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Hugo Service is Lecturer in Modern European 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.
Hugo Service’s 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.
Hugo’s new project extends this research further back in time by encompassing the war years in Nazi-occupied Poland . It seeks to probe deeply into the connections between how ordinary Central Europeans experienced the brutal and exploitative actions of the wartime German occupiers and the far-reaching and traumatic changes to the territory’s population once the war was over. Currently his research is focused particularly on the region of Upper Silesia.
Hugo welcomes research students interested in any aspect of the social and political history of Poland and Germany.