The Legacy of the Shtetl: Investigating Polish-Belarusian-Ukrainian Borderlands
with Dr Magdalena Waligórska, and Dr Natalia Romik, respondent, and with Prof François Guesnet, Chair
Co-organized by the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies and the UCL Institute of Jewish Studies
Magdalena Waligórska takes us on a journey to the post-1945 Polish-Ukrainian-Belorusian borderlands where she explores small towns which had a predominantly Jewish population before the Second World War and the Holocaust. Here, Jewish property both entirely fell under the control of the new ethnic majority and remained a “disinherited heritage” that continues to cause dissonance and psychological discomfort to its current “heirs.”
The unsettling presence of Jewish ruins, resurfacing human remains, walled-in objects, collapsing cellars, and the recycled tombstones constitutes an “intrusion of the past into the present” that, decades after the war, still demands action and results in different local responses.
The respondent, Natalia Romik, is an artist, urban historian, and architect from Warsaw who has undertaken similar but different explorations of the Jewish heritage in small Polish towns.