Fellows 2013-2015





Fellows at the Centre in 2014/15


 Felix Matheis (Germany), PhDstudent in history, University Hamburg, „Hamburg im Osten. Die Besatzung Polens aus der Perspektive der Hansestadt 1939-1945.“ (April – July 2015, Munich).


Felix Matheis about his project:

My project examines the exploitatory relationship between the City of Hamburg and occupied Poland. There is preliminary evidence that representatives of the City of Hamburg played an important role in the occupation and exploitation of Poland as well as in the destruction of the European Jews. Many officials of institutions concerned with the exploitation and deprivation of property and goods like the Haupttreuhandstelle Ost or the Zentralhandelsgesellschaft Ost were citizens of Hamburg. A large number of business firms from Hamburg were involved in occupied Eastern Europe exploiting both the non-Jewish and Jewish population. Representatives from Hamburg established a network of functionaries in different institutions of the Nazi state to promote their economic interests. My project focuses on a trans-regional perspective in order to highlight the reciprocal dynamics between Nazi Germany and occupied countries. Why and when did a city traditionally orientated towards overseas trade begin to focus on occupied Poland? Which groups and mentalities in Hamburg promoted this kind of development? What was the particular behavior of the numerous Hamburgian business firms and citizens in occupied Poland? In which way did private protagonists act as representatives of the Nazi occupational power and what was their involvement in the Holocaust? To what extent did the City of Hamburg profit from the Hamburgian commitment in occupied Poland? Do these aspects support the assumption of a close relationship between state initiative and private enterprises with regard to the Holocaust?




Elisabeth Pönisch (Germany), PhD student in Sociology, University Freiburg i.B., „„Judenhäuser“ im Deutschen Reich ab 1939. Eine Lebensweltstudie zu Alltag und Nachbarschaft“ (January – April 2015).


Elisabeth Pönisch about her project:

My research examines the forced “relocation” to and the specific everyday life in the so-called “Jews’ Houses”, which were established in the course of the “The Law Concerning Tenant Relations with Jews” in 1939. Within a very short time, most of the Jews got the order to move into a smaller flat with other Jewish people or with “Aryans” in mixed marriages. As a result, they were almost totally cut off from their familiar surroundings. This project is divided into two parts which gear into each other. The first part focuses on the process of implementation of the houses. Therefore, I analyze the organizational structures with the involved actors and institutions of the so-called “relocation”. Instead of just tracing how the process of relocation was organized, I concentrate on the subjective experiences and the social interactions in the second and main part. By the enforced “relocation” into the “Jews’ houses” a new and very specific “life-worlds” developed for the Jews. Thereby, the subjective experiences, perception as well as the social interaction and the relationships between each other will be investigated. Furthermore, the exchange with the social environment will also be taken into account. In order to realize this, I analyze an extensive range of sources, such as Jews’ memoirs, diaries, letters, correspondence or newspapers and newsletters from Jewish communities, as well as official documents of involved institutions and Jewish organizations.



 Yurii Radchenko (Ukraine), Lector, Kharkiv Collegium, “Ukrainian Hilfspolizei, Self-Government, and the Holocaust in Ukraine: The Case of the Military Administration Zone” (August – November 2014).


Yurii Radchenko about his project:

My project focuses on the activity of the Ukrainian Hilfspolizei and self-government in the military administration zone (Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Stalino, Voroshylovhrad oblasts) with regard to the murder of Jews and the plundering of Jewish property. It also investigates the motivations of those who joined the Ukrainian police and self-government in the military administration zone. Ukrainian auxiliary forces took part in the extermination of Jews in many regions of Ukraine. But what was the level of their participation in the persecution, plundering, and murder of Jews in eastern Ukraine? What was the subordination between the bodies of the self government (mis’ka uprava, rayonna uprava, sil’s’kyi starosta) and the local Ukrainian police? Did policemen take part in mass shootings, or did they play an auxiliary role? Who were the members of the Ukrainian police in the Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Stalino, and Voroshylovhrad oblasts? What about their background and collective social portrait? What image of the Ukrainian policeman and members of self-government did the official Nazi propaganda try to create (especially in the local newspapers)? I study how strong was the influence and the degree of infiltration into the Ukrainian police of OUN and NTS-NP in the mostly Russian-speaking regional centers of eastern Ukraine, how deeply did integral nationalistic ideology penetrate the Weltanschauung of Ukrainian policemen and members of self-government in the military administration zone and what were the motivations that led Ukrainian policemen to take part in anti-Jewish actions.


Froukje Demant (Netherlands), PhD student, Deutschlandinstitut der Universität Amsterdam, „The Daily Relations of Jews and Non-Jews in the German-Dutch Border Region, 1925-1955“ (August – November 2014).

Froukje Demant about her project:
My research examines the everyday relations and interpersonal interactions of Jews and non-Jews in the German-Dutch border region (specifically the Westmünsterland, Grafschaft Bentheim and Twente) between 1925 and 1955. By focussing on the micro level of everyday relations between neighbours, classmates, acquaintances and friends, this research analyses the social mechanisms that preceded the physical extinction of the Jews, and the ways in which Jews and non-Jews shaped and negotiated  ways to live together after the Holocaust. In the years under Nazi rule, both Jews and non-Jews experienced a shift in, and later a breakdown of, their normality, but their experiences differ dramatically in terms of extent and intensity. Still, after the war they had to find ways to live together again and rebuild some sort of new normality. During my four-months stay as a Fellow at the IfZ-Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien, I will focus on the Jewish/non-Jewish relations in the immediate post war years. First, I will study the changes and reversals in the power relations between Jews and non-Jews , and how the returned Jews perceived these changes. Second, I will compare the situation of Jews who decided to return and Jews who did not return. Through this comparison, I will explore in the motivations behind the decision to return or not return, and the communication of Jews who did not return with their former, non-Jewish friends and acquaintances.



Gemeinsames Fellowship Zentrum und USHMM 2014


Sari J. Siegel (USA), PhD student, University of Southern California, "Medicine Behind Barbed Wire: Jewish Prisoner-Physicians in Nazi Labor, Concentration, and Extermination Camps in the Greater German Reich, 1938-1945" (July – November 2014, München und Berlin).


Sari J. Siegel about her project:

My research examines an important yet widely overlooked group in Holocaust history—Jewish inmates who utilized their medical knowledge in Nazi camps. Focusing on the labor, concentration, and extermination camp systems in the Greater German Reich between 1938 and 1945, I draw particular attention to the dynamic natures of camp conditions and the prisoner-physicians’ strategies to save their own lives as they attempted to treat fellow inmates and uphold their Hippocratic promise to “do no harm.” My work combines survivor testimonies and legal documents with contemporary government and organizational records for insight into how contextual variables and individual traits shaped the actions of these doctors in the camps. Since the prisoner-physicians’ medical activities placed them within survivor and memoirist Primo Levi’s “gray zone,” analysis of their behavioral shifts allows me to illuminate a new aspect of this morally ambiguous realm.
During my fellowship at the IfZ – Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien, I will work with, among other sources, the Institut für Zeitgeschichte’s database of all German post-war judicial proceedings regarding Nazi crimes, as prisoner-physicians’ witness statements provide information not only on Nazi medical crimes but also on their own experiences as inmate doctors in the camps.


Fellows at the Centre in 2013

Dana Smith (Queen Mary, University of London; Leo Baeck Institute, London), die ihren M.A. an der University of Vermont und B.A. am Centre College, ist von September bis Dezember am Zentrum zu Gast, um ihr PhD-Projekt über den Jüdischen Kulturbund in Bayern von 1934 bis 1938 voranzutreiben.

Dana Smith über ihr Projekt und ihre Arbeit am Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien:
My research covers the "Jüdischer Kulturbund in Bayern" (1934-1938) and the role of Jewish cultural life under pre-war National Socialist persecution. The majority of my research analyses the internal debates within the Bavarian Jewish community that shaped a local understanding of "Jewish" culture. However, while at the IfZ - Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien I will focus on the process of National Socialist censorship and surveillance of Kulturbund events in the ten local Bavarian Kulturbund Ortsgruppen. Relatively little is known about the development and implementation of NS Jewish cultural policy, particularly in areas outside of Berlin. In Bavaria, the Bayerisches Staatsminsterium für Unterricht und Kultus maintained overall state control of censorship of the Bavarian Kulturbund, coordinating their efforts at surveillence with the Bayerische Politische Polizei and local police forces. I hope to use my time here to clarify the process of censorship and surveillance and to identify the key individuals involved in these processes.

Tomasz Frydel (University of Toronto; Supervisors: Piotr Wróbel, Doris Bergen) M.A. an der Brandeis University bei Antony Polonsky und Joanna Michlic und B.A. an der Rutgers University. Er ist von September bis November Fellow im Joint Fellowship Programm des Zentrums mit dem USHMM, wobei er die erste Hälfte in München, die zweite Hälfte in der Berliner Abteilung des IfZ in Lichterfelde verbringt.

Tomasz Frydel über sein Dissertationsprojekt und seinen Aufenthalt als Fellow in München und Berlin:
My research examines the destruction of Jews in the Polish countryside during the Second World War by a complex of local structures, including fire brigades, night guards, partisan units, village heads, peasant search parties and the Polish “Blue” Police. The research places great emphasis on the latter, because - apart from German authorities - the Polish Police would come to play a key role in hunting down fugitive Jews on the local level from 1942-1945, following Operation Reinhard in a broader process that came to be known as “Judenjagd.” The Polish Police was reinstated by Nazi Germany on October 1939 and served primarily to keep law and order in the Generalgouvernement. However, as the Holocaust began to unfold in Poland, the Police was increasingly drawn deeper into various aspects of the process. By some estimates, its manpower ranged from 14,000-16,000. My research is built around a regional case study that explores three counties in Distrikt Krakau of the Generalgouvernement: Dębica, Rzeszów (Reichshof) and Jasło. As a Fellow of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, I am exploring the relationship between the Polish Police, the local German administration, and the “Volksdeutsche” community in the region from the point of view of German sources. I will take advantage of both the Munich and the Berlin-Lichterfelde branches of the Institute in my three-months time as a Fellow.

© Institut für Zeitgeschichte