Please join the Harriman Institute and the East Central European Center for a talk with Miriam Schulz (Department of Yiddish Studies, Columbia University) about her German-language book Before The Bow That Was Drawn: The Vilnius Komitet and its documentation of the destruction of Polish Jewry, 1939–1940/41 (Metropol, 2016).
In November 1939, a group of sixty Polish-Jewish refugee authors and journalists who had managed to escape to still neutral Vilnius from recently occupied Poland clandestinely founded the Komitet tsu zamlen materialn vegn yidishn khurbn in Poyln, 1939, the "Committee to Collect Material about the Destruction of Polish Jewry 1939." It would be the earliest known Jewish collective effort in Eastern Europe to document German atrocities against Polish Jewry, preceding every other known comparable activity by roughly a year. Its archive had been lost in the depot of the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide in London for almost eighty years and was only recently unearthed by Miriam Schulz. Her book Before the Bow That Was Drawn: The Vilnius Komitet and its documentation of the destruction of Polish Jewry, 1939–1940/41 [German title: Der Beginn des Untergangs. Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees (Berlin: Metropol, 2016)] provides the first analysis of the genesis, agenda, activities, and achievements of the Vilnius Committee as the cradle of Jewish Shoah historiography and includes a Yiddish to German translation of the Komitet’s six bulletins.
Miriam Schulz is a Graduate Student of Yiddish Studies at Columbia University in the City of New York, and a Harriman Institute affiliate. She completed her B.A. in Judaic Studies followed by a M.A. in Modern Judaism and Holocaust Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and has been recipient of numerous fellowships, among them the Toni Schiff Memorial Fund, Irene C. Fromer Fellowship in Jewish Studies, Louise Hoffman Memorial Scholarship, Naomi Prawer Kadar Scholarship, DAAD and PROMOS scholarships. Miriam currently works as a research assistant for the project “Protecting Memory: Preserving and Memorializing the Holocaust Mass Graves of Eastern Europe” of the Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Berlin) and the international, collaborative Shvidler Project for the History of the Jews of the Soviet Union, spearheaded by New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. In her dissertation, she is working on an exegesis of the Soviet Yiddish Holocaust discourse and commemorative culture unfolding ever since the beginning of World War II through the Cold War. She is the author of Der Beginn des Untergangs. Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees (Berlin: Metropol, 2016). For her monograph, Miriam was awarded both the Scientific Award of the Polish Ambassador in Germany in December 2015 and the Hosenfeld/Szpilman Memorial Award in January 2017. In 2017, Miriam coorganized the first Summer University for Yiddish Language and Literature in Berlin together with the Maison de la culture yiddish – Medem Bibliothèque (Paris) and the Institute for Eastern European Studies of her alma mater Freie Universität Berlin. Her academic interests are matched by unhealthy proclivities for Hip Hop, R&B, and Soul music. She hosts the monthly radio show CSC on Berlin experimental radio station Cashmere Radio as part of the collective Crush.