Research and Teaching

Profit and profiteers of the Holocaust in German occupied Poland – history and aftermath

Researcher: Dr. Markus Roth

Despite of comparatively few case studies about confiscation of Jewish property during the Holocaust in German occupied Poland which have been published in Poland recently our knowledge about this subject is poor. At the end of the project there should be an overview and a deeper understanding of the role which material aspects played in the Holocaust in the so called General Government in the broader context of German occupation policies. It should be a contribution to a social history of the Holocaust and raise questions about the degrees of complicity, collaboration and usufructuary. Was it possible for non-Jewish Poles to participate in the robbery of Jewish property? To what extend did Germans and non-Jewish Poles benefit from the persecution and murder of the Jews? To answer these and other questions the complex constellations of those who profited from the Holocaust need to be described and analyzed to get a better understanding of German-Polish-Jewish relations in the 20th century.

A second main focus will lay on the question of restitution of Jewish property after the war mainly in Poland. In addition to the problem that there were no longer eligible heirs to many of the real estate and assets of the murdered Jews because they too had been killed, numerous other problems arose in Poland and all over Eastern Europe. As an effect of Stalinization of Poland in the late forties the problem of restitution of former Jewish property became a general question of the relationship between private property and state property. This is one of the reasons why the problem of restitution is unsolved and topic of political conflicts and election campaigns until today.