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Jews in Modern Europe Seminar

The Eagle and the Jewish Question: Jews in the Polish Collective Imagination Today


May 7, 2020
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall Directions
May 7, 2020
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall Directions

The Polish Government has of late promoted legislation, taken actions, and promoted a national narrative that are clearly motivated by an anti-Jewish animus. Good examples of this are the so-called Holocaust Law, the refusal to appoint a director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and a refusal to address restitution of Jewish property. The level of antisemitism in Polish public life is rising, and the extreme right party has, for the first time, made it to the Parliament.

Yet at the same time, the Polish government makes declarations of unequivocal condemnation of antisemitism and expresses strong support of Israel. Polish historians continue courageous investigations of Polish actions against Jews during WWII, and journalists expose post-war atrocities on Polish soil. Moreover, while Jewish communities report a worrying increase of verbal abuse and threats, no acts of anti-Jewish violence have been recorded -- in contrast to much of Europe.

Is Poland reverting to its allegedly true form, of anti-Semites “suckling antisemitism with their mothers’ milk", and have optimistic reports of dramatic changes over the last quarter century largely been an illusion? Or is the situation more complex, and connected with how Poles view their 20th century history, the Jews, and themselves?

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