Bearing Witness

Bearing Witness

A Personal Perspective on Sixty Years of Polish History

Jewish Studies

List Price: $39.95


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ISBN: 978-1-4128-5595-2
Pages: 276
Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: 07-22-2015
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Bearing Witness offers personal insight into the collective experience of Poles over the last sixty years. One of Poland’s leading social scientists combines objective, academic rigor with autobiographical, eyewitness accounts of historic events. Maria Jarosz reflects on the post-World War II world and how Poland and its people have been affected by changes in politics, power, and society.

More than a memoir, the book offers keen insights into how history intersects with personal life. That is because Jarosz has spent her entire life studying people. As a reviewer of the original Polish edition noted, it is not possible to understand Polish society, its views and attitudes, and the mechanisms for managing them, without reading this work. This book spans the period from World War II through the communist era in Poland to the present day. It contains a wealth of dramatic detail, including a vivid account of how the author, who has Jewish roots, survived the Holocaust as a child.

This English language edition is updated to include descriptions of recent events. The author focuses intensely on her experiences as one of a few surviving witnesses to the horrors of wartime Poland. Her sober reflections are interspersed with light-hearted anecdotes, testifying to Jarosz’s resilient sense of humor—a cocktail that makes the book a captivating read.

Editorial Reviews

“A remarkable account of unprecedented violence, personal endurance, and finally a recovery of personal as well as national freedom. Compelling and admirable.”

—Zbigniew Brzezinski, Johns Hopkins University

Review on the Polish Edition: “Pure magic. . . . Jarosz is blessed with the gift of an ‘authentic’ memory—one that can reproduce a picture of a girl from the Lodz ghetto as seen through the eyes of that girl. This is a gift in which we can share liberally, thanks to the generosity of the author.”

—Andrezej Jonas, The Warsaw Voice

"Maria Jarosz has written a fine and gripping memoir. It's an outstanding inside look at what it meant to be a Jew, a Pole, and an intellectual in wartime and postwar Poland. Read, reflect, and enjoy."

—William Helmreich, Professor of Sociology and author of Against All Odds:Holocaust Survivors and the Sucxcessful Lives they Made in America  


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Table of Contents

List of Figures 

From the Author 

1. Marked by the Past 
        A Sociologist and a Witness to History
       1939: War Breaks Out

2. Shut Off from Life: The Łódź Ghetto 

3. Warsaw in the 1940s: The Ghetto and the
    “Aryan Side” 
        The Warsaw Ghetto
        Occupied Warsaw
        Szmalcownicy and Heroes

4. First Decade of Communism 
         Poland or France?
         My Universities

5. 1956: Workers’ Councils, Goździk, and
        First Steps in Academia
        Workers’ Councils: The Case of Żerań

6. Yugoslavia: Oddities and Infatuation 

7. 1968 and the Aftermath: Excluded from Society 
       Forced into Unemployment
       Emotional Aspect of the March Purges

8. GUS: The Job I Didn’t Want and the
    Research I Dreamed Of 
        Up Against the Censors
        Varna Congress: Changing Soviet Research
        Postdoctoral Qualification

9. Martial Law: Signs of Social Disintegration 
       Institute of Crime Problems: Solidarity
       and the People in Power
       Martial Law and the Ghosts of the War
       The State of Society as Reflected by the
       Suicide Rate

10. Polish Academy of Sciences and Adventures
     with Research 
       An Unusual Grant
       Empirical Research in a Free Poland: Being
       Part of the Research Community

11. Democratic Poland: Winners and Losers 
       1989: The Round Table
       The Costs of Transition
       Social Disorganization and Corruption

12. Corruption: Personal Experience 
       Bribing the Mexican Police
       Greasing Palms in a Communist Hospital
       Greasing Palms in a Postcommunist
       Hospital: Pay or Perish

13. A View from Abroad: Food for Thought 
       On the Go: By Rail and Air
       Airport Adventure: Hijack Attempt
       In France
       In Ukraine
       In China
       In Vietnam
       In Japan
       In Cuba
       In Israel—About Poland
       In Italy
       In Germany
       America: The Polish Perspective

14. Ethnic Hodgepodge: A Politically Correct

15. Facts of Life: Cops and Robbers, Lost and
     Found, and the Pernicious Effects of
     Too Much Alcohol 

16. Closing Reflections: The World Has
     Changed . . . 

About the Author 

Index of Surnames