The Jews in Poland and Russia

BookThe Jews in Poland and Russia

The Jews in Poland and Russia

Volume III: 1914 to 2008

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


December 17th, 2019



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‘An invaluable research resource with maps, tables, endnotes, statistics, glossary, and bibliography. It also delivers a compelling picture and credible picture of how Jews responded to dramatic change . . . does well to focus on women, whom previous histories often ignore.’
- Lawrence Joffe, Jewish Chronicle

‘Remarkable for its scale and ambition . . . Polonsky manages to combine great themes with fascinating detail . . . [he] has read widely in numerous languages. The erudition is impressive . . . extremely judicious in negotiating a number of notorious historiographical minefields . . . makes important distinctions between different countries in eastern Europe and consequently the different experience of the Jews . . . a magnificent, scholarly work, clearly written, with a magisterial overview of its subject.’
- David Herman, Jewish Renaissance

Each of the three volumes of this magisterial work provides a comprehensive picture of the realities of Jewish life in the Polish lands in the period it covers, while also considering the contemporary political, economic, and social context.

Volume I: 1350 to 1881 provides a wide-ranging overview down to the mid-eighteenth century, including social, economic, and religious history. The period from 1764 to 1881 is covered in more detail, with attention focused on developments in each country in turn, especially with regard to the politics of emancipation, acculturation, assimilation, and forced integration.

Volume II: 1881 to 1914 explores the factors that had a negative impact on Jewish life as well as the political and cultural movements that developed in consequence: Zionism, socialism, autonomism, the emergence of modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature, Jewish urbanization, and the rise of popular Jewish culture. Galicia, Prussian Poland, the Kingdom of Poland, and the tsarist empire are all treated individually, as are the main cities.

Volume III: 1914 to 2008 covers the interwar period, the Second World War, and the Holocaust, including Polish–Jewish relations and the Soviet record on the Holocaust. A survey of developments since 1945 concludes with an epilogue on the situation of the Jews since the collapse of communism

'Polonsky's sweeping study offers an illuminating, accessible view of Jewish life in eastern Euope since the end of World War II. In elegant prose, the author engages major historiographical issues while analyzing important cultural, religious, social, and political trends among eastern European Jewry. He carefully frames each section with a chapter-long overview of the relevant historical context for the following chapters . . . Throughout, Polonsky masterfully navigates the different realms of a turbulent eastern European Jewish world, conveying both the richness of its history and the tragedy of its destruction. Highly recommended.'

J. Haus, Choice

'Exemplary and formidable . . . Polonsky, as much as anyone else, has created the field of modern Jewish history as a subject to be considered and understood rather than simply a tragic past to be mourned. He is too good a historian to confuse the history of Jewish life with the German policies that brought Jewish death . . . The barely visible commitment in these three wonderful volumes is to rescue a world from polemic, for the sake of history.'
Timothy Snyder, Wall Street Journal

'Succeeds admirably. Simply put, these volumes are required reading for anyone with a serious interest in East European history or for anyone looking for a scholarly assessment of a particular feature of Polish or Russian Jewish history. Handsomely produced, with extensive maps and tables, and a glossary . . . will remain a standard work in the field for some time.'
Sean Martin, European History Quarterly

Author Information

Antony Polonsky is Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and Chief Historian of the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw.