Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Mapping the Archipelago of Lost Towns

Post-Holocaust Urban Lacunae in the Polish-Belarusian-Ukrainian Borderlands . Projektzeitraum: 2020 - 2023 | Förderinstitution: Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung


Link zur Projektwebsite

While urban centers across East-Central Europe suffered unprecedented damage and population losses during WWII, with some of them entirely wiped out and many others depopulated, it was the archipelago of smaller towns often with a substantial Jewish majority—the shtelts—that faced a complete demise. This project, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, looks at the long-term consequences of systematic population exchange at the epicenter of the so-called “Holocaust by bullets,” in the “lost towns” of the Polish-Belarusian-Ukrainian borderlands. It examines both the strategies of obliterating or adopting (and adapting) “disinherited heritage” after 1945, applying both historical and anthropological methods. In focus are three interrelated phenomena of: overwriting, “displaced memories,” and the revival of Jewish heritage after 1989/1991. By mapping the fate of “lost towns” across state borders, the project offers a contribution to our understanding of not only the economic, social and cultural ramifications of the process of appropriation and repopulation of vacated spaces, but also of space-related practices of remembering and forgetting.



PD Dr. Magdalena Waligóska-Huhle



Dr. Ina Sorkina

Dr. Alexander Friedman

Dr. Marta Duch-Dyngosz