The history of Jews under Communism is often depicted as a story of religious and national assimilation, and also atomization of Jewish society. In her lecture, Dr. Čapkova will question this common assumption and will try to find answers to the following questions: How was it possible to ‘be Jewish’ in Stalinist Poland and Czechoslovakia? Why was there a different institutional framework for Jews in the two countries? To what extent did the Communist dictatorship bring change or totally new forms to Jewish institutions and activities, and to what extent may we find continuity with Jewish life from the period before the takeovers and, obviously, before the Shoah?
Kateřina Čapková is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences. She also teaches courses at Charles University and at New York University in Prague. Currrently, she is a Visiting Scholar at the Department of History, University of Chicago.
She is the author of Czechs, Germans, Jews? National Identity and the Jews of Bohemia (Berghahn Books 2012, paper back 2014) which received the award of Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2012. Her book Unsichere Zuflucht, written together with Michal Frankl, was focused on Czechoslovak refugee politics in the interwar period, and the situation of German and Austrian refugees in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s (published in Czech and in German).
Čapková is currently working on a comparative study about Jews in postwar Poland and Czechoslovakia.