IAS guest, distinguished Holocaust Researcher Prof. Jan Grabowski, nominated prestigious Cleveringa Chair 2021-2022

Polish Historian Prof. Jan Grabowski has been awarded a prestigious Chair by Leiden University and will deliver the Cleveringa Lecture on November 26

Historian Jan Grabowski. Credit: courtesy.

A Polish-Canadian holocaust researcher Prof. Jan Grabowski, IAS Distinguished Lecturer for the academic year 2021/2022, professor at the University of Ottawa, and his long-term collaborator Prof. Barbara Engelking, the founder and director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw, were nominated Cleveringa Chairs 2021-2022 and will deliver together on November 26 the Cleveringa Lecture at Leiden University, Netherlands. Their research has been crucial for documenting the brutal truth about Jewish-Polish relations during WWII.


The Cleveringa Chair is usually a one-year professorship that was installed by Leiden University in memory of Professor Rudolph Pabus Cleveringa and the courage he demonstrated in November 1940 during the German occupation (1940-1945). It also commemorates the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945. Past holders of the chair include many prominent researchers, such as Prof. Michael Ignatieff (2013-2014), Prof. Timothy Snyder (2012-2013), Dr. David Van Reybrouck (2011-2012), Ian Buruma (2008-2009), and Nobel Laureate in economy Jan Tinbergen (1973-1975).


In 2018, Prof. Grabowski and Prof. Engelking co-edited a two-volume study “Night without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland”. The book provided an in-depth, meticulously documented research into the fate of Jews who managed to escape from the ghettos and attempted to find shelter in the countryside. A grim conclusion has been that about two-thirds of these Jews perished, either directly at the hands of the local peasants, or as a result of having been denounced to the Germans. These findings created a storm in the Polish media and political scene. An organization called The Polish League Against Defamation, supported by the Polish state budget, funded a civil case against Prof. Grabowski and Prof. Engelking in Poland, formally brought by the 81-year-old niece of a Polish villager, who was accused in the book by witness testimony of having betrayed Jews to the Germans. In February 2021, a Warsaw court ruled that Prof. Grabowski and Prof. Engelking must apologize for their claims about the villager, but it did not order them to pay compensation. In August 2021, an appeals court overturned that ruling and dismissed the claims against the historians.


In 2020, Prof. Grabowski published a book (“Na Posterunku” in Polish) providing detailed and hitherto unknown documentation about the extensive participation of the Polish Blue Police and Polish Criminal Police in the extermination of Jews in German-occupied Poland, including many instances of policemen murdering Jews on their own initiative, rather than on German orders. An English edition of the book is expected soon.


The Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) offers its warmest congratulations to the IAS Distinguished Lecturer Prof. Grabowski, on receiving the prestigious nomination to the Cleveringa Chair.

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