Jan T. Gross studies modern Europe, focusing on comparative politics, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, Soviet and East European politics, and the Holocaust. After growing up in Poland and attending Warsaw University, he immigrated to the United States in 1969 and earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University (1975). His first book, Polish Society under German Occupation, appeared in 1979. Revolution from Abroad (1988) analyzes how the Soviet regime was imposed in Poland and the Baltic states between 1939 and 1941. Neighbors (2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, reconstructs the events that took place in July 1941 in the small Polish town of Jedwabne, where virtually every one of the town’s 1,600 Jewish residents was killed in a single day. Using eyewitness testimony Professor Gross demonstrates that the Jews of Jedwabne were murdered by their Polish neighbors "not by the German occupiers, as previously assumed. The shocking story occasioned an unprecedented reevaluation of Jewish-Polish relations during World War II and touched off passionate debate. In 2004 many of the Polish voices in this debate were published in translation in a collection, The Neighbors Respond. Professor Gross is also the author of several books in Polish, the coeditor of The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath (2000), and the coeditor with Irena Grudzinska-Gross of War Through Children’s Eyes
(1981), which uses school compositions and other documents written by children to study how children experience war and deportation. He joined the Princeton History Department in 2003 after teaching at New York University, Emory, Yale, and universities in Paris, Vienna, and Krakow. Professor Gross is the Norman B. Tomlinson ‘16 and ‘48 Professor of War and Society.
Professor Gross has recently finished a book on anti-Semitism in Poland after World War II and co-authored a study with Stephen Kotkin entitled "Uncivil Society: Communist Implosion in 1989" (2009). He is now writing a book on plunder of Jews by the local population in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Professor Gross has taught courses on Soviet politics, Eastern European politics and society, and totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Future courses will study society during World War II and topics in European history.