PREMEC - Second Workshop in Paris
16 Feb 2018

Joseph Wulf: A Polish-Jewish Historian in Western Germany. The Knowledge of the Witness, the Engagement of the Historian and the Writing of History

Venue: Académie polonaise des sciences à Paris, 74 rue Lauriston, 75016 Paris
Organized by Aurélia Kalisky (ZfL) and Judith Lindenberg (EHESS)
Research project(s): Early Modes of Writing the Shoah

Workshop of the German-French joint research project (ANR/DFG) »Early Modes of Writing the Shoah. Practices of Knowledge and Textual Practices of Jewish Survivors in Europe (1942–1965)« (PREMEC), organized by the Centre de Recherches Historiques (CRH), EHESS

Joseph Wulf (1912–1974) is known first and foremost for the voluminous series of documents collections that he assembled relating to different aspects of Jewish cultural and social life under national socialism in Germany, as well as the murder of the Jews. He was also the author of numerous texts that spanned subjects ranging from literary criticism and linguistic studies to biographies of important Nazi functionaries. His work was not limited to the publication of analytic and documentary texts, but also included social projects, like the planned Holocaust documentation center at the Wannsee Villa.
This workshop aims to provide the opportunity to examine Joseph Wulf’s diverse body of work and serve as a springboard for new interpretations. What perspectives does Joseph Wulf’s work offer in relation to the figure of the historian? Specifically, how do historians position themselves alongside witnesses in the writing of history? To what extent can a disciplinary separation be maintained between the texts of witnesses considered as subjects for literary studies and scholarly publications in which history is the subject of analysis? Is such a distinction a culturally determined construction? Can a mode of writing history that assigns more importance to the perspective of victims in the constitution of knowledge offer an alternative to this dichotomy? In what ways do these questions find a reflection in Wulf’s deployment of poetics within his historical oeuvre, for instance with his particular manner of working through the genre of the anthology? How does his work prompt us to rethink the status of the document, the witness and the archive?

The workshop will be held in English.



Welcoming of the participants

Aneta Bassa (Polish Academy of Sciences): Welcoming words

Judith Lindenberg (EHESS), Judith Lyon-Caen (EHESS) and Aurélia Kalisky (ZfL): Introduction

First Panel: Between Tradition and Rupture
Chair: Audrey Kichelewski (Université de Strasbourg)

  • Judith Lindenberg (Centre de Recherches Historiques, EHESS Paris): Joseph Wulf and Yiddish Culture
  • Judith Lyon-Caen (Centre de Recherches Historiques, EHESS Paris): Survivor Historians/Emigrant Historians. Wulf, Borwicz and the Parisian ›Centre pour l'étude de l'histoire des Juifs de Pologne‹
  • Mark L. Smith (UCLA Leve Center for Jewish Studies): Joseph Wulf. The Path not Taken

Second Panel: A »Hurbn Historiker« in West-Germany and the Belated Reception of a Pioneer in Holocaust Historiography

Chair: Katrin Stoll (German Historical Institute Warsaw)

  • Anja Keith (Hamburg): Joseph Wulf – Ernst Jünger. The Correspondence (1962–1974)
  • Gerd Kühling (Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz Berlin): A Missed Chance for Historical Scholarship? Joseph Wulf's Proposal for an International Documentation Centre in Berlin
  • Klaus Kempter (Universität Heidelberg): The Lasting Legacy and the Limits of Wulf's Work

Third Panel: Witness Knowledge(s) and Poetics of History

Chair: Catherine Coquio (University Paris VII)

  • Aurélia Kalisky (ZfL): The Mythical vs the Scientific gaze, or has Theory of History the Hiccups? (Wulf, Broszat, Friedländer)
  • Barbara Breysach (Selma Stern Zentrum Berlin): Witnessing as a Venture. Joseph Wulf in the Mirror of Literary Reports
  • Nicolas Berg (Simon Dubnow Institut Leipzig): The Language of the Perpetrators in epistemological Concepts of the Survivors. The Examples of Joseph Wulf and Raul Hilberg


Elisabeth Gallas (Simon Dubnow Institut, Leipzig), Katrin Stoll (German Historical Institut, Warsaw): Common Discussion and Concluding Remarks