Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

International Conferences 2017

Building from Ashes:

Jews in Postwar Europe (1945–1950)


3–5 December 2017



The Jewish Museum Frankfurt in cooperation with the Simon Dubnow Institute Leipzig, the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Goethe University Frankfurt and the Fritz Bauer Institute.


In the immediate postwar years, Europe was tormented by the aftermath of massive war crimes that had caused millions of refugees, hunger, civil wars and excesses of violence. In the midst of this »savage continent« Jews found themselves in different situations with varied wartime experiences: some had survived the ghettos and concentration camps, some were refugees returning from various countries or from their hiding places to a place that felt secure, others entered central Europe as part of the Allied Military Forces. In the midst of ruins, poverty and destruction Jews became Displaced Persons that were organizing their survival as well as their emigration with the help of diverse military and social organizations. At the same time, Jews were building up new communities and in many forms and places revitalizing Jewish traditions in Europe.
The International Conference will examine the situation of Jews in the years of 1945–1950 in a comprehensive European perspective.







Veranstaltungsplakat, das im oberen Drittel grau hinterlegt, im unteren Abschnitt weiß ist. Die Angaben zur Veranstaltung stehen in schwarz bzw. dunkelgrau darauf. In der Mitte rechts ist eine schwarz-weiß Fotografie zu sehen, auf der man einen großen Raum mit Regalen und Tischen sieht. Auf allen Möbeln stapeln sich  Akten und Bücher. Im Vordergrund sieht man drei Männer im Anzug, sitzend und stehend, die in diesem Raum arbeiten.

Annual International Conference

in cooperation with the German Literature Archive Marbach


Placing the Irreplaceable – Restitution of Jewish Cultural Property:
Negotiations, Historical Dimensions, Documentation


16–17 November 2017


The systematic destruction of European Jewish culture during World War II attained unprecedented dimensions; its repercussions can be felt to this day. International events such as the 1998 Washington Conference on Nazi Confiscated Art, resulting in the declaration of the Washington Principles and encouraging initiatives of provenance research and restitution worldwide, are testament to an increasing public awareness of related topics. But the ideas driving these initiatives were by no means new: negotiations about placement and restitution of looted Jewish cultural property had already been conducted in the early postwar period. The long history of activities and debates concerning the handling of displaced books, art works, and ritual objects – fragments of a disrupted past – reveals important layers of European political and cultural history after 1945. It brings to the surface dissonant perspectives on the future of Jewish life and culture after the war, exposes distinct forms of political and legal principles implemented during the Cold War in relation to property and ownership rights, and shows the different ways of Jewish memory creation in light of the Holocaust.
The aim of this conference is to associate two fields of research and activity which, all too often, take separate paths: the historical exploration of actors, institutions, and debates about the protection and restitution of looted Jewish cultural property after 1945 on the one hand, and the realm of provenance investigation, the reconstruction of collections, and the care for related material on the other. We hope to encourage a discussion that combines the actual concerns of finding and preserving relevant assets as well as their documentation, with a historical perspective on the significance of related questions for Jewish memory, recognition and belonging in the twentieth century.





Frieder von Ammon (Leipzig), Zachary M. Baker (Palo Alto, Calif.), Michal Bušek (Prague), Nawojka Cieslinska-Lobkowicz (Warsaw/Munich), Yehuda Dvorkin (Jerusalem), David E. Fishman (New York), Elisabeth Gallas (Leipzig), Jan Gerber (Leipzig), Caroline Jessen (Marbach am Neckar), Anna Kawalko (Jerusalem), Lukasz Krzyzanowski (Berlin), Lara Lempertiene (Vilnius), Marcel Lepper (Marbach am Neckar), Dietmar Müller (Leipzig), Andrea Rehling (Mainz), Bilha Shilo (Jerusalem), Matej Spurný, (Jena/Prague), Yfaat Weiss (Leipzig/Jerusalem), Tanja Zimmermann (Leipzig)