Abstract

Responding to the provocative question whether there is Polish history beyond the Holocaust, this article gives several reasons for an affirmative answer. First, if there is a history of Polish Jews beyond the Holocaust, and there is a lot, there is at least as much of a general history of Poland, of which the history of Polish Jews makes an integral part. Second, the history of the Holocaust, at least a good such history, requires the pre-Holocaust history of Jews and of their non-Jewish neighbors: we cannot understand their wartime choices without their prior experiences. Third, by the sheer numbers of Jews who had lived and were killed in Poland, often in sight of their non-Jewish neighbors, the Holocaust is part of the history of Poland more than of other countries. This observation aims not only to strengthen the second argument above, but to point at various consequences of the centuries-long geographic concentration of Jews in Poland and of its abrupt and horrible end.

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