David Rubinstein

Graduate Student


I am a historian of modern Central Europe, with an emphasis on Germany and Poland. I focus on issues of migration, multiethnicity, and debates surrounding national identity. My work probes how small places can illuminate the relationship between great power politics and local societies, placing histories of everyday life within continental processes. By transnationally integrating distinct historiographies, I aim to understand how the region’s diverse residents responded to homogenizing pressures throughout the twentieth century.

Committee Members: Cristina Florea, Jonathan Boyarin, and Nicholas Mulder.

Research Focus

My dissertation examines shifting borders, mass resettlement, and the economics of socialist state building in early postwar Lower Silesia – a formerly German region transferred to Poland in 1945. Focusing on the coal mining city of Wałbrzych, I probe how and why Jews, Germans, and Polish repatriates from France sought postwar lives on Poland’s new Western frontier. Offering a significant test case for studying the politics of multiethnicity in post-1945 Central Europe, I link the oft-separated historiographies of post-Holocaust Polish Jewry, Germans in postwar Poland, and the repatriation of Poles. In reconstructing the thrilling uncertainty of the early postwar era, I challenge teleological narratives and offer 1945 to 1949 as a uniquely hopeful period rather than simply a prelude to inevitable Stalinization. Additionally, my project places Lower Silesia at the center of a transnational, pan-European story – bridging the too-often separated histories of postwar Eastern and Western Europe.

HIST Courses - Fall 2024