Monthly Publications Update, March 2020, PSA/H-Poland Member Submissions

Patrice Dabrowski's picture

(4 entries:  book, articles)




1.  Nancy Sinkoff, From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History (Wayne State University Press, 2020).

Abstract:  From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History is the first comprehensive biography of Dawidowicz (1915–1990), a pioneer historian in the field that is now called Holocaust studies. Dawidowicz was a household name in the postwar years, not only because of her scholarship but also due to her political views. Dawidowicz, like many other New York intellectuals, was a youthful communist, became an FDR democrat midcentury, and later championed neoconservatism. Nancy Sinkoff argues that Dawidowicz’s rightward shift emerged out of living in prewar Poland, watching the Holocaust unfold from New York City, and working with displaced persons in postwar Germany. Based on over forty-five archival collections, From Left to Right chronicles Dawidowicz’s life as a window into the major events and issues of twentieth-century Jewish life.

From Left to Right is structured in four parts. Part 1 tells the story of Dawidowicz’s childhood, adolescence, and college years when she was an immigrant daughter living in New York City. Part 2 narrates Dawidowicz’s formative European years in Poland, New York City (when she was enclosed in the European-like world of the New York YIVO), and Germany. Part 3 tells how Dawidowicz became an American while Polish Jewish civilization was still inscribed in her heart and also explores when and how Dawidowicz became the voice of East European Jewry for the American Jewish public. Part 4 exposes the fissure between Dawidowicz’s European-inflected diaspora nationalist modern Jewish identity and the shifting definition of American liberalism from the late 1960s forward, which also saw the emergence of neoconservatism. The book includes an interpretation of her memoir From that Place and Time, as well as an appendix of thirty-one previously unpublished letters that illustrate the broad reach of her work and person.


Dawidowicz’s right-wing politics, sex, and unabashed commitment to Jewish particularism in an East European Jewish key have resulted in scholarly neglect. Therefore, this book is strongly recommended for scholars and general readers interested in Jewish and women’s studies.





2.  Jewish History  33 (2020), nos. 1–2 

Special issue: Jewish Women in Modern Eastern and East Central Europe

Guest Editors: Elissa Bemporad and Glenn Dynner

Keywords:  East European History; Polish-Jewish Studies; Women’s and Gender History/Studies; Jewish History/Studies; violence


Introduction: Jewish Women in Modern Eastern and East Central Europe, 1–6

Marginality without Benefits: Converting Jewish Women in Lithuanian Guberniyas, by Elena Keidošiūtė, 7–27

From Anna Kluger to Sarah Schenirer: Women’s Education in Kraków and Its Discontents, by Rachel Manekin29–59

To Write? What’s This Torture For?’ Bronia Baum’s Manuscripts as Testimony to the Formation of a Writer, Activist, and Journalist, by Joanna Lisek, 61–113

Humanitarian Encounters: Charity and Gender in Post–World War I Jewish Budapest, by Ilse Josepha Lazaroms115–132

Crossing the Line: Violence against Jewish Women and the New Model of Antisemitism in Poland in the 1930s, by Natalia Aleksiun, 133–162

Gender Violence: The 1917–1922 Ukrainian Pogroms and the Challenges of Modernity, by Irina Astashkevich163–186 

The Toiling Froy and the Speculating Yidene: Discourses of Female Productivization in the Soviet Shtetl, by Deborah Yalen,187–214

To Speak for Those Who Cannot’: Masha Rol’nikaite on the Holocaust and Sexual Violence in German-Occupied Soviet Territories, by Anika Walke, 215–244



3.  Katarzyna Nowak, “‘To Reach the Lands of Freedom’: Petitions of Polish Displaced Persons to American Poles, Moral Screening and the Role of Diaspora in Refugee Resettlement,” Cultural and Social History 16 (2019), no. 5: 621-642, DOI: 10.1080/14780038.2019.1704348


Keywords: Polish Displaced Persons, resettlement, International Refugee Organization, letters and petitions, diaspora, people’s history


Abstract:  In 1949, in the wake of the USA’s Displaced Persons Act of 1948, the American Committee for the Resettlement of Polish Displaced Persons received thousands of letters from refugees of peasant and worker background residing in camps in Germany and Austria. These potential immigrants appealed to the Polish diaspora for help with securing assurances of accommodation and work which would enable them to resettle in the USA. This paper investigates the discursive strategies of the authors and the wider meanings of their emigration endeavour. Firstly, it demonstrates that non-elite Displaced Persons (DPs) adopted the language of martyrology, patriotism, anti-Communism and freedom to maximise their chances of emigration. These DPs did not evoke the language of rights as they appealed to the traditional network of support, based on benevolence and familiarity. Secondly, it argues that the American Poles and Polish social elites played a crucial role in resettlement of the DPs, providing an additional layer of screening, here called ‘the moral screening’. It is an example of how ethnic and cultural communities mediated the resettlement procedures supervised by international humanitarian organisations. Using a ‘history from below’ approach, this article argues that during this episode of migration, political and economic ideological underpinnings intertwined.



4.  Katarzyna Nowak, “‘We Would Rather Drown Ourselves in Lake Victoria’: Refugee Women, Protest, and Polish Displacement in Colonial East Africa, 1948–49,” Immigrants & Minorities 37 (2019), nos. 1-2: 92-117, DOI: 10.1080/02619288.2019.1677467


Keywords: Polish refugees, petitions, resistance, displacement, IRO, resettlement


Abstract:  During the Second World War, a group of Polish refugees was placed in camps in British colonial East Africa. In 1948, the idea of relocating them to Europe for resettlement purposes brought about a fierce protest action where refugees petitioned prominent figures and organisations. Analysing this incident, the article explores the situation of the refugees on the margins of the mass international aid which emerged in the aftermath of the war. It demonstrates how the refugees negotiated their circumstances and mobilised their resources by engaging with the dominant discourses, including the concept of human rights, to their benefit and in doing so contributed to changing procedures on the ground.