Wąsosz pogrom

The Wąsosz pogrom was the World War II mass murder of Jewish residents of Wąsosz in German-occupied Poland, on 5 July 1941.

Circumstances surrounding the pogrom

When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the village of Wąsosz (Podlaskie Voivodeship) was taken by the Germans in the second week of the war.[1] At the end of September, in accordance with the German–Soviet Boundary Treaty, the area was transferred by the Nazis to the Soviet Union.[1]

The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East two weeks earlier, on 17 September 1939, pursuant to the secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The Red Army overran 52.1% of territory of Poland with over 13,700,000 inhabitants.[2] The Soviet occupation zone included 5.1 million ethnic Poles (ca. 38%),[2] 37% Ukrainians,[2] 14.5% Belarusians,[2] 8.4% Jews,[2] 0.9% Russians and 0.6% Germans.[2] There were also 336,000 refugees who escaped to eastern Poland from areas already occupied by Germany – most of them Polish Jews numbering at around 198,000.[2]

Following the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union, German Wehrmacht re-entered Wąsosz on 22 June 1941.[1] The Jews of the town, at that time, were 40% of the town's population some 500 people.[3]


On the night of 4 and 5 July 1941, a small group of men armed with axes and iron clubs murdered several dozens of the Jewish inhabitants of Wąsosz. The killings were performed in a brutal manner, regardless of the victims' age or sex.[4] The corpses of the murdered Jews were thrown into a large pit that was dug out side the town.[3] According to the Institute of National Remembrance's investigation, the number of victims is at least 70.[5][6] According to a report date 14 July 1941 by German security division 221/B "After the Russian withdrawal, the Polish populace of Wąsosz filled a barn with Jews, and killed them all before the German force entered [the town]".[3]


Menachem Finkielsztejn, a resident of Radziłów, described in a post-war testimony how Poles from Wąsosz arrived in Radziłów on the 6th of July saying that "It was immediately known that those who came had previously killed in a horrible manner, using pipes [?] and knives, all the Jews in their own town, not sparing even women or little children". However, they were chased away by the local townfolk of Radziłów, who then massacred the Jews of Radziłów on the 7th of June, killing the entire community except for 18 survivors.[7][8][9] According to Andrzej Żbikowski the townfolk of Radziłów drove away the Wąsosz killers so that they could kill and steal the property of the Jews for themselves.[4]

Fifteen surviving Jews remained in the town until 1 July 1942, when they were moved to the Milbo estate where some 500 Jews were employed in various works. In November 1942 the survivors were moved to the Bogusze transit camp and from there onward to Treblinka extermination camp and Auschwitz concentration camp.[1]

In 1951, Marian Rydzewski was tried and acquitted for participating pogrom before a communist court.[10][11][12]

IPN investigation

The crimes committed in Wąsosz was investigated by Institute of National Remembrance of Poland,[13] under the direction of the IPN prosecutor Radosław Ignatiew who earlier investigated the atrocities in Jedwabne.[14]

In 2014, Polish Jewish leaders were reportedly divided regarded exhumation of the bodies of the Jewish victims. Some, such as Poland's chief rabbai Michael Schudrich are opposed due to the dignity of the dead. Others, such as Piotr Kadicik the president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, support the exhumation.[10][15]

In 2015, while on vacation, Ignatiew was removed from the investigation and replaced with Malgorzata Redos-Ciszewska. The exhumation was not carried out, and the investigation was closed in 2016. The IPN did not identify any additional perpetrators beyond two Polish men sentenced for their actions shortly after World War II.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Abraham Wein, ed. (1989). Pinkas hakehillot Polin. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem. Retrieved 2007-03-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Trela-Mazur, Elżbieta (1998) [1997]. Włodzimierz Bonusiak; Stanisław Jan Ciesielski; Zygmunt Mańkowski; Mikołaj Iwanow (eds.). Sovietization of educational system in the eastern part of Lesser Poland under the Soviet occupation, 1939-1941 [Sowietyzacja oświaty w Małopolsce Wschodniej pod radziecką okupacją 1939-1941]. Kielce: Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiczna im. Jana Kochanowskiego. pp. 43, 294. ISBN 978-83-7133-100-8.. Also in: Trela-Mazur 1997, Wrocławskie Studia Wschodnie, Wrocław.
  3. ^ a b c Bender, Sara (2013). "Not Only in Jedwabne: Accounts of the Annihilation of the Jewish Shtetlach in North-eastern Poland in the Summer of 1941". Holocaust Studies. 19 (1): 1–38. doi:10.1080/17504902.2013.11087369.
  4. ^ a b Shared History, Divided Memory: Jews and Others in Soviet-occupied Poland 1939-1941, edited by Elazar Barkan, Elizabeth A. Cole, Kai Struve, essay authored by Andrzej Zbikowski, pages 349-350, Leipziger Universitätsverlag
  5. ^ a b Polish Institute Stops Investigation Into WWII Murder of 70 Jews, JPost (JTA), 14 March 2016
  6. ^ Podlaskie: IPN umorzył śledztwo ws. mordu Żydów w Wąsoszu w 1941 r.
  7. ^ Testimony of Menachem Finkielsztejn, Jewish Historical Commission, 27 June 1945, L.p. 72
  8. ^ The Holocaust: Europe, the World, and the Jews, 1918 - 1945, Norman Goda
  9. ^ Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz, Jan T. Gross, page 42
  10. ^ a b Wasosz Pogrom Mass Murder Investigation Sharply Divides Jewish Leaders, 5 October 2014, NBC News
  11. ^ Antisemitism: An Annotated Bibliography, Sara Grosvald, page 180
  12. ^ The Rise and Fall of Jewish Communities in Poland and Their Relics Today: District Bialystok, page 224, Arnon Rubin, Tel Aviv University press
  13. ^ (in Polish) Sprostowanie do artykułu redaktor Anny Bikont "Pięć lat po Jedwabnem" zamieszczonym w "Gazecie Wyborczej" z dnia 4-5.03.2006 r.
  14. ^ (in Polish) "Śledztwo w sprawie zbrodni na Żydach w Jedwabnem zostanie prawdopodobnie umorzone do końca marca" Informacyjna Agencja Radiowa, 2003-01-21
  15. ^ Polish Jews Split Over Plan to Exhume Victims of 1941 Massacre, Haaretz (JTA), 18 September 2014

See also

Institute of National Remembrance

This is about the Polish institution. You may also be looking for the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance.The Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (Polish: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej – Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu; IPN) is a Polish government-affiliated research institute with lustration prerogatives, as well as prosecution powers. It was created by legislation enacted by the Parliament of Poland. The Institute specialises in the legal and historical examination of the 20th century history of Poland in particular. IPN investigates both Nazi and Communist crimes committed in Poland between 1939 and the Revolutions of 1989, documents its findings and disseminates the results of its investigations to the public.The Institute was established in law by the Polish Parliament on 18 December 1998, and incorporated the earlier 1991-passed Main Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (which itself had replaced a 1945-passed body on Nazi crimes). It began its activities on 1 July 2000. During the first fifteen years following its inception the IPN collected over 90 kilometres (56 mi) of archives, released 1,794 publications, organized 453 exhibits, held 817 conferences, and launched 30 educational internet portals. In the same period, the Institute researchers held interviews with over 103,000 witnesses and interrogated 508 individuals charged with criminal offences, leading to 137 sentences by the courts of justice.According to a new law which went into effect on 15 March 2007, IPN was to be mandated to carry out lustration procedures prescribed by Polish law. However, key articles of that law were judged unconstitutional by Poland's constitutional court on 11 May 2007, so the role of IPN in the lustration process is at present unclear. The IPN is a founding member of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience organisation.

Jan Grabowski (historian)

Jan Grabowski (born 1962), is a Polish-Canadian professor of history at the University of Ottawa, specializing in Jewish–Polish relations in German-occupied Poland during World War II, and in the Holocaust in Poland.Co-founder in 2003 of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research, Grabowski is best known for his book Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland (2013), which won the Yad Vashem International Book Prize. He was an Ina Levine Invitational Scholar at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016–2017.

Kielce pogrom

The Kielce Pogrom was an outbreak of violence toward the Jewish community centre's gathering of refugees in the city of Kielce, Poland on 4 July 1946 by Polish soldiers, police officers, and civilians during which 42 Jews were killed and more than 40 were wounded. Polish courts later sentenced nine of the attackers to death in connection with the crimes.Some sources claim the massacre was instigated by the Soviet-backed Communist security corps, for propaganda purposes, attempting to discredit Poland's anti-Communist stance and to maintain totalitarian control over the country. As the top-secret case files were destroyed, the academic inquiry is ongoing with regard to possible secret coordination with the NKVD by the Moscow-Communist-controlled 'Polish' authorities.As the deadliest pogrom against Polish Jews after the Second World War, the incident was a significant point in the post-war history of Jews in Poland. It took place only a year after the end of the Second World War and the Holocaust, shocking Jews in Poland, Poles, and the international community. It has been recognized as a catalyst for the flight from Poland of most remaining Polish Jews who had survived the Holocaust.

List of anti-Jewish pogroms in Poland during World War II

A number of massacres (pogroms) targeting the Jewish population took place in German-occupied Poland during World War II. They occurred in the early months of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941.

Mass murders in Tykocin

The Mass murders in Tykocin occurred in August 25, 1941, during World War II, where the local Jewish population of Tykocin (Poland) was killed by German Einsatzkommando.

Radziłów pogrom

The Radziłów pogrom (Polish: Pogrom w Radziłowie) was a World War II massacre committed on 7 July 1941 in the town of Radziłów, in German-occupied Poland. Local Poles forced most of the Jews of the town into a barn and set it on fire, Jews were also murdered in surrounding villages. Death toll estimates vary from between 600 and 2,000; only some 30 Jews survived the massacre due to help from local Poles.The pogrom in Radziłów was similar to events in Grajewo, Wizna, Goniądz, Szczuczyn pogrom, Kolno, Wąsosz pogrom, Stawiski, Rajgród, and the Jedwabne pogrom.

Szczuczyn pogrom

Szczuczyn pogrom was the massacre of some 300 Jews in the community of Szczuczyn carried out by its Polish inhabitants in June 1941 after the town was bypassed by the invading German soldiers in the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The June massacre was stopped by German soldiers.

A subsequent massacre by Poles in July killed some 100 Jews, and following the German Gestapo takeover in August 1941 some 600 Jews were killed by the Germans, the remaining Jews placed in a ghetto, and subsequently sent to Treblinka extermination camp.

Wąsosz, Podlaskie Voivodeship

Wąsosz [ˈvɔ̃sɔʂ] is a village in Grajewo County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, in north-eastern Poland. It is the seat of the gmina (administrative district) called Gmina Wąsosz. It lies approximately 17 kilometres (11 mi) south-west of Grajewo and 73 km (45 mi) north-west of the regional capital Białystok. The village has a population of 1,600.

Wąsosz received city rights from Prince Władysław on 13 May 1436, and lost them in 1870 under the Russian rule following the Partitions. The already well-developed town was destroyed in the Swedish Deluge of 1655-1656 and then rebuilt. The Town Hall was erected in 1789. Almost all of the streets were paved at around the same time. The Carmelite monastery was established in Wąsosz as far back as 1605, but was closed in 1864 by the authorities in reprisal for help offered by monks to victims of the January Uprising. They were sent to Katorga chained by the neck.On the night between 4 and 5 July 1941, during the Nazi invasion into Eastern Poland and the USSR, a small group of people murdered several dozens of the Jewish inhabitants of Wąsosz, in what is called the Wąsosz pogrom.One of the most impressive points of interest in Wąsosz is its late Gothic church from 1508, with three altars adorned with religious paintings. It is at the Old Market Square.

1st – 11th century
12th – 19th century
20th century
21st century

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