Rediscovering Traces of Memory: The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia (The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)

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9781906764036: Rediscovering Traces of Memory: The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia (The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)
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Since the Holocaust, traces of memory are virtually all that remain in Poland today after more than eight hundred years of Jewish life there. This remarkable album, published on behalf of the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, offers a sensitive way of looking at that past. Based entirely on arresting, present-day colour photographs of Polish Galicia, it shows how much of that past can still be seen today if one knows how to look and how to interpret what one sees.    The traces of the Jewish past in Polish Galicia can be approached from many angles. Jewish life in Poland was in ruins after the Holocaust, and so too were most of its synagogues and cemeteries. Much evidence of ruin remains, but, astonishingly, there are also traces that bear witness to the great Jewish civilization that once flourished there synagogues and cemeteries of astounding beauty in villages and small towns as well as in the larger cities. One can also see the exact locations where the Germans murdered the Jews of Galicia in the Holocaust: not only in the infamous death camps and ghettos, but also in fields, in forests, and in rivers. The Germans tried to destroy even the memory of the Jews in Poland, and to a very great extent they succeeded; then came forty years of communism, including the antisemitic campaign of 1968. But now that Poland is once again part of a multicultural Europe, the great Jewish civilization that once flourished on Polish lands is increasingly being memorialized, by local Poles as well as by foreign Jews. Synagogues and cemeteries are being renovated, monuments are being erected, museums are being set up, pilgrimages are taking place, festivals of Jewish culture are being organized, books about Jews are being published, and there are once again rabbis and kosher food. So the traces of memory include how the past is being remembered in Poland today, and the people doing the remembering.   Given all these perspectives, the contact with contemporary realities involves a complex emotional journey: grief at a civilization in ruins; pride in its spiritual and cultural achievements; anger at its destruction; nostalgia for a past that is gone; hope for the future. Considering each element in turn and offering cultural insights and information to support each of these responses, the combination of photos and text in this book not only informs but also suggests both how to make sense of the past and how to discover its relevance for the present.   The seventy-four photographs are all fully captioned, with additional detailed background notes to explain and contextualize them. The idea is to help people understand the Jewish civilization of Polish Galicia in its local context on the basis of what can still be seen there today. People who have family connections with Polish Galicia will find this an invaluable sourcebook on their own heritage, but its innovative approach to understanding the past will appeal to anyone concerned with questions of history, memory, and identity, and how photography can make the past accessible. Published for the Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow, by the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization and Indiana University Press

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Review:


"This is a story in photographs - lush, beautiful, and haunted . . . Webber is doing a great service to those looking for a more sophisticated approach to contemporary Jewish Poland and the uncomfortable co-existence of past and present in the landscape." - David Shneer, East European Jewish Affairs


"Interaction between image and analysis often tells a different story than the photograph alone would . . . Even more than written documents, perhaps, photographs underscore the challenges of accessing history beyond memory. Webber's analysis and Schwarz's photographs accomplish more than finding traces. Rediscovering Traces of Memory tries to reach beyond a Jewish memory of Poland that is at once nostalgic and skewed by the Holocaust's shadow. They trace the shaping of memory, progress in overcoming barriers to dialogue, and the limits of remembering." - Karen Auerbach, H-Judaic


"Astonishing book . . . The photography is outstanding, adding much to the poignancy of what the images portray . . . A complex subject has been imaginatively handled by dividing the book into five sections suggesting different ways of approaching it . . . Webber, whose narrative is thoughtful and understated, deals sensitively with relations between Poles and their Jewish past, pointing out that much of the history of the war is still contested and remembered differently . . . This is a beautiful and informative book that provides an inspiring introduction to Poland's Jewish heritage." - Carla King, Irish Times


"Schwarz's photos are striking, incisive, and heartbreaking." - Robert Leiter, Jewish Exponent


"Beautifully produced . . . gives many more people access to this remarkable record of what remains of the rich history of the Jews in Poland after the devastation of the Holocaust. Most striking is the freshness of the images, and the lack of clichés. The tragedy stares directly from the pictures but not in the form we are familiar with . . . buy the book, study the images and read the text. It gives a remarkable and moving insight into what Poland - and the world - has lost." - Julia Bard, Jewish Socialist


About the Author:

Jonathan Webber is a British social anthropologist who taught for many years at Oxford University before moving in 2002 to the University of Birmingham, where he holds the UNESCO Chair in Jewish and Interfaith Studies. He started his anthropological field-work in Galicia in 1988, and in 1993 began a collaboration with Chris Schwarz on a project which became known as Traces of Memory. He is a founder member of the Polish government s International Auschwitz Council (established in 1990), vice-chairman of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies (established in Oxford in 1984), and chairman of the trustees of the Galicia Jewish Museum. In 1999 he was awarded the Golden Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of the Republic of Poland for services to Polish-Jewish relations. His publications include Jewish Identities in the New Europe (published by the Littman Library) and Auschwitz: A History in Photographs. He has been a visiting fellow at the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut in Essen, the Zentrum fur Interdisziplinare Forschung in Bielefeld, and Collegium Budapest. Chris Schwarz was an acclaimed British photojournalist whose intellectual curiosity led him to travel widely and investigate a great range of topics. He worked for publications including Time Out and the Independent; collections of his photographs on social-welfare issues - including poverty, health issues, involuntary migrations, and urban ecology - were published in book form and displayed in exhibitions. His father's origins in Lwów and his own interest in the Solidarity movement led him to Poland, where he teamed up with Jonathan Webber to work on the Traces of Memory project. Imbued with a passionate sense of social consciousness, in 2004 he opened the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow to showcase his photographs as a way of bringing the story of the Jewish heritage in Polish Galicia to Poland and to the world. He died in 2007.

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Jonathan Webber
Published by Liverpool University Press, United Kingdom (2009)
ISBN 10: 1906764034 ISBN 13: 9781906764036
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Book Description Liverpool University Press, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Since the Holocaust, traces of memory are virtually all that remain in Poland today after more than eight hundred years of Jewish life there. This remarkable album, published on behalf of the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, offers a sensitive way of looking at that past. Based entirely on arresting, present-day colour photographs of Polish Galicia, it shows how much of that past can still be seen today if one knows how to look and how to interpret what one sees. The traces of the Jewish past in Polish Galicia can be approached from many angles. Jewish life in Poland was in ruins after the Holocaust, and so too were most of its synagogues and cemeteries. Much evidence of ruin remains, but, astonishingly, there are also traces that bear witness to the great Jewish civilization that once flourished there-synagogues and cemeteries of astounding beauty in villages and small towns as well as in the larger cities. One can also see the exact locations where the Germans murdered the Jews of Galicia in the Holocaust: not only in the infamous death camps and ghettos, but also in fields, in forests, and in rivers.The Germans tried to destroy even the memory of the Jews in Poland, and to a very great extent they succeeded; then came forty years of communism, including the antisemitic campaign of 1968. But now that Poland is once again part of a multicultural Europe, the great Jewish civilization that once flourished on Polish lands is increasingly being memorialized, by local Poles as well as by foreign Jews. Synagogues and cemeteries are being renovated, monuments are being erected, museums are being set up, pilgrimages are taking place, festivals of Jewish culture are being organized, books about Jews are being published, and there are once again rabbis and kosher food. So the traces of memory include how the past is being remembered in Poland today, and the people doing the remembering. Given all these perspectives, the contact with contemporary realities involves a complex emotional journey: grief at a civilization in ruins; pride in its spiritual and cultural achievements; anger at its destruction; nostalgia for a past that is gone; hope for the future.Considering each element in turn and offering cultural insights and information to support each of these responses, the combination of photos and text in this book not only informs but also suggests both how to make sense of the past and how to discover its relevance for the present. The seventy-four photographs are all fully captioned, with additional detailed background notes to explain and contextualize them. The idea is to help people understand the Jewish civilization of Polish Galicia in its local context on the basis of what can still be seen there today. People who have family connections with Polish Galicia will find this an invaluable sourcebook on their own heritage, but its innovative approach to understanding the past will appeal to anyone concerned with questions of history, memory, and identity, and how photography can make the past accessible. Published for the Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow, by the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization and Indiana University Press. Seller Inventory # BZE9781906764036

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