Presentation by Prof. Barbara Engelking

The Australian Institute of Polish Affairs (AIPA) held an on-line event with Professor Barbara Engelking from the Centre for Holocaust Research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Bio: Professor Barbara Engelking is the author of many books related to the issues of the Holocaust. Her research focuses on the experiences of the Holocaust in the accounts of the Survivors, attempts to describe this experience also in the light of all other available sources (official and personal documents, letters, accounts, memories) and perspectives (victims, witnesses, executioners). The Centre for Holocaust Research of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences focuses on conducting interdisciplinary research, combining different methodologies, breaking existing patterns of describing the Holocaust, serving to reveal various cognitive perspectives and points of view, and showing the heterogeneity and ambiguity of historical matter.

Over 20 guests attended the event with Prof. Engelking, where our speaker introduced a genesis of her research interests and her academic career. She graduated with a university degree in psychoanalysis of children however her personal interests, stimulated at home by her father who was a university Professor, led her to undertake her PhD in history focusing on Jewish history and culture. As can be expected individual testimonies and personal interviews of survivors become her most important data collection instrument. However, in the 1980s there was little interest in sharing these stories in Poland. It was 1989 which brought a significant shift in a willingness of Holocaust survivors to share their stories. “It was like a floodgate after 4 June 1989” which resulted in 40 interviews and a new publication titled “Zagłada i Pamięć” recording the experience of Holocaust and its consequences based on autobiographic material. That was a breakthrough research experience which led to further publications and collaborations including: “The Warsaw Getto – a guide around non-existent city” (2001) with Jacek Leociak.

A description of the Warsaw ghetto from the time when it was closed to the outside world (16 November 1940) up to its liquidation (16 May 1943), based on information from literature on the subject and on published and unpublished testimonies: memoirs, diaries, documents, and letters. Presents a reconstruction of the topography of the ghetto, the public transport routes, the institutions (the Jewish Council and others), schooling, trade and other aspects of economy in the ghetto, as well as social and cultural life. Includes much information about everyday life in the ghetto. Includes numerous illustrations and maps. 

In 2003, at the Institute of Philosophy at the Polish Academy of Sciences, she successfully completed the ‘habilitation’ process and was promoted. It provided her with the opportunity to create her own research group and thus create the Polish Centre for Holocaust Research. Since then this completely independent Institute has been focusing on undertaking research and broadly disseminating the findings through a variety of platforms.

1. Zagłada Żydów. Studia i Materiały Holocaust Studies and Materials
www.zagladazydow.pl

2. Book publications

3. The ‘Negativa’ series directed to popular trade-press distribution, deals with complex and little-studied moral issues as collaboration, complacency, blackmail and the murder of Jews at the hands of the local populations, the books explore the “blank spots” of public memory of the Holocaust.

4. Biblioteka Świadectw Zagłady (The Library of Holocaust Testimonies) is a compilation of diaries written by victims and survivors during the Holocaust and memoirs written in the postwar era. Some personal diaries are particularly worth noting e.g. Mietek Pachter published in 2012 a small-time swindler, opportunist from Ochota, who was taken to Majdanek concentration camp in May 1943 – his diary is titled “Umierać też trzeba umieć”.

5. Research Projects Such as Klucze i kasa (2014) – case studies related to Jewish property in Poland under the German occupation and during the early post-war years, 1939–1950. And of course the two volumes of “Dalej jest Noc” published with Jan Grabowski.

Currently working on online database Warsaw Ghetto and “Aryan side” – www.new.getto.pl

For more information about the institute please go to: http://www.holocaustresearch.pl/

29 March 2021

Prof. Gosia Klatt
AIPA President

On-line event with Prof. Barbara Engelking

The Australian Institute of Polish Affairs (AIPA) invites you to a meeting with Professor Barbara Engelking from the Centre for Holocaust Research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and co-author of the book " Night without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland", which was subject to a recent controversial judgement of Polish courts.

Professor Barbara Engelking is the author of many books related to the issues of the Holocaust. Her research focuses on the experiences of the Holocaust in the accounts of the Survivors, attempts to describe this experience also in the light of all other available sources (official and personal documents, letters, accounts, memories) and perspectives (victims, witnesses, executioners). The Centre for Holocaust Research of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences focuses on conducting interdisciplinary research, combining different methodologies, breaking existing patterns of describing the Holocaust, serving to reveal various cognitive perspectives and points of view, and showing the heterogeneity and ambiguity of historical matter.

Tuesday, March 23 at 19.00 (AEDT): The meeting will be held remotely via Zoom (the link will be sent after registration). Meeting in Polish

Suppressing truth

Statement by the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs

In view of the recently concluded trial in Poland of two Holocaust historians: Prof. Barbara Engelking and Prof. Jan Grabowski, as well as the prosecutorial investigation into articles written by Polish journalist Katarzyna Markusz, the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs would like to make the following statement:

There is increasing evidence of attempts by Polish government authorities, and some public institutions that rely on government funding, to use various forms of repression against historians and journalists who, using available evidence, try to give a truthful account of the situation of Jews in Poland, and their relations with Poles, during the Second World War.

The recent civil trial against professors Engeling and Grabowski and the prosecutorial investigation of articles written by Katarzyna Markusz, are the latest examples of this deeply worrying trend.

We join the Open Letter signed by Polish intellectuals and Polish-Jewish representatives, including Michael Schudrich, the current Chief Rabbi of Poland, in stating categorically that the Court should not be where historical truth is determined. We condemn such attempts by Polish authorities and express solidarity with people who are subject to these repressive methods, methods which aim to suppress freedom of academic expression.

The State must not be the arbitrator in historical debates as it inevitably leads, sooner or later, to the incitement of hatred. We unequivocally condemn attempts to victimise those who search for historical truth.

Assoc. Prof. Gosia Klatt

President

The Australian Institute of Polish Affairs

The Order of Australia for Wanda Horky

Congratulations to Mrs Wanda Horky (a member of AIPA and Secretary 2017-2019) who has been awarded of Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia on 26 January 2021, for service to the Polish community in Australia.

MEDAL (OAM) OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

Mrs Wanda HORKY, Dunlop ACT 2615

For service to the Polish community in Australia.

Polish Historical Institute in Australia

·       Polish History Coordinator, since 2018.

·       Director, 2003-2017.

·       Member, since 1994.

Australian Institute of Polish Affairs

·       National Secretary, 2017-2019.

·       Member, since 2014.

Polish Community Council of Australia

·       Secretary, 2009-2011.

·       Chair, Internal Audit Committee, 2008-2009.

 Council of Polish Organisations in the ACT

·       Vice-President, 2003-2010, and since 2017.

·       Chair, Wilczynski Investment Fund Sub-Committee, current.

·       Former Public Officer.

·       Member, 100th Anniversary of Poland Regaining its Independence Concert Sub-Committee, 2019.

·       Member, since 2003.

Polish Arts and Craft Society, Canberra

·       Treasurer, 2000-2004.

·       Musical Director, 1994-2004.

·       Member, since 1994.

Polish Australian White Eagle Club of Canberra

·       Secretary, since 2008.

·       Public Officer, 2006-2008.

·       Member, since 1978.

Polish Seniors Club of the ACT

·       Vice-President, 2007.

·       Assisted with foundation, 2007.

Canberra Sub-Branch, Polish Ex-Servicemen's Association

·       Member, Executive Committee, 2009-2016.

·       Member, 1995-2016.

Friends of Chopin Australia (formerly Friends of the Australian International Chopin Competition)

·       Founding President, Friends of Chopin Australia, 2012-2016.

·       Founding President, Friends of the Australian International Chopin Competition, 2011-2012.

·       Vice-President, since 2016.

·       Member, Organising Committee, Australian International Chopin Piano Competition, since 2011 (held tri-annually in 2011, 2014, and 2017).

·       Founding Member, since 2011.

Awards and recognition include:

·       Knight's Cross, Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, 2018.

·       Honour for Merit to Polish Culture, 2015.

·       Gold Cross of Merit for services to the Polish Australian community, 1999

AIPA open letter published in Gazeta Wyborcza

On 3 January 2021, Gazeta Wyborcza published the letter of support from AIPA for Mr. Miroslaw Chojecki, an important opposition activist in communist Poland, after the Institute of Polish Remembrance (IPN) rejected the proposal to acknowledge his 'opposition activist' status.

The link to the publication is here: Link to Wyborcza.pl