The talk examines three moments in the history of twentieth-century antisemitism in which it faced organized opposition on a transnational scale. The first case concerns the discriminatory policies of the late tsarist empire and the role of antisemitism as a mobilizing factor in the civil war that followed the revolution. The second revolves around the controversial profile of Symon Petlyura, leader of the movement for Ukrainian independence after that empire collapsed. The third considers the example of Polish writer Andrzej Bobkowski, whose opinions on the subject of the Jews, as expressed in work published after the Second World War, diverged sharply from those he had held during the war, when they reflected views prevalent in Polish society and among the wartime Polish leadership. In each case, antisemitism became a charge that had to be refuted, in the political arena and in the court of public opinion.
Laura Engelstein is a Henry S. McNeil Professor Emerita of Russian History at Yale University. Currently she is a Visiting Fellow at the IWM.