Avinoam Patt joins us to talk about the Warsaw ghetto uprising and its afterlife: How it was understood during the time of the Second World War itself, and how it’s been remembered in the decades since. In our conversation today, the book offers a platform to think deeply about how the Ghetto uprising has been mythologized, the role of Warsaw in modern Jewish memory, and the history and memory of the Holocaust at large.
Avinoam Patt is the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut, where he is also the Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. Avi’s research focuses on the history of the Holocaust and its aftermath, and his first book was Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust, which was published in 2009. He has also edited a number of volumes, and his most recent book which we’ll be talking about today is The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Revolt, which was published in 2021 by Wayne State University Press.
The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw, which is the starting point for our conversation today, explores how the Jews who fought in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising have been understood and why it matters. People outside of Europe knew about the uprising soon after it too place — but given the war’s chaos, it was unclear who exactly had led the it. So in the months and years that followed, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was instrumentalized, or put to use, by Jewish socialists, Zionists, and others who wanted to take credit for the uprising and thereby lend legitimacy to their own ideologically-driven understanding of the ghetto uprising and the Holocaust at large.