Writing Polish Jewry’s “Greatest National Catastrophe”

Laura Jockusch

in Collect and Record!

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199764556
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979578 | DOI:
Writing Polish Jewry’s “Greatest National Catastrophe”

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter discusses the Central Jewish Historical Commission (Centralna Żydowska Komisja Historyczna; CŻKH) in Poland, from its establishment in 1944 to its shutting down by the communist authorities in 1947. By bringing the suffering and anti-Nazi resistance of Poland’s Jews into public consciousness, indeed by showing that the Nazi destruction of the Jewish minority was an integral part of Poland’s wartime violation, the commission activists—several of whom had begun careers as historians in interwar Poland and had been affiliated with Emanuel Ringelblum’s Oyneg Shabes archives in the Warsaw ghetto—sought to reaffirm their self-understanding as a national minority and to help rebuild their own community. Nonetheless, the persistence of violent anti-Semitism, growing politicization, and the mounting state repression by the communist regime led most activists to believe that Poland held no future for Jews, causing them to emigrate west in search of security and better living and working conditions.

Keywords: anti-Nazi resistance; anti-Semitism; CŻKH; communism; historians; emigration; national minority; Oyneg Shabes; Poland; state repression

Chapter.  17151 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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