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Difficult History

Witold Bereś

Marek Edelman had its own, new style of talking about the most difficult moments in the history of the Jews, Poles, and Germans, as well as other nations of the West. He talked about the history of nations but also individuals (he would always stress that it is always the individual who is responsible for his/her deeds). He was among the first people who spoke about Jews who collaborated with the Gestapo, and about noble Jews who were members of the Jewish police in the ghetto. He talked straight to the point not only about Polish Jew hunters but about anti-Semites within the ranks of the Home Army, and about the disgraceful role of the Catholic Church in Poland is spreading anti-Semitism. He was very critical of the communists, yet still he could appreciate those who were noble and brave.


When asked in May 2001 by a reporter from the Rzeczpospolita daily if the Poles who did pogroms in Jedwabne and Radziłów were minority, Edelman said: “It must be some major group to herd some 500 or 1,600 people into a barn. It could not have been single individuals. And Jedwabne was not a single case. (…) It is not that important if 1,400 or 1,600 people died there. The fact remains the same. And if so, then one has to take responsibility for that. I’m not saying that everybody now has to put ash on their heads.  No. But they have to know that one must not act like that. (…) Nobody has to apologize, for apologies will help nothing. People have to understand that they must not kill. No matter what reason they may have: the color of skin, religion, believes, nationality and so on. This is how young people should be brought up.”


Edelman kept explaining that since the man shows the beauty of face and talks about his great deeds, he must not, at the same time, hide the other side of him, which are the shameful deeds.



We want to use our memory of the past to serve the future. We want it to trigger thinking instead of hatred. This is why, when talking about history—even its most difficult parts—we will show the entire complexity, and how big policies as well as individual actions were conditioned. And after all, we will show the heroes and villains of all nations.