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Poland reopens probe into 1941 massacre of Jewish women

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PRAGUE (JTA) — Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance is reopening an investigation into the 1941 rape and murder of 20 Jewish women in the Polish village of Bzury.

Polish Radio reported this week that the institute, which is affiliated with the Polish government, will reopen the investigation into the massacre of women performing forced labor. The original probe, carried out from 1948 to 1950 in then-communist Poland, convicted one man, Stanislaw Zalewski, though it is believed that there were more perpetrators.

Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, told Polish Radio that even though so much time has passed, it is not too late to investigate what happened.

“That IPN [the National Remembrance Institute] is willing to investigate these murders after so many decades is a strong symbol that it is never too late for justice to be done,” he said.

According to the original testimony the women, aged 15 to 30, were let out of the Nazi-run Jewish ghetto of Szczuczyn to carry out manual labor in the farming village. IPN prosecutor Michal Ignatiew told Polish Radio Bialystok that “there is no doubt that the torturers were Poles” and that they allegedly prepared homemade weapons to perpetrate the attack.

Ignatiew previously led the IPN investigation of the Jedwabne pogrom in eastern Poland in which 300 Jews were corraled into a barn that was then set on fire.

IPN, a research body with prosecution powers, investigates Nazi and communist crimes committed in Poland between 1939 and 1989.

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