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Title:Negotiating Jewish victimhood at Majdanek: reluctant communists, political flux, and Nazi guilt
Author(s):Holland, Alana
Advisor(s):Koenker, Diane; Cooper, David
Department / Program:Russian, East European, & Eurasian Center
Discipline:Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego (PKWN)
Polish-Soviet Relations
World War Two
Abstract:This thesis explores how questions of Jewish victimhood at the Nazi concentration and death camp Majdanek were negotiated by Poles and Soviets during the immediate post-liberation period in Lublin from July to October, 1944. After liberating eastern Poland, the Soviets established the Polish Committee for National Liberation (PKWN [Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego]), the local Polish governing body that would replace the pre-war Polish government-in-exile in London (Rząd Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej na uchodźstwie) and secure a transition to communist rule in Poland. The immediate post-liberation period in eastern Poland was a time of political flux during which it was unclear whether a smooth transition to communism would occur. The Soviets and Poles remained ambiguous on several issues, especially on questions concerning Polish-Jewish relations. This study explores how a fluid and complicated immediate post-war political situation effected the erasure of Jewish suffering at Majdanek in the context of establishing communist rule in Catholic Poland, securing communist moral and political authority in the post-war world order, and upholding Soviet internationalist values. Soviet internationalism is examined through the lenses of competing domestic interests in early post-war Poland, providing a perspective on the development of early Polish-Soviet relations. The Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission to Investigate German Crimes at Majdanek existed simultaneously with and mirrored other political developments in PKWN Poland. That is, it reflected an institutionally domestic creation to serve Polish interests but was under Soviet influence and its de facto authority. The chapters of this thesis show 1) the political developments in Lublin during the first days of liberation 2) the proceedings of the Polish-Soviet Commission and 3) the debates among members of the Commission on how to address Jewish victimhood and other ethnic specificity, as well as an analysis of such representation in the Communique published by the Commission in the Soviet and Polish presses on September 16, 1944. Ultimately, during this time of flux in the immediate period of liberation, Soviet Commission member Professor N. I. Grashchenkov, PKWN member and President of the Commission Andrzej Witos, and PKWN member of the Commission Dr. Emil Sommerstein represented the triangle of Soviet, Polish, and Jewish interests being carefully negotiated during this time, with the hierarchy of priorities in that order.
Issue Date:2015-06-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Alana Holland
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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