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As scholars, we are horrified and appalled as we follow the attempts to silence Professors Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking, two of the most highly respected historians of the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. They are currently on trial for libel because of their 2018 book, Dalej jest noc: losy Żydów w wybranych powiatach okupowanej Polski ("Night without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland"). This comprehensive two-volume collection of the work of nine scholars covers in great detail the attempts by Jews to hide from Nazi persecution during the Second World War, and it has received worldwide praise for its meticulous effort to show the complexity and nuance of this tragic chapter in world history. As with all historical scholarship, there have been some disputes about specific details in the book, and we fully recognize the right and even the duty to criticize and debate these issues. On the other hand, placing Professors Grabowski and Engelking on trial for their work strikes at the very core of academic and intellectual freedom. The fact that this has proceeded through civil rather than criminal courts is irrelevant and will not diminish the reputational blow Poland will suffer if this scandalous procedure ends with a guilty verdict. Not only would every Polish researcher henceforth work in a climate of fear, but Poland’s international reputation among scholars in all fields would be gravely damaged. We call for an immediate end to the persecution of Professors Grabowski and Engelking, and for a clear and unambiguous repudiation of the legal and political strategy that allowed such a trial to go forward in the first place.
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
American Historical Association
Polish Studies Association
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