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The Last Shtetl in Poland? The Jewish World, the Cold War and the Jewish Community of Dzierżoniów

Hosted By: YIVO

Using examples from archival, photographic other material from the YIVO and other archives, Kamil Kijek (Taube Department of Jewish Studies, University of Wroclaw) will show how a remarkable community of Polish Jews in formerly German Lower Silesia played an important role not only in Polish post-war history but also in Jewish global politics (on both sides of the so-called Iron Curtain) during the years 1945-1950.

What will become apparent is that, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, many Polish Jews, as well as their western, especially American counterparts, felt that Poland was to be considered more than cemetery of a destroyed Jewish civilization. During the years 1945-1950, the Polish Jewish Lower Silesian community in general, and that of the the town of Dzierżoniów in particular, were at the center of Jewish transnational discussion regarding the future of Polish Jewry after the Holocaust. Kijek will argue that it was, in fact, not the Kielce pogrom of 1946, but the intenstification of the Cold War and the installment of the so-called Stalinist political regime in Poland that was the main trigger leading to the end of faith in the possibility of an existence of Jewish national life in post-Holocaust Poland.

A Max Weinreich Fellowship Lecture in Polish Jewish Studies: The Aleksander and Alicja Hertz Memorial Fellowship and the Samuel and Flora Weiss Research Fellowship

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