First scientific conference of the WGM
“The Beginnings of the Nazi Occupation. Continuity and change in Polish and Jewish life 1939-1941” is the title of an international scientific conference organized by the Warsaw Ghetto Museum between 18 and 19 November in cooperation with the Polish Association for Jewish Studies, the Jewish Historical Institute, the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, and Touro College in Berlin.
6 November 2019
From 18 to 19 November, the Warsaw Ghetto Museum in cooperation with the Polish Association for Jewish Studies, the Jewish Historical Institute, the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity and Touro College in Berlin organize an international scientific conference entitled “The Beginnings of the Nazi Occupation. Continuity and Change in Polish and Jewish Life 1939-1941”.
The conference is part of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. It will be attended by several dozen speakers and debaters from research and academic institutions from Poland, Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia, both recognized scientists and researchers of the younger generation. The aim of the conference is to present the results of the latest research studies devoted to German policy in the first years of occupation as well as differences in the collective memory of these events in different cultures.
The conference will be inaugurated by Prof. Stephan Lehnstaedt’s lecture entitled “Through the eyes of the occupier. Ordinary Germans look at Poland, 1939-1940”. In the conference’s first panel, specialists from Poland and Israel will present the tragic situation of the Jewish population in the initial period of German occupation in Poland illustrated by the example of the fate of Jewish soldiers from Poznan, residents of the ghettos from the Radom and Lublin districts, as well as Jewish communities from small towns in the light of the testimonies from Oneg Shabbat archives. The next speeches will be devoted to selected aspects of life under German occupation, such as the organization of forced labour in the early period of the war, the sports rivalry of the Jewish and non-Jewish population in Upper Silesia, or differences in the treatment of the Polish and Jewish community on the example of the Lublin district.
In the part devoted to German population policy towards different ethnic groups, lectures will be given on the German National List and techniques for separating Poles from Germans, persecution of the Romani people in the first months of the occupation and the situation of the Volksdeutsche in the General Government by the example of the Krakow district. The first day of the session will be closed with a special session devoted to the new Warsaw Ghetto Encyclopaedia prepared by the Jewish Historical Institute.
The second day of the session will be divided into three substantive sections, devoted in turn to the comparison of Polish and Jewish memory, the history of Polish Jews in the Soviet Union until 1941, and to the extension research on the history of the Warsaw ghetto. The first conference panel will discuss memories of child forced labourers from the Polish and Jewish perspective, perception of the so-called Polenaktion among the current residents of Zbąszyń, as well as Polish-Jewish relations in the first period of occupation and life in Warsaw under siege based on selected diaries.
The second section will focus on issues devoted to the activities of the Vilnius kibbutz, the fate of the Jewish population of eastern Poland under Soviet occupation, and on the state of awareness of the inhabitants of the Soviet Union about the persecution of the Jewish population in occupied Poland.
The last panel will discuss the spatial changes that took place in Warsaw during the occupation illustrated by the example of postcards, the religious leadership of Rabbi R. Szapiro in Warsaw in the first months of the war, the attitude of the Polish underground to the Jewish population in the capital and the scout action to aid the inhabitants of the Warsaw ghetto known under the code name of “Action J”. Prof. Daniel Blatman from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem will sum up the conference.
All of the conference panels on 18 November will be held at the seat of the Jewish Historical Institute (3/5 Tłomackie Street), and on 19 November – at the Zielna Conference Centre (37 Zielna Street). The presentations will be given in Polish and English, along with simultaneous translation.
Dr. Jacek Młynarczyk
Photo: WGM (on the site of the Current News – dr. Jacek Młynarczyk)
The Conference Timetable
Monday, 18 November
Jewish Historical Institute, Tłomackie 3/5
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Welcoming the participants
Moderator: Konrad Zieliński (UMCS in Lublin/ Warsaw Ghetto Museum)
Albert Stankowski Director of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum
Paweł Śpiewak Director of the Jewish Historical Institute
Jan Rydel Member of the Steering Committee of the European Network
Remembrance and Solidarity
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Stephan Lehnstaedt (Touro College Berlin)
Through the eyes of the occupier. Ordinary Germans look at Poland, 1939-1940
10:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Persecution of Jews 1939-1941: regional perspective
Moderator: Daniel Blatman (The Hebrew University/ Warsaw Ghetto Museum)
1. Szymon Pietrzykowski (Institute of National Remembrance, Poznan): The battlefield, internment, return, and persecution: odyssey of Jewish soldiers from the Poznan Region (1939-1941)
2. Jakub Chmielewski (State Museum at Majdanek / UMCS in Lublin): Between exclusion and ghettoization: the fate of Lublin Jews under German occupation (September 1939 – March 1941)
3. Lea Prais (Yad Vashem, Jerusalem): Small towns in occupied Poland: a look at the past in the context of testimonies from the Oneg Shabbat archives
4. Tomasz Domański (Institute of National Remembrance, Kielce): Persecution of Jews in provincial ghettos in the Radom district (1939–1941)
12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Dinner
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Poles, Jews and the German occupation: comparative paradigms
Moderator: Jacek Młynarczyk (The Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun/ Warsaw Ghetto Museum)
1. Alicja Bartnicka (The Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun/ Warsaw Ghetto Museum): Organisation of forced labour for Jewish population in the General Government (until 1941)
2. Martin Borkowski-Saruhan (Georg-August Universität Göttingen): Sport under the occupation: Jews and non-Jews in eastern Upper Silesia under German occupation 1939-41
3. Karolina Wasiluk (The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin): The fate of Poles and Jews in the years 1939-1941 illustrated with the example of the Lublin district
3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Coffee break
3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Race and persecution patterns: ethnic groups in Poland and German policy
Moderator: Andrei Zamoiski (Freie Universität Berlin)
1. Michał Turski (Historisches Institut/ Osteuropäische Geschichte, Giessen): Apartheid policy? German national list and separation of Germans and Poles in the Reichsgau Wartheland
2. Isabel Röskau-Rydel (Pedagogical University of Cracow): The Volksdeutsche in the General Government illustrated with the example of the Krakow District
3. Alicja Gontarek (UMCS in Lublin/ Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw): Persecution of the Romani People in Occupied Poland (1939-1941): typology, strategies, consequences
5:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Coffee break
5:30 p.m. – 6:40 p.m.
Special session: Introduction to the new Ghetto Encyclopedia of the Jewish Historical Institute
Moderator: Andrzej Żbikowski (Jewish Historical Institute)
1. Maria Ferenc Piotrkowska (Jewish Historical Institute): Assumptions of the “Ghetto Encyclopedia” project in the context of the latest research on the Warsaw ghetto and digital humanities
2. Katarzyna Person (Jewish Historical Institute): The Warsaw ghetto elite seen from the angle of work on the Warsaw Ghetto Encyclopedia
3. Justyna Majewska (Jewish Historical Institute): Research programme on the economic changes in the Warsaw ghetto based on the synopsis of “Oneg Shabbat”
Tuesday, 19 November, Zielna Conference Centre
37 Zielna Street (6th floor)
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Jewish memory – Polish memory: similarities and differences
Moderator: Małgorzata Pakier (European Network Remembrance and Solidarity)
1. Andrzej Kirmiel (Muzeum Ziemi Międzyrzeckiej): “Polenaktion” in Zbąszyń and the perception of these events by the city’s current residents
2. Sara Bender (University of Haifa): Life under siege: Warsaw, September 1939 in the memories of Simcha Korngold
3. Anna Ciałowicz (Pilecki Institute): Polish-Jewish relations from September to December 1939 in the light of the memories of Reuwen Feldszuh
4. Johannes-Dieter Steinert (University of Wolverhampton): Being a child and forced labourer in occupied Poland: memories of Polish and Jewish children
11.30 a.m. – 11.45 a.m. Coffee break
11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Polish Jews and the Soviet Union, 1939-1941
Moderator: Sara Bender (University of Haifa)
1. Daniela Ozacky-Stern (Moreshet Archives/ Bar Ilan University): The Vilnius kibbutz at the beginning of the German occupation in the light of documents and certificates
2. Vasyl Gulay (Lviv Polytechnic National University): Jews in Eastern Lesser Poland at the beginning of the Second World War
3. Andrei Zamoiski (Freie Universität Berlin): “About the hell [that] Jewish cities experienced in Poland, you probably already know …”. What did people in the USSR know about Jews in Poland (1939-1941)
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Integrated research perspectives on the history of the Warsaw ghetto
Moderator: Hanna Węgrzynek (Warsaw Ghetto Museum)
1. Anna Hirsh (Jewish Holocaust Centre, Melbourne): “This is gone …”. Postcards from Warsaw, occupied Poland 1939-1941
2. Daniel Reiser (Herzog Academic College/ Zafat Academic College): R. Szapiro’s faith and spiritual leadership in the first months of the occupation
3. Adam Puławski (The “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre in Lublin): Polish underground towards Warsaw’s Jewish population (1939-1941)
4. Dorota Siepracka (Institute of National Remembrance, Lodz): “Action J”: Scout aid campaign for the Warsaw ghetto. The forgotten chapter of the history of the Warsaw ghetto?
6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. The end of the conference, summary notes: Daniel Blatman (The Hebrew University/ Warsaw Ghetto Museum)