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Stories of Rescue in the Letters of Jewish Survivors about Polish Rescuers
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 from 18:30 to 20:00 (GMT)
London, United Kingdom
This lecture discusses early postwar memories of Jewish survivors and their rescuers concerning wartime rescue in Warsaw and Warsaw province, and the relationships between rescuers and their Jewish charges in the immediate postwar period.
Dr Joanna Beata Michlic analyses the early postwar correspondence addressed to the Central Committee of Polish Jews (CKŻP) and the American JOINT Distribution Committee (AJDC, the JOINT). Noe Grüss, one of the leading historians of the Jewish Historical Commission set up in Poland in November 1944, viewed accounts concerning rescue activities as 'the files of innate human kindness in the archives primarily registering the murder and destruction of individuals, families and entire generations'. While the correspondence of both rescuers and rescued Jews undoubtedly corroborate acts of kindness and dedication, it also constitute rare and salient data for the study of the intricate map of wartime relations between rescuers and rescued Jews, and into their surrounding local communities.
The letters throw light onto interactions between individual Poles and Polish Jews immediately after the war, and onto fresh, raw postwar memories of the wartime experiences. They constitute precious material for the study of both social mentalities and economic conditions of the early postwar Polish society, both in large cities such as Warsaw and in small towns and rural areas.
Dr Joanna Beata Michlic is a social and cultural historian, and founder and Director of HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute) Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University. Her major publications include Neighbors Respond: The Controversy about Jedwabne and Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present.