Panelists & Luncheon Guests
M. B. B. Biskupski holds the S. A. Blejwas Endowed Chair in Polish Studies at Central Connecticut State University. He is also the President of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America. A Yale Ph.D., Biskupski is the author of more than two-score articles, and several books. His three most recent volumes deal with Hollywood’s presentation of the Poles during World War II (2010), the United States and the rebirth of Poland in 1918 (2012), and a study of symbols in modern Polish history (Independence Day: Myth, Symbol, and the Creation of Modern Poland, Oxford, 2012).
Abstract (Biskupski): The Polish émigré-immigrant community in the United States is composed of a series of waves beginning in the late 19th century. The first, very considerable, influx ended by World War I. These peasant immigrants brought with them a history of poverty and backwardness as well as the heritage of subservience and national bondage. The second influx, much smaller, occurred during the interwar era. It left a poor and unstable Poland but a free one. It did not play a major role in the formation of the Polonia community being dwarfed by its predecessors. Immediately after World War II, a sizeable group arrived, displaced by the war. It was able to create, over the next few decades, an alternative Polish community in North America, better educated than its predecessors; it also carried a tradition of national sovereignty and many symbols and memories of both a free Poland and also a Poland ravaged by the war. The communist era brought a steady flow of immigrants, but not numerically substantial. Following the rebirth of national independence (post-1989) there was yet another wave of immigrants leaving exclusively for economic reasons. It was a highly educated group with little in common with the great majority of Polonia which was assimilated. This left the World War II era Poles in a kind of social isolation, both émigré and immigrant. With the economic rebuilding of Poland after 1989, the influx of Poles has dropped to a small trickle. This despite a considerable number of economic emigrants. There is a small re-emigration now, but its dimension and consequences remain largely problematical.
Polonia has been confronted by a series of challenges which each segment has reacted differently. We may cluster these around three phenomena. The first is the overwhelming power of assimilation which has reduced the vast majority of those of Polish origin in the United States to a hyphenate community at best if not fully “American.” Polonia is, in effect, disappearing.
The second phenomenon is the problem of alienation from Poland. For the original immigrants it was a problematical heritage. Whereas a kind of patriotism of nostalgia perdured, it was undermined increasingly by the sense of Poland as a much beset homeland of little opportunity and national degradation. Ironically, with the passage of time, these increasingly assimilated Poles developed a more positive image of Poland; a symbol no longer shaped by the original motives of exit. This was not as evident in the wave of those displaced which left a Poland which continued to exist in memory as both a free homeland and a martyred country, mutually reinforcing symbols, which largely explained the high degree of national consciousness among them. Communist-era Polish emigrants left a Poland both oppressive and beset by Communist rule, and its children in immigration had profoundly mixed feelings: alienation from the PRL, but a very high degree of national consciousness. This alienation paradoxically protected them from rapid assimilation. Post-1989 Poles still bear more features of an émigré rather than an immigrant community and are not alienated from Poland, but are still subject to assimilationist pressure. Thus, the third challenge is the paradox of multiple “Polands” informing the consciousness of Polonia. Ironically, an obvious sense of positive, however weakening, attachments to a vague concept of being a Pole has colored the grandchildren who, if they have any Polish attachments, they are positive: the reasons for alternative attitudes having long vanished. Thus, the ultimately paradox of Polonia: it fades from sight while a vague consciousness of Poland evolves towards feelings of national affection.
Anna Brzyski is Chellgren Endowed Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Studies at University of Kentucky. She received her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis (summa cum laude, 1991), and her M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Chicago (1992, 1999). She has published broadly on Central/Eastern European, in particular Polish art and art discourse. Her research interests focus on the dynamics of cultural and economic value and artist’s networks. Her work has been supported by grants from the Whiting, Luce, and IREX foundations. She is also a recipient of the Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays Fellowships. Professor Brzyski is the editor of Partisan Canons (Duke University Press 2007), and three special issues of the journal Centropa: Modernism and Nationalism, Postmodernism and Postnationalism? (with Peter Chametzky, September 2001), Parallel Narratives: Construction of National Art Histories in Central Europe (with Adrianne Kochman, September 2008), and Central European Art Groups, 1880-1914 (January 2011). Her work has appeared in Art Criticism, Centropa, 19th Century Art Worldwide, RES, n-Media, and a number of anthologies. She is currently serving as the project editor for Central and Eastern Europe at Grove Art On-Line (Oxford University Press).
Abstract (Brzyski) In the post-World War II period the patterns of travel and migration of artists from Eastern and Central Europe to America altered dramatically due to changing political and economic conditions in the region. This presentation will address three distinct phases within the post-war years: the early Cold War phase (1945-1960), characterized by strict political control over culture in Eastern Europe and intensification of the anti-communist rhetoric in the US, the thaw period (1960s though 1980s), which witnessed gradual emergence of a post-totalitarian attitudes, consumerism, and produced a new wave of immigration from the region to America, and, finally, the post-1989 phase, characterized by a very different set of relations. During this last period, which reaches into the present, a number of the former Eastern Bloc states, in particular Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, began to play an active role in encouraging cultural exchanges and promoting local artists in America though specific initiatives, exhibitions, and, more broadly conceived outreach activities.
Depending on the period, Eastern European artists took quite different routes to reach America. The character, destination and duration of their stays also varied, as did the possibility of their eventual return, their ability to maintaining a relationship with the artistic community ‘back home,’ and the character of their interactions with the American diaspora communities. One of the key issues addressed in the presentation will be the artist’s interest in and ability to assimilate into American culture and their successes and failures to establish or re-establish their artistic careers in the US after immigration. Within this discussion, I will examine the difference between the experience of artists who emigrated to America as young or mature artists vs. those who came as children or who were born into diaspora communities. The second major theme of the presentation will be the attitudes of the American cultural institutions developed by the local diaspora communities towards recent émigré artists. One of the issues discussed will be tensions between conservative (politically and culturally), often religiously affiliated, and nationalist institutions and artists who often perceived themselves as members of the liberal and progressive culture connected with the contemporary artistic scene in the West. Different types of artists had marked different experiences in this regard. While those who were more conventional, nationally identifying, and less able (or willing to) integrate into the American contemporary art scene tended to gravitate towards diaspora cultural institutions, those who had international connections and wished to participate in the contemporary art scene in major metropolitan centers, in particular New York, tended to avoid such affiliations. I will use examples of specific artists to develop this point. Beginning in the mid 1990s, Eastern European art students began coming to American to pursue degrees in fine arts. Many of them stayed in the US after graduation by securing teaching positions. Their experience, characterized by rapid assimilation and complex professional interactions with their home countries, will allow me to discuss the current situation of Eastern European artists, many of whom are pursue nomadic or semi-nomadic lives. This group, which now includes individuals belonging to different waves of immigration (from the 1970s to the present), often has had an ambivalent relationship to the older American diaspora communities. It has been, however, instrumental in shaping what one could term a new artistic diaspora, one that has bee forging new and, arguably, much more durable connections between American and Eastern European artistic, institutional and academic networks.)
Holly Case is an Associate Professor of History at Cornell University. She received her B.A. (1997) from Mt. Holyoke College, and her M.A. (2001) and Ph.D. (2004) in History and Humanities from Stanford University under the mentorship of Norman Naimark. She has been teaching at Cornell since 2004. Her book, entitled Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during World War II, was published by Stanford University Press in 2009. She also co-edited with Norman Naimark Yugoslavia and Its Historians: Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s (Stanford University Press, 2003). Her research and teaching are focused on the modern history of East-Central Europe, ideas of Europe and European statehood, the politics of violence, and the intersection between social policy and geopolitics in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe.
Abstract (Case): How can we teach Central European history today? The presentation considers how geopolitical and institutional changes have affected the way students view the region and reflects on strategies for introducing them to the region’s history. What should students know about the region? How should knowledge of the region be related to other themes and parts of the world? What resources are available to support teaching in the field? These are a few of the questions that will be considered in the presentation.
Michelle Chesner is the Norman E. Alexander Librarian for Jewish Studies at Columbia. She formerly worked at the University of Pennsylvania, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Kestenbaum and Company, a rare Judaica auction house. Her main interests lie in Hebrew bibliography, history of the Jewish book, and Jews in the early modern period.
David Z. Chroust is Associate Professor, Cushing Memorial Library & Archive at Texas A & M University, where he has developed and interpreted collections on Russia, Germany and France since 1992. He studied economics and mathematics (B.A., summa cum laude, Kent State University, 1984), library science (M.L.S., Kent State University, 1991) and history (modern Europe and United States, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 2009). He is fluent in English, Russian, German and Czech. His Ph.D. dissertation was a contribution to American immigration and ethnic history. Titled “Bohemian Voice: Contention, Brotherhood and Journalism among Czech People in America, 1860-1910,” it examined one middle-sized European immigrant ethnic group through the careers and discourse of publishers and journalists. Dr. Chroust has also contributed related articles and papers to
peer-reviewed publications and scholarly conferences, including those of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in America and the Czechoslovak Studies Association. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Texas A&M University’s Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research have supported his research with grants. Dr. Chroust has taught American history at Texas A&M University’s History Department, and he teaches classes on library resources, research and special collections to students from various colleges and departments.
Abstract (Chroust): Texts after Community: The Case of Czechs in America. The zenith for America’s Czech community—over half a million migrants and their children—was a century ago. The living city neighborhoods and country enclaves are long gone. What remains is a continent of text. Bohemians constructed the Czech nation from language and texts, and the production continued in America. Common genres were newspapers, anniversary pamphlets and buildings. Migration scholars have already learned much about the Europeans who came and remade America a century ago. Now scholars and planners have a new migration of Latin Americans and Asians to understand. How much can they learn from the Czech migration in the past? How much of Czech America can become part of a new past and new national self-understandings in the Czech Republic? The answers partly depend on what we can find in the texts. Collections (public and private) and finding aids (catalogs and bibliographies) are well advanced, but content indexes and the history and criticism of texts are not. Nor is digitization. So, a periodical may be dispersed between the Czech Republic, where Prague’s Náprstek Museum and Libri Prohibiti are landmark collections, the United States and the unknown. We may not know its complex mosaics of authors and content, which may extend across decades. The Omaha Hospodář began in the 1890s as an advice forum for Great Plains farmers. Thirty years later it had as many readers in Eastern cities and correspondents in Latin America, Africa, Polynesia and the Soviet Union. Other kinds of texts elude and surprise us also. In Cleveland, dozens of pamphlets from the anniversaries of churches and associations are at the Western Reserve Historical Society, the Roman Catholic Diocese and the Bohemian National Hall, while the papers of journalist Josef Martínek are at the University of Chicago. They, in turn, contain many letters from Tony Novotný and Václav Majer, fellow Social Democrats who lived and worked in New York and Washington, DC, respectively, before and after the Cold War divided the twentieth century. Buildings and the built environment are another kind of “text,” with its own trajectories of loss (Chicago ČSPS hall), estrangement (Newark národní budova to African Methodist Episcopal Church), continuity (Cleveland Bohemian National Hall) and revitalization (New York BNH to Czech Republic’s Cultural Center).
John Connelly is Professor of History at the University of California at Berkeley, currently director of the Institute for East European, Eurasian, and Slavic Studies. BSFS from Georgetown University, MA (in Russian and East European Studies) from the University of Michigan, Phd from Harvard University. He has published Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech and Polish Higher Education (Chapel Hill, 2000), which won the 2001 George Beer Award of the American Historical Association, and edited with Michael Gruettner Universities Under Dictatorship (State College, 2005). Other work has appeared in Minerva, East European Politics and Societies, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, The Journal of Modern History, Slavic Review, The Nation, the London Review of Books, and Commonweal. His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Spencer Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Fulbright-Hayes, the International Research and Exchanges Board. He is on the editorial boards of Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropaforschung and Slavic Review, as well as the Kuratorium of the Imre Kertesz Kolleg in Jena.
Abstract (Connelly). East Europe as the most consequential site for understanding our time: Where did the most history happen in the 20th century? History that was tragic but also uplifting; terrifying but also instructive; consequential but often a road to nowhere; dramatic but also unnervingly monotonous? The answer in East Central Europe, a band of small nations between Russia and Germany, where modern nationalism clashed first and most fiercely with the demands of the modern national state; the first place where attempts were made to transplant democracy (1919); the major testing ground of Nazi imperialism (1939-45); directly followed by the most serious experiments to build (1945-56) as well as reform (1956ff) state socialism – and then a second attempt at grafting democracy (1989). It is the place that gave us such ideas as national self-determination; Balkanization; ethnic cleansing, General plan East; socialism with a human face, Berlin Wall, Brezhnev Doctrine, “Living in Truth,” and “We are the People!” to name just a few; a place where neither politicians nor poets can deny the”problem of evil. In my remarks I will try to justify these apparently outrageous claims, while also suggesting that much of what you have learned in general courses on this region is correct.
Marta Deyrup is the subject specialist for Russian and East European Studies at Seton Hall University Libraries in South Orange, New Jersey. She received her MLS from Rutgers University and PhD from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Columbia University. Dr. Deyrup is the author/editor of five books The Polish Community of Wallington, NJ (with Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz), to be published by Arcadia in 2013, Successful Strategies for Teaching Undergraduate Student Research (with Beth Bloom), to be published in 2013 by Rowman and Littlefield, The Vita Constantini as Literary and Linguistic Construct for the Early Slavs, VDM Verlag, 2009; Digital Scholarship, Routledge Studies in Library and Information Science, 2008; East-Central European Collections of the New York Public Library Research Libraries. Special issue, Slavic and East European Information Resources [9(4), 2008] (with Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz, Cf., below) and numerous articles on scholarly communication, Slavic librarianship, and digital scholarship: her three foci of interest. She is recipient of two Fulbright Specialist Grants, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, and has taught at institutions in Croatia and Morocco as well as in the U.S.
Abstract (Deyrup). Remarks will address some of the challenges facing émigré archival and museum collections nationally. My primary focus will be on religious collections. Many of these artifacts (icons, textiles, books) were personal items, donated by parishioners to their church. One reason for this was safekeeping; another was to preserve a collective memory of the homeland these people had lost. Today there are many different issues involving these collections: conservation (how will these artifacts be preserved), access (many of these collections are unknown outside a local parish or community), and ownership (do these artifacts belong to a church, a diocese or should they be repatriated to their original homeland as part of a larger historical narrative). The importance of religious artifacts within the cycle of parish life and whether they should be considered as art or as sacred objects will also be discussed.
Susan Glanz holds a PhD. in economics from the University of Budapest, and has taught economics and finance at St. John’s University since 1980. Her research interests center on Hungary and the European Union, as well as and economic history.Milan L. Hauner is the author and co-editor of ten books and more than 100 scholarly articles on the modern history of India, Central Asia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Russia. He grew up in Prague where he studied history and Czech languages & literature at Charles University and completed his PhD. Leaving at the time of the Soviet invasion in 1968, he settled in England, studying for his second PhD at St.John’s College in Cambridge. He then joined St.Antony’s College in Oxford for three years, lived in London from 1974, working in the Research Department of Amnesty International. Two years later, he joined the German Historical Inst. in London where he published his major book on India and the Axis Powers before leaving for the United States in 1980 to join his family. Since then he has been affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison (visiting professor and Honorary Fellow in the Department of History) where his wife is professor of African languages and associate dean of humanities (now retired). He taught and conducted research at various universities in England (Oxford, London, Warwick, London School of Economics, Open University), Germany (Freiburg, Leipzig–as a Fulbright professor) and America (Philadelphia, Berkeley, Hoover Institution, Stanford, Georgetown, Columbia, US Naval War College) – and after 1990, again in Eastern Europe, mostly in the Czech Republic. In 1990-91 he was director of East European Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington. Recently he has edited several unpublished manuscripts of the former Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš, leading to the reconstruction of Beneš’s wartime Memoirs 1938-45 in three volumes (2007). His current research involves Czechoslovak resistance in WWII and an expansion of his earlier Hitler Chronology.
Abstract (Hauner): These remarks will try to define the changing patterns of immigration [permanent, with the intention to settle down for good] and exile [temporary, usually politically motivated] from Czech lands to the United States in the modern era on a comparative basis in the context of the general migration flow from East Central Europe to the US. Roughly speaking six stages can be distinguished: Pre-1914, World War I, Inter-War, World War II, Post -World War II until 1968, and finally the sixth one after 1990. The more significant characteristics of each stage will be briefly indicated, but main attention will be devoted to the period of 1938-39, shortly before the outbreak of World War II into which my primary research has been conducted.
The “Bohemian” Diaspora in the US undergoes its final delimitation process according to its linguistic roots as the Czech Americans separate definitively from the German speakers and even from the Slovaks with whom they were fastened together for twenty years as “Czechoslovaks.” The only groups resisting this linguistic partition, apart from the minority Slovaks feeling as “Czechoslovaks,” were Czechoslovak Jews. The six-month presence in the US of ex-President Edvard Beneš and especially his activities after March 15, 1939, which quickly gained support of the Czech community in the US, became the decisive factors for promoting the Czechoslovak Cause, i.e. the renewal of the disappeared Czechoslovak Republic. Although on the one hand Beneš has extraordinary success, for instance in secretly meeting President Roosevelt, he failed to take full advantage of America’s unique circumstances: the opportunity to draw to his cause the Catholic Slovaks, further many anti-Nazi Germans exiled in America ( e.g., indefinite encounter with Thomas Mann), and to reconcile Polish Americans (e.g., missed encounter with Paderewski).
Svitlana Iarmolenko was born and reared in Ukraine, and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Tourism at the Geography Department of National Shevchenko University in Kyiv. Exposed to international education through exchanges with European Geographic Association, Svitlana decided to pursue her graduate degree abroad and entered the Master’s program in Recreation and Leisure Studies at East Carolina University. There she discovered her love for research and teaching, and continued on to complete her PhD program at Penn State University at the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at the Pennsylvania State University. During the course of her Doctoral program Svitlana taught numerous courses in leisure and tourism, led a study abroad trip to Australia, and developed a solid research program in an emerging field of linking diaspora studies and tourism, as well as transnational immigrant studies. She strengthened her immigration research focus during an exchange with Jena University in Germany, and has presented her research both nationally and internationally.
Her studies focus on Ukrainian immigrants, a sizable ethnic group in the U.S. Low English proficiency and economic struggles of the fourth wave of Ukrainian immigrants pose significant challenges to successful adjustment. She has proposed documenting the knowledge and strategies accumulated by this group to create culturally grounded narratives that can be used in creating tailored products and services that evoke a sense of nostalgia and support identity continuity, thus improving Ukrainian immigrants’ well-being. She also proposes documenting the effect of these narratives on the fourth wave immigrants’ self-construal (individualist vs. collectivist), homeland destination image and intention to visit Ukraine. Her project will occur in three stages: during the first stage a number of fourth wave Ukrainian immigrants are interviewed about their immigration experiences, difficulties in adjustment and coping strategies. During the second stage these interviews are consolidated into a generalized narrative reflecting the fourth wave immigration experience. During the third stage, a larger sample of fourth wave Ukrainian immigrants is exposed to these narratives and changes in self-construal, destination image, and intention to visit are measured.
Jeremy King is Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, where he has taught since 1996. A graduate of Yale College, he received his Ph.D. in History, with a concentration on Central and Eastern Europe, from Columbia University in 1998. Awarded an SSRC-MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security as a graduate student, he also spent three years as an Academy Scholar at the Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University. In 1999-2000, he spent a sabbatical year as a Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, and in 2008-2009, he served as a Fulbright Research Scholar at Masaryk University in Brno, the Czech Republic. At present, he is a Visiting Fellow at the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Williams College. His first book, Budweisers into Czechs and Germans: A Local History of Bohemian Politics, 1848-1948, was published by Princeton University Press in 2002. A second book, Who Is Who? Separate but Equal in Imperial Austria, 1867-1914, is nearing completion. It explores answers to the often impossible question of who was German and who was Czech (as well as what it meant to be Jewish) as imperial Austria attempted to reduce nationalist conflict by partitioning territorially intermingled peoples into separate but equal electorates and school systems, without violating individual rights. King, who is fluent in Czech and proficient in German and Hungarian, has served in a variety of professional and administrative capacities at Mount Holyoke and within the international community of scholars whose work focuses on Central and Eastern Europe.Abstract (King): The Czechoslovak Politics of Emigrants and Exiles in the 20th Century. The twentieth century saw several waves of emigration and exile from the territory of what was Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1938 and again from 1945 to 1992. This presentation will survey how Czechs and Slovaks participated in politics back at home, often from far away and to enormous effect.
By the first years of the twentieth century, well organized communities of Czechs and Slovaks had emerged abroad, especially in the United States. They provided pivotal funding and political support for efforts led by Tomas G. Masaryk and Edvard Beneš during the First World War to destroy Austria-Hungary and to found a Czechoslovak nation-state as one of its successors. Also crucial were Czech soldiers of Austria-Hungary taken prisoner by imperial Russia. They seized control of the Trans-Siberian railway in 1918, and captured international attention by tying down Bolshevik forces for several months.
After the War, some Czechs and Slovaks returned home, not least Masaryk—who became the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic. Emigration dropped. The United States closed its doors in 1921 and 1924, the economy compared favorably with Germany’s and Austria’s, and Czechoslovakia’s German minority enjoyed considerable freedom despite its disadvantaged status.
The Nazi destruction of Czechoslovakia in 1938-39 pushed parts of the Czechoslovak political elite abroad – including Beneš, who had succeeded Masaryk as president. Eventually recognized as the head of a Czechoslovak government-in-exile in London, Beneš tapped emigrant communities for support, as he had during the First World War. He also maintained cautious relations with anti-Nazi German exiles from Czechoslovakia, and developed covert channels of communication with influential non-Nazis back at home. In 1945, Beneš and other exiles, especially Czechs, claimed a large share of power in the reestablished Czechoslovak Republic.
The Communist coup d’état of 1948 again pushed some Czech and Slovak leaders into exile, where they planned for their return to power. Yet they proved to be minor players in the Prague Spring of 1968—whose termination triggered another wave of departures for the West. During and after the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989, returnees again were sidelined. Underpinning this pattern, different from that of the previous two generations, were structural changes to the international political order and to Czechoslovakia, including social leveling, the reduction of Slovak subordination to Czechs, and the complex implication of citizens in their own subjugation by a post-totalitarian, consumerist dictatorship. By way of conclusion, some suggestions will be offered as to how the Czechoslovak case compares with diasporic involvement in politics back at home elsewhere in the world.
Peter Boris Kaufman identifies opportunities emerging from digital media, ebooks, web apps, and other repositories to define new and dynamic relationships between digital assets and learning environments across Columbia University. Peter also works closely with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching & Learning (CCNMTL) media team to manage media platforms to meet course and faculty project needs.
Educated at Cornell and Columbia University, Peter had previously served as associate director of CCNMTL; co-chair, with the British Film Institute’s Paul Gerhardt, of JISC’s Film & Sound Think Tank in the UK; and co-chair, with WGBH’s Karen Cariani, of the Copyright Committee of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. His recent written work includes “Assessing the Audiovisual Archive Market: Models & Approaches for Audiovisual Content Exploitation”; “Film and Sound in Higher and Further Education: A Progress Report with Ten Recommendations” with Paul Gerhardt; “Video on Wikipedia and the Open Web: A Guide for Cultural and Educational Institutions”; and “Oral History in the Digital Age”. He has written, lectured, and produced extensively on Russian and Eastern European affairs, and recently founded Read Russia, an organization to support Russian literature. He is also founder and director of the Choate Rosemary Hall Documentary Filmmaking Institute, a summer course for high-school students in documentary film.
Peter is the founder of Intelligent Television, which produces films, video, and television programs in close association with cultural and educational institutions worldwide.
Peter’s newest documentary, on Russian writers in the age of Putin, appeared on public television in late 2013. His new book, on video and film in a new age of enlightenment, will appear in 2015 from Seven Stories Press.
Rebekah Klein-Pejšová is Jewish Studies Assistant Professor of History at Purdue University specializing in transnational approaches to questions of state/society relations in east central European and Modern Jewish History. Before earning her Ph.D. in History at Columbia University (including an East Central Europe Center certificate), she completed M.A. work at the Central European University in Budapest, and her undergraduate degree at Bard College. She is the author of Mapping Jewish Loyalties in Interwar Slovakia, forthcoming with Indiana University Press, Modern Jewish Experience series. Her recent publications include articles in Austrian History Yearbook, Shofar, and AJS Review. She won this year’s faculty teaching award for Purdue’s Department of History, as well as a Purdue Library Scholars Grant for her Across the Iron Curtain project, which examines the efforts of Jews within postwar Hungary and Czechoslovakia to maintain contact with Jews outside of it and their implications for Jewish/state relations, continuity and transmission of Jewish identity. She recently presented work arising from this project at the March 2014 “Holocaust in Hungary: 70 Years Later” conference at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Support for her research has been generously provided by the ACLS, the Harriman Institute, Center for Israel and Jewish Studies, and the Center for Historical Social Science at Columbia University, the Hungarian and Slovak Academies of Sciences. Klein-Pejšová organized the 2009 Purdue History Department Colloquium “1989-2009: 20 Years after the fall of the Berlin Wall”, is on the organizing committee of the annual Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference (which includes a significant teacher training element), and is active in interdisciplinary education including the Jewish Studies Program and the Center for Research in Diversity and Inclusion. Her work on building scholarly connections between Purdue and the Central European University in Budapest has developed into a three-tiered program of annual faculty exchange, graduate student research, and undergraduate study abroad (in cooperation with the Bard/CEU program).
Abstract (Klein-Pejsova): Jews remaining inside Cold War era Eastern Bloc countries struggled to maintain contact with surviving relatives, friends, and international Jewish organizations in America throughout the postwar period. Focusing on Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian Jews across the iron curtain, I will examine the dynamic implications of their efforts for postwar Jewish relations with the state, for preserving the continuity of group identity, and for coping with catastrophe. Jewish existence in central and eastern Europe did not end during the Holocaust, but was tragically and radically transformed. How might we understand the pursuit of continuity within the postwar Jewish diaspora while confronting this transformation? The experience of severe rupture and postwar emigration shifted the context and content of identity transmission and corresponding memory work. Yet contact remained a constant connective thread. By what means did Jews address the dilemmas of interaction across a hostile geo-political border? Scholarly, religious, philanthropic, and political Jewish organizations supplemented individuals’ postcards, brief international calls, and letters with education and aid, reports and memoirs, commemorative events and spaces, an extraordinary travelling exhibit (the Precious Legacy tour of the Czechoslovak State Jewish Museum in North America 1983-1986), and political activity. The strategies they devised were shaped by negotiating interaction through a state apparatus that increasingly viewed the Jewish population as an a priori disloyal element.
John P. Kraljic. A native of New York City, Mr. Kraljic is the son of Croatian immigrants. Mr. Kraljic holds a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree from Long Island University, a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, and an MA from the City University of New York. Mr. Kraljic has been a leader in the Croatian immigrant community for many years. He served as the President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans (2001-04 and 2010-11), a national umbrella organization, and is currently the President of the Croatian Academy of America which has published the Journal of Croatian Studies, an annual scholarly publication, since 1960. During and following 1991-1995 wars in the former Yugoslavia, Mr. Kraljic actively engaged in various lobbying efforts in favor of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among other things, he acted as a volunteer assistant to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations and produced a number of studies related to the conflict which were distributed to government officials and opinion makers (e.g., Belgrade’s Strategic Designs on Croatia (1991) and Croatia and Croats in The New York Time (1994)). During this time, he also met with numerous US and Croatian government officials and had many letters published on the conflict in various leading publications (e.g., The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, The Nation, Commentary, The New Republic).
Mr. Kraljic engages in independent scholarly study of Croatian history, with, emphasis on, among others matters, Croatian immigrant history. His master’s thesis, “The Croatian Community in North America and the Spanish Civil War,” received the 2002 George Watt Prize for a graduate paper by the Archives of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Other works include “The Croatian Section of the Communist Party of the United States and the ‘United Front’: 1934-1939,” which appeared in the Review of Croatian History (Zagreb). He also did extensive research work on the American Consulate in Rijeka, Croatia which led to a number of published works and his collaboration, with the Museum of the City of Rijeka, on an exhibit entitled From Central Europe to America 1880-1914. After having appeared in Europe, the exhibit was held at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 2012. Mr. Kraljic has further participated in numerous panels on Croatian history and immigrant issues.
Abstract (Kraljic): The Croatian immigrant community took shape in the United States toward the 19th century. Croatian immigrants during the period through World War II for the most part consisted of unskilled workers, many of whom came to America to improve their economic conditions and those of their families. During the greater part of the 20th century, Croatia was economically underdeveloped and, politically, belonged to a number of different states which to one degree or another suppressed both individual and national political freedom. These factors drove the response of the Croatian Diaspora in the US to events occurring in their homeland.
From an individualized perspective, Croatian immigrants played an important role in influencing social trends in Croatia. This primarily took the form of remittances but also influenced social trends. From a macro perspective, the general lack of political freedom in Croatia led to the growth of various political parties and movements among the Diaspora (Communists, Ustashi (Fascists), democratic opposition groups). Indeed, certain political movements which ultimately took power in Croatia relied heavily on financial support from the Diaspora. Moreover, the press of these Diasporic movements engaged in ideological and political battles with one another and with others outside of the community concerning the future of Croatia which could not take place in Croatia itself. The political work of the Croatian Diaspora in the US became especially prominent during the two great wars of the 20th century which affected Croatia. During the two World Wars, the Croatian community in the US generally threw its support behind one of the political options then offered for Croatia’s future (Yugoslavia during World War I, the Partisans during World War II), though, in both instances, this outward unity ultimately frayed and broke apart after the end of the conflicts as a result of events in the homeland. The 1991-1995 war, however, marked a radical departure as the community unified around support for Croatia’s independence and worked assiduously in lobbying American officials to recognize Croatia, end the UN arms embargo, and admit Croatia into NATO.
Janis Kreslins, Jr. is Senior Academic Librarian for Research Affairs, Royal Library (Kungliga Biblioteket), Stockholm. In his capacity as scholar, curator and liaison with the academic community, Janis Kreslins engages the vast historical collections of the Kungliga biblioteket on a daily basis and is a cog in the library’s educational outreach program. His areas of specialties require an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach. He has explored the cultures of orality and literacy in Northern Europe and studied their significance for the cultural history of the region; traced identity development and the role that educational traditions have played in transforming the cultural topography of the region; examined group consciousness and the various ways in which forms of expression and aesthetic models have been assimilated; and investigated the various meanings of language and the variety of media forms used for communicating ideas and experiences.
Abstract (Kreslins, VIA SKYPE): The experiences of the post-war Latvian exile community in the United States have most often been recounted as a double-edged tale. This tale has oscillated agitatedly between seemingly uncompromising poles – the evolution of a political consciousness and the construction of a new national awareness, on the one hand, and the process of integration and assimilation into host societies, on the other. This has been a story of how a community has reinforced its own understanding of identity, yet also dealt with those factors which diluted its distinctive character. This tale has repeatedly been compiled in an academic fashion using both printed, as well as oral first-hand accounts. The materiality of the artefacts that his community produced, however, has garnered little attention. Though purporting to have etched in stone, it effectively engaged an ever-changing world by embracing ephemeral forms of communication. By doing so, it could effectively reconfigure time – instead of historicizing its identity, it expressed the idea of futurity not only in its ideology, but even in its everyday concerns. This community excelled in recounting its story as an idealized myth – one that had special meaning since it felt that its history had not been accurately told.
Mara Lazda received her Ph.D. in History at Indiana University. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Bronx Community College, The City University of New York. Her recent research considers transnationalism, ethnicity, and gender in socialist and post-socialist Latvian communities. Publications include “Reconsidering Nationalism: The Baltic Case of Latvia in 1989,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 22 (no. 4, 2009), 517-36; “Family, Gender, and Ideology in World War II Latvia,” in Gender and War in Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe, eds. Maria Bucur and Nancy M. Wingfield. (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2006), 133-53; “Women, Nation, and Survival: Latvian Women in Siberia 1941-1957,” Journal of Baltic Studies 36, no. 1 (Spring, 2005), 1-12; and “Latvia,” in Women, Gender and Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945, ed. Kevin Passmore. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 124-47. She is President-Elect of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies.
Abstract (Lazda): “The Ethnic, National, and Transnational Networks of Latvian émigrés, 1945-2000”. These remarks focus on the Latvian émigré community after World War II, which was the largest period of emigration for this group. I consider how these Latvians became political activists and sought to build, ethnic, national, and transnational networks in an effort to bring attention to the loss of their homeland’s independence to the Soviet Union in 1945. I will begin with a brief overview of the local ethnic Latvian organizations established from the West to the East Coast (including Los Angeles, California, Lincoln, Nebraska, Chicago, Illinois, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New York) and the national organizations (e.g. the American Latvian Association and the American Latvian Youth Association) that coordinated the activities among the local organizations.
The main focus of my remarks is on how Latvian émigrés formed transnational networks and partnerships with other émigré groups, examining in particular BATUN, or the Baltic Appeal to the United Nations. BATUN was founded in 1966 and represented the interests of the Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian communities to the United Nations until 2000. BATUN members actively lobbied UN representatives in New York, meeting with them one-on-one, as well as sent representatives to Geneva, Switzerland for its UN annual conference on human rights.
Most importantly, this presentation shows how the Latvian émigré experience challenges established narratives in the history of East Central Europeans, both in the diaspora and in their relationship to the homeland. These narratives remained framed by Cold War temporal and geographic divisions, with emphasis on life during and after socialism, and differences in the “East” and “West.” Building on the recent work of scholars such as geographer Sharad Chari and anthropologist Katherine Verdery, who have suggested “thinking between the posts” of “postcolonialism and postsocialism,” (2009), I examine how Latvian activists engaged transnational conversations on decolonization and international human rights in the UN. Their strategies point to the fluidity of the émigré experience as well as how the history of émigrés may also contribute to a larger rethinking of international politics in the twentieth century.
Lorraine M. Lees is a Professor of History and a University Professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia; she is a specialist in US Foreign Policy and the Cold War. She is the author of two monographs: Keeping Tito Afloat: The United States, Yugoslavia and the Cold War, published by Penn State Press in 1997 and in Belgrade in 2003 by BMG as Odrzavanje Tito; and Yugoslav-Americans and National Security During World War II, published by the University of Illinois Press in 2007. She has also published a variety of articles on US foreign policy and national security and on the political activities of Louis Adamic.
Lees has recently completed editing and annotating “The Reminiscences of DeWitt Clinton Poole,” an oral history in the Columbia University Oral History Collection. The manuscript is currently under review for publication. (Poole, an American diplomat and Soviet specialist, represented the US in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution; was actively involved with the Yugoslav-American community during WW II; and was one of the founders of Radio Free Europe. Lees also plans a biography of Poole and a history of the Foreign Nationalities Branch of the Office of Strategic Services, which maintained contacts with immigrants, political refugees and governments in exile in the US during World War II). She has presented papers in the US and abroad on various aspects of US-Yugoslav relations, and on Yugoslav-Americans and the ethnic dimension in US foreign policy. Recent presentations include: “From Break to Rapprochement: Tito and the Soviet Bloc, 1948-1959,” Conference on “From National Communism to National Collapse,” Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, Cold War International History Project and the National Intelligence Council, Washington, DC, December 7, 2006; and “The United States, Yugoslavia and the Early Cold War,” Conference on The Balkans in the Cold War, sponsored by the London School of Economics and the Konstantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy, Athens, Greece, May 26-29, 2011. She was also featured in an A & E “Biography Series” segment on “Tito.”
Lees teaches undergraduate courses on United States foreign policy, and on the Cold War. Her graduate seminars include courses on the Cold War and on United States Foreign Policy during the 20th century, as well as research seminars on the Truman and Eisenhower periods.
Abstract (Lees): The experiences of the Yugoslav-American community during World War II illustrate the persistent tension between ethnicity and national security that has existed throughout the history of the United States. Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, relatively small in number but centered in the industrial cities of the north and mid-west, provided labor essential to the war effort. However, they suffered from a severe political split, as right-wing monarchists loyal to Mihailovic and the Chetniks battled left-wing supporters of Tito’s partisans. These conflicts, identified by the Roosevelt Administration as the most representative example of the “European feuds on American soil” that might disrupt the war effort, led to extensive attempts to control and manipulate the political activities of Yugoslav-Americans, both during and after WW II.
I will examine the views of two groups of administration policy makers: one that perceived America’s European ethnic groups as rife with divided loyalties, and hence a danger to national security; and a second that viewed such communities as valuable sources for political intelligence that would help the war effort in Europe. The former included the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the latter, The Office of War Information and the Foreign Nationalities Branch of the Office of Strategic Services. The writer Louis Adamic, who supported Tito and led The United Committee of South Slavic Americans, was of interest to both; the FBI had him under surveillance, while FNB and OWI sought his advice. Once WW II ended and the Cold War began, the anti-communism of the Serbs made them seem more of an asset than a danger. However, supporters of Tito, such as Adamic, remained objects of suspicion.
Wendy W. Luers is the founding President of The Foundation for a Civil Society (FCS) and Co-Chair of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition. Mrs. Luers established FCS in New York and Prague in January 1990 at the request of the Czechoslovaks and Americans following her residence in Prague with her husband, Ambassador William Luers from 1983 to 1986 when they became close to Václav Havel and Charter 77. FCS helped promote civil society and provided advice and expertise with offices in New York and Prague from 1990 through 1999, and in Bratislava, Slovakia from 1993 through 1999. Nadace Via (Czech Republic) and Nadace Pontis (Slovakia) are the successor NGO’s and affiliates of Foundation for a Civil Society. FCS’s principal activity today is the Young Visual Artists Awards established in 1989 as the Chalupecky Award in Czechoslovakia. It has inspired similar awards in nine other countries, the winners of which come to New York for residencies.
Mrs. Luers serves on numerous boards, including those at Stanford, Tufts and the University of Southern California. She is Vice Chair of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for international Scholars. She was the first woman and first non-Czech to receive the Gratias Agit Award from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and she was decorated with the Double White Cross by Slovakian President Michal Kováč.
Paul R. Magocsi holds degrees from Rutgers University, Princeton, and Harvard (Society of Fellows). Since 1980 he is professor of history and political science at the University of Toronto, where he also holds the professorial Chair of Ukrainian Studies. Among his over 700 publications are 30 books, including: The Shaping of a National Identity: Subcarpathian Rus’ 1848-1948 (Harvard, 1978); Galicia: A Historical Survey and Bibliographic Guide (Toronto, 1983); Historical Atlas of East Central/Central Europe (Washington, 1993/2002); A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples (Toronto, 1996/2010); Of the Making of Nationalities There is No End (Columbia, 1999); The Roots of Ukrainian Nationalism (Toronto, 2002); and Ukraine: An Illustrated History (Toronto, 2007). He is also editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples (Toronto, 1999) and co-editor and main author of the Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture (Toronto, 2002). He has taught at Harvard, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Prešov in Slovakia, and on five occasions was the historian-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. In 1996 he was appointed a permanent fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Abstract (Magocsi Day Two) East-Central Europe can be described in terms of “several levels of borders”, which have been and still are multi-dimensional and simultaneously static, shifting, expanding, contracting, and overlapping. One might envision this area from several different perspectives: (1) Geographically, as three zones: Northern; Alpine-Carpathian; and Balkan zone.(2) Culturally: as an area of great diversity in religion (including Catholicism in both the Roman and Greek forms, Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, and Protestantism); language (Slavic languages, as well as Eastern Rite, Albanian, Armenian, Hungarian, Yiddish, Romanian; with the “state languages” of Russian or German and occasionally Hungarian functioning as a lingua franca for communication between different language/ethnic groups; English as the lingua franca post-1989); and nationality. (3) Politically: Political factors have constructed, destroyed, and changed borders in East Central Europe and in turn impacted an individual’s sense of belonging or exclusion. (E.g., “Galicia”). (4)Socioeconomically: in early 19th century, East-Central Europe was overwhelmingly rural and agrarian. In the last decades of 19th century, population increased by 50%, and urban growth and urbanization increased the size of cities and towns, which were multiethnic. Another wave of urbanization occurred after World War II, at which point the majority of the population lived in urban areas. 20th-century migrations altered the multiethnic norm that had been characteristic of most cities and towns. Postwar communist command economies also increased industrialization. Across 19th and 20th centuries, technologies (e.g. railroads, telephone, FAX, internet) increased mobility and communication, including dissemination of ideas and political dissent.
Abstract (Magocsi Day Three): 20th Century American Migrants from East Central Europe and Their Homelands. The years 1918 and 1989 were both key “symbolic turning points” in European history and can serve as “focal points for temporal nodes that encompass longer periods,” as that 1918 stands in for 1914-1921 and 1989 stands in for 1985-1999 . The outbreak of WWI spurred benevolent societies and religious congregations of Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Serbs, and American Zionist-oriented Jews to present political goals and lobbying. As “stateless peoples,” the diasporant Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, and Croats planned for autonomy and national statehood. However, the U.S. foreign policy of self-determination was not influenced, let alone determined, by concern for the alleged voting strength of the immigrant masses or these lobbying efforts by immigrant group leaders .However, President Wilson’s self-determination policy galvanized the “elites” among these East-Central-European groups both in East-Central Europe and in the U.S., where there was a diasporan euphoria for Wilson. Mid-European Union meeting was held in Philadelphia in October 1918. Many peoples “were soon disillusioned” with the results of the Paris Peace Conference, due to the limitations of self-determination, especially in the voluntarily multi-ethnic states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. After the Second World War, more than 239,000 East Central Europeans emigrated to North America as displaced persons. In USA, DPs were more politically active than previous ECE immigrants, setting up new organizations, and lobbying various levels of the U.S. government. While the Communist regimes put strict control on emigration, small waves of refugees to West followed the Hungarian Revolution (1956), Prague Spring (1968), and the suppression of “Solidarity” in Poland (early 1980s).
Neither America’s foreign policy initiatives nor the activity of its central European diasporas had any impact on the political changes that came to be known as the revolutions of 1989. Generally, 1990s political atavists accepted the Paris Convention (1918) version of Central Europe, with some slight modifications: E.g., independent Baltic states, non-violent split of Czech and Slovakia, breakup of Yugoslavia into new Balkan states.
Pre-1914 ECE diaspora had a “psychological frame of mind” that considered a real possibility of return, but pre-1989 ECE diaspora did not. Another contrast: pre-1918 political mobilization by diaspora elites included planning for participation in the post-war emergent states; pre-1989 diaspora elites largely did not prepare to take major roles in post-1989 governments. Pre-1914 immigrant organizations were very concerned with and actively debated where they should place their loyalties, what would happen to their homeland when the conflict had ended, and what political formations would be best. Pre-1989 diaspora groups were “caught off guard” by the abrupt end of communist rule. Politically active émigré organizations formed in 1950s, such as Assembly of Captive European Nations and the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, had failed to bring about desired U.S. foreign policy in the crucial years of 1956 and 1968, and had become less energized and less relevant to diaspora communities by the 1980s. Though some émigré activists did return to ECE in 1990s and participate in new governments, they were not leaders or innovators in creating those regimes. Pre-1918 diaspora was future-oriented; pre-1989 diaspora was past-oriented. Pre-1918 émigré activists and diaspora were, in keeping with the times, invested in the concept of the nation-state. Pre-1989 diaspora was “politically out of step with the times” because they were still invested in 19th-century ideals of the independent nation-state while the rest of Europe had moved onto other political ideals and organizations that emphasized integration. (The Croatian case shows how diaspora activists were more radically nationalistic than the peoples still living in the home country. Diaspora involvement helped make Croatia a viable state in the 1990s, but also contributed to war and ethnic violence. In Hungary, 47-er and 56-er émigrés were not well-received and largely ignored when they returned home). Still another question is how homeland governments may have exploited diaspora opinion for their own purposes, or the motivation for migration and return, and for diaspora organizations to be oriented towards life in the diaspora country or towards the home country.
Steven Mansbach, Professor of the History of Twentieth-Century Art, focuses his research and teaching interests on the genesis and reception of “classical” modern art, roughly from the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth. With interests that encompass all of Europe, his specific area of scholarly publication is the art of Central and Eastern Europe from the Baltic north to the Adriatic south. On this topic he has published numerous books, articles, exhibition catalogues, and essays including Graphic Modernism, Modern Art in Eastern Europe: From the Baltic to the Balkans ca. 1890 to 1939, and Standing in the Tempest: Painters of the Hungarian Avant-Garde, among numerous others. He has also taught this subject as a professor in Germany, Poland, Hungary, and South Africa, as well as at several American universities. In addition to holding fellowships and university professorships in the United States, Europe, and Africa, he served almost a decade as associate dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at Washington’s National Gallery of Art and as the founding dean and director of the American Academy in Berlin.
Abstract (Mansbach): Those who arrived in the United States following World War I and before Eastern European emigration was mostly halted due to the outbreak of World War II constitute more than a second wave of migration. Those who arrived on American shores included significant numbers of major cultural figures: visual and musical artists, novelists and poets, and established as well as emerging scholars. Indeed, the striking size, diversity, and character of the immigrant intelligentsia presented challenges to those societies, associations, and programs that had been created by and for the earlier generation(s) of mostly economically disadvantaged migrants from East-Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe. This presentation will consider both the make-up of several of the latter cultural immigrant groups (by nation and profession) and how they were received both by recently-established immigrant communities and by the larger American society and its manifold cultural and educational institutions, which endeavored to accommodate them.
By no means did those who came to the United States from Central and Eastern Europe during the interwar era share a single outlook; nor did they share similar experiences in their native lands; nor were their aspirations identical once they arrived in North America. Moreover, not all national or ethnic groups that had been so prominent among earlier waves were well represented within the interwar migration. For instance, there were few Polish artists or scholars who felt compelled to abandon building a newly-independent Polish Republic in order to emigrate. Opportunity for constructing a democratic new reality in the homeland persuaded most artists and intellectuals to remain in Poland until the opportunities for emigration were foreclosed in late 1939, as was the case for the Expressionists August Zamoyski or Stefan Szmai; for Cubists such as the Pronaszkos; or Supramatist/Constructivists such as Wladislaw Strzeminski. Similar chances to consolidate a more or less democratic and free nation were seized by Baltic intellectuals and artists (for instance Ado Vabbe, Felix Randel, and Eduard Ole in Estonia; Jazeps Grosvalds, Jekabs Kazaks, or Marta Liepina-Skulme in Latvia; or Vytatuas Kairiukstis or Petras Kapokas in the two Lithuanias), thereby persuading many of them to remain in their native lands. However, with the rise of authoritarian regimes throughout the region, opportunities for artistic experimentation, cultural innovation, and liberal political expression were gradually curtailed. And this foreclosure of cultural and political liberality prompted emigration, especially among the religiously persecuted or ideologically radical. Thus, when Central and Eastern European intellectuals came to the United States during the 1920s and especially in the 1930s, they found opportunities as well as encountered constraints. Political radicalism, although tolerated among immigrants to Great Britain, was seen as baneful by most Americans. Nonetheless, for those willing to forgo the ideological radicalism that had originally given rise to much of the artistic innovation promulgated in early twentieth-century Europe, the United States was often welcoming and supportive, as one can witness with such figures as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes, or Marcel Breuer among dozens of others. However, less receptive than the nation’s secular museums, research centers and universities, and orchestras were the various ethnic-national-religious societies created by an earlier generation of immigrants. Among these associations, conservative tastes and orthodox values predominated; and a romanticized attachment to nativist language, religion, and traditions prevailed at the expense of modernist forms, attitudes, and ambition. Thus, one finds a paradoxical reception of Central and Eastern Europe’s interwar immigrants: frequent encouragement by and integration within the larger, more secular, American society; but often a hesitant embrace by the established emigre communities.
Dr. John S. Micgiel was a student, staff member, and faculty member at Columbia University’s East Central European Center for over three decades. He was recently elected President and Executive Officer of the Kosciuszko Foundation, with offices in New York, Washington, DC, and Warsaw.
Abstract (Micgiel): How have East Central European studies and curricula fared in the post-Soviet re-alignment of “Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies”? Like most of the Title VI Centers, Columbia’s faced many of the same issues as other universities: retirements and decreasing institutional support from university administration and departments; and decreasing interest in the region. Coincidentally, some outreach programs have thrived at the primary and secondary school levels, even while tertiary programs have not been leaner since before Sputnik.
Mikhail Mitsel was born near Vladivostok, Russia, and was reared and educated in Lv’iv (Ukraine. In the 1980s, he worked in the “Kiev Fortress” Museum as a researcher and tour guide, and in the 1990s was a researcher at the Institute for Jewish Studies in Kiev.
In 1998, he emigrated to the USA. He is an archivist at the Archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in New York. Mitsel is the author of many articles and books in English, Russian, Ukrainian and Polish including “The Final Chapter”: Agro-Joint in the Years of the Great Terror (Kiev, 2012); the photo-album The American Brother: The “Joint” in Russia, the USSR and the CIS (Jerusalem, 2004) (coauthored with Michael Beizer), Jews of Ukraine in 1943-1953: A Documented Study (Kiev, 2004), Jewish religious Communities in Ukraine: Kiev, Lvov: 1945-1981 (Kiev,1998), List of the 1863 Insurgents Jailed in Kiev Fortress (Przemyśl,1995).
Abstract (Mitsel): Critically present a few case studies of Jewish transnational philanthropy, showing how over the course of interwar years the focus of LD went from channeling funds and finding information in wartime, to direct palliative relief shortly after the war, to gradual reconstruction and rehabilitation effort.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee ( henceforth JDC) was founded on November 27, 1914, in order to facilitate and centralize the collection and distribution of funds by American Jews for Jews abroad.The Landsmanshaftn* Department of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (LD) was originally organized as a department of the JDC, known as the Landsmanshaftn Bureau, in 1919 in New York. The aim of the department was to encourage relief efforts by the landsmanshaftn in the United States for their native communities in Eastern Europe. The Bureau called the various immigrant fraternal associations to forward funds to their native towns, via JDC, in support of functional activities or for the purchase of food packages or matzoth. This work was temporarily discontinued in 1924 and it was revived in the late 1930s as part of the JDC Reconstruction program. At this time, the JDC pledged to match with equal amounts of funds every donation made by each landsmanshaft to their former native communities, particularly those made on behalf of the interest-free loan associations in these communities. The JDC organized a Landsmanshaftn Fraternal Division, known usually as the Landsmanshaftn Department in 1937, and this department successfully enlisted the cooperation of several hundred landsmanshaftn. The outbreak of World War II put a temporary end to this program, which was revived once again in 1945, this time mainly as a channel of relief aid furnished by the landsmanshaftn for the survivors from their home communities. These activities were later expanded to include issues of emigration and the location of survivors.
Records of the Landsmanshaftn Bureau – correspondence, lists, remittances, and letters from 1921 to 1947, are located in JDC and YIVO Archives in New York City.
*A landsmanshaft (plural: landsmanshaftn) was a hometown society of Jewish immigrants from the same European town or region.
Martin Nekola received his Ph.D. in political science at the Charles University in Prague and is currently a freelance editor. In Fall 2013 he spent three months in the USA as Fulbright postdoctoral research fellow. His research is focused on non-democratic regimes, wars and ethnic conflicts, the era of Communism, and East-European anti-communist exiles during the Cold War. He is the author of numerous articles and has published six monographs.Abstract (Nekola): The presentation discusses the formation and development of organizations of political exiles from the countries of East-central and Southeast Europe in the West, particularly in the USA, during the Cold War. The role and standing of the political exiles from behind the Iron curtain were essentially derived from changes in international politics and were, to a considerable extent, dependent on the support of US institutions. Hence, they served as useful tool of anti-communist propaganda in the Western world, brought news from the countries behind the Iron curtain,warned the public against the communist threats. The characteristic view of anti-Communist exiles, consisted of many ideological and opinion streams, also includes internal crises and conflicts, which were often rooted in petty quarrels, personal animosity, arguments about the legitimacy of leading bodies, and absence of charismatic leadership. In some cases it caused complete decline of the exile organizations(national or supranational) and their activities. The research on this understudied and poorly known topic offers an interdisciplinary overview, touching the Cold war history, political science, international relations, as well as migration or ethnic studies.
Pavla Niklova is currently the Director of the Czech Center New York, the official cultural institute of the Czech Republic. From July 2014 she will start working as the Executive Director of the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in the United States to honor and extend the global legacy of former Czech President, dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel. Pavla has two decades of experience in executive positions at prominent arts organizations in the United States and in the Czech Republic. Her focus is the conception, preparation and promotion of innovative programs that encourage international collaboration and exchange.
James P. Niessen earned his Ph.D in history at Indiana University with a dissertation on religion and politics in Transylvania in the 1860s after completing research in Hungary and Romania in 1982-84 with the support of an IREX fellowship. Publications related to the dissertation include studies on Hungarian bishop Lajos Haynald and the Romania metropolitan Alexandru Sterca-Şuluţiu. His work on the twentieth century includes an examination of the creation of the Hungarian Greek Catholic diocese of Hajdúdorog in 1913 and a survey of the evolution of Romanian nationalism, and his most recent studies concern the history of library collections and archives in these countries and the Habsburg Monarchy. Most of his work is freely available under his name in the Rutgers institutional repository, http://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/. Currently he is World History Librarian at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. In addition to historical collections he is responsible for German and Slavic literatures, Jewish studies, religion, and philosophy. He served during 2010 and 2011 as Director of Rutgers’ Institute for Hungarian Studies, and participated as a fellow in the 2011 NEH Summer Institute “America Engages Eurasia.”
Abstract (Niessen Day Ten): Religious institutions were pillars of the Hungarian community because, collectively, they comprehended most members of this community. Faith, hymnody, and calendar customs were a common denominator for many, providing continuity with the old country, and religious leaders were essential members of the organizing committee for the local Hungarian festival and other major events. Consequently the Hungarian government sought to exercise control over these institutions, most notably through the American Action before World War I, but with only very limited success.
More than government intervention, the ability of the churches to unify the immigrant community was undermined by religious diversity: in declining percentages, Roman Catholics, Reformed, Lutherans, Greek Catholics, and Jews were sufficiently numerous to organize parishes and congregations in most Little Hungaries. Catholics of the Latin rite established many Hungarian national parishes, but their liturgy was in Latin until Vatican II. The Reformed tradition was more explicitly Hungarian national. However, these congregations suffered from many doctrinal and organizational divisions. Lutheran and Greek Catholic Hungarian congregations tended to have large German, Slovak, or Ruthenian/Rusyn minorities. Jewish congregations were especially susceptible to linguistic Americanization.
Abstract (Niessen Day Sixteen): Ethnic and vernacular newspapers are one of the richest and most continuous records of the fluid and dispersed immigrant communities. Where an extended run is available, it can illuminate developments over time and the geographical extent of the readership. We can identify roughly three categories of these publications: purely local papers, trade union or socialist papers, and mainstream papers with a regional or even national audience. The first two kinds are good sources for the personalities and events of small communities and proletarian life, while the third often reveals expressions of national identity (the letters to the editor are especially interesting for this) and perceptions of the broader world. Much of the ethnic press, alas, was ephemeral and has not been preserved or may disintegrate before it can be microfilmed. Published bibliographies of this genre may identity titles that can no longer be found in any library, but also those that we can track down once we know what they are. The Center for Research Libraries has a large collection of microfilmed vernacular papers available by Interlibrary Loan, and Readex is building a commercial database entitled Ethnic American Newspapers.
Dominic A. Pacyga received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1981. He has authored, or co-authored, five books concerning Chicago’s history, including Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago (1991, 2001), Chicago: City of Neighborhoods with Ellen Skerrett (1986), Chicago: A Historical Guide to the Neighborhoods (1979) with Glen Holt, Chicago’s Southeast Side (1998) with Rod Sellers. Pacyga’s latest book is Chicago: A Biography (2009). He has lectured widely on topics ranging from urban development, residential architecture, labor history, immigration, and racial and ethnic relations, and has appeared in both the local and national media. Pacyga has been a member of the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department at Columbia College/Chicago since 1984. He has worked with various museums including the Chicago History Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Field Museum in Chicago on a variety of public history projects. Pacyga has also worked with numerous neighborhood organizations as well as ethnic, labor, and fraternal groups to preserve and exhibit their histories. He and Charles Shanabruch are co-editors of The Chicago Bungalow (2001). Pacyga has won the Oscar Halecki Award from the Polish American Historical Association for his book, Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago and the Catholic Book Award for Chicago: City of Neighborhoods. In both 1999 and 2011 he received the Columbia College Award for Excellence in Teaching. Pacyga has been a Visiting Professor at both the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2005 he was a Visiting Fellow at Campion Hall, Oxford University. His current project is a study of the Chicago Union Stock Yards from its beginning as a livestock market to the current industrial park which inhabits the site.
Abstract (Pacyga): “Chicago: Poles, Czechs and ‘Others’ in an American Industrial City.” Immigrants from East-Central Europe flocked to Chicago in the years after the American Civil War. Czechs and Poles made up two of the largest and most important of these groups. In many ways the Czechs provided a bridge between the First Wave European immigrants and those who made up the Second Wave from east of the Elbe River. From the beginning Czechs and Poles worked closely together in Chicago, helping each other in the creation of Catholic parishes, cemeteries, and political organizations. This Pan-Slavic relationship paid off during World War One when the two groups organized politically and put pressure on the city’s governmental structure. In turn they both played important roles in the creation of independence movements for their respective ethnic groups homelands. Both the Czech and Polish Diasporas saw themselves as important players in the independence movements that emerged out of the crucible of war, both would also witness their homelands fall as the first victims of Nazi Germany and later of Soviet expansion.
Chicago’s Czechs and Poles interacted with various East Central European groups in the city. Poles, Czechs, Jews, Slovaks, and Germans competed for power and influence in the city. By the 1930s, however, Anton Cermak, a Czech and the only foreign-born mayor in Chicago’s history, constructed a citywide political alliance bringing together several East Central European immigrant groups and the South Side Irish. Cermak’s Democratic Machine, which, in various forms has ruled the city since his election as mayor in 1931, has proven to be a permanent and flexible feature of the nation’s urban political scene. The construction of a “House for all Peoples” by Cermak led to the ability of many of these groups to positively impact Chicago’s political culture for the first time. They acquired “clout” in the Chicago parlance. Both ethnically created public space and institutional development helped the Poles and Czechs to obtain a degree of “countervailing” power the allowed them to climb the American ladder of social mobility. Even as the Irish reestablished their control over the Democratic Party after Cermak’s assassination (1933), the Czechs and Poles had to be taken into account and kept within the political machine. This presentation will look at the dealings, first between the Czechs and Poles and then between these two groups and their other neighbors as East Central European immigration remade the city in the first half of the twentieth century.
It will also discuss the fall from power of both groups as the suburbs beckoned their children and grandchildren in the years after World War Two, a phenomenon seen in other parts of the country as well.
Peter Pastor is professor of history at Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ. He received his BA from the City College of CUNY and his PhD from New York University. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of seven books. His most recent co-edited volume with Graydon Tunstall is Essays on World War I (2012). He is also the author of more than forty articles focusing on Hungarian-Russian relations, or on twentieth century Hungarian history. He is also the president of the Center for Hungarian Studies and Publications, Inc., a non-profit corporation specializing on publishing the works of Hungarian historians in English. He is a frequent visitor to Hungary and is on the faculty of the Doctoral Program in History of Eszterházy Károly College in Eger, Hungary as an invited foreign instructor. In 2003 he received the Commander’s Cross of the Hungarian Republic (a Magyar Köztársasági Érdemrend Középkeresztje) for exceptional contributions to the furthering of Hungarian-American cultural ties.
Abstract (Pastor). In the wake of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, close to two hundred thousand Hungarians crossed the border to Austria. About thirty thousand of these refugees were allowed to enter the United States. Their common experience of living under totalitarian communism and participating or being a witness to the exhilarating thirteen days of the revolution and their sudden, previously unplanned, departure from the homeland gave them a collective identity that was different from the one shared by the people of previous waves of Hungarian influx to the United States. The high educational level of the refugees attained before and after their arrival made their absorption into the mainstream relatively easy. The longevity of the communist system also contributed to the perception that there was no return to the homeland. This assumption strengthened attitudes that embraced the American melting pot model. Many of the 1956-ers in the United Sates, however, were also comfortable with the notion of ethnic pride and believed in the need for projecting a positive image.
While the 1956 Hungarian emigration to the United States can be considered a success story, the Kádár regime, put into power on the tips of Soviet bayonets, tried to achieve international legitimacy by introducing various schemes to woo back the Hungarian refugees in the United States to their communist homeland. Much of the effort was through the government-sponsored “World Alliance of Hungarians.” In 1965 the Hungarian refugees who earlier were branded criminal “dissidents” for illegally leaving Hungary as refugees, were amnestied and were expected to resettle in Hungary. A meaningful number of returnees would have symbolized the superiority of state socialism over capitalism. No mass return materialized though some former refugees returned for visits, mostly to flaunt their comfortable American life before their relatives in the old country. The collapse of communism in 1989 came too late for most of the former refugees in the United States to contemplate repatriation. Thirty-three years after their arrival to the United States they had already deep roots in the new country. For most there was no desire to return to Hungary as their children and grandchildren had no affinity with a country they never saw.
Christina Peter is Head, Acquisitions, and the subject specialist for Slavic collection development at the Frick Art Reference Library in New York. A native of Hungary, she received her M.A. degrees in Russian and Anglo-American Studies as well as General and Applied Linguistics from the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, and her M.S. in Library and Information Science from the Palmer Library School of Long Island University. An active member of both the Art Libraries Society of North America and the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies, she has given several presentations on Slavic collections in North America and on publishing trends in Central Europe. She is committed to fostering collaboration and exchange among U.S. and Central European art libraries; in recognition of her efforts, she received the 2013 Pro Cultura Hungarica award.
James S. Pula is Professor of History at Purdue University. A specialist in ethnic and immigration studies and nineteenth century American history, his publications include For Liberty and Justice: A Biography of Brigadier General Włodzimierz B. Krzyżanowski, 1824-1887 (2008), New York Mills: The Evolution of a Village (2004; deals with the development of a Polish American community), Thaddeus Kościuszko: The Purest Son of Liberty (1998), Polish Americans: An Ethnic Community (1995), and United We Stand: The Role of Polish Workers in the New York Mills Textile Strikes, 1912 and 1916 (1990). His edited and co-edited works include The Polish American History Encyclopedia (2011), The Origins of Modern Polish Democracy (2010), and numerous other works. An active member of various professional organizations, he served as president of the Polish American Historical Association and is a member of the PAHA Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Friends of Kościuszko at West Point and editor of the scholarly journal Polish American Studies. His honors include three Oskar Halecki Prizes for the best book on Polish American history and culture (1991, 1996), the Distinguished Service Award of the Polish American Historical Association (2000), the Distinguished Service Award from the American Council for Polish Culture (1998), the Rudewicz Medal for the contributions to Polish American studies (2012), and the Mieczysław Haiman Award for sustained contributions to the study of Polish American history and culture (1988).
Abstract (Pula): Throughout the twentieth century Poland was an important issue in international affairs. Beginning with its quest for independence leading up to World War I and continuing through the dark days of World War II and the suppressions of the Cold War Communist era, “the cause of Poland” was supported by political émigrés throughout the world. Although exiled from their homeland, these refugees formed organizations in the nations where they settled whose mission it was to promote the welfare and the future independence of their homeland. This presentation will focus on attempts by Polish refugees in the United States to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Poland. To accomplish this, I propose to use a case study of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences in America (PIASA), an organization founded by prominent Polish refugee scholars during World War II including such eminent individuals as anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, historians Oskar Halecki and Jan Kucharzewski, literary historian Wacław Lednicki, chemist Wojciech Swiętoslawski, and historian of Roman law Rafał Taubenschlag. PIASA was active during the war and continued efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy well into the Cold War during which it spoke out on issues of academic freedom and human rights in Poland, as well as cooperating with U.S. government officials in obtaining information from Poland and disseminating American information behind the “Iron Curtain.”
Toivo Raun received his Ph.D from Princeton University and has been Professor of Central Eurasian Studies and Adjunct Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington since 1990. He has also taught at California State University, Long Beach; the University of Toronto; and Tartu University in Estonia. His research is focused on modern Baltic and Finnish history, including politics, society, and cultural issues. Among his major publications are Estonia and the Estonians (Hoover Institution Press, updated 2nd ed., 2001); (co-author) Russification in the Baltic Provinces and Finland, 1855-1914 (Princeton University Press, 1981); and (co-editor) Soviet Deportations in Estonia: Impact and Legacy (Tartu University Press, 2007). He has served as president of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (1992-94), editor of the Journal of Baltic Studies (1981-85), and director of the Baltic Studies Summer Institute at Indiana University (1998, 1999, 2005, 2006).
Abstract (Raun): This presentation will begin with a demographic and social profile of the Estonians who migrated to the United States in the 20th century. In contrast to the experience of most East Central European nationalities Estonian immigration developed only gradually in the early decades of the century. Before World War II most Estonians came to the US for economic reasons, although a distinctive group of political refugees arrived following the failed Russian Revolution of 1905. The great majority of American Estonians came in the early post-World War II years as displaced persons fleeing Stalinism at home. After the fall of communism and the restoration of independence a new, but much smaller wavelet of immigrants appeared.
The main focus of the presentation will be on the post-WW II generation and its experience as political refugees during the Cold War. The eclipse of Estonian independence placed a heavy burden on Estonians abroad, especially those who ended up in the US since America was viewed as the main hope for the restoration of Estonian sovereignty. The relatively small size of the Estonian community encouraged transnational cooperation, especially with the other Baltic nationalities in the US, in lobbying the American government and the international community. In addition, I will address the following issues. What were the main institutions, both cultural and political, that developed among the Estonian diaspora and how successful were they in maintaining ethnic identity and mobilizing the community? How close or distant were relations among the various generations of immigrants? How did relations with the homeland evolve in the course of the century? Following the establishment of an independent Estonian state in 1918 the homeland “rediscovered” emigrants in the interwar era. During the Cold War political relations between the Soviet-ruled homeland and leading émigré organizations were predictably chilly, but people-to-people contacts became surprisingly lively in the post-Stalin decades, as generational differences in attitudes increasingly surfaced among the Estonian diaspora. Finally, what was the role of return migration in the Estonian case?
Mihaela Robila is Professor of Family Studies at Queens College of the City University of New York. She received her B.A. in Psychology at University of Bucharest, Romania (1997), and her M.A in Marriage and Family Therapy (1999) and Ph.D. in Child and Family Studies (2002) at Syracuse University. She is conducting research and teaching on immigration, family policy, cultural diversity, family relations and child development. Besides publishing in peer-reviewed journals, she wrote a book on Eastern European Immigrant Families (Routledge, 2010), edited one on Families in Eastern Europe (Elsevier, 2004), and has recently edited another on Family Policies across the Globe (Springer, 2013). Dr. Robila has served as an expert on family policies for the United Nations. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association –Divisions 52 (International) and 43 (Family Psychology) Her work has been funded by Spencer Foundation, Fulbright, American Councils for International Education/U.S. Department of State, United Nations, Fahs Beck Fund, among others.
Abstract (Robila) This presentation will focus on recent East Central European immigrants’ adaptation to the United States, with an emphasis on ethnic identity development and maintenance. A brief overview of the contemporary context underlying socio-economic factors influencing the immigration process will be provided. International migration is a complex phenomenon that impacts not only individuals but family systems as well, bringing opportunities and challenges which affect spousal relationships, parenting behaviors, and children’s outcomes. Maintaining one’s ethnic identity and transmitting the cultural heritage to their children are also forefront issues in immigrant families. Using a “family systems” theoretical perspective provides an opportunity to examine the impact of immigration on families and Eastern European immigrants’ efforts to preserve their ethnic identity, through language use, religious envolvement, cultural embeddedness, and social support networks.
Thomas Sakmyster, Ph.D. (Indiana) is Walter Langsam Professor of Modern European History (emeritus) at the University of Cincinnati. His areas of scholarly interest include the political and diplomatic history of 20th century Hungary, Hungarian Communist émigrés in the interwar period, and film as propaganda. He is the author of a biography of Admiral Miklós Horthy that appeared also in Hungarian and German editions. Recently he has published two books and several articles on Hungarian immigrants and émigrés who were active in the American Communist Party. He has twice served as president of the Hungarian Studies Association and is the recipient of Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic in recognition of his contributions to Hungarian culture.
As is known from the works of Kati Marton, Béla Vardy, and others, in the first half of the twentieth century Hungarians made significant contributions to American culture and society, most notably in the realms of science, the cinema, classical music, and the social sciences. One area in which Hungarian immigrants did not initially excel was political life, but in the interwar era some Hungarians were, in fact, very active and influential in one particular part of the American political spectrum: left-wing radicalism.
Two distinct groups of Hungarians played important roles in the development of the American Communist Party after World War I. The first had come to the United States during the great wave of immigration from Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the 1920s they were, for the most part, American citizens and were on the way to assimilation. Some, however, were strongly attracted to Marxism and enthralled by the success of the Bolsheviks in Russia. They joined the Communist Party, the membership of which was small and distinctly foreign in character. The Hungarian Federation, which published its own daily newspaper in Hungarian, was one of many ethnic organizations that comprised the national party. Although most Hungarian-Americans showed no sympathy for or interest in the Hungarian Federation or its newspaper, several of those with a deep commitment to Marxism made important contributions to the Communist Party, particularly in the trade union movement.
It is in the second group of left-wing Hungarians, the professional émigrés, that one finds counterparts to their compatriots who proved so successful as scientists, film directors, and musicians. These émigrés arrived in the United States after World War I. They came by personal choice or, in some cases, as agents dispatched by the Communist International in Moscow. Although they often lived in the United States for many years and to an extent became assimilated, they did not become citizens, for they were in the country illegally and often were engaged in revolutionary activities. Two of these émigrés, József Pogány (known as John Pepper) and Sándor Goldberger (known as J. Peters) played key roles in the development of the American Communist movement. Pogány was responsible for the establishment of the Communist daily newspaper, the Daily Worker, and for a time in the 1920s dominated the Party leadership. Goldberger directed the party’s underground apparatus and single-handedly created the first successful Soviet espionage ring in Washington, D.C. Pogány and Goldberger had much in common with the those Hungarian immigrants who gained great prominence in American society. Like most of them, they were what might be called “non-Jewish Jews,” individuals from Jewish families who tried to make a full break from their Jewish past. They showed a remarkable facility for learning new languages, surviving in an unfamiliar and often hostile environment with new Americanized names, and shaping public opinion through entertainment or propaganda.
Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz is a subject specialist in Russian and East European Studies at The New York Public Library, currently with the Cataloging Department. Formerly, Mr. Siemaszkiewicz has been with the Slavic and Baltic Division of The New York Public Library for several years working as Curator of West Slavic Collections (Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Sorbian languages). He received his MLS from Queens College in New York and MA from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Political Science Department at Columbia University. Wojciech is the author/editor of the following books The Polish Community of Wallington, NJ (with Marta Deyrup), to be published by Arcadia in 2013; East-Central European Collections of the New York Public Library Research Libraries. Special issue, Slavic and East European Information Resources 9 (4), 2008 (with Marta Deyrup) and Graphic Modernism: from the Baltic to the Balkans, 1910-1935. New York: New York Public Library, 2007 (with Steven A. Mansbach).
Abstract (Siemaszkiewicz): For several years, Polish governmental institutions have taken active role in preserving and making accessible to researchers archival collections of Polish American collections. Some of these archival collections were relocated to Poland with microfilm or digital copies available in the USA. A special project undertaken by the Polish Ministry of Heritage has been publishing comprehensive collection guides to Polish ethnic libraries and archives outside of Poland as well as foreign collections of Polonica related material. Many major Polish universities have research institutes studying Polish Diaspora in the world such as the Jagiellonian University Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora and the Archives of Polish Emigration at Nicolaus Copernicus Library in Torun. Similar efforts have been undertaken by the Czech and Slovak governments.
In my panel remarks I will review these initiatives and address some of the challenges facing émigré archival and museum collections in the United States of America in general and in the New York Metropolitan Area in particular. My primary focus will be on Polish and Czech archival collections and their holdings of art objects held in ethnic/fraternal institutions and private collections. Present state of these collections, access to them as well as the future survival will be discussed.
Mark J. Sokolich (b. 1963) is an American attorney and politician. He current serves as Mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. He is also managing partner of the law firm that he founded in 1998. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Sokolich is of Croatian descent and was raised in Fort Lee, and graduated from Fort Lee High School. Sokolich enrolled in Rutgers University, where he played basketball for the Scarlet Knights. He received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers, and a juris doctor from Seton Hall University School of Law. He worked at several firms before founding his own firm. Sokolich serves on the Board of Directors of the Bank of New Jersey, a publicly traded community bank of which he was one of the initial organizers. Sokolich served on the Fort Lee Borough Council for two years before being elected Mayor in 2007. Sokolich replaced incumbent Mayor Jack Alter as the Democratic candidate after Alter’s sudden death. Sokolich was reelected in 2011.
Daniel Soyer is professor of history at Fordham University. With Annie Polland he wrote The Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration, 1840-1920 (NYU Press, 2012), the second volume of the three-volume City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York, which received the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Book of the Year. His other books include (with Jocelyn Cohen) My Future Is in America: Autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish Immigrants (NYU Press, 2006), an anthology of translations from the Yiddish; A Coat of Many Colors: Immigration, Globalization, and Reform in the New York City Garment Industry (Fordham University Press, 2005); and Jewish Immigrant Associations and American Identity in New York , 1880-1939 (Harvard, 1997), winner of the Saul Viener Award of the American Jewish Historical Society. He has published articles in such journals as Labor History, Journal of American Ethnic History, Religion and American Culture, American Jewish History, Jewish Social Studies, and American Communist History. Dr. Soyer has advised or curated a variety of film and exhibition projects at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, WNET-TV, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Center for Jewish History.
The American Jewish community grew mainly from a Central and East European migration that spanned nearly a century from the 1820s to the 1920s. The earlier immigrants came mainly from the German lands (including Prussian-controlled Poland) and, though many spoke Yiddish, their public language was German. They were both active in German communal affairs and built their own separate Jewish institutions. The later wave came from the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, and Romania, spoke mostly Yiddish, and mostly established a communal structure separate from those of Christian immigrants from their home countries. Immigration restriction severely limited the numbers of Jews who arrived after 1924, though some did arrive in the 1920s and 1930s from East Central Europe and from Germany. A small cohort of survivors of the Holocaust came after World War II.
Jewish immigrants largely came to stay; there was comparatively little return migration. And Jews, both immigrants and their children, influenced American politics, society, and culture, especially in New York City. Nevertheless, they also exhibited a great degree of transnational involvement with the Jewish communities they left behind in Central and Eastern Europe. Beginning during World War I, American Jewry, unscathed by the war and relatively prosperous, took on the role of benefactor of the poor and insecure Jewish populations especially in Poland and the Baltic states. Some traveled there, visiting hometowns and regions, and returning to the US to report on what they had seen. Paradoxically, increased contact only drove home to the Americans that they had made the right choice in emigrating and confirmed their Americanness. For a few, the Soviet Union offered a tantalizing vision of a transformed “old country” made new, vying with Palestine and the US itself as the land of the Jewish future. After World War II, American Jews turned to memorializing the lost communities of Central Europe, and aiding and rescuing their survivors.
Bosiljka Stevanovic was educated at L’Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales Vivantes, the Sorbonne, and Columbia University from which she received the MLS in 1970. From 1967 to 2008 she worked at The New York Public Library, serving as Principal Librarian and Unit Head of the Donnell Library Center’s World Languages Collection from 1978.
Marián Mark Stolárik, Ph.D. (Minnesota, 1974), is Professor of History and holder of the Chair in Slovak History and Culture at the University of Ottawa. From 1979 to 1991 he was President and CEO of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia, and director of its press. Stolárik is a specialist in the history of immigration and ethnic groups in North America, with emphasis on the Slovak experience. He has published nine books and over 60 articles in the field, including Where is my Home? Slovak Immigration to North America, 1870-2010 (Berne: Peter Lang, 2012). Stolárik was also a consultant and contributor to the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (1980), to the The Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples (1999) and to The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History (1997). Founder of the Slovak Studies Association (1977), Stolárik has also edited several periodicals related to the Slovaks. He founded and edited the Slovak Studies Newsletter (1977-1987); he edits the scholarly annual Slovakia (since 1982); and he also serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of American Ethnic History (Detroit) and Historický časopis (Bratislava).
Abstract (Stolarik): Over 500,000 Slovaks migrated to the USA before the Great War and they built strong communities in the American Northeast and Midwest based upon fraternal-benefit societies, parish churches and a vigorous newspaper press. Meanwhile, a small group of intellectuals who followed them struggled to forge their identity in three competing directions– as a distinct ethnic group, the Slovaks; as Patriotic Hungarians (“Magyarones”); or as a completely new ethnic group, the “Czechoslovaks.” For tactical political reasons, the “Czechoslovak” orientation prevailed by 1918 with the creation of the new Czechoslovak Republic. In the inter-war period, the Czechoslovak government, through its embassy and consulates, fostered the philosophy of one Czechoslovak nation, which the majority of American Slovaks rejected. Instead, the latter cooperated with two major Slovak cultural organizations, the Matica slovenská and the Spolok Sv. Vojtecha, to maintain their Slovak ethnicity in the USA. A majority of Slovak-American organizations, federated in the Slovak League of America, also supported the struggle for autonomy of the Slovak nation in Czechoslovakia and rejoiced when the Slovaks achieved their autonomy in the fall of 1938. During World War II, however, even though the Slovak League supported the independence of Slovakia, it had to mute (and later renounce) its support because Slovakia was allied with Nazi Germany. The minority “Czechoslovaks,”organized in the Slovak National Alliance, supported Dr. Edvard Benes’s liberation movement and plans to resurrect pre-war Czechoslovakia in 1945.
In the second half of the 20th century, as American Slovaks moved into the suburbs and slowly assimilated into American “mainstream” culture, they continued to show an interest in their cousins overseas. Bolstered by political emigres in the period 1945-1948, American Slovaks were once again tugged in two directions: political independence from Czechoslovakia and a denunciation of Communism (The Slovak National Council Abroad) versus remaining in Czechoslovakia while denouncing Communism (Council for a Free Czechoslovakia). The Slovak League of America supported the former and opposed the latter. The United States Department of State, however, took the opposite stand. Meanwhile, in 1970 the Slovak League joined other Slovak organizations from all over the free world in creating the Slovak World Congress, which was headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The SWC was hostile to both Communism and “Czechoslovakism” and worked to defeat both. Needless to say, the SWC and the Slovak League of America rejoiced when Slovakia became independent in 1993.
After this date the SWC slowly sank into insignificance and disappeared. The Slovak League continues to exist but is in decline, as are all American Slovak organizations. Most American Slovaks can no longer speak the language and have only nostalgic, largely folkloric, memories of the ancient homeland. While they continue to have relations with Slovakia and its cultural and political representatives, these are growing progressively weaker.
Lise Stone is a writer and public policy communications specialist whose work includes speech writing, articles, editing, and website development.She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Off-the-Record Lecture Series of the Foreign Policy Association. A former writer and editor at The Associated Press and adviser to the later Czech President Václav Havel’s foreign policy staff, she holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Van C. Tran is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. His research focuses on the incorporation of post-1965 immigrants and their children as well as its implications for the future of ethnic and racial inequality in the U.S. His other interests include neighborhoods, urban inequality, and population health. His research has primarily focused on New York City and its immigrant population.
His research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. His work has also been recognized with awards from the American Sociological Association.
Tran recently completed his post-doctoral training as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania where he was a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. At Columbia, he offers courses on immigration, urban poverty, and research methods.
Tran was born in Vietnam and grew up in Thailand before his family was resettled in New York City in 1998. He first developed his interest in immigration and urban neighborhoods as an observer of the city’s diverse communities.
Marica Vilcek, an art historian, co-founded The Vilcek Foundation with her husband Jan. Born in Bratislava, Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia), Marica Vilcek earned advanced degrees in art history at the Comenius University in Bratislava and Charles University in Prague. After graduation she joined the Department of Prints and Drawings of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava as assistant curator. In 1965 Marica and her husband immigrated to the US, settling in New York City. Within a few months, Marica joined the staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institution to which she eventually devoted 32 years. Most of her tenure there was dedicated to collections management, principally as the Associate Curator in Charge of the Accessions and Catalogue Department. Marica serves as an Honorary Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, and is a board member of the New York Youth Symphony, NYU Institute of Fine Art and the Foundation for a Civil Society. In 2005, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recognized Dr. and Mrs. Vilcek as the Humanitarians of the Year. She was named an Outstanding New Yorker by the Center for an Urban Future in 2011, received the Steven K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Immigration Council in 2012, and an award from the Rosalind Franklin Society in 2013. Marica serves as Vice President and Secretary of the Vilcek Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that honors contributions of immigrant artists and scientists to society in the United States.
Ieva Zake is Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Planning at the College of New Jersey. She holds a BA in Philosophy from University of Latvia, an MA in Women’s Studies from the Ohio State University and a PhD in Sociology from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a political and historical sociologist focusing on issues of ethnicity, nationalist movements and ideologies, intellectuals, Eastern European immigration to the US, anti-communism and Soviet foreign and cultural policy during the Cold War. Besides numerous articles, she is also an editor of “Anti-Communist Minorities in the US: Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees” (Palgrave 2009) and an author of “American Latvians: Politics of a Refugee Community” (Transaction Publishers 2010). Her current research deals with 1) relationship between the Republican Party and Eastern and Central European refugee communities in the US after World War II, and 2) implementation of the Soviet policy of international tourism in ethnic republics, such as Latvian SSR, in the 1950s-1980s.
Abstract (Zake): The first wave of American Latvians contained a few economic immigrants, but for the most part Latvians arrived in the US in the late 19th and early 20th century due to political reasons – they were socialists fleeing political persecution in Czarist Russia. Thus, the early American Latvian community was characterized by high political awareness and influence of socialist political ideas. The second wave of Latvians arrived to the US in the post-World War II era and consisted of political émigrés this time fleeing the Soviet regime. This group was larger and better mobilized both politically and culturally. In my presentation, I discuss the important differences between the two groups of Latvians in the US and the most important political, sociological and cultural factors that contributed to the formation of American Latvian émigré community. Turning to the second aim of these remarks, I will analyze the impact of the Soviet government in the homeland on the historical memory of the American Latvian community. For the post-World War II émigrés, the collective memory of the homeland occupied and destroyed by the Community regime served to “glue” the community together. In many ways, this community’s goal was to preserve the lost past of the Latvian interwar statehood. At the same time, the Communist regime in the Latvian SSR actively sought out to build contacts with the émigré community and even encouraged certain groups to visit Soviet Latvia. This tension between the commitment to the past and the opportunity to engage with the present reality, created quite a bit of controversy in the American Latvian community and certainly shaped its political and cultural behavior. This presentation looks into this dynamic, thus offering sociological observations about the experience of being a political émigré.
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