The 2023/24 Karten Lecture
‘Have Poles Forgotten the Holocaust? Remembering the Genocide of the Jews in Socialist and post-Socialist Poland.’
To many, it seems that the genocide of the Jews has been forgotten in Poland for most of the post-war period and that it was only in the 1990s and 2000s that a few activists started to commemorate it. This lecture aims to offer a different, more nuanced image of Holocaust memory in Poland. While recognising the challenges and the silences of the post-war era, it charts the attempts to save the Holocaust from oblivion and from political manipulation in the years after 1945. Having reassessed the process of remembering and forgetting the Holocaust under socialist rule, the lecture offers an overview of the most recent memorial projects, including museums such as the one in Schindler’s Factory in Kraków and remembrance days organised annually to mark the Ghetto Uprising anniversary.
This lecture aims to offer a new, richer and more nuanced understanding of the complicated process of remembering and forgetting in the country that today stands as custodian to hundreds of Holocaust sites. I focus both on the projects orchestrated by the Jewish minority and unpack the memorial strategies employed by the Polish majority. In so doing, I demonstrate that a version of Holocaust memory always existed and always presented a challenge to the antisemitic section of the population who would rather see the Jewish past go away.
This is a hybrid event, meaning you can attend in-person at Avenue Campus or online via Zoom.
About the Speaker
Janek Gryta is a Lecturer in Holocaust History at the University of Southampton. He is a cultural historian with particular interests in the Holocaust commemorations in Eastern Europe, nation-building, and the history of social consensus under State Socialism. At present, he is working on a book that charts the attempts to revive and maintain Holocaust memory under Polish Socialism. His first monograph, Jews and Poles in the Holocaust Exhibitions of Kraków, 1980 and 2013: Between Urban Past and National Memory was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020.