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Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission


The Kraków Ghetto Through the Eyes of Jewish Children

Event details
Calendar   Speaking Engagements
Location Zoom
Date Mon, Mar 21, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Duration   1h

This lecture, presented virtually by Dr. Joanna Sliwa, will focus on young people’s survival strategies in the Kraków ghetto and discuss children’s agency during the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg’s film, Schindler’s List, ignited international interest in Kraków’s Jewish history. The only colored image in the film, the “girl in the red coat” continues to evoke emotions. This powerful cinematic effect has triggered a scholarly inquiry into what Jewish children experienced in the Kraków ghetto and what the sources by and about children reveal about the Holocaust in Kraków. The German authorities created the ghetto 81 years ago. Among the 2,500 children forced into it was Roman Polanski, who would become an accomplished film director. If some children, like Polanski, coped with the situation through play, friendships, and rebelling, others, like Janka Warszawska, became breadwinners and rescuers who smuggled other children outside the ghetto.

Dr. Joanna Sliwa is the author of Jewish Childhood in Kraków: A Microhistory of the Holocaust, which won a 2020 Ernst Fraenkel Prize from the Wiener Holocaust Library. She is Historian at the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference). Joanna’s own research focuses on the Holocaust in Poland and on Polish Jewish history. Joanna taught Holocaust history and Jewish history at universities and has been involved in training programs on the Holocaust for teachers and educators. As a public historian, Joanna has lectured to diverse audiences. She has worked as a researcher, translator, and consultant for academic texts, websites, films, TV programs, and exhibits.

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