Agnieszka Smelkowska

PhD Candidate

Late Modern Europe


My dissertation explores Soviet nationality policies by focusing on the Germans of Southern Ukraine (Szhwarzmeerdeutsche) and engages with issues of migration, citizenship, and nationalism. Ethnic Germans also known as Volksdeutsche were the largest ethnic minority of interwar Europe. Scattered from Western Poland to Central Asia, members of that sizable diaspora nominally accepted citizenship of their host countries while privately cultivating cultural and linguistic autonomy. The post-war history of the group has been conventionally seen as one of expulsions. Focused on Czechoslovak or Polish Volksdeutsche, many historians emphasize the phenomenon of ethnic cleansings enacted by states that in the aftermath of the WWII took advantage of the Potsdam Agreement to exorcize their respective minorities. However, I believe that the expulsion interpretation does not adequately capture of the experience of the Soviet Volksdeutsche, pointing to the conceptual limitations of that paradigm.


Note to my former/current students:

I am happy to provide a recommendation letter for grad school or law school admission if you were in my discussion section, earning at least B+. Please, contact me with details, allowing at least three weeks. I am always genuinely thrilled to hear how everyone is doing.