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Omer Bartov and Joanna Tokarska-Bakir Winners of the 2019 Yad Vashem International Book Prize

Annual prize recognizes high scholarly research on the Holocaust

26 November 2019

On Thursday 28 November 2019, the International Institute for Holocaust Research of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will host an event honoring two winners of the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research in memory of Benny and Tilly Joffe z"l. Omer Bartov will accept the award for his book, Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (Simon & Schuster, 2018), and Joanna Tokarska-Bakir for her book, Pod Klątwą: Społeczny portret pogromu kieleckiego (Cursed: A Social Portrait of the Kielce Pogrom) (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Czarna Owca, 2018). The prestigious prize is awarded annually to authors of high scholarly research on the Holocaust. Members of the Joffe family will be in attendance, including South African entrepreneur Brian Joffe and his wife Lee, the donors of the prize. 

The award ceremony will take place in the Constantiner Lecture Hall, International School for Holocaust Studies, at 09:30 in the presence of Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.

Head of Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research and Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair for Holocaust Studies Prof. Dan Michman will offer opening remarks. In addition, the two prize recipients will speak about their books.

Prof. Dan Michman commented on the importance of the two books. Omer Bartov's  Anatomy of a Genocide: The life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz, contributes to the deeper understanding of the processes of violence and mass murder in multi-ethnic situations in Eastern Europe which took place in an era of mass violence that was unleashed by Nazi Germany. It shows that the Holocaust, which encompassed the entire European continent, was intertwined with local developments which thus impacted on the different extents of Jewish victimization in different settings, as well as the plight of and perpetration by other ethnic groups."

In the aftermath of World War II, neither antisemitic prejudice nor anti-Jewish violence subsided. In fact, Jewish survivors in Eastern Europe continued to fear for their lives as they tried to return home, and a series of pogroms occurred in Eastern Europe.  Joanna Tokarska-Bakir's book, Cursed: A Social Portrait of the Kielce Pogrom, provides a close examination of the pogrom of July 4, 1946, in which local inhabitants of Kielce, mobilized by the rumors of a blood libel, murdered forty-two Jewish men, women and children. Prof. Dan Michmann adds that Prof. Tokarska-Bakir’s book, “offers a close reading of hundreds of personal accounts, including the voices of Jewish persecution and thus creates what the author calls a “social portrait of the pogrom.”

In addition to the book prize winners, two other authors received honorable mentions: David Fishman for his book, Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis (University Press of New England, 2018); and Susanne Urban for the German-language book, Mein Einziges Dokumentist die nummer auf der Hand (My only document is the number on hand ..." Statements of survivors of Nazi persecution in the International Tracing Service). 

Members of the Yad Vashem International Book Prize Committee include: Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem; Prof. Dan Michman, Yad Vashem and Bar Ilan university; Prof. Dina Porat, Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv University; Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto, Yad Vashem; Prof. Atina Grossmann, The Cooper Union, NY; Prof. Natalia Aleksiun, Touro Collage, NY.

The ceremony will be held in Hebrew and English with simultaneous translation.