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Hugo Service
Senior Lecturer in Modern History



Hugo Service is Senior Lecturer in Modern History. His research concerns the social and political history of Poland and Germany in the twentieth century. He studied at the University of Cambridge and spent several years living in Germany and Poland while researching his doctoral thesis. He held research and teaching positions at Cambridge and Oxford before joining York in September 2014. His book Germans to Poles examines the traumatic aftermath of Nazi occupation and the Second World War in western Poland.


My article, 'The Imagined Ethno-Racial Border and the Expulsion of Jews from Western Poland, 1939-41' (published in German History, 2020) is available here.



My book Germans to Poles: Communism, Nationalism and Ethnic Cleansing after the Second World War was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. It examines the massive population movements, acts of expulsion and cultural ruptures which accompanied the end of the Second World War in Central Europe. It demonstrates that the turmoil and violence in this part of the continent did not come to an end in 1945 – but rather continued for several years after the war. It focuses on the experience of the territories which Poland gained from Germany at this time – exploring the consequences for ordinary Central Europeans of the Polish Communist attempt to ‘cleanse’ these territories in line with a nationalist vision. It shows that the expulsion of over three million Germans was triggered and propelled by the arrival of millions of Polish settlers.

Roughly one million German citizens were categorised as ‘indigenous Poles’ in these territories after the war – and Germans to Poles probes into the Communist authorities’ failure to convince most of them to adopt a Polish national identity. It examines the connections between these population policies and the postwar authorities’ measures to eradicate German material culture and culture institutions. It also sheds new light on what happened to Jewish Holocaust survivors and foreign displaced persons who found themselves in these territories in 1945. By zooming in on two local cases – presented within a comparative framework – it starkly demonstrates the extent to which these events varied within Poland’s new territories by region and locality.

My current research project concerns the German-Polish borderlands in the first half of the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the genocide against Jewish residents, its pre-history and its aftermath. You can read a journal article from this project here.

I welcome research students interested in any aspect of the social and political history of Poland and Germany.



  • The ‘Problem’ of National Minorities in East-Central Europe, 1918-49 (first year Period Topic module)
  • Communist Europe: Crisis, Transformation and Memory after the Second World War (second year Explorations module)
  • War and Society (final year Comparative Histories module)


Contact details

Dr Hugo Service
Vanbrugh College V/205
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 2967, External (01904) 322967

Student hours

Summer term 2023



For all student hours please book a slot. When booking your slot, please indicate ‘in-person’ or ‘online’, alongside your name on the booking