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Kuhn-Deutscher, Gina

Biographie

Since 10/2016 Research Fellow at the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk (ELES)

Since 10/2014

Doctoral candidate at the Historisches Institut, Osteuropäische Geschichte, JLU-Gießen

09/2009-09/2011

MA studies in European Studies (track: Central and Eastern European Studies) at the Centre for European Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland

Thesis title: “Poland’s 1968 Anti-Zionist Campaign in the American Jewish Press”

09/2004-06/2008

BA studies in Slavic Languages and Literature (track: Polish), Northwestern University, Evanston, USA.

Thesis title: “The End of the World in Plural: Tadeusz Konwicki and the Minor Apocalypse Cycle”

Forschungsschwerpunkte

  • Polish-Jewish relations post-1945
  • Poland under communism
  • Censorship
  • Politics of memory

Promotionsvorhaben

Arbeitstitel: "Poland’s Jewish History in the Education Policy of the Government and Communist Party in the Time of the People’s Republic of Poland: Creating Historical Memory, 1945-1989"

Jews have made Poland their home for centuries, creating a thriving and unique civilization that flourished here for nearly a millennium. While historically enjoying significant cultural and religious autonomy, even if often viewed as an alien Other by the majority Polish society, the Jewish presence and experience in Poland had a major impact on the country and its people. By 1939, Poland’s Jewish population stood at 3.5 million, constituting 10% of the population. Nearly 90% of Polish Jewry was murdered in the Holocaust, and the centuries-old civilization was wiped out. Most of those who survived the Second World War quickly left the country, and those few who remained tended to be highly assimilated. As a result, for the first time in centuries Poles had little to no contact with Jews. Knowledge of Jews and the Jewish presence in Poland would be obtained not from personal contact and experience, but rather through secondary means – stories told by the generation born before the war and, most importantly, in school as part of the history curriculum. However, like many other historical topics, the history of the Jews in Poland was subjected to manipulation and censorship by the communist government. This censorship, both in terms of what was omitted and what was considered acceptable, shaped the worldviews of at least two generations of Poles vis-à-vis Polish-Jewish history and continues to deeply impact the ongoing Polish-Jewish dialogue begun in the second half of 1980s and continued after the fall of communism in 1989.

This thesis will examine how the history of the Jews was presented in textbooks in the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL). Through analysis of the content of textbooks and school curricula, lesson plans and supplementary materials, and examining materials obtained from the archives of the Główny Urząd Kontroli Prasy, Publikacji i Widowisk (GUKPPiW), the thesis will show how Poland’s centuries-long Jewish history was taught (and often not taught) in the PRL, and thus how Pole’s historical memory of the Jewish presence in Poland was shaped by official government policies. The work will be written in English and will be the first in-depth analysis of this topic either in Polish or English.

Research on this topic will help add to the scholarship on Polish-Jewish topics post-1945, an area that requires much further and in-depth study. Generally, scholarly interest in Polish-Jewish studies is directed toward the pre-war and wartime eras, examining the times when there was a significant Jewish presence on Polish soil and how it was destroyed by the Germans during the war. It must be emphasized that the communist era played a key role in shaping contemporary Polish understanding of Jewish history in Poland as well as its impact on the ongoing Polish-Jewish dialogue. By focusing on textbooks and the censorship archives, I hope to show how historical memory was created through education and censorship. This in turn will help advance the Polish-Jewish dialogue by helping identify, understand and address gaps in knowledge and combat stereotypes and misconceptions created by the communist education system.