Former Fellows 2017

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).
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?


Rachel O'Sullivan is a current PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She has previously received research grants from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), a Fellowship from the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) and she was awarded two McMillan Awards by the University of Edinburgh's School of History, Classics and Archaeology (2014 and 2015).

Her PhD project investigates the possible links and continuities between European colonialism and Nazi expansion in Eastern Europe during the Second World War. The dissertation focuses on the resettlement of ethnic Germans in Poland in order to understand and demonstrate how colonial ideology and fantasies, common to many other European colonial and imperial endeavors, were employed both consciously and unconsciously by Nazi planners and Germans in the Third Reich. The colonial ideology and fantasies were potentially used as a method of strengthening justifications relating to expansion and violence, such as the need for Polish territories to be germanised for the security of the Reich.

The thesis aims to show, through an investigation of the resettlement and the uses of colonial ideology, that the atmosphere of violence which developed in the settlement areas and the colonial-style justifications and explanations for expansion, resettlement, Germanisation and the subjugation of the Polish population were major factors in the origins of the Holocaust in Poland."

Frank Grelka, Academic Research Fellow. Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, European University Viadrina (Frankfurt/Oder), “Presaging the Holocaust? On the Water Works Camps of Lublin, 1940 – 1942” (June/July & September/October 2017).

This empirical research project investigates water works camps as an early venue for the lethal mistreatment of deportees from Polish cities and European countries to the Lublin District on a massive scale. Highlighting murderous living conditions in water works camps for Jews in the Lublin District I will try to explain the interrelationship of various geographically concentrated sites of persecution in the conglomeration of many spaces of a provisional ghettoization policy on German occupied Polish territory. The principal attraction of a spatial investigation of agricultural labor camps is twofold: First, the vast majority of all Jewish forced labor camps in the General Government were drainage camps with most of them apparently not investigated by scholars of the Holocaust. Secondly, since summer 1940 dislocations of parts of the Jewish population from the agglomerations into special water regulation projects in the Lublin District became the priority aiming at the exclusion of Jews from both the nutritional responsibility of the civil administration at Kraków. Developing this hypothesis, the researcher will analyze the internal correspondence of the Jewish Social Self Help, reflect on the Jewish labor agenda of the Hans Frank’s administration and investigate the plans of the Berlin Reich Ministries and the Wehrmacht in context of the campaign against the USSR since May 1940. At the Center for Holocaust Studies, I will therefore conduct research in the archives of the IfZ Munich, and archives at Ludwigsburg, Berlin, Bayreuth, Freiburg and Warsaw.

Vojin Majstorovic received his PhD from University of Toronto in 2017. His research focuses on Soviet involvement in the Balkans and Central Europe in the 1940s.  His article on the Red Army’s occupation of Yugoslavia has been published in Slavic Review. He held fellowships at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and at the Centre for Holocaust Studies at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich.

The Red Army and the Holocaust, 1939-1948 examines the Soviet army’s encounter with the Shoah during and after World War II in western Soviet Union, the Balkans, and East-Central Europe. The study illuminates Red Army’s policies towards perpetrators, survivors, and their property, the military’s official line about the Holocaust, the use of Nazi crimes against Jews in Soviet war propaganda, the troops’ attitudes to the genocide, and interactions between Jewish survivors and Soviet soldiers. Ultimately, the project aims to illuminate how the Red Army ended the Holocaust on the Eastern Front, and what the Soviet victory meant for survivors, perpetrators, and liberators.

Katarzyna Person (Poland) holds a PhD in History from Royal Holloway, University of London. She has held has held postdoctoral fellowships from Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research, the Center for Jewish History in New York, and La Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah.

She is currently an assistant professor at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the coordinator of the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto publication project. She has written a number of articles on the Holocaust and its aftermath in occupied Europe, and has edited four volumes of documents from the underground archive of the Warsaw Ghetto. Her book, Assimilated Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto 1940–1943, was published in 2014 by Syracuse University Press. As a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow in the IfZ she is currently finishing a book project dealing with Jews from Poland in the displaced persons camps in Germany.B.A., Geschichte, Yale University M.A., Komparative Geschichte Ostmittel- und Südosteuropas, Central European University (Budapest, Ungarn)

Carmel Heeley, prospective PhD student in history at the Leo Baeck Institute, Queen Mary University London. Project: The Germans, the Jews and the Alps: How Moral Values, Bavarian Traditions and Sport Formed the Personal and Professional Relationships between German-Gentiles and German-Jews in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 1920-1950.

This project aims to arrive at an understanding of how moral sentiments, moral values and fantasies formed the self-understanding of German society between 1920-1950, especially during the Third Reich. Further, how these sentiments, values and fantasies legitimised the inclusion and exclusion of minorities in German society, particularly Jewish minorities.

The focus will be on the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, owing to its belonging to a region that claims a particular relationship to Nazism and more poignantly due its long-standing self-identification with quintessential ‘German’ traditions, landscape and history. It is my intention to engage with the neglected debate surrounding the relationship between Jewry and the concepts integral to this self-identification – notably Heimat and Alpinismus – which, from a Gentile point of view, served to legitimise or delegitimise the place of Jews in German society, particularly during the Third Reich. Analysing the sentiments, values and fantasies that were inextricably bound to such concepts and more widely populated the shared consciousness of Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s (Gentile and Jewish) residents will thus lead to an understanding of how these, as specifically ‘German’ conceptions, played a fundamental role in regional Jewish-Gentile relations and to a certain extent more broadly, in Third Reich society.

Craig Sorvillo is a current PhD candidate at the University of Florida. He has previously received Masters degrees from in history from George Mason University (2011) and in Liberal Studies from the University of Pennsylvania (2009). His current project title is, The Devil’s Advocate: Rudolf Aschenauer, Post-War Justice and Historical Memory.
His dissertation examines the life and career of German defense attorney Rudolf Aschenauer. Aschenauer was the most prolific defender of Nazi war criminals in the post-World War II period. His lengthy career spanned from 1945 until 1981. Aschenauer represented some of the most infamous Nazi war criminals, such as Otto Ohlendorf, Hebert Kappler and Wilhelm Boger. During his trials Aschenauer advocated a completely different version of history; his history was one that argued that post-war trials were vengeful victors justice, while the German people were the primary victims of World War II.
This study ultimately asks what role did justice play in the relationship between the German people and the Nazi past? Also, it looks at why Germany was slow to come to terms with that past. A possible answer to this question posed by this project is, because of men like Aschenauer who consciously tried to undermine the Allied narrative of Nazi criminality. Aschenauer certainly did not operate alone; he was at the center of a vast network, which included German clergy, veterans groups, and radical right political parties. Ultimately, this study is most concerned with the narrative that Aschenauer and his allies attempted to craft concerning World War II.

Anna Koch, Teaching Fellow in Jewish History and Culture at the University of Southampton, “Suspicious Comrades: German Communists of Jewish Origin between Nazism and Stalinism, 1918-1952.”

Anna Koch is a historian of modern European Jewish history with a particular interest in comparative and transnational histories and the history of the Holocaust and its aftermath. She
has received her PhD from the Departments of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History at New York University in May 2015.

Her book manuscript titled “Home after Fascism? Italian and German Jews after the Holocaust, 1944-1952” compares the experiences of Jews who resettled in West Germany, East Germany and Italy after 1945.  Her current research project follows the lives of German communists of Jewish origin from their choice to join the movement in the aftermath of WWI, over the years of persecution, imprisonment and exile, to the seeming fulfillment of their dreams with the establishment of the German Democratic Republic. This study examines how their self-understanding as Jews and communists changed in response to their experiences of persecution.

Her research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, among others. She has held fellowships at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, the German Historical Institute in Rome, and the New York University Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization.

Irina Makhalova, PhD Candidate, National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia, Moscow)
Irina Makhalova received a B. A. in History from the Higher School of Economics Moscow (2014), and an M. A. in Modern European History from the Humboldt University Berlin (2016). At present, she is a PhD candidate at the Higher School of Economics Moscow, as well as a research assistant at the International Center for History and Sociology of the Second World War and Its Consequences. In frameworks of her work in this Center she have been engaged in several projects devoted to the social history of the Second World War including the Holocaust on the occupied Soviet territories.
Currently, she is working on her PhD thesis on the collaborators in the Crimea during the Nazi occupation (1941-1944) including the question about their participation in persecution and annihilation of the Jewish population in the Crimea. In the dissertation she is going to answer the following questions: How did the collaborators of different nationalities behave toward the Jewish population during the Nazi occupation? What was the difference between policy in Crimean cities and countryside with regard to the Jews? Did the collaborators share antisemitism while persecuting the Jews? Did they help by recognition of the special Jewish groups?

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