Problematic Narratives of the Holocaust: Poles and Jews during the Second World War
2019 Academic Symposium
This presentation explores narratives of the Second World War and Holocaust. Between 1939 and 1944, Poland was under Nazi control earlier and longer than any other wartime state in Europe. Nazi racial theory identified Poles and other Slavic peoples as inferior and subjected Poles to brutal occupation, with nearly three million Polish Christians dying and 100,000s dispossessed of their properties and deported to other parts of Europe during the war. Jewish and non-Jewish Poles can be characterized as fellow, but unequal, victims of Nazi totalitarianism. Thousands of non-Jewish Poles risked their lives to aid their Jewish workmates and neighbors during the Holocaust. On the other hand, a long history of antisemitism led many Poles to treat Jews with hostility and violence during the war. Reconciliation of the two narratives, in a “collective biography,” is essential to an understanding of Polish-Jewish relations during the war.
Dr. Matthew Szromba