Family Roots in Poland – Prof. Norman Davies in conversation with Lord Daniel Finkelstein

June 23, 2022, 12 PM ET

Family Roots in Poland - Prof. Norman Davies in conversation with Lord Daniel Finkelstein

This is the final episode in the "Studying Poland Today" webinar series presented jointly by the Kosciuszko Foundation and the Project on Poland Past and Present, aiming to raise the level of expert knowledge about Poland in foreign countries and strengthen Polish Studies in the universities of the English-speaking world.

The webinar features eminent historian Professor Norman Davies in conversation with Lord Daniel Finkelstein about the search for his family roots in Poland and tumultuous periods in Poland’s history. Lord Finkelstein is a British journalist and politician, a member of the House of Lords, a former executive editor of The Times, and the paper’s weekly political columnist. His father was born in Lviv (then in Poland, now Ukraine) and became Professor at City University London, his mother, Mirjam Finkelstein, was a Holocaust survivor. Lord Finkelstein’s grandfather, Dr. Alfred Wiener, was a Jewish activist and founder of the Wiener Library, the world’s oldest institution devoted to studying the Holocaust.

Watch the webinar recording HERE

Norman Davies first visited Poland in March 1962, when he was still a student in his final year at Oxford. Fascinated by what he learned, and by what the authorities did not want him to learn, he made the study of Polish history the starting point of his academic career. His early books – White Eagle, Red Star: the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20, (1972), God’s Playground: a history of Poland (1981), and Heart of Europe: the past in Poland’s present (1984) – were banned by the censorship of the Soviet Block and long unavailable to Polish readers. As a successful historian writing in English, however, he rapidly gained a worldwide readership and devoted himself to informing the world about Poland. His books have been translated into over thirty languages including Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, German, Italian, and French. Over the years, Prof. Davies received many honors and distinctions. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy (1997) and was awarded Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest order. MORE

Frank E. Sysyn is director of the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS), professor in the Department of History, Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Alberta, and editor in chief of the Hrushevsky Translation Project, the English translation of the multi-volume History of Ukraine-Rus’  (12 volumes ). He is head of the executive committee of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) at CIUS, a member of the editorial board of Harvard Ukrainian Studies and East-West: A Journal of Ukrainian Studies, and head of the advisory board of the Ukrainian Program at the Harriman Institute.  He has taught at the University of Alberta, Harvard University, Columbia University, Stanford University, and other institutions.

A specialist in East-Central European history, he is the author of Between Poland and Ukraine: The Dilemma of Adam Kysil, 1600-1653 (1985), Mykhailo Hrushevsky: Historian and National Awakener (2001), and studies on the Khmelnytsky Uprising, Ukrainian historiography, early modern Ukrainian political culture, modern Ukrainian religious history, and the Holodomor. He is also coauthor with Serhii Plokhy of Religion and Nation in Modern Ukraine (2003) and co-editor with Martin Schulze  Wessel of Religion, Nation, and Secularization in Ukraine (2015). He is co-editor with Andrea Graziosi of Communism and Hunger: The Ukrainian, Chinese, Kazakh, and Soviet Famines (2016) and the recently published Genocide: The Power and Problems of a Concept (2022). He is editor in chief of three-volume collected work of Father Mykhailo Zubryts’kyi: Vol. 1 Scholarly Works (2013) and Vol. 2 Materials toward a Biography (2016)Vol.3 Newspaper Articles, Ethnographic Works, and Archival Materials (2019).

Norman Davies first visited Poland in March 1962, when he was still a student in his final year at Oxford. Fascinated by what he learned, and by what the authorities did not want him to learn, he made the study of Polish history the starting point of his academic career. His early books – White Eagle, Red Star: the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20, (1972), God’s Playground: a history of Poland (1981), and Heart of Europe: the past in Poland’s present (1984) – were banned by the censorship of the Soviet Block and long unavailable to Polish readers. As a successful historian writing in English, however, he rapidly gained a worldwide readership and devoted himself to informing the world about Poland. His books have been translated into over thirty languages including Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, German, Italian, and French. Over the years, Prof. Davies received many honors and distinctions. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy (1997) and was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest order. 

 

Daniel Finkelstein is a leading British journalist and politician, and a member of the British House of Lords. He has held various key advisory roles within the Conservative Party including being Director of the Conservative Research Department, Director of the Social Market Foundation think tank, and Chairman of Policy Exchange. Lord Finkelstein was Editor of Connexion,  Britain’s first internet, and data communications newspaper. He became Executive Editor of The Times and remains Associate Editor and a weekly political columnist. He also has a regular column in The Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics and City University London. In 1997, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE).

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