przykładem działania, które łatwo odczytać jako formę cenzury i zastraszania badaczy przed publikowaniem wyników swoich ustaleń, w obawie o oskarżenie i obciążenie ich kosztami obrony prawnej.

Apeluję, by instytucje czy środowiska, które mają pełne prawo do krytyki (w świecie naukowym jest ona jednym z motorów postępu prac badawczych) opracowań Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów i innych najnowszych publikacji poświęconych Zagładzie nie prowadziły jej w atmosferze nagonki i zastraszania. Budzi to przykre wspomnienia z przeszłości.

Prawda się obroni.
 

Zygmunt Stępiński
Dyrektor Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN

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