The City and Jewish History in Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century: Modernity, Migration, and Catastrophe

Prof. Tarik Cyril Amar

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.

At the same time, we will also include some readings and discussions to put these experiences, places, and times into further contexts. Thus, for instance, we will also read and discuss work which reaches beyond Eastern and Central Europe to highlight the crucial issue of intercontinental migration and works which consider non-Jewish experiences as well as the post-Soviet period.

This course forms a part of Jewish History and the Multiethnic Past of East Central Europe: Societies, Cultures, and Heritage summer school.

Introduction: A Matrix of Empires, Nations, Borderlands, and Migration


Dan Diner, “Between Empire and Nation State: Outline for a European Contemporary History of the Jews, 1750-1950” in: Omer Bartov and Eric Weitz (eds), Shatterzone of Empires. Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands (2013) 23/7

Yuri Slezkin, The Jewish Century (Princeton University Press, 2004), Introduction, Chapters 1 and 4 (pp. 1-39 and 204-286) 24/7

Rebecca Kobrin, Jewish Bialystok and its Diaspora (Indiana University Press: 2010), Introduction and Chapter 1, pp. 1-68


The Second World War and the Holocaust