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< All Fellows and Scholars

Professor Antony Polonsky

Dr. Antony Polonsky
2008-2009 Ina Levine Invitational Scholar

"The Jews in Poland and Russia, 1914-Present"

Professional Background

Antony Polonsky is the Albert Abramson Professor in Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. He received a Ph.D. and B.A. in modern history from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and a B.A. in history and political studies from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. For his Ina Levine Invitational Scholar Fellowship, Professor Polonsky conducted research for his project “The Jews in Poland and Russia, 1914-Present.”

Professor Polonsky is the author of The Great Powers and the Polish Question, 1941-1945 (London School of Economics, 1976); The Little Dictators: The History of Eastern Europe since 1918 (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), with a Japanese translation in 1993; Politics in Independent Poland: The Crisis of Constitutional Government (Clarendon Press, 1972); and co-author with Oskar Halecki of, A History of Poland (Routledge, 1983) and with Bolesaw Drukier of, The Beginnings of Communist Rule in Poland, December 1943-July 1945 (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980). He has edited many books, including with Joanna B. Michlic, The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland (Princeton University Press, 2004); with Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, 2006-2007 Ina Levine Invitational Scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Contemporary Jewish Writing in Poland: An Anthology (University of Nebraska Press, 2001); with Jakub Basista and Andrzej Link-Lenczowski, The Jews in Old Poland, 1000-1795 (New York: I.B. Tauris, 1993); From Shtetl to Socialism: Studies from Polin (Oxford: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1993); with Norman Davies, Jews in Eastern Poland and the USSR, 1939-46 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), ‘My Brohther’s Keepter?’: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust (Routledge, 1989), and with R.F. Leslie, et. al., The History of Poland Since 1863 (Cambridge University Press, 1983), among others. Professor Polonsky is currently working on “A History of the Jews of Poland and Russia”—a synthetic account of the history of the Jews of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1350 to the present—and “Poland: 1764 to the Present Day” to appear in editors Sir William Deakin and Lord Bullock’s Oxford History of Europe. He is a member of the editorial boards of several scholarly journals: Soviet Jewish Affairs, The British Journal of Holocaust Education, the Polish Studies Series at Ohio University Press, and Studia Judaica Cracoviensa—Studies in Jewish History, Culture, and Religion, and is editor of POLIN: A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies.

Professor Polonsky is a member of the Foreign Affairs Group of the Centre for Policy Studies and its Advisory Council; Founder and current Vice President of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies, Oxford; and Vice President of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies. He is the recipient of various honors and awards including the 2008 Oskar Halecki Prize of the Polish American Historical Association for his edited volume entitled Polish-Jewish Relations in North America; the British Council Scholarship to Poland; Senior Scholarship from St. Antony’s College, Oxford; the Rhodes Scholarship; the Abe Bailey Memorial Essay Prize; the Charles Payne History Prize; and the University Council Scholarship from the University of Witwatersrand. Prior to his appointment at Brandeis University, Professor Polonsky was the Skirball Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, the Walter Stern Hillborn Professor of Judaic and Social Studies at Brandeis University, a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna, and Visiting Professor at Warsaw University.

Fellowship Research

During his tenure Professor Polonsky was interviewed as part of the Museum’s podcast series “Voices on Antisemitism.” He spoke about the lack of simple answers to the large questions of history and no single view of the past. Listen to his interview.

During his tenure at the Center, Professor Polonsky researched the Jews in Poland and Russia from 1914 to the present day. Until the Second World War, Poland and Russia were the heartland of the Jewish world. Professor Polonsky’s fellowship project is the third volume of a comprehensive survey—socio-political, economic, and religious—of the Jewish communities there from 1350 to the present. The first volume begins with an overview of Jewish life down to the mid-eighteenth century. It goes on to cover the period to 1881, highlights attempts to increase the integration of Jews within the wider society and the Jewish responses to these efforts. The second volume covers the period from 1881 to 1914 and considers the deterioration of their position at that time and the new political and cultural movements that developed as a consequence: Zionism, socialism, autonomism, the emergence of modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature, Jewish urbanization, and the rise of popular Jewish culture. Volumes one and two will be published at the beginning of 2009.

Professor Polonsky was in residence at the Mandel Center from September 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.