Jozef was a Polish Jew who was captured by the Soviets in 1939 and sent to a Siberian camp before becoming an officer in a Polish division of the Red Army. In the summer of 1945, he led an armed platoon to Klaj, Poland, to discover what had happened to his mother, his sister, and his niece. There he learned that an armed gang had shot them, but when he was face-to-face with the man who led the gang, he hesitated to shoot. Instead, he delivered him to the police, who investigated the crime and then, after about a year, released the murderer. Until his death, Jozef remained tormented by regret at his failure to take vengeance. We regularly ignore the fact that the thirst for vengeance is among the strongest of human emotions. The writer’s conversations in Papua New Guinea made him understand what humans have given up by leaving justice to the state.
- Abstract by The New Yorker on Jared Diamond's Vengeance is Ours