The “NEVER AGAIN” Association, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Jewish Community of Moldova and the Oral History Institute in Chisinau co-organized a series of lectures and discussions with the distinguished historian and War and Society professor at Princeton University, Jan Tomasz Gross.
The initiative took place in Chisinau (Kishinev), the symbolic site of several centuries of life in a multicultural society as well as the anti-Jewish pogroms in 1903, 1905 and 1941.
The events took place at the “House of Nationalities” – the Interethnic Relations Bureau of Moldova (on 13 September) and at the Moldova State University (on 14 September). They were accompanied by numerous interviews, publications and media broadcasts. There was also an additional lecture by a “NEVER AGAIN” member on critical history and identity studies at the Mark Bloch Library/Higher Anthropological School on 11 September, which was attended by dozens of intellectuals, journalists and officials.
The discussions were framed around the publication of Jan Tomasz Gross’s most recent book “Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust” in Russian by the St.Petersburg-based renowned publishing house Nestor History with the assistance of the “NEVER AGAIN” Association (translated by Leonid Mosionjnik). Excerpts from the book in Romanian were published by platzforma.md (translated by Viorica Ursu and Vitalie Sprinceana).
The dialogues were held in English, Russian and Romanian/Moldovan languages. The discussion on 13 September was preceded by a special performance of Nicoletta Esinencu’s ‘Clear History’ by Theatre Spalatorie – Moldova’s foremost alternative theatre group, dealing with the often forgotten issue of the Holocaust in Bessarabia.
Jan Tomasz Gross was born in Warsaw in 1947 and emigrated from Poland having participated in student protests of 1968. In 1975 he defended his doctoral thesis at Yale University. Not only has he served as a guest lecturer at the most prestigious American universities, including Harvard and Stanford, but also at universities in Paris, Vienna, Krakow, Tel-Aviv and other cities. His most recent books “Neighbours” (2001), “Fear” (2006) and “Golden Harvest” (2011) have played a breakthrough role in the consciousness of Eastern European societies. He has drawn attention to the role of the local population (the neighbours) in the Holocaust across Europe. He has inspired many Polish and European historians to study the complexity of the Holocaust and initiated a debate concerning the relations between Jews and their Christian neighbours, antisemitism and post-war violence against Jews in Poland and beyond. The Polish edition of “Golden Harvest” (written with Irena Grudzinska-Gross) became the most important book event in Poland in 2011, when it was published by Znak publishing house in Krakow. The authors were awarded Sybil Halpern Milton Book Prize for the best book on the Holocaust written in 2011 by the German Studies Association (USA).
– “The debate continues and has become essential to the critical identity of Eastern European countries in the post-totalitarian era” – said Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska who has coordinated the initiative on behalf of the “NEVER AGAIN” Association.
Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in New York wrote in his essay prepared especially for the “NEVER AGAIN” Association: “There are historians like Jan and Irena Gross who use history to force us to confront our consciences and to take an unblinking look at the destructive power of unexamined inherited traditions and distorted national myths. We are in their debt for their courage; we would greatly enhance our world if we could follow their examples.”
“NEVER AGAIN” is a Warsaw-based Polish and East European NGO established in 1996, dealing with the commemoration of the Holocaust as well as contemporary issues of diversity and tolerance.