PODCAST: Marcos Silber, Nationalism and Autonomy – Jewish Experiences in East-Central Europe

Olena Palko Discussion

In this episode, Marcos Silber, Professor of Jewish History and chair of the Gotteiner Institute for the History of the Bund and der Jewish Labor Movement at the University of Haifa talks to Jan Rybak, Early Career Fellow at the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism about the Jewish experience in early-20th century Eastern and Central Europe. Silber addresses some of the key questions relating to the experiences of persecution and exclusion in the region, notably Jewish demands for minority rights in relation to the ethnonationalist state-building projects that followed the end of the First World War and the collapse of the multinational empires. He also illustrates how discussion over the place of minorities in these newly created states related to the wider social histories of the region, especially pre-existing tensions between prevailing liberal paradigms of civil equality, the far from harmonious realities on the ground and the answers Jewish minority rights activists found in seeking to address these challenges. These demands for minority rights and national autonomy were not only key in ongoing efforts at finding a place for minorities in interwar Eastern and Central Europe, but remain an important historical means for understanding the dynamics of intercommunal relations in the more heterogeneous societies of our contemporary world.

Eastern Europe's Minorities in a Century of Change’, a podcast series on the history of minorities and minority experiences in twentieth-century Central and Eastern Europe prepared by the BASEES Study Group for Minority History to mark the Institute for Historical Research’s centenary.