Building from Ashes - Jews in Postwar Europe (1945–1950)

Building from Ashes - Jews in Postwar Europe (1945–1950)

Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main / Simon Dubnow Institute Leipzig / Institute of Jewish Studies at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main / Fritz Bauer Institute
Campus Westend, Goethe Universität, Renate-von-Metzler-Saal (Raum 1.801)
Frankfurt am Main
Vom - Bis
03.12.2017 - 05.12.2017
Moritz Bauerfeind

In the immediate postwar years, Europe faced the aftermath of genocide, extreme violence, and mass displacement that had produced millions of refugees, poverty and hunger. In the midst of this “savage continent” Jews found themselves in diverse situations, having endured varied wartime experiences: some had survived the ghettos and concentration camps, some were refugees returning from emigration or a harsh shelter in the Soviet Union, or from hiding places or partisan encampments, others entered central Europe as part of the Allied Military Forces. In the midst of ruins, poverty and destruction surviving Jews sought to find places that felt secure, whether in their former homelands or under Allied protection. Many became Displaced Persons who organized their survival as well as their emigration with the help of diverse military and social organizations. At the same time, they were building new communities and attempting to sustain Jewish life and traditions in Europe.

“Building from Ashes” will examine the complex situation of Jews in the years of 1945–50 in a comprehensive European perspective.

The International Conference takes place in the Renate von Metzler Saal (Room 1.801), Casino, Campus Westend, Goethe Universität in English, and is open to the public.


Sunday, 3 December 2017


Elisabeth Gallas (Simon Dubnow Institute)
Sybille Steinbacher (Fritz Bauer Institute)
Rebekka Voß (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main)
Mirjam Wenzel (Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main)

In the Aftermath of Auschwitz and the Second World War: New Perspectives on the Situation of Jews in Europe in the Years 1945–1950

G. Daniel Cohen (Rice University)
Tobias Freimüller (Fritz Bauer Institute)
Jan T. Gross (Princeton University)
Atina Grossmann (Cooper Union, New York)
Chair: Elisabeth Gallas (Simon Dubnow Institute)

The discussion is followed by a public “Wine and Cheese” reception.

Monday, 4 December 2017

The Collapse of Nazism and the End of World War II: Displacement and Dilemmas of Emigration and Return

Kateřina Čapková (Institute of Contemporary
History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic):
Competing Jewish Narratives: Jewish Migrants in Postwar Czechoslovakia

Naama Seri-Levi (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem):
Refugees, Wanderers, Displaced Persons: The Experience of Jewish-Polish Repatriates during and after the War

G. Daniel Cohen (Department of History, Rice University, Houston, TX):
“Philosemitic” Western Europe? The Jewish Question in the Aftermath of the War, 1945–1967

Chair: Sybille Steinbacher (Fritz Bauer Institute)

Rebuilding and Reinforcing Economic Structures: Social Welfare versus Socio-Economic Autonomy

Laura Hobson-Faure (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3.):
Protecting the European Branch of the Jewish Diaspora: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Europe after the Shoah

Katharina Friedla (Yad Vashem, Jerusalem):
Socio-Economic Patterns and Reconfiguration of Jewish Life in Post-War Poland (1945–1949) – Lower Silesia as a Case Study

Kamil Kijek (University of Wroclaw):
The Jewish experience of Rychbach/Dzierżoniów in the years 1945–1950

Chair: Fritz Backhaus (Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main)

Rebuilding the Community: Different Forms of Cultural Revival

Ewa Koźmińska-Frejlak (Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw):
The Assimilation of Polish Jews to Polishness and the Attitude of the Jewish community in Poland towards Assimilation (1945–1950)

Tamar Lewinsky (Jüdisches Museum Berlin):
Galut Germaniyah/Goles Daytshland. Cultural Activities among Jewish Displaced Persons in Occupied Germany

Irit Chen (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem):
“Dear Child of Israel” or a “Cheap Partner”: The Relation of the Israeli Consulate in Munich to the Rebuilding of the Jewish Community in Germany 1948–1953

Izabela Dahl (School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University):
The complexity of displacement. Polish Jews in Sweden after World War II

Chair: Rebekka Voß (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Holocaust Memory: Jewish efforts to document and testify the crime of the century

Manuela Consonni (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem):
Auschwitz and the Lesson of Srebrenica in the Post-Memory Age

Natalia Aleksiun (Touro College, New York):
Documentation, (Self)Censorship and the Early Holocaust Testimonies in Poland

Ferenc Laczó (University of Maastricht):
Interpreting Responsibility. On the Incipient Historiography of the Holocaust in Hungary

Yechiel Weizmann (Haifa University):
Breaching the Silence: Jewish Sites as Reminders of the Holocaust in Communist Poland

Chair: Christian Wiese (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main)

Seeking Justice: War-Crimes Trials, People’s Tribunals, Jewish Honor Courts and Actions for Restitution

Katarzyna Person (Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw):
Defense Strategies in the Postwar Jewish Honor Courts

Philipp Graf (Simon Dubnow Institute Leipzig):
“The Central Secretariat […] approves the draft bill” – Restitution in the Soviet Zone of Germany

Annette Weinke (Friedrich Schiller University Jena):
_At the Intersection of Law, History, and Legal Lobbying: Transatlantic Jewish Legal Think
Tanks and Postwar Justice_

Chair: Mirjam Wenzel (Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main)

*Imagining and Building the future: Involvement in the Postwar Administration
and the Formation of Different States.*

Jan Gerber (Simon Dubnow Institute Leipzig):
Socialist Homogenization. Jews in the Czechoslovak Communist Party, 1945–1952

Anna Koch (University of Southampton):
“The foundation for a new and better Germany:” Communists of Jewish origin in the early German Democratic Republic

Avinoam Patt (University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT):
From Destruction to Rebirth: Jewish Displaced Persons and the Creation of the State of Israel

Chair: Kata Bohus (Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main)

Elisabeth Gallas
Atina Grossmann
Mirjam Wenzel


Moritz Bauerfeind

Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt
60275 Frankfurt am Main