September 15: Lisa Leff on “The Archive Thief: Zosa Szajkowski and the Salvaging of French Jewish History”

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Jewish historian Zosa Szajkowski stole tens of thousands of documents about Jews from French archives and sold them to libraries in the United States. To understand why he did it, Leff takes us into the “backstage” of the archives, and reveals the powerful ideological, economic and scientific forces that made Holocaust-era Jewish scholars care more deeply than ever before about preserving the remnants of their past.

Lisa Moses Leff is Associate Professor of History at American University, where she teaches courses on modern European and Jewish history.  She is the author of Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: the Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth Century France (Stanford UP, 2006) as well as articles in the Journal of Modern History, Jewish Social Studies, and elsewhere.  Her new book, The Archive Thief (upon which this talk is based), is due out from Oxford University Press in 2015. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago and her BA from Oberlin College.

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support. Reservations requested because of limited seating: