“What? Still Alive?!” Jewish Survivors in Poland and Israel Remember the Holocaust was the subject for the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, & Genocide Education (Chhange)’s commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Dr. Monika Rice joined Chhange on Thursday, January 25, to speak on her new book that analyzes the testimony of Polish survivors who tried to return home to Poland after the Holocaust. Dr. Rice compares written testimony from Poland in the 1950s and Yad Vashem in Israel in the 1970s, analyzing how the same survivor’s testimony changes over the course of 20 years and 2 continents.
Dr. Rice’s topic was particularly timely as, last week, Poland proposed a bill that makes it illegal to mention Polish complicity during the Holocaust. You can read more about this ongoing story at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and TIME. Within Poland, there has been continuous controversy over Poland’s role during the Holocaust. Dr. Rice believes that Poland worked hard to keep Polish antisemitism quiet for the rest of the 20th century—Polish textbooks claimed 6 million Poles died during World War II, but there was no distinction made for the 3 million Jewish Poles who died, and the increased horrors of being Jewish during the Holocaust were whitewashed from collective memory. According to Dr. Rice, this all changed when Jan T. Gross published Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland in 2002. Gross offered proof that Poles were complicit in the annihilation of Poland’s Jewish community and forced the country to reflect on its roles during the Holocaust—for the first time in over half a century.
Dr. Rice’s talk is part one of a three-part discussion series commemorating the Holocaust, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and the Armenian Genocide. Join Chhange on April 3, 2018 at 7:00 pm for a book talk and signing with Consolee Nishimwe, author of Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor's Story of Pain, Resilience and Hope. To learn more, go to www.chhange.org.