New Directions in the History of the Jews in the Polish Lands

New Directions in the History of the Jews in the Polish Lands


Edited by Antony Polonsky, Hanna Węgrzynek and Andrzej Żbikowski

Series: Jews of Poland
ISBN: 9788394426293 (hardcover)
Pages: 572 pp.
Publication Date: August 2018

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This volume is made up of essays first presented as papers at the conference held in May 2015 at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. It is divided into two sections. The first deals with museological questions—the voices of the curators, comments on the POLIN museum exhibitions and projects, and discussions on Jewish museums and education. The second examines the current state of the historiography of the Jews on the Polish lands from the first Jewish settlement to the present day.

Making use of the leading scholars in the field from Poland, Eastern and Western Europe, North America, and Israel, the volume provides a definitive overview of the history and culture of one of the most important communities in the long history of the Jewish people.

Antony Polonsky is Emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and Chief Historian of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw. Until 1991, he was Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is co-chair of the editorial board of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry. His most recent work is The Jews in Poland and Russia, Volume 1, 1350 to 1881; Volume 2, 1881 to 1914; Volume 3, 1914 to 2008 (Oxford, 2010, 2012), published in 2013 in an abridged version, The Jews in Poland and Russia: A Short History.

Hanna Węgrzynek is a chief specialist for research and historical projects at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Among her books are “Czarna legenda” Żydów: procesy mordy rytualne w dawnej Polsce (The Jewish “Black Legend”: Blood Libel Trials in Old Poland, Warsaw, 1995) and Historia i kultury Żydów polskich: słownik (History and Culture of Polish Jews: A Reference Book), in cooperation with Alina Cała and Gabriela Zalewska (Warsaw, 2000).

Andrzej Żbikowski has worked at the Jewish Historical Institute since 1985. Among his books are an illustrated history entitled Żydzi (Jews) in the series A to Polska właśnie and U genezy Jedwabnego: Żydzi na Kresach Północno-Wschodnich II Rzeczypospolitej : wrzesień 1939-lipiec 1941 (The Origins of Jedwabne. Jews in the North-eastern Borderlands of the Second Republic: September 1939-July 1941, Warsaw, 2006).


This collection of articles is based on a 2015 conference at the new POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. … The overall quality of the articles is excellent, and this reviewer was delighted to learn a lot about what goes into planning a museum. … This fine volume belongs in any academic library that collects on Jewish history.
— Jim Rosenbloom, Brandeis University, AJL Reviews

Table of Contents

Antony Polonsky, Hanna Węgrzynek, Andrzej Żbikowski

Part I Museological Questions

    The Voice of the Curators

Something Old, Something New: Creating the Narrative for the Early Modern Galleries
Adam Teller

The Nineteenth-Century Gallery
Sam Kassow

The Interwar Gallery
Sam Kassow

Curatorial and Educational Challenges in Creating the Holocaust Gallery
Maria Ferenc Piotrowska, Kamila Radecka-Mikulicz, Justyna Majewska

Assumptions behind the Postwar Section of the Core Exhibition at POLIN
Stanisław Krajewski

    Comments on the Museum

Polish-Jewish Historiography 1970–2015: Construction, Consensus, Controversy
Moshe Rosman

POLIN, The Medieval and Early Modern Galleries: A Comment
Kenneth Stow

Modernism and Identity. Polish Jews Facing Change in the Nineteenth Century
Tomasz Kizwalter

Hasidism in the Museum, from a Social History Perspective
David Assaf

What’s in, What’s out: A Critique of the Interwar Gallery
Michael Steinlauf

The Truth and Nothing But: The Holocaust Gallery of the Warsaw POLIN Museum in Context
Omer Bartov

Perspectives: A Lithuanian Visit to the POLIN Museum Holocaust Gallery
Saulius Suziedelis

Polin: A Bildungsroman
Marci Shore

A Historian’s Response. Comments on the Gallery “After the War”
Andrzej Paczkowski

    Museums and Education

Jewish Tourism to Poland: The Opportunities for New Museum Narratives to Recontextualize Jewish Histories
Jonathan Webber

Jewish Museums in Moscow
Vika Mochalova

The Challenges of New Work in History and Education about the Holocaust in Poland
Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs

Part II Historiographic Questions

    Premodern Poland–Lithuania

Did the Polish Nobility Take Seriously the Teaching of the Catholic Church? Reflections on the Relations between the Nobility, the Church, and the Jews
Adam Kaźmierczyk

Relations between Jews and Non-Jews in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth: Perceptions and Practices
Jurgen Heyde

Agreements between Towns and Kahals and Their Impact on the Legal Status of Polish Jews
Hanna Węgrzynek

The Role and Significance of Jews in the Economy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: The State of Research and Research Directions
Jacek Wijaczka

A Reassessment of the Jewish Poll-Tax Assessment Lists in Eighteenth-Century Crown Poland
Judith Kalik

Frankism: The History of Jacob Frank or of the Frankists
Jan Doktór

    The Nineteenth Century

Modern Times Polish Style? Orthodoxy, Enlightenment, and Patriotism
Israel Bartal

Jew-Hatred and Anti-Jewish Violence in the Former Lands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Long Nineteenth Century
Darius Staliūnas

Those Who Stayed: Women and Jewish Traditionalism in East Central Europe
Glenn Dynner

Pauline Wengeroff: Between Tradition and Modernity, East and West
Shulamit Magnus

    The Interwar Years

One Jewish Street? Reflections on Unity and Disunity in Interwar Polish Jewry
Gershon Bacon

Not Just Mały Przegląd: The Ideals and Educational Values Expressed in Jewish Polish-Language Journals for Children and Young Adults
Anna Landau-Czajka

Legitimizing the Revolution: Sarah Schenirer and the Rhetoric of Torah Study for Girls
Naomi Seidman

Contested Jewish Polishness: Language and Health as Markers for the Position of Jews in Polish Culture and Society in the Interwar Period
Katrin Steffen

    The Holocaust

Historiography on the Holocaust in Poland: An Outsider’s View of Its Place within Recent General Developments in Holocaust Historiography
Dan Michman

The Dispute over the Status of a Witness to the Holocaust: Some Observations on How Research into the Destruction of the Polish Jews and into Polish–Jewish Relations during the Years of Nazi Occupation Have Changed since 1989
Andrzej Żbikowski

Beyond National Identities: New Challenges in Writing the History of the Holocaust in Poland and Israel
Daniel Blatman

    The Postwar Period

Violence against Jews in Poland, 1944–47: The State of Research and Its Presentation
Grzegorz Berendt

The Jews and the “Disavowed Soldiers” 
August Grabski

In or Out? Identities and Images of Poland among Polish Jews in the Postwar Years
Audrey Kichelewski