UCL European Institute


Litvak Days: YIVO's Histories, Contexts, Tensions

30 November 2015–02 December 2015, 12:00 am–12:00 am


Event Information

Open to


1 - 2 December 2015
In partnership with the Lithuanian embassy in London and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, UCL is hosting this years "Litvac Days" on the heritage of the Lithuanian jewry. 

A two-day international conference commemorates the 90th anniversary of the founding of YIVO, as Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut (YIVO), in today's Vilnius. Its focus lies on the historical contexts out of which YIVO emerged, and on tensions that influenced its institutional forms, archival mission, and creative efforts.  

The conference is complemented by a piano recital of music by Leopold Godowsky, and an exhibition in UCL's North Cloisters, along with a display on Yiddish culture in London. The second day of the conference is held at the Wiener Library (Russell Square), in recognition of its collaboration with the International Tracing Service, which contains vast resources relating to Lituania and the Holocaust.

For more information, contact Prof. Michael Berkowitz

1-2 December 2015

UCL event space, front quad
Haldane Room, UCL
UCL Cloisters
Wiener Library 

Picture Members of YIVO's Aspirantur (graduate studies program), Vilna, 1939.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015, UCL event space, front quad UCL

Tentative programme:



Asta Skaisgirytė Liauškienė, Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK: Welcome

Mary Fulbrook, UCL (tbc): Greetings on behalf of UCL and the European Institute

Jonathan Brent, YIVO: YIVO's History and introduction to the exhibition

Michael Berkowitz, UCL: Welcome and brief introduction to the academic presentations

10:30am Keynote: Shaul Stampfer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem:  Relationships to education in Lithuania outside of YIVO
12:00pm Lunch [not provided

Francois Guesnet, UCL:  The Berlin Roots of YIVO

Kamil Kijek, University of Wroclaw:  Post-1918 Crisis, YIVO, and the New Generation of Interwar East European Jewry

Coffee break, UCL Institute for Advanced Studies, South Cloisters, UCL main building


Jurgita Verbickienė,  University of Vilnius:  Famous YIVO: What did interwar Lithuanias know about it?

Jonathan Brent, YIVO:  Capturing YIVO as it was:  Film from its archives

Tuesday Evening, 1 December, Haldane Room UCL


Concert Evening

Mantvydas Bekešius, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania

Jonathan Arkush, Board of Deputies of British Jews:  establishment greetings 

Faina Kukliansky, President of the Lithuanian Jewish Community:  greetings from the present-day Litvaks 

Michael Berkowitz, UCL:  [brief presentation] Leopold Godowsky between the folk and classical:  connecting to peoples and publics 

recital: Gabija Butkutė, pianist, featuring music of Leopold Godowsky

L. Godowsky - Frühlingsnacht (Nocturne) apie 4:30'

L. Godowsky - Gamelan from Java Suite apie 3:30'

    Wednesday, 2 December, The Wiener Library, Russell Square

    10.15am Keynote
    Avinoam Patt, University of Hartford:  Contexts of rescue and collection efforts


    David Mazower, BBC: Tales and treasures from the YIVO Archives

    Akvilė Grigoravičiūtė, University of Paris-Sorbonne:  Support for YIVO in the Interwar Baltic States

    Lunch [not provided]

    Special session at the Wiener Library: Exploring Litvaks, the Holocaust, postwar Europe

    Kat Hübschmann, Christine Schmidt and Toby Simpson, Wiener Library/International Tracing Service:  New sources for a spectrum of historical interests: Highlights from the Library's collection and work focusing on Lithuania, including the International Tracing Service and its availability for research.

     5-515pm Closing comments: Jonathan Brent, YIVO, and Francois Guesnet, UCL

    DAY 1

    DAY 2