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Fellow Seminar

30 May 2019

Dr. Ewa Stanczyk will present her research proposal on the topic: "From Holocaust Survivors to Soldiers: the Haganah Recruitment in Eastern Europe (1946-1949)" on 30 May 2019 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS conference hall.


In 1946 Jewish Palestinian emissaries began to travel across Europe and recruit for the Haganah, a paramilitary group which was to become Israel's army. The operation was clandestine across much of the continent. After the creation of Israel, two fledgling socialist states, Poland and Czechoslovakia, began to officially support the mobilization (for both ideological and financial reasons). The recruitment was endorsed by international Jewish organizations too, the American Joint Distribution Committee, in particular, who provided supplies and uniforms for the trainees. Recruitment activity reached its height in the summer of 1948. Czechoslovakia became the training: the government provided the facilities and expertise of its officers. In Poland, a training camp was established in the Jewish enclave which emerged after 1945 in the formerly German region of Lower Silesia, showcased by the authorities as a model example of Jewish revival after the Holocaust. Using Czechoslovak, Polish and Israeli sources, I show how the involvement from those various actors (the Yishuv, Holocaust survivors, community leaders, and Eastern European states) contributed to the formation of Israel's army. Moving beyond the usual focus on Jewish communities, the paper argues that 1948 was marked by a wave of international solidarity with and enthusiasm for the nascent state which spread beyond the Jewish Diaspora. More generally, the paper shows that the Eastern European experience of 1948 was as much about the conscripts themselves as it was about their entanglements in a wider network of transnational, national and community affiliations.

Ewa Stańczyk is Lecturer in East European Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She teaches courses in Eastern European history. She holds a PhD in Polish Studies from the University of Manchester (2010). Prior to her appointment at UvA she was Thomas Brown Assistant Professor in Polish Studies at Trinity College Dublin (2010-2013) and a research fellow at several institutes in Germany, Netherlands and elsewhere. She is the author of two monographs: one focusing on Polish post-war poetry (published in 2012) and the other looking at public memory in contemporary Poland (forthcoming with Palgrave in 2020).


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