We Remember Jewish Jedwabne!

Message From Ty Rogers

Subject: By Popular Request-- Interview in English
Date: 26 March 2001
From: "Ty Rogers" tyrogers@escape.com
To: "Recipient List Suppressed" <jedwabne@escape.com>

Gazeta Wyborcza , Interview by Bartosz Wglarczyk 06-03-2001

My relatives from Jedwabne. I have determined the surnames of 26 people who were killed in Jedwabne in 1941 - says Ty Rogers, a lawyer from New York, whose grandfather left Jedwabne for the USA. However, he had cousins who remained in Jedwabne.

Photograph showing the Radzik family from Jedwabne a few years after coming to the USA. Rogers' grandfather is the young man on the right side. The photograph comes from the Rogers' family archives.

Bartosz Wglarczyk:
Are you a witness in the investigation by the Institute of National Remembrance ("INR") into the murders in Jedwabne?

Ty Rogers:
I submitted an affidavit to the INR which explains my connection to the investigation. I had 26 relatives who were killed in Jedwabne. We know the names of this many. I know that even more relatives of mine were burned in Jedwabne, but these were mainly children whose names are not known.

My father's father was born in Jedwabne in 1892. Seven years later, he left for the USA. However, he had cousins who remained in Jedwabne. In the 1980s, I was researching my family tree and discovered that there was an edition of the Jedwabne memorial book in the USA. From this book, I learned more about my family: who had how many children, who married whom. In this way I determined the surnames of 26 people who were killed in 1941. The woman -- whose head (according to Professor Gross and his book "Neighbors") was cut off by Poles -- was a cousin of mine.

When did you learn for the first time about the pogrom in Jedwabne?

From the memorial book. There are descriptions there of what happened in July 1941. Professor Gross' recent book, of course, contains new reports, based mainly on court records. Many names and many events are recounted in it.
Since I learned about the murders, I have been trying to contact former Jewish residents of Jedwabne. I know of two survivors of this pogrom who are living today. [Szmul Wassersztajn, the main witness written about in Gross' book, died last year - Ed.]. Another witness escaped from the already burning barn and went to Australia after WWII. A few years ago, I spoke with his wife. Unfortunately, he was already very old and was unable to carry a conversation. His wife told me, however, that one moment the barn door opened and her husband just managed to escape. This man died not long ago.

Is anyone from the Jewish population of Jedwabne still in Poland today?

I've come across such rumors but at this moment I cannot say any more about this. Today, there are thousands of people living throughout the world whose ancestors and relatives lived and died in Jedwabne. I have 2,500 relatives who are spread acroass the world: in the USA, Israel, Mexico, Australia and Argentina. I send e-mails with news from and about Jedwabne to more than 100 of them.

Are you preparing to visit Jedwabne in July for the observance of the 60th anniversary of the pogrom?

Of course. The first time that I went to Jedwabne was in 1985 while I was studying in Poznan. One day I visited Jedwabne with some Polish friends. My surname - Rogers - is American and does not seem Jewish. My great-great-great grandfather was named Nacham Radzik. No one in Jedwabne had any idea that I was Jewish. I had with me a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate in Russian. I also had a hand drawn map of Jedwabne copied from the memorial book which showed the barn in which the Jews were burned. I wanted to learn more about my family so we went to see the old organ player in the local church, who also possessed birth records. When I showed him my grandfather's birth record, he saw a mark of his Jewish origin. He turned completely red and began muttering that my grandfather was Jewish and that all of the Jews of Jedwabne were killed during the war. He spoke so fast and unclearly that my Polish friend could not keep up with translating. The organ player finally told us that it was the Germans who burned the Jews. He pointed toward the west side of the village. I knew from the memorial book that the barn was on the east side. But the organ player was certain that it was on the west side. And he persisted about this.
When we returned to Poznan, my Polish friend was shocked by what he heard. He told me that on the monument in honor of the murdered, it was written that the Germans did it. I told him that from what I knew, the Jews of Jedwabne were killed by Poles.

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