Uprooting the Diaspora
Jewish Belonging and the "Ethnic Revolution" in Poland and Czechoslovakia, 1936–1946
Published by: Indiana University Press
In Uprooting the Diaspora, Sarah Cramsey explores how the Jewish citizens rooted in interwar Poland and Czechoslovakia became the ideal citizenry for a post–World War II Jewish state in the Middle East. She asks, how did new interpretations of Jewish belonging emerge and gain support amongst Jewish and non-Jewish decision makers exiled from wartime east central Europe and the powerbrokers surrounding them?
Usually, the creation of the State of Israel is cast as a story that begins with Herzl and is brought to fulfillment by the Holocaust. To reframe this trajectory, Cramsey draws on a vast array of historical sources to examine what she calls a "transnational conversation" carried out by a small but influential coterie of Allied statesmen, diplomats in international organizations, and Jewish leaders who decided that the overall disentangling of populations in postwar east central Europe demanded the simultaneous intellectual and logistical embrace of a Jewish homeland in Palestine as a territorial nationalist project.
Uprooting the Diaspora slows down the chronology between 1936 and 1946 to show how individuals once invested in multi-ethnic visions of diasporic Jewishness within east central Europe came to define Jewishness primarily in ethnic terms. This revolution in thinking about Jewish belonging combined with a sweeping change in international norms related to population transfers and accelerated, deliberate postwar work on the ground in the region to further uproot Czechoslovak and Polish Jews from their prewar homes.
1. Rooted: A Contingent Look at Polish Jews in the Late 1930s
2. In Exile: Debating Postwar Plans during an Uprooted Present, 1940–1943
3. Negating This Diaspora: The World Jewish Congress and the Prioritization of Postwar Life in Palestine, 1942–1944
4. Uncertain Citizenship: Anxious Postwar Returns to East Central Europe, 1945–1946
5. Uprooted: The "Miraculous" Remnant of Polish Jews Who Survived in the Soviet Union and Their Postwar Migrations
Conclusion: The Postwar Life Is Elsewhere
"In this deeply-researched and original book, Sarah Cramsey shows how the redefinition of Jewish identity after the Holocaust was part of an ethnic revolution that transformed Eastern Europe's shattered moral and political landscape. This is an important contribution to the history of European Jews, the creation of postwar Eastern Europe, and the complex relationship between nationality and statehood."~James J. Sheehan, Stanford University
"In this impressive and carefully argued book, Sarah Cramsey tackles some very large themes - territory and belonging, nationalism, diaspora, minority rights, the Jewish Question - and proposes the intriguing new formulation of 'empirical Zionism' to help untangle the complexities of the 'ethnic revolution' that took place in central and eastern Europe from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s. In doing so, she deftly combines analysis of institutions, ideologies, politics and people, and opens up welcome new perspectives on familiar issues that remain of great interest to historians."~David Rechter, University of Oxford
"Ninety percent of Polish Jews perished in the Holocaust, but some 300,000 Polish-Jewish survivors remained the fourth biggest group of the European diaspora. This book tells the fascinating history of their mass exodus in the postwar years and perceptively analyzes its peculiar factors, which had developed in the previous decade: from the recent Jewish traumas to considerations of Jewish, Czechoslovak and Polish leaders, to radical changes of ideas on belonging, minority rights and desirable shape of polities."~Dariusz Stola, Polish Academy of Sciences
"This superbly narrated book is essential reading for anyone interested in diaspora and nation-building in modern times. Uprooting the Diaspora follows Jewish and non-Jewish politicians, diplomats, thinkers, and writers in their quest for ideas on how to "resolve the tensions" surrounding Jewish national and spatial belonging in 20th century Poland and Czechoslovakia. The book explores rootedness, diaspora, and Zionism in the tragic decade of 1936-1946 with empathy, insight, and originality. Powerfully argued and meticulously researched, it's intellectual history at its best!"~Anna Cichopek-Gajraj, Arizona State University
- The Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards