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A Gigantic Polish Conspiracy?

The August Trials: The Holocaust and Postwar Justice in Poland by Andrew Kornbluth

Reviewed by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz

In The August Trials: The Holocaust and Postwar Justice in Poland (Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 2021), Andrew Kornbluth argues that whereas the “Nazis” did kill the bulk of Poland’s (and Europe’s) Jews, the rest, perhaps over 200,000, fell victim to their “Polish neighbors.” The author variously describes the crime as “ethnic cleansing” (p. 156) or even “genocide.” However, somewhat contradictorily, he explains that “most of these crimes involved the denunciation or capture of Jews, rather than their ‘technical putting to death’” (p. 200). So the charge should be accessory to murder and not genocide. That notwithstanding, according to Kornbluth, it was a collective endeavor where the Poles “manned the stations along the conveyer belt of genocide” (p. 234).  The reasons for the crime stemmed mainly from antisemitism and covetousness of Jewish property (p. 49).