Karten Memorial Lecture | Lucy S. Dawidowicz (1915-1990) and the Beginnings of Khurbn forshung (Holocaust Studies) in the United States
This talk will explore the contribution of Lucy S. Dawidowicz (1915-1990), a postwar American Jewish public intellectual and historian, to the field of Holocaust historiography. Witness to the vital Jewish world of pre-war Vilna and to its destruction, Dawidowicz devoted her life to bringing this world to the attention of the American public. Her The War Against the Jews: 1933–1945 (1975), a classic of “intentionalist” Holocaust historiography that emphasized the centrality of Hitler’s antisemitic ideology to the Nazis’ “Final Solution,” burnished her reputation as an authority on East European Jewry, the Holocaust, and antisemitism, preparing her to play a principal role in the construction of postwar American Holocaust consciousness. This talk will analyze her relationship to the tradition of Jewish historiography inaugurated by Simon Dubnow (1860-1941) in the late nineteenth century and continued by East European Jews before, during, and in the aftermath of the Nazi period, both in and beyond Eastern Europe. Dubnow and his disciples–including Dawidowicz–conceived of their work not only to further academic knowledge, but also to commemorate the dead and to cultivate Jewish national identity.
Date: 7 February 2023
Venue: Online via Zoom