If the Walls Could Speak: Inside a Women’s Prison in Communist Poland

Date / Time

November 15, 2018

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Anna Müller will discuss her highly original new monograph, If the Walls Could Speak, an intimate account of the lives of female political prisoners in Stalinist Poland. Müller portrays the individuality, the humanity, and ultimately the resistance of a dedicated group of women who were incarcerated for their attempts to save Poland. Using recently released documents and extensive interviews she opens up the world of grueling interrogation, torture, show trials, and the boredom of everyday existence as political prisoners tried to breath new meaning into their lives. She does all of this from a gendered point of view, focusing on the particular techniques women prisoners employed to cope with daily abuses at the hands of their tormentors. In Müller’s account, prison was both the centerpiece of Stalinist Poland and the central experience in the biographies of the women she represents, many of whom never fully recovered from their incarceration. This is an untold story that evokes the particularities of the Stalinist past and the gruesome toll it took on some of Poland’s most committed patriots. Anna Müller opens up this period with all of its dedication and fear, desperation and paranoia, while also returning dignity to a category of women who paid the ultimate price for patriotic devotion.


Anna Müller is the Frank and Mary Padzieski Endowed Professor in Polish/Polish American/Eastern European Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. From 2010-13, she worked for the Museum of the Second World War (in Gdańsk) as a curator responsible for the sections on concentration camps, the Holocaust, and eugenics.

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