Project

Poles, Germans, and the Making of the “Lodzermensch”

Program

Fellowships for Postdoctoral Research in East European Studies

Department

History

Abstract

This project examines multiethnic politics in the Polish city of Łódź in the twentieth century. Before the First World War, Polish and German nationalists alike decried the “lodzermensch,” or “person of Łódź,” as a sign of wavering national identity and cultural contamination. This stereotype of a cosmopolitan yet cunning businessman drew upon anti-Semitic tropes and had deadly consequences during the Second World War. By the 1990s, however, the “lodzermensch” had become a symbol of international reconciliation and multiculturalism informed by the European-building project. By analyzing the shifting political and ideological underpinnings of the “lodzermensch,” the project provides a greater understanding of nationalism and explores the possibilities and limits of Polish-German-Jewish interaction in the past century.