International Conference "The Accidental Metropolis? Jewish Łódź from 1800 to present"

Panorama wojennej Łodzi - z kominów fabryk leci dym.
fot. Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

The history of Łódź is inextricably linked with that of its Jewish community, one of the most important in Eastern Europe before World War II.

  • August 25-27, 2024 (Sunday – Tuesday), POLIN Museum
  • Applications in English until March, 31 2024
  • More information: [email protected]

The mechanized loom, which symbolizes the industrial revolution worldwide, came to define Łódź. The city developed from a tiny village to an industrial metropolis in a remarkably short period of time. Migrant workers and speculators from all across Europe, including many Jews, were attracted to its textile industry . Several of them, the most famous being Izrael Poznański, became captains of industry. The city also became a lively center of Jewish politics and culture.

In 1939, Germany incorporated Łódź into the Third Reich and renamed it Litzmannstadt. Forced labor became a potential lifeline for thousands of Jews in the Łódź ghetto. Although the Holocaust decimated most of the Jewish community, the city recovered after 1945 because it had been spared destruction, unlike Warsaw. High schools and universities welcomed thousands of students, including many Holocaust survivors. The city declined in the years that followed due to failing industry, urban decay, and outmigration. During the past decade, however, Łódź is again experiencing a revival, while also coming to terms with its Jewish past.

This conference will take an interdisciplinary perspective on the history of the Jewish community in Łódź before, during, and after the Holocaust, drawing on such fields as history, memory studies, cultural studies, urban studies, economics, and the arts.

Call for paper proposals

Please submit an abstract (up to 500 words) in English only and a biographical note (up to 150 words) through the online application form by March 31.

Scholars at all stages of their careers and in all disciplines, as well as museum and heritage specialists, and local historians and practitioners are invited to submit paper proposals within the following thematic areas:

  • Industrialization, growth of factories, impact on the city
  • Ethnic relations
  • Migration to and from the city
  • Yiddish, Hebrew, and Polish-Jewish Culture
  • Politics
  • Culture
  • Holocaust
  • Postwar Jewish life
  • Commemoration of the Jewish community in the city
  • Heritage of Jews and other minorities – Łódź’s multicultural past then and now

Presentations to be delivered in English, no longer than 20 minutes.

The organizers will provide meals and accommodation during the conference and partially reimburse international speakers for travel expenses to and from Warsaw (economy class tickets) as follows:

  • from Europe and Israel up to 250 USD;
  • from elsewhere up to 750 USD.

For participants travelling within Poland up to 100 USD.

The organizers reserve the right to record and publish conference proceedings. 

Academic Committee

  • Natalia Aleksiun (University of Florida)
  • François Guesnet (UCL)
  • Zachary Mazur (POLIN Museum)
  • Marcos Silber (University of Haifa)
  • Michał Trębacz (The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute / University of Łódź)
  • Ewa Wiatr (University of Łódź)

Logos of conference organizers and partners: GEOP program, Taube Philantrophies, William K. Bowes Foundation, Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, POLIN Museum, Jewish Historical Istitute, London University (UCL), Hajfa University, University of Łódź and University of Florida