The City and Jewish History in Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century: Modernity, Migration, and Catastrophe
Our main focus in this class will consist in Jewish experiences with cities in the twentieth century. Geographically, our center of attention will be Central and Eastern Europe (with our main – but not exclusive – emphasis on territories that, at one point or the other, came under Soviet rule); chronologically, we will concentrate (unevenly) on the period between the end of the First World War and the end of the Soviet Union. In particular, the Holocaust and the Second World War were events of central and terrible importance for this period and area. Accordingly, we will pay special attention to them.
Ukraine’s twentieth century was tragically marked by much politically motivated violence and authoritarian regimes as well as movements, from the radical left and the radical right. These forces and events did not only do great harm in the past but left memories and legacies that are still challenging to contemporary Ukraine. In this class, we will focus on several key issues of history, memory, and politics. The readings cannot be exhaustive. Instead, our aim is to read and discuss a sample of important short texts that allow us to reflect more broadly on the underlying questions.