Antony Polonsky was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and studied history and political science at the University of the Witwatersrand. He went to England on a Rhodes Scholarship in 1961 and read modern history at Worcester College and St Antony's College. In 1970, he was appointed lecturer in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science and in 1989 was awarded the title of Professor. In 1992 he was appointed Visiting Professor of East European Jewish History at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA where, in 1993, he was granted the Walter Stern Hilborn Chair in Judaic and Social Studies and was Chair of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from 1995 to 1998. In 1999, he was appointed Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, an appointment held jointly at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Brandeis University. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Warsaw, the Institute for the Human Sciences, Vienna and the University of Cape Town, Skirball visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Senior Associate Member of Saint Antony's College, Oxford and Honorary Research Fellow at University College, London.
He is the author of Politics in Independent Poland (Oxford,1972); The Little Dictators. A History of Eastern Europe since 1918 (Routledge, 1975, Japanese edition, 1993) and The Great Powers and the Polish Question 1941-1945 (LSE, 1976) and co-author of The History of Poland since 1863 (Cambridge, 1981, paperback, 1983, 1985) and The Beginnings of Communist Rule in Poland (Routledge, 1981). He is the editor of numerous books including Abraham Lewin's A Cup of Tears: A Diary of the Warsaw Ghetto (Blackwell, 1988, paperback, 1990, French edition, 1991, Japanese edition, 1992) which was awarded the Joseph and Edith Sunlight Literary Prize in 1989 and the prize of the Jewish Book Council of America in the Holocaust section in 1990, ‘My Brother's Keeper?' Recent Polish Debates about the Holocaust (Routledge, 1990) and (with Joanna Michlic), The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland (Princeton University Press, 2004). He is also the editor of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry of which twenty-two volumes have appeared. POLIN was the winner of the 1999 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Eastern European Studies and runner up in the same section in 2006. He has also published numerous articles on Polish and Jewish history. At present, he has just completed a three volume history of the Jews in Poland and Russia from 1350 to the present day. Volumes 1 and 2 have been published and Volume 3 is with the publishers.
Dr. Polonsky was a founder and is now vice-president of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies in Oxford and of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies, Cambridge, MA. He was for six years a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and was a member of its Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Committee and Chairman of the Academic and Educational sub-committee of this Committee. He is an editor of The Library of Holocaust Testimonies. He is an honorary research fellow in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College, London, a member of the International Advisory Board of the Mordekhai Anieliewicz Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Warsaw, of the Jewish University in Moscow, of the International Advisory Council of Sefer, the Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization in Moscow, of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook and of the Editorial Board of Central Europe. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Polish American-Jewish American Task Force and an Associate of the Ukrainian Research Institute of Harvard University. He is joint chair of the committee to publish in English the post-war testimonies collected by the Jewish Historical Commission in Poland. He was for many years a member of the Inter-university film consortium in London and was the producer and director of a 55 minute documentary on Fascism. He was also a consultant for the documentary series, The Struggles for Poland. He has appeared frequently on radio and television as a commentator on Polish and Jewish matters. In 1999, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and in 2006 the Rafael Scharf award for outstanding achievement in preserving and making known the heritage of Polish Jewry. In 2007 he was awarded the biannual Gantz-Zahler Prize in Nonfiction Publishing by the Foundation of Jewish Culture and in 2008 the Oskar Halecki prize of the Polish American Historical Association for contributing to the understanding the Polish experience in the United States. In 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate at Warsaw University.
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