We are seeking contributions for our conference “Everyday Approaches to the Persecution of Jews of Greater Germany and the Protectorate 1941-1945” to be held in Berlin, November 18-20, 2010. (This is a follow-up to the conference “From the ‘Forced Emigration’ to Deportation and Ghettoisation of the Jews from the Greater Germany”, held in Hamburg, May 2009, though we welcome new participants).
With the beginning of mass deportations in October 1941, the situation of the Central European Jews took a dramatic turn for the worse. Many of the aspects of what followed connected with the perpetrators, their politics and actions have been extensively researched. Particularly in the western historiography of the Holocaust, however, the victims’ perspective and experience long seemed irrelevant. It is precisely that perspective we want bring into analytical focus, by asking about the experience, inner organisation, reactions and life-changes of those marked by the Nazis as Jews.
Our aim is twofold: First, to follow the victims’ trajectories from the onset of deportations through to liberation; secondly, to do so paying particular attention to the level of everyday experience. Territorially, we focus on Greater Germany (Germany, Austria and the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia). A comparative approach between German, Austrian and Czech Jews’ experience will enable us to trace the range and underlying patterns of victims’ reactions within a reasonably homogenous community, and at the same time to analyse the factors prompting variations in Nazi policies. In addition, we would like to underline that when examining society in extremis, it is crucial to avoid easy moral categories of “good” and “bad” behaviour, and instead to ask about factors and consequences of human behaviour.
We invite papers on all aspects of the everyday life, broadly understood, of the Jewish population at the time. Suggested topics of interest include (but are not limited to):
- compulsory Jewish bodies and umbrella organisations, both in countries of origin and the ghettos to which people from our area were deported (Theresienstadt, Łódź, Warsaw, Riga, Minsk, Lublin District)
- power hierarchies both within the ghettos themselves and in their relationship with external instances (Germans)
- the role of collection camps in the deportation process (for instance as liminal spaces)
- the impact of persecution on the communities’ social structures; how did the subject populations respond to the newly imposed uniform definitions of Jewishness? Or: how can we introduce the concept of class to the history of the Holocaust?
- Jewish reactions to the deportations, be they from home or from the ghettos; order of the deportations
- decisions to go into hiding: how did the preconditions vary from country to country?
- hybrid cases: ‘Mischlinge’, ‘Geltungsjuden’, mixed marriages and Christians who were marked as Jews, the organisation of their persecution and their perspective
- encounter of culturally and regionally diverse people in the ghettos (Czech, German and Austrian, and Ostjuden/Westjuden) – contact, perception, and integration
Methodologically, the workshop seeks contributions that explicitly operate within the paradigm of social history. We want to understand what society looks like when subjected to extreme persecution, and what remains of pre-war norms. In particular, how can we write the Alltagsgeschichte of a persecuted society? How do people’s self-perception change? How do they interpret their new situation and what behavioural strategies do they then develop? How do they react to and negotiate their own ‘social death’ (Marion Kaplan) – in what way do they internalize their own new low value? In this context, we expressly want to identify appropriate ways of deploying the category of gender (which we explicitly want to understand beyond women’s history).
If you have any questions about the content or concept, don’t hesitate to contact us.
The event will involve about 20 to 25 speakers. Languages will be English and German without interpretation.
Date: November, 18-20, 2010
Place: Berlin, tentatively University of Toronto in Berlin
Please submit an abstract (1-2 pages) and your brief CV before December 1st to:
Anna Hájková, PhD. candidate, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Andrea Löw, email@example.com
Anna Hajkova, PhD cand.
University of Toronto
Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St George Street, Room 2074
Toronto Ontario M5S 3G3
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