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Antisemitism, Silence, Commemoration

International Conference at Yad Vashem Next Week to Explore Polish Attitudes toward Jews and the Holocaust after World War II and Jewish survivors return to life in Poland (1944-2010)

27 September 2010

How did Polish society and people deal with the fact that the Holocaust, to a great extent took place in their midst? How did Jewish survivors rebuild lives in Poland? A four-day international conference exploring Polish attitudes toward Jews and the events of the Holocaust will take place at Yad Vashem from October 3 - 6, 2010.

The conference, “The Aftermath of the Holocaust: Poland 1944-2010” is being held by the Diana Zborowski Center for the Study of the Aftermath of the Shoah of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem.

Looking at Polish society through the antisemitic pogroms in the immediate aftermath of the war, the communist era, and the fall of communism until today, researchers from Poland, the United States and Israel will present new findings on various aspects of the Polish population grappling with the post-Holocaust era. For decades the destruction of Polish Jewry has dominated the study of the Shoah but it was only recently that the unprecedented challenges of the return to life of the surviving Jews has begun to attract sustained scholarly attention. The proceedings will take place at the Yad Vashem Auditorium, in English, and is open to the press and the public.

Presented at the conference will be research on the first encounters of survivors with post-war Polish society, reverberations of the Kielce pogrom, rebuilding Jewish life in Poland, post-war emigration of Jews from Poland, the origins and results of the communist regime's anstisemitic campaign and more. Jan Tomasz Gross, author of the groundbreaking books Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland and Fear Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz: An Essay in historical Interpretation, will present the keynote address at the opening session on October 3 at 16:00, on the interaction between Jews and the local population during the war, particularly plunder and killings. He will argue that general understanding of the epoch can be obtained through in depth analysis of specific encounters. Prof. Israel Gutman, Academic Advisor, Yad Vashem, Feliks Tych, Head of the Jewish Historical Institute (ZIH) of Warsaw, Ambassador of Poland to Israel Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, Eli Zborowski, Founder and Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Dr. Zeev Mankowitz, Head of the Diana Zborowski Center, and Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate will also participate in the session.

The concluding session will take place on Wednesday, October 6, at 11:00, with the participation of Antony Polonsky, of Brandeis University, Feliks Tych, Zeev Mankowitz and Marcos Silber of Haifa University.

The full program is available at: http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/about/institute/pdf/program_conference_the_aftermath_of_the_holocaust.pdf

The Conference is underwritten by Eli Zborowski and Family and with the generous support of the Gertner Center for International Holocaust Conferences and the Gutwrith Family Fund, and the Instytut Polski.