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Professor Jan Grabowski wins the 2014 Yad Vashem International Book Prize

Annual prize recognizes high scholarly research and writing on the Holocaust

04 December 2014

The 2014 Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research, in memory of Holocaust survivor Abraham Meir Schwarzbaum, and his family members who were murdered in the Holocaust, has been awarded to Professor Jan Grabowski for his book, "Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland." The Book Prize is awarded annually to a book published within the last two years. The award ceremony will take place on Monday, December 8, 2014 in the Constantiner Lecture Hall at the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies at 13:00.

Guests will hear opening remarks from Professor Dan Michman, Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research and Incumbent John Najmann Chair for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem, remarks from Professor Dina Porat, Chief Historian, Yad Vashem, a lecture by the prize recipient, Professor Jan Grabowski and a musical interlude by vocalist Sabina. The event will take place in the presence of Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem, Dr. Iael Nidam Orvieto, Director of the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research.
From the Judges' Remarks:
“The chances of survival for Jews in Europe during the period of the Final Solution depended on a variety of factors: the devotion and efficiency of the German and local bureaucracies to implement the grand scheme of total extermination, inventive actions of the Jews seeking ways of evasion, interventions by authoritative third parties inside or outside occupied Europe (such as governments and organizations), and physical and human options that enabled Jews to flee or hide. "Human options" consisted of non-Jews, individuals and organizations that had the possibility of providing shelter to the persecuted. They chose either to help or not, or to help but only but only for a limited period of time. The latter category is one of the most sensitive issues in Holocaust research, because it touches upon the relationship between Jews and the non-German locals, who were themselves usually under occupation.
Research has tackled this aspect mostly from the perspective of visible, often organized collaborationists on the one hand; or from that of the Righteous among the Nations, on the other. Several years ago, Jan Grabowski contributed to a more in-depth look at this issue by drawing attention to paid rescuers in Poland (Rescue for Money: Paid Helpers in Poland, 1939-1945 ["Search and Research" Series no. 13, Yad Vashem, 2008]). His present book, Hunt for the Jews (or Judenjagd in its Polish version), adds another dimension to this discussion.
When it was first published in Polish in 2011, Grabowski’s book was followed by a vigorous discussion in the mainstream Polish media, showing that his writing can effectively break through a purely academic canon and affect widespread social perceptions of this crucial chapter of Polish and Jewish history. Grabowski does not stop there. He dedicates the last chapter of his book to the "Righteous" and their activities and fate during the occupation and afterwards. This chapter includes a penetrating and critical account of Polish historiography's dealing with the issue of the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.
The craftsmanship of Grabowski’s study is exemplary and shows that a careful reading of archival material allows for the detailed reconstruction of personal life (and death) stories of Jews in hiding. The committee found Jan Grabowski's study groundbreaking and exemplary in its approach and methodology, in its analytical quality and in its contribution to the better understanding of the multi-facetedness of the Shoah, and decided to award the author the 2014 Yad Vashem International Book Prize.”
In addition to the winner of the book prize, there were also two honorable mentions, "Conscripted Slaves", by Robert Rozett and "Gates of Tears", by David Silberklang.
The members of the 2014 Yad Vashem Book Prize Committee include: Professor Jan Tomasz Gross, Princeton University, U.S.A.; Professor Wolf Gruner, University of South California, U.S.A.; Professor Dan Michman, Yad Vashem and Bar-Ilan University, Israel; Professor Guy Miron, Open University, Israel; Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto, Yad Vashem, Israel; Professor Dina Porat, Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv University, Israel; Mr. Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem, Israel.