[gov3009-l] Wittenberg on “Without Rhyme or Reason? Explaining Pogroms in Poland”

Matt Blackwell mblackwell at iq.harvard.edu
Sun Oct 17 23:53:37 EDT 2010

Hi all,

We hope that you can join us at the Applied Statistics Workshop this
Wednesday, October 20th when we're excited to have Jason Wittenberg
presenting applied work on anti-Jewish pogroms in Poland during World
War II. Jason is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the
University of California, Berkeley. He is looking forward to getting
feedback on the statistical issues in his work, which is joint with
Jeffrey Kopstein at the University of Toronto. Attached you will find
two draft book chapters: first, a broad introduction to the subject
and second, a chapter describing the empirical results. As this
research is still under development, we ask that you refer to Jason
first before circulating these drafts. We will serve a light lunch

"Without Rhyme or Reason? Explaining Pogroms in Poland"
Jason Wittenberg
Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
Wednesday, October 20th, 12 noon
CGIS K354 (1737 Cambridge St)

Two tragedies befell the Jews of Eastern Europe after the outbreak of
World War II. The first and by far the best known and exhaustively
researched is the Shoah, the Nazi extermination effort. The second, as
Zbikowski (1993: 174) eloquently puts it, is “the violent explosion of
the latent hatred and hostility of local communities.” This book
focuses on the second tragedy, a wave of popular anti-Jewish violence
that erupted in summer 1941, in the aftermath of the Nazi invasion of
the Soviet Union. Why did pogroms occur in some localities but not
others? This is our central question. Our results demonstrate that
many of the most commonly believed explanations for pogroms do not
hold up to empirical scrutiny. The 1941 pogroms were not orchestrated
by the state, and did not occur where economic competition between
Jews and non-Jews was fiercest, where anti-Semitism was most virulent,
or where Jews were the most sympathetic to communism. None of these
accounts explain the relative rarity of the violence. We contend that
the pogroms were ultimately about politics. They represented a
strategy whereby non-Jews, in Poland principally Poles and Ukrainians,
attempted to rid themselves of what they thought would be future
political rivals.


Matthew Blackwell
PhD Candidate
Institute for Quantitative Social Science
Department of Government
Harvard University
url: http://people.fas.harvard.edu/~blackwel/
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