Rescue Acts and Rescue Dynamics: Stories of Older Jewish Child Survivors from Poland 1945 – 1949 with Joanna Michlic


23rd May 2023 at 20.00 CET

In this lecture, Joanna analyses the relationships between Jewish children and their non-Jewish Polish rescuers during and in the aftermath of the Holocaust. She argues that a critical analysis of the early postwar testimonies of child survivors and their rescuers enables the historian to gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of different stages of rescue and everyday survival, and to identify various groups of young survivors and rescuers. It also sheds light on the everyday interactions and communications between different individuals within a local non-Jewish Christian Polish society, especially between those who aided Jewish fugitives and those who were hostile towards the idea of sheltering Jews and harassed, blackmailed and denounced both the genuine rescuers and their young Jewish charges. Integrating the snap-shots of rescue from these testimonies into the wider historical narratives of the Holocaust increases our knowledge of rescue acts and rescue dynamics and our understanding of the experience of survival itself, especially the role of child survivors in their own physical survival in Nazi occupied Poland, as well as of the history of abuse of children under genocidal conditions.

Joanna Beata Michlic is a social and cultural historian, and founder and first Director of HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute) Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University. She is a Visiting Full Professor of the Holocaust and Contemporary History at University of Lund (2023 – 2025) and an Honorary Senior Research Associate at the UCL Centre for the Study of Collective Violence, the Holocaust and Genocide, UCL Institute for Advances Studies, and Research Fellow at Weiss-Livnat International Centre for Holocaust Research and Education, University of Haifa, June 2019 – May 2025. She is a co-Editor in Chief of Genealogy Journal.

Among her major publications are Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present, (translated into Polish in 2015 and nominated for the Best History Book of Kazimierz Moczarski Award 2016 in Poland; Hebrew translation, with new epilogue, Jerusalem, Yad Vashem Institute, 2021), Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, co-edited with John-Paul Himka (Lincoln, NUP, 2012), and singled co-edited Jewish Family 1939 –Present: History, Representation, and Memory, Brandeis University Press/NEUP, January 2017). Her latest single-authored monograph is Piętno Zagłady Wojenna i powojenna historia oraz pamięć żydowskich dzieci ocalałych w Polsce (Warsaw, ZIH, December, 2020).

She is currently working on a book project on the history and memory of rescue of Jewish children in Poland, More Than the Milk Of Human Kindness: Jewish Survivors and Their Polish Rescuers Recount Their Tales, 1944-1949, and was a co-convenor of an international conference on Children, War and Genocide that took place at Munich Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in October 2022.

The event is moderated by Urszula Chowaniec.
The event is organized by Paideia folkhögskola and Paideia – The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden

The event is held in English. Free entrance.
Registration is obligatory by May 22nd.