atrocities happening in recent modern history of civilization. The two World Wars in the first part of the 20th century have demonstrated the human capacity to inflict harm and destruction on its peers. Perhaps one of the most significant event in the history of the Second World War is that of the genocide that took place on the Jewish community. During the war and immediately afterwards more than six million Jews are reported to have been massacred by the Nazi forces
However, despite the fact that the holocaust that took place during this time is mostly attributed to the Nazi forces and Adolf Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jewish population, there are numerous accounts of historians that point out the fact that the SS German troops would have been unable to achieve this great atrocity without the assistance of the local populations such as the Polish or the French. One such account is provided by Jan T. Gross in his book "Neighbors: the Destruction of the Jewish Community at Jewabne, Poland." The book describes the way in which Jewish communities in Poland were massacred with the full cooperation of the local Polish population.
The book raises several important questions related to the relationships between human beings and their connection with their origin. From the very title of the book, the author provides the nature of the aspects under discussion. Aside from a very emotional and revealing account of the massacres of the Jewish communities in Poland, the author points out the relationship between those massacred and those that, at best, refused to provide any assistance to the victims. The term "neighbors" suggests the close relation the Jews had with the Polish communities; yet, the events depicted in the book reveal a type of behavior that sets the question on the limit of human behavior towards its peers and the reasons for which people that knew each other rebel against one another and enabled its neighbors to become victims of slaughter and tragedy.
The book can be analyzed from the point-of-view of the subject as well as from the perspective of the questions it raises. In this sense, the holocaust has become common knowledge in the history books and throughout civilized world as one of the greatest atrocities of human kind. The book further points out the particularities of these atrocities in the Polish community. This particular subject can be seen as a "case study" of genocide. The controversy of the subject has determined a controversial view of the book. However, the main point of the writing points out the fact that communities in which the social relations were constructed by force eventually reveal inhumane attitudes and behaviors that may lead to such events, in favorable historical conditions
. Therefore, the role of the Polish community, in which the Jews had been living and integrating for decades, may be, according to the evidence provided in the book, more significant that initially believed. Thus, on June 10, 1941, the massacre of the Jews did not take place with the help or even the assistance of the Nazi rule, but rather by Polish means.
The book is significant in the sense that it draws the attention on genocide as a means of human destruction and as a result of dehumanization. Some passages reveal the atrocities that took place at the time by providing detailed description of events. In one instance, "Around the tortured ones [they included a 90-year-old rabbi] crowds of Polish men, women and children were standing and laughing at the miserable victims who were falling under the blows of the bandits."
This is however a common image in such cases and has been seen in other examples of genocide actions.
One of the more significant points the book makes is to consider the nature of the actions and what determines humans to act differently in given historical moments. It can be said that until the Second World War Poland was not seen as a society that does not offer tolerance to ethnic diversity. During the first decades of the 20th century, more minority groups found shelter in Poland, including the nomadic groups of gypsies that were outcast in the entire European space. However, it must be pointed out that such assimilations, of different cultures and religions cannot be done without a mere share of violence or determination. This is largely due to the fact that, even solely from the point-of-view of the religion Poland is one of the most strict Catholic countries of Europe whereas the Jews had a different religious consideration.
The main issue with the multi-ethnic communities is the way in which these communities chose to integrate the minority groups. There are numerous examples in recent history that point out to the importance of the integration model in order to ensure a proper and positive outcome in time. Other examples of genocide include the Rwandan genocide in 1994
or the massacre of the Albanians in Kosovo in 1999. These all resulted from increased hatred at the level of the communities.
The genocide in Rwanda is a clear case of consideration of communities whose differences were artificially created and which resulted into hatred for the neighbor that may have been a Hutu and a Tutsi. What Gross reveals in the case study on the massacre of Jews in Poland is also valid for the massacre of 800,000 Rwandans in 1994. If in Poland the organization of the communities to include both Polish and Jews was somewhat done artificially, in Rwanda, the communities before the 20th century were not differentiated in Hutu and Tutsi. The differentiation between the two was done by the European colonists in order to better organize and maintain order in the Rwandan community on the roman principle "divide et empera"
. However, such artificial differentiation (there were little distinctive factors between the Hutu and the Tutsi) proved to be deadly in 1994, when the type of identity card people made the difference between life and death had. What is again similar to the case presented by Gross is that in the Rwandan situation as well the neighbors rebelled against one another, in the conditions in which months earlier there was relative harmony throughout the country. This comes to point out the fact that one of the most important elements that determine the acts of genocide at the level of the communities is the artificial separation of people of the same cultural and historical background or placing together communities that are in effect different through means of force.
Such practices were also seen in the Kosovo genocide of Albanians. The Yugoslavian republic was an artificial creation of the Cold War in the conditions in which the wide differences in terms of culture, religion, economy between Albanians, Serbs, Kosovars, Muslims, Christians were enormous. Yet, the creation of the Yugoslavian republic placed on hold these differences and tried to create a unitary, yet different political construction
. This however was impossible to last, given the sensible issues between the ethnic, religious, and national groups. Therefore, when the control of the state was weakened in 1999 together with the Milosevic regime, the clear discrepancies and problems between the communities emerged and ethnic hatred, social differentiation started to become visible. Therefore the violence towards the Albanian community was imminent.
There are a lot of elements that motivate a group of people to commit acts of murder and even genocide on another. One of the most important however is, as pointed previously, the lack of ability in determining the vital space for each community and the reality argument that would limit the enthusiasm over the beliefs that different and sometimes opposing communities can share similar physical spaces or a common culture. This is done and achieved through force and thus the…