Jan Grabowski
Jan Grabowski Jan Grabowski, personal album

Jan Grabowski, a 55-year-old Polish historian and son of Holocaust survivors, teaches history at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and published several books and articles accusing the Poles of taking part in a pogrom against Jews during World War II.

According to the Washington Post, following publication of his writings the Polish League Against Defamation launched a campaign against Grabowski, the son of a Jewish father, who survived the Holocaust, on the grounds that he had insulted Poland and blackened its name, with the organization's leaders demanding he be tried.

At the end of last week, the heads of the Polish League Against Defamation published an open letter signed by dozens of Polish academics who denounced Grabowski, who they claim "falsifies the history of Poland, proclaiming the thesis that Poles are complicit in the extermination of Jews."

Since then Grabowski has received several death threats, leading to upgraded security in his university department. Grabowski describes the campaign against him as a “very brutal, vicious, and personal attack.”

In response to the accusations against him and the letter signed by Polish academics, dozens of international historians of modern European history came to his defense with an open statement in which they described the campaign against him an “attack” and defended his scholarship, which they say “holds to the highest standards of academic research.” They said the Polish group is putting forth a “distorted and whitewashed version of the history of Poland during the Holocaust era.”

Grabowski was awarded the 2014 Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research for his book Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland, which documents the involvement of Poles in finding and killing Jews during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.

Many in Poland prefer to see their nation as blameless during a time when the Germans subjected their nation to atrocities and occupation. Those protesting Grabowski’s research have been encouraged by a nationalist government that focuses exclusively on the heroic aspects of Polish behavior at that time, including the Poles who risked their own lives to save Jews.