Anna Bikont (Poland)Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
(1.5 hrs. approximate run time)
Join us for a reading with Anna Bikont who will presenting her work of historical journalism The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne. This discussion will be moderated by Emanuela Grama, an assistant professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University.
The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne is a monumental work of nonfiction on a wartime atrocity, its sixty-year denial, and the impact of its truth. The book examines the events in the small Polish town of Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, when the citizens rounded up the Jewish population and burned them alive in a barn. The massacre was a shocking secret that had been suppressed for more than sixty years, and it provoked the most important public debate in Poland since 1989. From the outset, Anna Bikont reported on the town, combing through archives and interviewing residents who survived the war period. Her writing became a crucial part of the debate and she herself an actor in a national drama.
Part history, part memoir, The Crime and the Silence is the journalist’s account of these events: both the story of the 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, 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.
A profoundly moving exploration of being Jewish in modern Poland that Julian Barnes called “one of the most chilling books,” The Crime and the Silence is a vital contribution to Holocaust history and a fascinating story of a town coming to terms with its dark past.
Anna Bikont is a non-fiction writer and journalist for Gazeta Wyborcza, the main newspaper in Poland which she helped found in 1989. In 2011 she received the European Book Prize for the French version of her book “My z Jedwabnego”. In 2015 the English version, The Crime and the Silence. Confronting the Massacre of the Jews in wartime Jedwabne, published by Farrar Straus and Giroux, was selected in the 100 Notable Books of the Year by New York Times and won one of the National Jewish Book Awards. Her last book Irena Sendlerowa. W ukryciu (“Irena Sendler. In Hiding”) tells the story of a Polish woman, Righteous Among the Nations, who saved Jewish children.
This reading is presented by Classrooms Without Borders in partnership with the Departments of History, English and Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University and the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh.