The Memory Studies Association stands for free scholarly inquiry, wherever its results may lead. It is thus with grave concern that we have followed the libel lawsuit against Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski for their book, “Night without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland” (in Polish, 2018). The lawsuit was backed by a state-supported foundation and accompanied by numerous attacks against Engelking and Grabowski in private and public media. On the 9th of February the court of first instance gave its ruling. It did not support the majority of the charges, yet it questioned the thoroughness of the scholarly work by passing judgment on the pertinence of its historical sources. The lawsuit may have an unfortunately chilling effect on other Holocaust research, to say nothing of the reputational and other damages to these prominent scholars whose work was brought into question beyond the realm of scholarly debate.
The Memory Studies Association has many Polish members, and this year our Polish colleagues are the lead organizers of our annual conference taking place in Warsaw. For all of the reasons delineated, we express our solidarity with Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski and the many other Polish scholars who have the courage and persistence to think, ask difficult questions, and search for answers, no matter how inconvenient they may be.
For the MSA Executive Committee
Jenny Wüstenberg, Jeffrey Olick, Aline Sierp (MSA Co-Presidents)