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Princeton Professor Faces Libel Probe for Saying Poles Killed More Jews Than Nazis in WWII

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Correction appended, Oct. 16

Polish prosecutors in Warsaw commenced a libel probe against Polish-born Princeton professor Jan T. Gross on Thursday after he alleged that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during World War II.

Gross made the comments in an opinion piece published Sept. 13 that was then picked up by German newspaper Die Welt. His statements were based on research carried out by the Polish Institute of National Memory and the Polish Academy of Science.

In the piece, Gross lamented the reluctance of Eastern European countries like Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to accept refugees, saying that much of their hesitation could stem from residual intolerance carried over from World War II. Recent reports say that Poland plans to receive around 5,000 refugees on top of the 2,000 that it has already accepted.

According to onet.pl, the Warsaw Prosecutor’s Office received 125 complaints about the article. A spokesman for Poland’s Foreign Ministry, Marcin Wojciechowski, has also condemned Gross’s comments as “historically untrue, harmful and insulting to Poland.”

Jan Gross first came to prominence in Poland with his 2001 book, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, which details a 1941 massacre of Jews in a Polish town carried out by locals, rather than Nazi forces. The book eventually inspired the 2012 Polish film, Aftermath, which was banned in some Polish theaters over its controversial content.

The Warsaw native faced earlier defamation claims over two of his other books, Fear and Golden Harvest, the Guardian reports.

Recent polls indicate that anti-Semitism is still prevalent in Poland, a predominantly Roman Catholic and culturally homogenous nation of some 50 million.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated which university employs Prof. Jan T. Gross. He works at Princeton.

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