"Daily Survival: Social History of Jews in Family Bunkers in Eastern Galicia"
Dr. Natalia Aleksiun is Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Touro College in New York (USA) and Assistant Professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences' Institute of History in Warsaw (Poland). She received her first PhD in history from Warsaw University and her second PhD in Jewish studies from New York University. For her Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellowship, she conducted research for her project “Daily Survival: Social History of Jews in Family Bunkers in Eastern Galicia.”
Dr. Aleksiun is the author of Dokad dalej? Ruch syjonistyczny w Polsce 1944–1950 (Where To? The Zionist Movement in Poland, 1944–1950; Warsaw: Trio, 2002) and co-editor of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry. Making Holocaust Memory, vol. 20 (2008). She has published numerous articles and chapters for books in English, Polish, and Hebrew on issues relating to Jewish history in Poland, the history of historiography, and the Holocaust, including entries for Yad Vashem’s Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations (2007).
She is the recipient of several fellowships and grants, including the Postdoctoral Fellowship at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem and research grants from the Polish Ministry of Education and the Center of Urban History in Lviv, Ukraine. Previously she was a Fulbright Junior Fellow, Dina Abramowicz Emerging Scholar and Professor Bernard Choseed Fellow of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and Ringelblum Fellow of the American Society for Jewish Heritage in Poland at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
Winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for her doctoral dissertation, “The Zionist Movement in Poland, 1944–1949,” Dr. Aleksiun has presented at academic conferences in the United States, Canada, Israel, and Europe. Additionally, she has organized panels devoted to modern Jewish history, including “West and East: Jewish Historians in the Public Sphere” at the 40th Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies in Washington, DC, in 2008. She is proficient in Polish, English, German, Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish, and Latin.
During her tenure at the Center, Dr. Aleksiun completed research on the daily lives of Jews who hid in family bunkers and camps in Eastern Galicia during World War II. Her study sought to provide a detailed account of how the hidden Jews of Eastern Galicia passed the time together, cared for one another, worked out survival strategies, and divided resources and labor during their concealment. This research contributes to the understanding of the social and emotional dynamics of the Holocaust experience through its framing as a local case study that analyzes the impact of fear and oppressive conditions on life in the bunkers—in particular, on familial and other relationships, including those that formed within the hideouts, among Jews who spanned the full spectrum of ages and social backgrounds.
In order to complete her research, she drew from survivor testimonies collected by the Central Jewish Historical Commission and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and by Yad Vashem, as well as from the Museum’s oral history and eyewitness testimony collections. Diaries, chronicles, and memoirs written by Jews who hid in East Galicia, as well as the Museum’s International Tracing Service collection, also contributed greatly to her project.