AAJR statement on Court Case Against Professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski

The Executive Committee of the American Academy for Jewish Research stands in full support of Professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski who were put on trial in a civil suit before a Polish court for their co-edited scholarly work published in 2018 by the Polish Center for Holocaust Research.  As defendantsthey have been ordered by the court to apologize for a passage in their work, a study of the fate of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.  The work documents Jews’ attempts to hide from Nazi persecution and includes details of criminal violence by Polish Christians against Polish Jews. 

The Holocaust remains an extraordinarily sensitive subject, but scholars must have the same academic freedom to study this subject as any other.  The AAJR firmly agrees with the American Historical Association “that a legal procedure is not the place to mediate historical debates.”  If knowledge itself becomes subject to legal and political pressure, then freedom of thought, opinion, and expression, all of which are guaranteed under the United Nations’ Convention on Human Rights, are jeopardized.  Good-faith scholarly investigation must be free from state pressure and judicial sanction.