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Dawidowicz, Lucy (1915–1990) - Jewish History

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Lucy Dawidowicz was born in New York City on June 16, 1915, to Max and Dora (Ofnaem) Schildkret, working-class immigrants from eastern Europe. She received a B.A. degree from Hunter College in 1936 and two years later was a research fellow at the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in Vilna, Poland. Just before World War II, she returned to New York and the YIVO was reorganized. She became assistant to the research director from 1940 to 1946 and met her husband, Szymon Dawidowicz, an escapee from Poland. After the war, Lucy returned to Europe to work for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, where she aided Jewish survivors in re-creating schools and libraries; she also recovered a large number of collections of books seized by the Nazis.

Upon her return to New York in 1947, Dawidowicz began a lectureship at Yeshiva University in New York and began extensive research into the history of European Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. She researched the information needed for John Hersey to write The Wall , a novel of the Warsaw Ghetto. She received an M.A. from Columbia in 1961. Dawidowicz became a research analyst and eventually research director for the American Jewish Committee until 1969, when she joined the faculty of Yeshiva University as Paul and Leah Lewis Professor of Holocaust Studies from 1970 to 1975 and Eli and Diana Zborowski Professor of Interdisciplinary Holocaust Studies from 1976 to 1978.

During this time, Dawidowicz edited The Golden Tradition: Jewish Life and Thought in Eastern Europe (1967). In 1975 she wrote The War Against the Jews 1933–1945 , regarded as a pioneering study of Nazi genocide; it won the Anisfield-Wolf Prize. In 1976 she edited The Holocaust Reader and the next year wrote The Jewish Presence . In 1981 The Holocaust and the Historians , a survey of scholarship on the Holocaust, was published. In 1989 she wrote a memoir, From That Place and Time , which included her experiences of European anti-Semitism during her time in Poland from 1938 to 1939.

Dawidowicz lectured at Stanford University, Bowdoin College, and Syracuse University. In 1981 she was visiting professor of Jewish civilization at Stanford. She was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1976, and from 1978 to 1979 she was a member of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. Lucy Dawidowicz died on December 5, 1990.

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