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The way out: Microhistories of flight from Nazi Germany

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Albert Nussbaum, Director of Transmigration for the Americain Joint Distribution Committee, with Jewish refugees in the port of Lisbon, June 1941 (© United States Holocaust Memorial, courtesy of Milton Koch)

From Wednesday, January 24, 2018 to Friday, January 26, 2018

University of Luxembourg, Belval Campus
Maison du Savoir
2, avenue de l’Université
4365 Esch-sur-Alzette
Luxembourg

This international conference will study the broad theme of the flight of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany in the 1930s and their trajectories during the war and its aftermath from multiple perspectives.

In recent years, the microhistorical turn in Holocaust history has placed increasing importance on individual practices and experiences by exploring new, nominative mass sources and combining a prosopographical approach with quantitative analysis of individual trajectories. As Claire Zalc and Tal Bruttmann state in the introduction to Microhistories of the Holocaust (2016): “Reducing the level of analysis increases knowledge, because smaller spaces can better elucidate the complexities of decision-making, help reestablish the “space of the possible”, show how reality was experienced at the individual level, and ultimately provide more compelling insights into the events that contemporaries faced in their day-to-day lives.” The micro-level of the individual and the family is a scale of observation that sheds light in a new way on the relationships between Jewish migrants and representatives of state authorities and places individual behaviour in the context of its social and political environment. It enables us to observe migrants in their networks and groups of belonging, trace their biographical and migratory trajectories and identify their agency, the means at their disposal and the opportunities or obstacles that the policy framework allowed them, so that we can identify their spaces of possibility and constraint.

The conference is organised by the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH) / University of Luxembourg, the Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, Ecole normale supérieure, Paris (CNRS), the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, München and the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam (NIOD).

Programme and registration

PDF version

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Centre culturel de rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster, room José Ensch
28, rue Münster, L-2160 Luxembourg

19.00 Opening Keynote by Dalia Ofer, Professor Emeritus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The historian and his/her protagonists

Register here for the opening keynote

Thursday, 25 January 2018

University of Luxembourg, Belval Campus
Maison du Savoir
2, avenue de l’Université L-4365 Esch-sur-Alzette

Register here for the conference in Belval

8.45 Arrival at the Maison du Savoir

9.00 Welcome to all participants by Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg

9.10 Welcome address by Andreas Fickers, Director of the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg.

9.30 Introduction to the conference by Denis Scuto, Head of the Research Unit on Contemporary History of Luxembourg at Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg

10.00 Keynote address by Claire Zalc (Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris)
Le renouveau des sources dans l’étude de la Shoah et les perspectives microhistoriques

10.30 Coffee break

10.45-12.15 – Panel 1: Methods and sources

Moderator: Claire Zalc (Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris)

Christiane Weber (International Tracing Service Arolsen)
Individual paths reflected in ITS documents: The fates of displaced persons before and after the emigration to Canada

Éric Le Bourhis (Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique, Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, Paris)
Loger les réfugiés juifs du Reich. Riga 1938-1941

Antoine Burgard (Université Lumière Lyon 2)
Reconstructing trajectories of survival and resettlement through Holocaust orphans’ visa application files

12.15 Lunch

13.45-15.15 – Panel 2: Private law and flight

Moderator: David Fraser (University of Nottingham)

Susanne Bennewitz (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg)
Arranging a marriage for the way out. Marriage fraud and reacting policies in Switzerland

Germaine Goetzinger (Centre national de littérature, Luxembourg)
“Mischehen” jüdischer Emigranten in Luxemburg

Didier Boden (University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Escape and marriage out of Nazi Germany: Individual destinies from a microhistorical perspective

15.15 Coffee break

15.30-17.15– Panel 3: Private law and flight

Moderator: Frank Caestecker (Ghent University)

Afke Berger (University of Amsterdam)
Admitted | Rejected. A digital data analysis of Jewish requests for asylum in the Netherlands, 1938-1939

Yaron Jean (University of Haifa and Sapir College, Negev)
No way out: Passport hurdles and individual refugee experiences in pre-war Nazi Germany

Daniela Gleizer (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
When diplomats’ agency is used against refugees. The case of Mexican Consul Gilberto Bosques and the Jewish refugees in Marseille

17.15-18.45 – Panel 4: Private law and flight

Moderator: Dalia Ofer (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Christine Kausch (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster)
From individual to collective history: Jewish refugees in the Netherlands (1933-1945)

Katharina Seehuber (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München)
The Cahnmann family – Representative of possible emigration paths

Geraldien von Frijtag Drabbe Kunzel (Utrecht University)
A foreign country: Concepts of collective and individual identity among German-Jewish refugees in the Netherlands

18.45 Drinks reception

20.00 Official conference dinner

Friday, 26 January 2018

9.00 Keynote address by Frank Caestecker (Ghent University)
State persecution and protection: the political determinants of the Jewish refugee flow (1933-1948)

9.30-11.00 – Panel 5: In-between areas

Moderator: Susanne Heim (Institut für Zeitgeschichte, München – Berlin)

Marion Kaplan (New York University)
Lives in limbo: The daily lives and feelings of refugee communities in Portugal 1940-45

Katharina Friedla (The International Institute for Holocaust Research Yad Vashem, Jerusalem)
Expelled from Germany to Poland – Deported by Stalin to Siberia: Polish-Jewish refugees in the Soviet Union during the Second World War

Michal Frankl (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
Surviving (in) a stateless space. Refugee experience in the No Man’s Land

11.00 Coffee break

11.15-12.45 – Panel 6: The refugee question before the war

Moderator: Bob Moore (University of Sheffield)

Baijayanti Roy (Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main)
Pragmatism paves the way? A scholar’s adventurous exit from Nazi Germany

Ludo Verbist (Kazerne Dossin, Mechelen)
The fate of the Jews at the "Green Border"

Renée Wagener
Pour des raisons d’opportunité: une famille juive en quête de refuge au Luxembourg face à l’attitude de l’administration

12.45 Lunch

14.00 Keynote address by Susanne Heim (Institut für Zeitgeschichte München - Berlin)
Ökonomie der Flucht. Enteignung, Erpressung und Gegenwehr

14.30-16.00 – Panel 7: Escaping Europe during the war

Moderator: Denis Scuto (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg)

Corry Guttstadt and Maria Vassilikou (Institut für Zeitgeschichte München-Berlin)
A Perilous Way out of Greece

Catrina Langenegger (University of Basel)
Refugees and the military in Switzerland 1942-1945 – the camps of the Territorial Service through the eyes of the commissioner for refugees

Vincent Artuso (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (University of Luxembourg)
Administrating chaos: Albert Nussbaum’s role in the organization of the escape route from Lisbon (August 1940-March 1942)

16.00 Coffee break

16.30-1800 – Panel 8: Returning after the war

Moderator: Vincent Artuso (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg)

Wolfgang Schmitt-Koelzer (Emil-Frank Institut, Universität Trier)
Die NS Arbeitsverwaltung holt die Geflüchteten und Emigranten ein – Verfolgung, Zwangsarbeit und Entschädigung am Beispiel Luxemburg

Donna Swarthout (CIEE Global Institute Berlin)
Revoked and Restored: The German Jewish Citizenship Experience

Angela Boone
German Jewish refugees in the Netherlands between 1945 and 1951

18.00 Closing remarks by Bob Moore (University of Sheffield/Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Göttingen)

20.00 Optional informal dinner

Logos of the conference's partners

Photo: Albert Nussbaum, Director of Transmigration for the American Joint Distribution Committee, poses in the port of Lisbon in front of a wooden fence that cordons off the Jewish refugees who are waiting to board the SS Mouzinho. (10 June 1941)
© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Milton Koch

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