• Shattered Spaces: Encountering Jewish Ruins in Postwar Germany and Poland
    Michael Meng
    Harvard University Press, 2011
    Michael Meng

Potsdam synagogue damaged after the "Night of Broken Glass" in November 1938. Courtesy of Postdam Museum.

After 1945, Germany and Poland became landscapes of Jewish ruins. Empty synagogues, cemeteries, and Jewish districts were all that was left in many places. What happened to these spaces, and how have Germans, Poles, and Jews encountered them over the past sixty years? Shattered Spaces explores these questions in Berlin, Warsaw, Essen, Potsdam, and Wroclaw from 1945 to the present. In the early postwar years, officials demolished numerous Jewish sites despite protests from Jewish leaders, but by the 1970s church groups, local residents, dissidents, and tourists started preserving the few left standing. This change happened for a variety of local and transnational reasons—tourism, nostalgia, international discussions about the Holocaust, conflicts over urban space, and longings for cosmopolitanism in a globalizing world. In reconstructing this history across a diverse region, Shattered Spaces enriches discussions about memory, cosmopolitanism, tourism, urban reconstruction, and historic preservation in both democratic and Communist societies.

Michael Meng is assistant professor of history at Clemson University. In 2008, he received his PhD in modern European history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research has been supported by over fifteen grants, including ones from Fulbright, the American Council of Learned Societies, the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Marshall Fund, and the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. He has published a number of articles and book chapters, and has given papers in Germany, Poland, Israel, and the United States. In 2010, he co-organized a workshop on Jewish space at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in Washington, DC. He is currently preparing an edited volume of the workshop papers with Erica Lehrer of Concordia University, and is beginning a new research project on the Frankfurt Judengasse.