Author(s): Anna Bikont
On 10 July 1941 a horrifying crime was committed in the small Polish town of Jedwadbne. Early in the afternoon, the town's Jewish population - hundreds of men, women and children - were ordered out of their homes, and marched into the town square. By the end of the day most would be dead. It was a massacre on a shocking scale, and one that was widely condemned. But only a few people were brought to justice for their part in the atrocity. The truth of what actually happened on that day was to be suppressed for more than sixty years. Part history, part memoir, part investigation, The Crime and the Silence is an award-winning journalist's account of the events of that day: both the story of a 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, Anna 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. Provocative, profoundly moving and ingeniously structured, The Crime and the Silence is a monumental work of non-fiction, and a vital contribution to Holocaust literature.
A monumental work of non-fiction exploring a wartime atrocity and its sixty-year denial
"The Crime and the Silence is a masterpiece of historical journalism. Combining remarkable archival study and courageous reportage, Anna Bikont reconstructs the context of the Jedwabne murder story, a wave of killings of Jews by their neighbours in the Polish countryside. A fascinating and deeply researched book, it is a must read for anyone interested in the Holocaust and its aftermath." -- Jan T. Gross "As she investigates the case of mass murder that transformed her home country's entire national myth, Anna Bikont combines the persistence and energy of a journalist with the humanity and care of a poet. The result is a hauntingly plausible contemporary history, tactfully delivering truths that we might all do well to contemplate." -- Timothy Snyder "The Crime and the Silence is an astonishing act of investigation and documentation. In the face of lies, denial, and massive indifference, Anna Bikont has established exactly what happened - before, during, and after in a small but atrocious massacre in Eastern Poland in July 1941. The subsequent decades - long silence is as shocking as the initial crime. The result is a terrifying and necessary book, unsparing in its detail, but deeply heartening as an act of historical reclamation." -- Julian Barnes "Writing with uncompromising honesty and fine-tuned sensitivity, Bikont gives us intimate insight into the sources of neighbourly violence - and the rare courage needed to resist it. A wrenching, humane, necessary book." -- Eva Hoffman "One of the most important and most dramatic books of the last decade." -- Ryszard Kapuscinski
Anna Bikont is a journalist for Gazeta Wyborcza,one of Poland's largest and most celebrated newspapers, which she helped found in 1989. For her articles on the crimes of Jedwabne and Radzilow, she was honored in 2001 with Poland's most prestigious award in journalism, the Press Prize. In 2008 and 2009, Bikont was a Cullman Fellow of the New York Public Library.