The Crosses Of Auschwitz: Nationalism And Religion In Post-communist Poland

Paperback | September 15, 2006

byGeneviève Zubrzycki

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In the summer and fall of 1998, ultranationalist Polish Catholics erected hundreds of crosses outside Auschwitz, setting off a fierce debate that pitted Catholics and Jews against one another. While this controversy had ramifications that extended well beyond Poland’s borders, Geneviève Zubrzycki sees it as a particularly crucial moment in the development of post-Communist Poland’s statehood and its changing relationship to Catholicism.

In The Crosses of Auschwitz, Zubrzycki skillfully demonstrates how this episode crystallized latent social conflicts regarding the significance of Catholicism in defining “Polishness” and the role of anti-Semitism in the construction of a new Polish identity. Since the fall of Communism, the binding that has held Polish identity and Catholicism together has begun to erode, creating unease among ultranationalists. Within their construction of Polish identity also exists pride in the Polish people’s long history of suffering. For the ultranationalists, then, the crosses at Auschwitz were not only symbols of their ethno-Catholic vision, but also an attempt to lay claim to what they perceived was a Jewish monopoly over martyrdom.

This gripping account of the emotional and aesthetic aspects of the scene of the crosses at Auschwitz offers profound insights into what Polishness is today and what it may become.

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In the summer and fall of 1998, ultranationalist Polish Catholics erected hundreds of crosses outside Auschwitz, setting off a fierce debate that pitted Catholics and Jews against one another. While this controversy had ramifications that extended well beyond Poland’s borders, Geneviève Zubrzycki sees it as a particularly crucial momen...

From the Jacket

In the summer and fall of 1998, ultranationalist Polish Catholics erected hundreds of crosses outside Auschwitz, setting off a fierce debate between Poles and Jews about the memory of the former death camp and the presence of Christian symbols in its vicinity. While this controversy had ramifications that extended well beyond Poland’s ...

Geneviève Zubrzycki is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan.

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Hardcover|Dec 13 2016

$136.48 online$136.50list price
Format:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:September 15, 2006Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226993043

ISBN - 13:9780226993041

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface 
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Key to Pronunciation
Introduction and Theoretical Orientations
1. Genealogy of Polish Nationalism 
2. "We, the Polish Nation": Redefining the Nation in Post-Communist Poland
3. "Oswiecim"/"Auschwitz": Archaeology of a Contested Site and Symbol 
4. The Aesthetics of the War of the Crosses: Mobilizing "the Nation"
5. Debating Poland by Debating the Cross
Conclusion: Nationalism and Religion Reexamined 
Appendix A: Newspapers Consulted  
Appendix B: Preamble to the Constitution of the Third Republic of Poland
Appendix C: Historical Cues 
References 
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Zubrzycki's prose is both eloquent and clear, holding the reader's attention even through the most complex theoretical presentations and most detailed historical accounts. . . . This book has already become required reading for anyone interested in Poland or Roman Catholicism, and it should be part of any bibliography dealing with the relationship between religion, politics, and cultural identity."