Legacy of Artur Eisenbach

At the Archive, we have finished arranging the legacy of Professor Artur Eisenbach.

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One of the prewar photograph from Eisenbach legacy

At the Archive, we have finished arranging the legacy of Professor Artur Eisenbach — a long term research worker at the Jewish Historical Institute, the director in the years 1966–1968, a historian of the Polish Jews in the 19th century and historian of the Holocaust. The JHI’s Archive came into the possession of the legacy of Artur Eisenbach after his death in 1992. It comprises, above all, notes made for his post-war works, extracts from source materials, drafts of articles and chapters of the books. Though they are difficult to read, they provide interesting insight into the work methods of the historian. While preparing many publications on the figure of Emanuel Ringelblum, Eisenbach drew up scholarly bibliography and made copies of student documents from the Archive of the University of Warsaw. On the other hand, while writing about the extermination of the Jewish intelligentsia, he noted all available information about eminent figures locked up in different ghettos. Many Eisenbach’s notes are from the period when he was working on the documents from the Łódź ghetto.

Eisenbach’s legacy also includes his personal documents, state decorations, private and official correspondence (for example, letters exchanged with „Czytelnik” publishing concerning censor’s interference in the introduction to the second edition of Ringelblum’s „Polish-Jewish relations”). A surprise is quite a big collection of personal photographs, the oldest dating back to 1918. Unfortunately, they are not labelled and as a result we do not know who the figures in the photos are.

Artur Eisenbach functioned in three different research circles.

The first one included pre-war Jewish historians gathered around Junger Historiker Krajz and Warsaw Historical Commission [Warszawska Komisja Historyczna] — JIWO’s [Institute for Jewish Research] section in Warsaw. Their main field of interest was social history of the Jews in the Diaspora. Among them were: Ignacy Schiper, Rafał Mahler and Emanuel Ringelblum — Eisenbach’s friend from his hometown, Nowy Sącz, and a brother of his wife Giza. Eisenbach was in particular interested in legal situation of the Jews in the period of the Duchy of Warsaw. He devoted to this matter a few articles and his master’s thesis defended in 1935 at the University of Warsaw as part of a seminar of Prof Marceli Handelsman.

After the war, Eisenbach began working for the Central Jewish Historical Commission, and from 1947 for the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. Already in May 1946, after his return from USSR to Poland, he took up research on the history of the Łódź ghetto. In the same year, he published a collection of source documents on the subject. In the late 1940s he also participated in a few trials of Nazi war criminals as an expert witness. Till the end of the 60s the Holocaust was his main subject of research. He cooperated with Adam Rutkowski and Tatiana Berenstein; they published together a vast collection of documents entitled „Extermination of the Jews on Polish territories” and Emanuel Ringelblum’s ghetto diary in Yiddish. However, Eisebach’s biggest achievement was a historical synthesis of the Holocaust entitled „Hitlerowska polityka eksterminacji Żydów w latach 1939–1945 jako jeden z przejawów imperializmu niemieckiego” [Hitler’s politics of extermination of the Jews in the years 1939–1945 as a manifestation of German imperialism], which was published in 1953. After the death of Bernard Mark in 1966, Eisenbach took up the post of the director of the JHI. He had to resign in dramatic circumstances ofthe anti-Jewish campaign in 1968, when liquidation of the JHI and disintegration of its collections was being planned. Despite his resignation, Eisenbach still cooperated with the Institute, published in „The JHI Bulletin” and „Bleter far Geszichte”. In 1983 he released the Polish version of Emanuel Ringelblum’s „Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto” and in 1986 his „Polish-Jewish relations”.

Already in the 50s, Eisenbach began returning to his pre-war research interests. In 1957 he joined a seminar of Prof Witold Kula at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, where he researched the Jewish society in the 18th and 19th centuries. The fruits of this work were the following books: „Kwestia równouprawnienia Żydów w Królestwie Polskim” [The matter of equal rights of the Jews in the Kingdom of Poland] (from 1972), „Wielka Emigracja wobec kwestii żydowskiej” [The Great Emigration towards the Jewish Question” (1976), and above all „Emancypacja Żydów na ziemiach polskich” [Emancipation of the Jews on the Polish territories] (1987).

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