Post-Holocaust Migrations from Poland to America

An Exercise in Microhistory

  • Thomas Chopard VWI / CNRS
Keywords: Aftermath of the Holocaust, Migration Studies, Displaced persons, Survival

Abstract

This article seeks to reconstruct the trajectory of a Polish Jewish family, the Cyngels, from their pre-war life up to their migration to America in the early 1950s, encompassing their various experiences of war (survival in Poland and the Soviet Union) and of the aftermath of the Holocaust in Poland and Germany. It seeks to highlight the value of a microhistorical approach towards post-Holocaust migrations, as well as the need for a deeper understanding of the different group identities of Jewish migrants. The article adopts a comparative per-spective, examining the experiences of the Cyngel family alongside those of other Jewish survivors from their hometown in Poland. Attentive to the agency of Jewish migrants in re-sponding to the challenges of their post-war situation, the article pursues a history from below of the different displaced persons camps through which the Cyngels passed, comple-mented by a historiographic analysis drawing above all on camp administrations archives, alongside archival collections located in Poland and those of diverse international institu-tions. In addition, the article revisits established opinions on different aspects of post-Holo-caust Jewish migration, such as the experiences that shaped the trajectories of migrants and the strategies which they adopted in response to the various constraints imposed on them by the International Refugee Organization (IRO).

Published
2020-05-08