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Lucy S. Dawidowicz

Lucy S. Dawidowicz believed that her passion for the shtetls she had known and her experiences working with Holocaust survivors in postwar Germany made her a better historian. While pursuing a master’s degree in Jewish history at Columbia in 1938, Dawidowicz did a year of research in Vilna for YIVO, the Institute for Jewish Studies, with the scholars and writers of “the Jerusalem of Lithuania,” fleeing days before the Germans and Russians invaded. She continued to work with YIVO in the US and after the war spent eighteen months in Germany with the American Jewish Committee, helping Jewish survivors and cataloguing thousands of books confiscated by the Nazis. In 1969, she began teaching at Yeshiva University. She wrote extensively on the Holocaust—The War Against the Jews 1933–1945 was controversial for her assertion that successful Jewish resistance to the Nazis was impossible. In her 1967 The Golden Tradition: Jewish Life and Thought in Eastern Europe, she offered a window into that lost world with excerpts of essays, autobiographies, fiction and letters. In her final book, From that Place and Time: A Memoir 1938–1947, she discussed her personal experiences in Vilna and the displaced persons camps in Germany.

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Historian and author Lucy S. Dawidowicz was a controversial figure not only because of her opinions about Jewish life and history but also because of her methodology. She was not afraid to immerse herself in the world of her people, believing her analyses could combine passion and objectivity.

Institution: American Jewish Historical Society

Date of Birth
June 16, 1915
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
December 5, 1990

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lucy S. Dawidowicz." (Viewed on October 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/dawidowicz-lucy>.

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