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KLAIPEDA 1 FINAL - Four Approaches to the History of Four...

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Unformatted text preview: Four Approaches to the History of Four Approaches to the History of the Jews in the Polish­Lithuanian Commonwealth Main questions of the typology Main questions of the typology a) Metahistory ­ What are the Jews? ­ In how far are the Jews in various countries coherent? ­ What are the relations of the Jews with the non­Jewish world? b) Time and place c) The selection of topics Four historiographical approaches to the Four historiographical approaches to the history of the Jews in the Polish­Lithuanian Commonwealth 1. „Classic Jewish historians of pre­Shoah Poland“ 2. „National and Zionistic historians“ 3. „Early American school“ 4. „Late (North) American school“ „Classic Jewish historians of pre­ Shoah Poland“ Majer Bałaban (1877­1942), Ignacy Schiper (1884­1943), Mojżesz Schorr (1874­1941), Emanuel Ringelblum (1900­1944), Raphael Mahler (1899­1977), Anna Michałowska­Mycielska (*1968) The role of Polish Jewry in the world The role of Polish Jewry in the world “What is the role of Polish Jewry today; what is its mission? Both quantitatively and qualitatively its mission, which it will soon take up, is to assume the leadership of world Jewry. (…) American Jewry, larger than Polish in numbers, as well as less constrained in its development, be it because of economical, be it even because of political circumstances. (…) [That Jewry] however is subject to quasi assimilation influences [jakby asymilacyjny). Indeed not to the extent, in which it would lose its own historical character, however so far as its Jewish creativity abates (…). What remains then as the only major Jewry with the completely original character is the Polish Jewry. It represents, as we could say, a successful combination of the old Russian Jewry with the contemporary American one. It is original as the former one, and basically free as the latter. In this context one can create, and by creating one can lead and indicate goals. Polish Jews in the past have on occasion determined the character of world Jewry. There were moments when the genius of the Jewish people reached its full flowering in Poland. I am convinced that events are again creating a situation in which in Poland there will emerge one of the great centres of the Jewish spirit.” O. Thon, Wstep, in: Zydzi w Polsce odrodzonej, ed. A. Hafftka, I. Schiper, A. Tartakower, t. 1, Warszawa 1935, pp. 17­18 (translation partially mine, partially from: A. Polonsky, The Jews in Poland and Russia, vol. 1: 1350­ 1881, Oxford 2010, p. 1. „National and Zionistic historians“ Simon Dubnow (1860­1941), Hayim Hillel Ben­Sasson (1914­1977), Jacob Katz (1904­1998), Jonathan Israel (*1946), David Ruderman (*1947) Social History of Ashkenasim Social History of Ashkenasim “All Jews, whether in Poland or Yemen, Holland or Palestine, saw themselves as members of a single nation. Moreover, they all maintained some social institutions (…) that articulated their common tradition. But even these institutions varied from country to country (…) [so they] cannot be lumped together and treated as a single unit. (…) the existence of a common normative standard in several geographic regions can be taken as proof of a living connection between them, for it is difficult to believe that the same normative standards would rule public and private behavior in diverse areas unless there was such a real link between them. (...) It goes without saying that in subdividing Jewish history regionally we are following the dictates of our methodology and do not in any way mean to question the underlying national unity of the Jewish people in the Diaspora. Quite the contrary; it is because we accept that essential unity that we must carefully define the extent to which it can serve as a basis for a unified historical portrait. Jewish communities everywhere shared a common faith, national tradition, and hope for future redemption, and these shared values marked the Jews off clearly from their gentile neighbors. But the fact that each Jewish community stood apart from its environment does not of itself prove that these widely scattered communities formed a single social unit in any real sense. Only to the extent that their shared values actively and effectively led to real mutual contact can we conclude that there was also a social unity behind the national identity. (…) To the extent that it is ever legitimate to speak of the history of nations in organic terms, it is certainly legitimate to do so with regard to the Jewish people in the Diaspora. The Jews formed a “national body” that reacted to external stimuli as well as to internal developments. Although that national body would begin to dissolve imminently and lose its capacity for unified action, it had reached the height of its potential for action specifically in this period. Granted this “organic” unity, we certainly seem to have sufficient justification for writing a national history of the Jewish people.” J. Katz, tradition and crisis. Jewish society at the end of the middle ages, New York 1993 (first published 1958), pp. 5­8. „Early American school“ Salo Wittmayer Baron (1895­1989), Bernard Dov Weinryb (1900­1982), Jacob Goldberg (*1924), Adam Kaźmierczyk (*1962), Marcin Wodziński (*1966), Norman Davies (*1939) Jewishness and Polishness Jewishness and Polishness „As a minority they absorb elements of their environment, but they are also conditioned by the heritage of their own history, religion, and culture, as well as by the possibility of contacts with their places of origin and kindred Jewish groups. This leads to a distincitve Jewish existence, which in the case of Polish Jewry embodied elements of both Jewishness and Polishness. Jewish history in Poland thus deals with these two processes: Polish history and Jewish life, often with emphasis on the latter.“ Bernard Weinryb, The Jews of Poland, Philadelphia 1972, p. IX. „Late (North) American school“ Gershon D. Hundert (*1946), Murray (Moshe) Rosman (*1949), Adam Teller (*1962) Marriage of convenience Marriage of convenience „A marriage of convenience is still a marriage. It operates on a dynamic and entails responsibilities which go beyond the original, utilitarian motives. The marriage of the Jews to Poland had numerous effects on both parties and was a potent factor in the calculus of Polish history.“ Moshe Rosman, The Lords´ Jews: Jewish­Magnate Relations in the Eighteenth Century Polish­ Lithuanian Commonwealth, Cambridge 1989, Introduction ...
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