INTERWAR POLAND, 1939
‘An Expedition of Twenty Years:’ Toward an Understanding of Interwar Poland
Tuesday, September 3, 7:00 P.M.
Jewish Community Campus, White Theatre
Dr. Nathan Wood
Associate Professor of History, University of Kansas
On September 1, 1939, Hitler’s armies invaded Poland, thus launching the world’s deadliest war, a catastrophic conflict that caused the near destruction of Europe’s Jewish population, while sparking ethnic cleansing and regime changes throughout the region. In the light of the horrors of WWII, it can be hard not to see interwar Poland without filtering it through the war’s dark and distorting lens. In this lecture, Professor Nathan Wood will attempt to reckon with the complexity of Poland in the two decades preceding the war on its own terms, as a place whose inhabitants could not have foreseen the horrors ahead. What was life in Second Republic Poland like during this “expedition of twenty years,” as one of their contemporaries, the Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz, later put it? What were the major issues and perspectives of its multilingual and multiconfessional inhabitants? While their stories and viewpoints were of course diverse and even contradictory, this talk will try to capture something of the mood of a newly independent state in an era of rapid modernization, postwar adaptation, and political and economic flux.