Historian and author David Nasaw will discuss the gripping yet little-known story of the million displaced persons left behind in Germany following the end of World War II in a Zoom program hosted by the Center for Jewish History on Wednesday, March 24 at 4pm. In his sweeping new masterwork, THE LAST MILLION: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War (Penguin Press), he focuses on Jews, Poles, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and other Eastern Europeans who refused to go home or had no homes to return to. The Last Million would spend the next three to five years in displaced persons camps, temporary homelands in exile, divided by nationality, with their own police forces, churches and synagogues, schools, newspapers, theaters, and infirmaries.
According to Lauren Gilbert, Senior Manager for Public Services at the Center for Jewish History: “This is an appropriate story to be recounting during Passover week, as it deals with themes of liberation and exile. Unfortunately, it is also a story that tarnishes the pristine image of the Allies as liberators; the quarter-million Jewish DPs among the last million became pawns in a geopolitical game, victims of ongoing antisemitism that kept them stranded as even Nazi collaborators were allowed to immigrate to the US before them.”
By 1952, the Last Million were scattered around the world. As they crossed from their broken past into an unknowable future, they carried with them their wounds, their fears, their hope, and their secrets.
Nasaw, who is the author of the award-winning, acclaimed biographies The Patriarch, Andrew Carnegie, and The Chief, will share this history in a wide-ranging conversation with Atina Grossmann, author of Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany (Princeton University Press) and Professor of History in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cooper Union, whose research relates to transnational Jewish refugee stories.
This program is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by
public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Ticket Info: Pay what you wish; registration required at /tickets/the-last-million-2021-03-24 to receive a Zoom link.