We mourn the passing of Professor Jerzy Tomaszewski who died on November 3rd 2014 at the age of 84 and was for many years professor and Director of the Mordechai Anielewicz Centre for the Study and Teaching of the History and Culture of the Jews in Poland at Warsaw University. He was also professor of the Wyższa Szkola Gospodarki Krajowej in Kutno.
He was one of the pioneers in the study of national minorities in Poland in the twentieth century, above all the Jews, and a great expert on the history of Central Europe, particularly that of the Czechs and Slovaks. He was present at all the conferences which transformed Polish-Jewish studies. As one of the founders of ‘Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry’ Jerzy Tomaszewski was a member of its editorial collegium, and he was among the founding fathers of the Pollin Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
His many publications include Z dziejów Polesia 1921–1939. Zarys stosunków społeczno-ekonomicznych (On the History of Polesie 1921–1939. An Outline of Social and Economic Conditions) (Warsaw, 1963); Rzeczpospolita wielu narododów (A Republic of Many Nations) (Warsaw, 1985), Ojczyzna nie tylko Polaków: Mniejszości narodowe w Polsce w latach 1918–1939 (A Fatherland not only for Poles: National Minorities in Poland in the Years 1918–1939) (Warsaw, 1985), and Preludium zagłady: wygnanie Żydow polskich z Niemiec w 1938 r. (Prelude to Destruction: the Expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany in 1938) (Warsaw, 1998).
His latest book Czechy i Słowacja (Czech Lands and Slovakia) was published only a few months before his death. He will be sorely missed.
12.10.1931- 18.07. 2013
It is with great sadness that we relay the news of death of Jerzy Kulczycki, one of the original founders of the Institute for Polish Jewish Studies in 1984. His loss will be deeply felt as it leaves a great hole in the Polish-Jewish community.
He worked tirelessly and with great enthusiasm not just for Polish community but for Polish-Jewish community as well. He was a Treasurer for the IPJS and one of the strongest supporters of the Institute and its work.
Jerzy was born in Poland, in Lwów (Lviv, now in Ukraine) on 12 Oct. 1931. He lost his father in 1940 who was killed by the Soviet secret police. Jerzy and his mother were deported to Kazakhstan. In 1942 with the army of Gen. Władysław Anders, they escaped from Kazakhstan and managed to get to Iran and later to Palestine where Jerzy began his military training as he was too young to fight. In 1947 Jerzy with his mother and aunt went to England, to London, where he founded the publishing house Odnowa in 1964. Since 1972 he and his wife Aleksandra, founded Orbis Books (London) believing in the power of truthful and uncensored information. As the result, during that period he published around 100 titles that were prohibited in communist Poland, later smuggling some of the émigré publications to Poland and other countries within the Soviet block. He was also involved in the works of the Institute of Polish Jewish Studies believing in improving and developing Polish Jewish relations.
He was decorated with Poland’s highest orders, including The Order of Polonia Restituta.
Jerzy is survived by his wife Aleksandra who was his most devoted supporter in all his undertaking, and his children, Ryszard, Andrzej and Marta with their families.