On the 1st of April 1925, the great poet Bialik gave the inaugural speech of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This speech takes us back to the world of a still fragile yichuv and of Zionism in its pre-state phase. It was a time when the Zionist project oscillated between the affirmation of a political solution for the Jews, in rupture with Europe, and that of a cultural achievement which continued to be part of the trajectory of the Jews in Europe. The University, like many institutions in Mandatory Palestine, preceded the State and saw itself as the intellectual centre of the Jewish people to come.
Architects Piotr Michalewicz and Marcin Urbanek and artist-historian Łukasz Mieszkowski won first prize in the international competition for the development of a new memorial concept at the site of the former Nazi extermination facility in Sobibór. The team won the competition in July 2013, and in October of the same year, the Polish government accepted their design and awarded them tenders. The memorial’s construction began in the spring 2017, with funds coming entirely from the Polish Ministry of Culture. The memorial and museum, which will come under the supervision of the Majdanek State Museum. is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2022. Mieszkowski, in an original article for K., takes us behind the scenes of this innovative project.
Created in 1941, following the annexation of Alsace-Moselle to the Reich, the Reichsuniversität Straßburg was part of the Nazis’ plan to Germanise its annexed territories. What exactly happened within the walls of the University when it was in Nazi hands? We know, for example, that the director of its anatomy institute built up a collection of skeletons of murdered Jews… In 2016, an international and independent Historical Commission was set up, whose mission was to shed light on the history of the Reichsuniversität between 1941 and 1944. The Commission’s aim was to evaluate the University’s medical collections to ensure that no human remains from victims of Nazism were still in the collections, and to provide recommendations for the ethical training of current and future medical staff. Review of the Commission’s final report..
During the last days of the Auschwitz camp, Abraham Levite and a group of Jewish deportees conceived of the Collection Auschwitz. The only thing that has come down to us is the introduction to this anthology project, which aimed to bring together a series of clandestine texts written by Jewish deportees in the camp. K. publishes excerpts from this incredible testimony, and an essay by David Suchoff in which he has gathered biographical information on Levite, reconstructed the story of the manuscript and analyzed the project.
“I arrived in France when I was only one year old and waited 37 years to become French. I knew nothing about my homeland Germany, my Germanness was virtual, reduced to a language and a passport. The procedure was expeditious and I received my French birth certificate only six months after I started my naturalization process. Three days later, the dual citizen I had just become was again seized with identity-related restlessness and I contacted the Austrian embassy in Paris. Since 2019, Austria, like Germany, allows the descendants of victims of Nazism to recover the nationality of which their ancestor was deprived. This is my case. »
The Judeo-Spaniards “of the East” – those of the former Ottoman Empire (as opposed to the Judeo-Spaniards “of the West” who were mostly in Morocco) – “know each other and recognise each other, but nobody knows them”, as Marie-Christine Bornes Varol explains to us, reminding us that in Turkey today, the motto of the Jews is “to live happily, let’s live in hiding”. A look back at a complex history, which took place in an equally complex geographical area and through a network of different languages. A story of the survival of a scattered micro-society, of which Turkey remains a center.
On the 6th and 7th of April 1903, the first pogrom of Kishinev took place. Among the dozens and dozens of pogroms that were perpetrated in Eastern Europe between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, it has a particular significance. Its repercussions were immediate and worldwide, and even today it still has symbolic value. On the anniversary of the massacre, we are publishing selected excerpts from ‘Days of Affliction’ – a crucial account by a direct witness who, as a doctor and director of the Kishinev hospital, was also an actor in the event.
After a long period of appropriation of Jewish space, but also of Jewish history and memory in Poland, Jakub Nowakowsk observes a new interest in Jewish history in Poland since the eighties. In recent years, the taboo on Jewish-Polish history seems to have been overcome. However, a new issue is emerging through the current attempts to instrumentalize this history for the benefit of a whitewashed narrative marshaled by polish nationalism and championed at the highest levels of power. In the context of these major controversies, the author also recounts the difficult attempts to renew Jewish life in today’s Poland.
Simon Dubnow (1860-1941) was a historian-sociologist – died in the Riga ghetto – who made the history of the Jews a history of the mutations of the diaspora, spread out and organised around various centers. The Jewish nation is polycentric and, at the beginning of the twentieth century, it was necessary for him to grasp the new map of these centers in the modern era, to understand the tensions and balances, in a context of persecution, but also the obvious vitality of Judaism in the East. But, after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel, how can we understand the scattered community of modern Jews today? Bruno Karsenti, a century later, asks this question in conversation with Dubnow.
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