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Jonathan Lanz
EHRI-Fellow (2024)


 The Birkenau Boys: Childhood, Memory and Testimony in the Theresienstadt Family Camp.


LANZDuring his two-week visit to the VWI, Jonathan will conduct research for his doctoral thesis which examines the history of Auschwitz-Birkenau through the eyes of child survivors. His dissertation is entitled “The Birkenau Boys: Childhood, Memory and Testimony in the Theresienstadt Family Camp.” Given the relative lack of archival documentation surrounding Jewish communal society in Birkenau, Jonathan’s research seeks to probe how analysing the postwar testimony of Family Camp child survivors provides a pathway to write social histories of the Holocaust which lack contemporaneous documentation. Drawing on recent work in Holocaust memory, Jonathan’s thesis project returns the historians’ gaze to victim-based approaches to life in the Nazi camp system. Historians of the Holocaust have yet to write social histories of the Birkenau death camp, a perplexing fact given the large emphasis on the camp in American and European Holocaust memory. His project remedies this absence by examining how survivor memory of Birkenau was forged, crafted, and instrumentalised by child survivors in the postwar era. This methodological approach will allow Holocaust historians to gain a clearer picture of how everyday life within the Nazis’ largest death camp exists in post-Holocaust memory cultures.


Jonathan Lanz is a historian of childhood, Modern Jewish History, and the Holocaust. He is an advanced doctoral candidate in History and Jewish Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. Jonathan’s dissertation writes a history of the so-called ‘Birkenau Boys,’ a remarkable group of eighty-nine Jewish child survivors from Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the past academic year, Jonathan was a Saul Kagan Fellow in Advanced Shoah Studies (Claims Conference) and a Junior Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. In addition to his role as a EHRI Conny Kristel Fellow, Jonathan is currently a Gerda Henkel PhD Fellow. He has presented his research at over a dozen domestic and international gatherings and most recently published a review of children’s histories of genocide in the Journal of Genocide Research. Jonathan received a B.A. in World History with distinction at Georgetown University in 2019 and an M.A. in European History at Indiana University in 2021.

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May 2024
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