Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

From Shtetl to Socialism

Studies from Polin
Edited by Antony Polonsky

'A fascinating history . . . a summary of a decade of scholarship.'
European Judaism

'Antony Polonsky's monumental collection of studies covers the ten centuries of Jewish life in Poland . . . written by acknowledged scholars . . . The spectrum is broad . . . One can only express admiration for the editor and the institutions concerned for this effort to enlighten us and future generations.'
Alexander Zvielli, Jerusalem Post

A selection of articles, originally published in volumes 1-7 of Polin, on many aspects of the history of the Jews of Poland from the earliest settlement to the Second World War, with an extensive new introduction, a chronology, maps, and an index.

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Until 1939 Poland was the heartland of European Jewry, and the Polish Jewish community was still one of the largest and most important in the world. For nine centuries it was one of the central forces in the shaping of Jewish culture and its impact on the shaping of modern Jewry - religious and secular - was profound.

An understanding of the history of the Jews of Poland is thus essential to a proper understanding of Jewish history. This book, comprising a selection of studies drawn from the first seven volumes of Polin, provides that understanding. Written by scholars from Europe (including Poland itself), Israel, and North America, it illuminates the most critical aspects of the history of the Jews in Poland and illustrates how these issues are being treated by the leading and most innovative scholars in the field.

A broad spectrum of subjects is discussed, covering the origins and development of the community and the many crises it experienced from the earliest date of Jewish settlement in Poland to the establishment of Communist rule in postwar Poland. Maps and a chronology of Polish Jewish history are also provided, and the book is prefaced by an extensive new introduction by Antony Polonsky, general editor of Polin.


About the editor

Antony Polonsky is Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Chief Historian of the Permanent Collection of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw.


Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, Israel Bartal, David Biale, Eugene C. Black, Jan Blonski, Norman Davies, David Engel, Jacob Goldberg, Gershon David Hundert, Krystyna Kersten, Stefan Kieniewicz, Pawel Korzec, Ewa Kurek-Lesik, Magdalena Opalski, Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka, Eugenia Prokopowna, Laura Quercioli-Mincer, M. J. Rosman, Szymon Rudnicki, Pawel Samus, Robert Moses Shapiro, Chone Shmeruk, Shaul Stampfer, Michael C. Steinlauf, Pawel Szapiro, Jean-Charles Szurek, Janusz Tazbir, Jerzy Tomaszewski, Paul Wexler, Anna Zuk

Contributor information

Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, Lecturer in English, Marie Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin
Israel Bartal, Professor of Modern Jewish History, and Director, Centre for Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jews, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
David Biale, Koret Professor of Jewish History, and Director, Center for Judaic Studies, Graduate Theological Union, University of California, Berkeley
Eugene C. Black, Ottilie Springer Professor of History, Brandeis University
Jan Blonski, Professor of History of the Polish Literature, Jagiellonian University, Kraków
Norman Davies, Professor of Polish History, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London
David Engel, Professor of Jewish History, New York University
Jacob Goldberg, formerly Professor of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Gershon David Hundert, Professor of History, and Montreal Jewish Community Chair of Jewish Studies, McGill University
Krystyna Kersten, Professor, Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Stefan Kieniewicz, late Emeritus Professor, University of Warsaw Pawel Korzec, Researcher, Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
Ewa Kurek-Lesik
Magdalena Opalski, Adjunct Professor, Institute of Central/East European and Russian Area Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa
Maria and Kazimierz Piechotka, architects and architectural historians
Eugenia Prokopowna, Jagiellonian University, Kraków
Laura Quercioli-Mincer, scholar and writer, Rome
M. J. Rosman, Senior Lecturer in Jewish History, Bar Ilan University
Szymon Rudnicki, Professor of History, and Pro-Dean, Historical Faculty, University of Warsaw
Pawel Samus, Professor of History, University of Lódz
Robert Moses Shapiro, Yeshiva University, New York
Chone Shmeruk, Professor of Yiddish Literature, and Chairman, Academic Board of the Center for Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jews, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Shaul Stampfer, Lecturer in Jewish History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
M ichael C. Steinlauf, Assistant Professor of East European Jewish History, Gratz College
Pawel Szapiro, Researcher, Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
Jean-Charles Szurek, Researcher, Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
Janusz Tazbir, Professor, Historical Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Jerzy Tomaszewski, Professor of History, Institute of Political Science, University of Warsaw, and Director, Mordecai Anieliewicz Center for the Study of the History and Culture of Polish Jews
Paul Wexler, Professor of Linguistics, Tel Aviv University
Anna Zuk, Lecturer, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Marie Curie Sklodowska University, Lublin



List of maps
Part I Pre-Partition Poland (to 1795)
The Reconstruction of Pre-Ashkenazic Jewish Settlements in the Slavic Lands in the Light of Linguistic Sources PAUL WEXLER
Some Basic Characteristics of the Jewish Experience in Poland GERSHON DAVID HUNDERT
Images of the Jew in the Polish Commonwealth JANUSZ TAZBIR
A Minority Views the Majority: Jewish Attitudes towards the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Interaction with Poles M. J. ROSMAN
The Changes in the Attitude of Polish Society toward the Jews in the Eighteenth Century JACOB GOLDBERG
A Mobile Class: The Subjective Element in the Social Perception of Jews-The Example of Eighteenth-Century Poland ANNA ZUK
Part II The Nineteenth Century
The Jews of Warsaw, Polish Society, and the Partitioning Powers, 1795-1861 STEFAN KIENIEWICZ
The Jewish Community in the Political Life of Lódz in the Years 1865-1914 PAWEL SAMUS
Aspects of the History of Warsaw as a Yiddish Literary Centre CHONE SHMERUK
Non-Jews and Gentile Society in East European Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, 1856-1914 ISRAEL BARTAL
Trends in the Literary Perception of Jews in Modern Polish Fiction MAGDALENA OPALSKI
Eros and Enlightenment: Love against Marriage in the East European Jewish Enlightenment DAVID BIALE
Gender Differentiation and Education of the Jewish Woman in Nineteenth- Century Eastern Europe SHAUL STAMPFER
Polish Synagogues in the Nineteenth Century MARIA and KAZIMIERZ PIECHOTKA
Part III Between the Two World Wars
Ethnic Diversity in Twentieth-Century Poland NORMAN DAVIES
Some Methodological Problems of the Study of Jewish History in Poland between the Two World Wars JERZY TOMASZEWSKI
Lucien Wolf and the Making of Poland: Paris, 1919 EUGENE C. BLACK
Aspects of Jewish Self-Government in Lódz, 1914-1939 ROBERT MOSES SHAPIRO
The Image of the Shtetl in Polish Literature EUGENIA PROKOPOWNA
The Polish Jewish Daily Press MICHAEL C. STEINLAUF
From 'Numerus Clausus' to 'Numerus Nullus' SZYMON RUDNICKI
Part IV The Second World War
Jews and Poles under Soviet Occupation (1939-1941): Conflicting Interests PAWEL KORZEC and JEAN-CHARLES SZUREK
The Western Allies and the Holocaust DAVID ENGEL
The Conditions of Admittance and the Social Background of Jewish Children Saved by Women's Religious Orders in Poland, 1939-1945 EWA KUREK-LESIK
Part V After 1945
The Contexts of the So-Called Jewish Question in Poland after World War II KRYSTYNA KERSTEN and PAWEL SZAPIRO
Is There a Jewish School of Polish Literature? JAN BLONSKI
A Voice from the Diaspora: Julian Stryjkowski LAURA QUERCIOLI-MINCER
Poles and Poland in I. B. Singer's Fiction MONIKA ADAMCZYK-GARBOWSKA
Notes on Contributors
Chronological Table



'An outstanding history of Jewish life in Poland . . . The introduction and sensitive editing by Antony Polonsky give us an insight into scholarship covering a fascinating history and the basic problems of Jewish life which are not only the mark of Polish/Jewish history but become paradigmatic of all the Jewish life . . . brings together the writings of those scholars who have specialized in Polish history and have total command of both Yiddish and Polish, but are also aware of other scholars and their contributions . . . becomes a summary of a decade of scholarship, and is also an introduction for what should be more than a decade of future work . . . This first volume should be followed by other texts which will help us to gain wisdom and understanding-the central purpose of the Littman Library, which must be congratulated for this new venture.'
European Judaism

'Antony Polonsky's monumental collection of studies cover the ten centuries of Jewish life in Poland . . . written by acknowledged scholars . . . The spectrum is broad . . . One can only express admiration for the editor and the institutions concerned for this effort to enlighten us and future generations about some aspects of Jewish existence in a land where, practically speaking, Jews live no more.'
Alexander Zvielli, Jerusalem Post

'. . . to be welcomed'
Harry Rabinowicz, Le'ela