The 200 year old farming village in the Bialystock region of north-eastern Poland, nine miles south of Radzilow, was the scene of one of the most horrendous massacre of Jews just days after the Nazi troops supplanted the previous Soviet occupiers.
Over 1,000 Jewish residents were herded into the town's square where they were forced to pluck the grass from between the paving stones. They were stoned, beaten and mutilated with clubs and axes.
Those left alive were then marched outside the village to a large barn belonging to farmer Bronislaw Sleszynski where they were locked up and the barn set alight burning to death all those inside.
Only seven of Jedwabne's Jews survived, saved by a Polish family. A stone monument erected by communist officials in the village has a plaque which reads '' Site of a massacre of Jews. Gestapo and Nazi soldiers burned 1,600 people''. The wording on the plaque belies the awful truth, the Jews were murdered not by the Nazis, but by around forty of their fellow Poles from Jedwabne and surrounding villages. The non-Jewish citizens of Jedwabne turned on their Jewish neighbours in a fit of anger over their collaboration with the Soviet occupiers during 1939 and 1941.
After the killings the victims homes were looted. (In 1989, a new plaque was placed on the monument, it now reads "In memory of the Jews of Jedwabne and surrounding areas, men, women and children, fellow-dwellers of this land, murdered and burned alive at this site on 10 July, 1941).
Strangely, no mention is made of the perpetrators! Similar revenge killings took place in many other parts of Poland at this time. In the town of Vasosz, 1,185 Jews were put to death. In Stawiski, the same brutality was meted out to its Jews by their non-Jewish neighbours.