Prof. Bernard Wasserstein

Prof. Bernard Wasserstein

University of Chicago

  • Research topic:
    Jews and their Neighbours in Krakowiec, 1772-1946
    March 2019
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Prof. Wasserstein is Emeritus Ulrich and Harriet Meyer Professor of Modern European Jewish History at the University of Chicago. Previously he held positions at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and at Sheffield, Oxford, and Glasgow Universities in Great Britain. He currently lives in Amsterdam, where he is a research associate of the Netherlands Institute of War Documentation.

Wasserstein was trained as a historian at Oxford. He is the author of eleven books that have been translated into a dozen languages. Among these are: Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939-1945 (1979), Herbert Samuel (1982), The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln (1988: awarded the "Golden Dagger" prize for non-fiction), Vanishing Diaspora (1996), Barbarism and Civilization (2008), and On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War (2012: awarded the Yad Vashem international book prize).  Wasserstein has been a visiting fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Institutes for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, All Souls College, Oxford, and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for Humanities and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, among others.

While in Lviv Wasserstein gathers material for his forthcoming book on the history of Krakowiec (Krakovets). Founded in the fifteenth century and until the first Polish partition lying within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Krakowiec was ruled by Austria from 1772 to 1918. In the twentieth century it changed hands eight times and today is on the border of Ukraine and Poland. Jews formed about half the population in the nineteenth century. For long it was home to three communities, Jews, Poles (Roman Catholics), and Ruthenians (Greek Catholics). The town’s demographic structure changed abruptly in the mid-twentieth century, with the slaughter of nearly all the Jews, and the expulsion of most of the Poles. Wasserstein’s research, emphasizing the longue durée, examines the evolving relations of the three communities over the centuries. During his visit to Lviv, Wasserstein worked on materials in the State Historical Archive of Ukraine, the Lviv Oblast Archive, and the Stefanyk National Library. He will also deliver a lecture at the Center on the relations of Jews and their neighbours in Krakowiec during the Second World War.