Slawomir Grabias

Slawomir Grabias studied sociology at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, and at the Warsaw University, Poland. He was a participant of one-year research seminar at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw, during which presented his PhD research project. As of February 2019, he was accepted as a PhD candidate in sociology at the Institute of Sociology, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main.

Research interests: Holocaust and genocide studies from the perspective of social sciences; relations between sociology and history; qualitative and mixed research methods; digital research methods.   


PhD Project: Polish-Polish relations during the persecution of the Jews in Poland occupied by Germany during the Second World War. An Empirical Study (working title)

The main research problem addresses in my project is: What happened during the Holocaust between Poles and Poles and why did it happen? Thus, the aim of my study is the reconstruction and analysis of relations among Poles in the context of aiding Jews during the Holocaust, including the dynamics of different types of relations in question (the issue of variability of relations under the influence of specific factors, both social and personal – psychological). The second aim is in turn the reconstruction and analysis of socio-historical factors of these relations during the years of World War II. The socio-historical factors will provide wider context within which the relationship between helpers and their social environment was being shaped (the latter defined as “bystanders” or “onlookers”).

Looking for answers to these two basic questions entails, at the same time, looking for answers to other questions, equally basic, that is: (1) what did it mean to be a rescuer or a helper and (2) what did it mean to be an onlooker or a bystander in given social and historical conditions? In this respect, we will be exploring the experience of assisting Jews and the experience of being an onlooker. Delving into personal experiences of “active historical subjects” (Znaniecki, 1934) is indispensable to reconstruct Polish-Polish relations and, in turn, examine their influence on survival chances of the Jews seeking help from their Polish neighbours.

The historical sources used in this project - testimonies, memoirs, diaries, letters, interviews and documents from trials  - are mainly (auto)biographical in nature. The majority of sources in question come from Polish archives. The content of selected historical materials will be analysed from the perspective of qualitative research methods approach.

The project is under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Sutterlüty, Prof. em. Dr. Karola Brede, Prof. Dr. Frank Bajohr (Director of Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Muenchen) and Prof. em. Dr. Jean-Charles Szurek (Emeritus Director of CNRS/ Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique, Université Paris Nanterre/l’Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris-Saclay).