3.12.2020 - online

Book Talks: Jewish Historiography before the Holocaust

The first of our meetings will be devoted to a publication by Dr. Natalia Aleksiun “Conscious History. Polish Jewish Historians before the Holocaust”, focusing on the goals and legacies of Jewish historians of that time. The meeting will be hosted by Prof. Antony Polonsky.

  • 3 December (Thursday), 20 CET / 2.00pm EST
  • Debate on the Zoom platform
  • Registration active till 3 December, 2PM CET / 8AM EST

About the author:

  • Dr. Natalia Aleksiun is Professor of Modern Jewish History at Touro College, Graduate School of Jewish Studies, New York. She is the co-editor, with Antony Polonsky and Brian Horowitz, of 'Writing Jewish History in Eastern Europe' (2016), and has published widely on Polish Jewish issues. Among several prestigious fellowships, she has been a fellow at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich and at the Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies in Vienna, and the Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC.


  • Prof. Antony Polonsky: Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University. Expertise: East European Jewish history and Holocaust studies. A founder and vice-president of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies in Oxford and of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies, Cambridge, MA. Graduate and doctor of the University of Oxford, member of the British Royal Historical Society, honorary doctorate of the University of Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University.


  • Dr. Kamil Kijek: is a historian and sociologist. He received his PhD from the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw. Research interests: Jewish history in Eastern-Central Europe in the second half of 19th and 20th centuries, relations between social theory, political, social and cultural history, the history of Zionism and the Jewish community of Eretz Israel/Palestine in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Dr. Joshua Zimmerman is professor of history, Eli and Diana Zborowski Professorial Chair in Holocaust Studies and East European Jewish History. He received his PhD in comparative history from Brandeis University.

Publishers’ description of “Conscious History. Polish Jewish Historians before the Holocaust”:
The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization & Liverpool University Press, 2020 >>

Thoroughly researched, this study highlights the historical scholarship that is one of the lasting legacies of interwar Polish Jewry and analyses its political and social context. As Jewish citizens struggled to assert their place in a newly independent Poland, a dedicated group of Jewish scholars fascinated by history devoted themselves to creating a sense of Polish Jewish belonging while also fighting for their rights as an ethnic minority. The political climate made it hard for these men and women to pursue an academic career; instead they had to continue their efforts to create and disseminate Polish Jewish history by teaching outside the university and publishing in scholarly and popular journals. By introducing the Jewish public to a pantheon of historical heroes to celebrate and anniversaries to commemorate, they sought to forge a community aware of its past, its cultural heritage, and its achievements - though no less important were their efforts to counter the increased hostility towards Jews in the public discourse of the day. In highlighting the role of public intellectuals and the social role of scholars and historical scholarship, this study adds a new dimension to the understanding of the Polish Jewish world in the interwar period.


The debates are organized within the Global Education Outreach Program

This program was made possible thanks to Taube Philanthropies, the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland

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