Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Dr Michał Trębacz

Fellow Michał Trębacz

January - June 2021

Dr. Michał Trebacz is head of the research department at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and an Associate Professor at the Center for the Jewish Studies University of Łódź. He holds an MA and a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Philosophy and History of the University of Łódź. His main area of research specializes in twentieth-century socio-political history with a special focus on Jewish history and biographical studies. He is a recipient of international scholarships for research on interwar history and the history of the Holocaust. He wrote Izrael Lichtenstein (1883–1933). Biografia żydowskiego socjalisty (2016) and co-edited Zagłada Żydów na polskiej prowincji (2012) and Józef Zelkowicz. Notatki z getta łódzkiego (2017).

Research project at the Kolleg

My research project Shmuel Zygielbojm. Wartime biography aims not simply to reconstruct the biography of one of the Jewish political leaders during the Second World War, but to place him within the broader context of the history of the Jews and of the history of Poland. I believe that Zygielbojm’s biography can serve as an excellent pretext for considering these relations on several levels. First of all, it showcases the connections which existed between the Bund and the Polish Socialist Party, both in Poland and abroad. Zygielbojm’s wartime biography also highlights the changes taking place within the socialist movement across Europe. During the war Bundist called for deep theoretical reflection on the future political tactics of Europe’s socialist parties and spoke of a need to overcome the dichotomy between reformism and revolutionism.

Secondly, Zygielbojm’s biography will serve to analyse the relations between the Polish government-in-exile and the Bund. One can see clearly how the attitudes of Poles towards this socialist party – present in the political arena for many years, but treated with hostility and seen as a potential threat to the integrity of the state – evolved. When analysing Zygielbojm’s public statements as well as the topics of behind-the-scenes conversations, one gets the impression that anti-Semitism (in the Polish armed forces and in society at large in occupied Poland) had become the main problem he had to contend with. Zygielbojm’s statements, never analysed from this angle before, are important and alter our image of him.

Thirdly, I will try to present as comprehensively as possible the Bund’s efforts to inform the world about the ongoing extermination of the Jews. The steps taken by Zygielbojm from the time of his arrival in London until his suicidal death will be particularly important. Of all the politicians of the Bund, he had by and large the greatest opportunities to carry out such information activities. I believe, however, that this issue should be considered not only within the context of Polish-Jewish relations or of Poland’s diplomatic relations with its allies, but also in the context of Zygielbojm’s personal relations with family and friends. It is true that the subject has already been examined by historians, but it seems that not all sources have been used.

Main areas of research

  • Holocaust Studies
  • Polish-Jewish relations in 20th century
  • Biographical studies

Positions and memberships

  • Member, European Association for Jewish Studies (EAJS)
  • Member, Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)


Michał Trębacz, Izrael Lichtenstein (1883–1933). Biografia żydowskiego socjalisty (Łódź: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2016).


Edited volumes

Adam Sitarek, Michał Trębacz, Ewa Wiatr, eds,  Zagłada Żydów na polskiej prowincji (Łódź: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 2012).

Tomasz Toborek, Michał Trębacz, eds, Łódź pod okupacją (1939–1945) (Łódź: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej) 2018.

Michał Trębacz, Ewa Wiatr, eds, Józef Zelkowicz, Notatki z getta łódzkiego (1941–1944) (Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 2017).

Katarzyna Person, Zofia Trębacz, Michał Trębacz, eds, Archiwum Ringelbluma. Konspiracyjne Archiwum Getta Warszawy, vol. 23, Dzienniki z getta warszawskiego, (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Żydowski Instytut Historyczny 2015).

Adam Sitarek, Michał Trębacz, eds, „Słuchają słów Prezesa...”. Księga przemówień Chaima Mordechaja Rumkowskiego (Łódź: Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi, 2010).

Julian Baranowski, Krystyna Radziszewska, Adam Sitarek, Michał Trębacz, Jacek Walicki, Ewa Wiatr, eds, Kronika getta łódzkiego/Litzmannstadt Getto 1941–1944, vol. 1–5, (Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 2009).



Michał Trębacz, ‘Radicals’, in Legacy of Polish Jews, edited by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Tamara Sztyma, (Warsaw: Museum of the History of Polish Jews, 2021), 89–103.

Michał Trębacz, ‘Oficjalne i intymne. Getto łódzkie w fotografiach’, Zagłada Żydów. Studia i Materiały, vol. 16 (2020), 393–413.

Michał Trębacz, „Pod murami Jasnej Góry”. Pogrom w Częstochowie 19–21 czerwca 1937 r., in Pogromy Żydów na ziemiach polskich w XIX i XX wieku. Vol. 2 Studia przypadków (do 1939 roku), edited by Artur Markowski, Kamil Kijek and Konrad Zieliński, (Warszawa: Instytut Historii im. Tadeusza Manteuffla PAN, Instytut Historyczny Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski, Uniwersytet Wrocławski Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN, 2019), 409–428.

Michał Trębacz, Żydowskie elity wobec wybuchu II wojny światowej. Casus Szmula Zygielbojma, Kwartalnik Historii Żydów-Jewish History Quarterly no. 4 (2019), 891–908.

Михал Трембач, Шмуль Зигельбойм (1895–1943) как фигура в польском историческом дискурсе, Judaic-Slavic Journal no 3 (2020), 131–150.

Michał Trębacz, „Our Power is Not the Number of Seats:” The Bund’s Representatives in the Łódź City Council, 1919–1939, Jahrbuch des Simon-Dubnow-Instituts/Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook no. 10 (2011), 185–206.



Michał Trębacz, Z problematyki najnowszych badań nad gettem łódzkim, Kwartalnik Historii Żydów-Jewish History Quarterly no. 1 (2017),  107–122.