Department of History
Professor Demshuk specializes in modern Central European history, with emphasis on the influence of memory and ethnic cleansing in the post-1945 German states and Poland. His first monograph, "The Lost German East: Forced Migration and the Politics of Memory, 1945-1970," was published with Cambridge University Press in 2012 (paperback 2014) and examines how, amid the charged political context of the early Cold War, millions of West Germans expelled from the province of Silesia after World War II came to recognize that physical return was not possible. A fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2014-2015) has since supported work on his next major project: a comparative history of post-1945 reconstruction and urban planning in three cities which had been part of united Germany before 1945 and were then divided by Cold War borders. By exploring the case examples of Frankfurt am Main (West Germany), Leipzig (East Germany), and Wrocław (western Poland), this project examines the politics of memory in urban reconstruction under three contrasting regime ideologies haunted by the recent Nazi past. Although this research will produce a monograph in the near future, focused analysis of diverse and neglected archival sources in Leipzig has already facilitated a second monograph, "Demolition on Karl Marx Square: Cultural Barbarism in the People’s State, 1949-1968-1989," which is under contract with Oxford University Press. This book looks at how the 1968 demolition of Leipzig’s medieval University Church brought about an essential turning point in relations between Communist authorities and the “people” they claimed to serve. The largest East German protest between the 1953 Uprising and 1989 Revolution, this intimate story clarifies how the “dictatorial” system operated and lost public belief. New to the department in Fall 2016, Professor Demshuk specializes on courses relating to twentieth-century Central and Eastern Europe, with close attention to the effects of mid-century forced migration on the post-1945 world we inhabit today.
PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010)
MA, Marquette University (2005)
BA, Aquinas College (2002)
- Languages Spoken
- German, Polish
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