Im Feuer vergangen (Lost in the Fire): East German Holocaust Memory, Cold War Propaganda, and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw

14 February 2017 - 5 PM

Stephan Stach (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences)

During the 1950s and 1960s a number of books on the Holocaust appeared in the German Democratic Republic. They had their origins in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the only Holocaust research center in the Eastern Bloc. Among them was Bernard Mark’s Der Aufstand im Warschauer Ghetto (The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1957; originally published in Polish in 1953), the collection of memoirs and diaries Im Feuer vergangen (Lost in the Fire, 1958) and the volume of documents Faschismus-Ghetto-Massenmord (Fascism, Ghetto, Mass Murder, 1960). These books constituted a considerable part of the literature on the Holocaust at the time. They were widely discussed in the press, where authors often used them as evidence of Nazi war criminals holding public office in West Germany at that time. Though their propaganda potential certainly increased the popularity of these publications, their impact went far beyond that. The publications were praised for their literary quality, for instance by the East German critics Victor Klemperer and Arnold Zweig, and met with the interest of the general reading public in East Germany. In my talk, I analyze the reception and perception of these books – and thus the Jewish Historical Institute – between Cold War propaganda and the emergence of an East German Holocaust memory.


Modern Jewish History Seminar

The seminar is intended to provide a platform for academic discussion about the latest research on Jewish history especially of the last three centuries. Though primarily focused on the Jews of central and east central Europe, the seminar also includes topics related to the Jews of other regions. The seminar is further enriched by including topics not directly concerned with Jews, but enabling one to see Jewish history from other perspectives (for instance, the perspective of other marginalized communities).

Despite our preference for the methods of historical research, the organizers welcome multidisciplinary approaches to the topics, including those of sociology, political science, religious studies, and art history.

The seminar is held in the library of CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1 always at 5:30 p.m. The language of the seminar is English. The seminar is organized by Kateřina Čapková and Michal Frankl. Since 2018/2019 the seminar is included into the MA program of the Prague Center for Jewish Studies at the Charles University. Due to Michal Frankl’s stay abroad this academic year, all the questions and suggestions should be sent to Kateřina Čapková (