Biography and Memory: The Generational Experience of the Shoah Survivors

Biography and Memory: The Generational Experience of the Shoah Survivors

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Kaja Kazmierska

Series: Jews of Poland
ISBN: 9781936235780 (hardcover)
Pages: 396 pp.
Publication Date: May 2012

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Biography and Memory discusses the return of Jews to their places of birth in Poland. A biographical urge to come full circle often leads to symbolic journeys to one’s roots, but in the case of Shoah survivors, such journeys are unexpected, defying the generational definition of their biography, which mostly draws a demarcation line between wartime trauma and a new post-Holocaust life. Analyzed biographical stories collected from Israeli survivors indicate that such returns may be considered the last chapters of their wartime experiences. Survivors’ biographies are examined in the context of both Jewish and Polish memory. This book will be of interest to sociologists, historians, and to general readers.


Kaja Kazmierska (PhD University of Lodz) is an associate professor at the Department of Sociology of Culture, University of Lodz. Her publications include Polish War Experiences and Ethnic Identity: An Analysis of Eastern Borderland Narratives (1999) and the Polish language edition of this book, Biography and Memory: The Generational Experience of the Shoah Survivors (2008).


The author has faced quite a task: of bringing together and, simultaneously, meeting the requirements of many various perspectives characteristic of sociology, psychology/social psychology, anthropology, narratology and generally discourse theories, and – on the other hand – history, in its inevitable entanglement in the perspectives of other social and cultural studies, transcending today’s traditional historiography, which tries to answer the question, “how was it.” I am convinced that this book will generate a keen interest among researchers from various fields; it has the makings of resonating with a wider, non-academic audience as well.
— Prof. Andrzej Piotrowski, professor of Sociology, University of Lodz
Prof. Kazmierska’s book is not only a result of professional commitment to the subject of her research, it also shows intellectual courage, honesty, and insight, as well as a deep personal sensitivity of a Polish sociologist in respect to the touchy and explosive issue of Polish-Jewish relations.
— Shimon Redlich, Ben-Gurion University
This amazingly well-written book, whose author makes use of the methodology of social qualitative analysis, takes up many issues vital to Polish people.
— Prof. Janusz Mucha, professor of Sociology, AGH University of Science and Technology