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VWI invites/goes to...
Workshop: Social History of the Shoah. Everyday Life, Space and Time

Dienstag, 4. Juni 2024, 13:00 - 17:00

Vienna Wiesenthal Institute, Research Lounge, 1010 Vienna, Rabensteig 3, 3rd Floor


 VWI invites the Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna




Hannah Riedler (VWI Junior Fellow)
Between Deportation, Forced Labour and Germanisation. The Umwandererzentralstelle in Occupied Poland 1939–1941
Commented by Kerstin von Lingen

Jenny Watson (VWI Research Fellow)
Articulating Atrocity. Metaphors of Rural Life in Accounts of Mass Shooting
Commented by Zuzanna Dziuban

Winson Chu (Senior Fellow)
The Lodz Ghetto and the Kriminalpolizei. Jews, Neighbors and Perpetrators in the Holocaust
Commented by Michaela Raggam-Blesch

15:00–15:30 Coffee break

Daan De Leeuw (VWI Junior Fellow)
The Geography of Slave Labour. Dutch Jews and the Third Reich, 1942–1945
Commented by Konstantin Schischka

Vlasta Kordová (VWI Junior Fellow)
Bandenbekämpfung. The Nazi Persecution of Objective Enemies in the Reflection of the “Heydrichiada” and the Slovak National Uprising
Commented by Niklas Perzi

Abstracts and Short Bios

Hannah Riedler: Between Deportation, Forced Labour and Germanisation. The Umwandererzentralstelle in Occupied Poland 1939–1941

Immediately after the beginning of the conquest of Poland in 1939, the German occupiers began deporting hundreds of thousands of people from the annexed territories to the Generalgouvernement – Jews and non-Jews alike. The newly founded Umwandererzentralstelle (UWZ) was responsible for coordinating the expulsion as well as the transport of those affected. Many of the UWZ perpetrators later worked alongside Adolf Eichmann on the deportation of Jews. In addition to these personal connections, the project focuses on the daily deportation practice of the UWZ and its coordinating and ideological function in carrying out the immense population displacements.

Hannah Riedler, MA studies with a focus on Eastern European History at the University of Vienna, doctoral student at the University of Klagenfurt and VWI Junior Fellow. Research interests: Occupied Poland in the Second World War, Holocaust, deportations in Poland in the Soviet and German occupation zones.

Commented by Kerstin von Lingen

Kerstin von Lingen is Chair of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna. Her research focuses on the history of genocide and violence, especially the Holocaust, decolonisation processes (with a focus on Asia), contemporary legal history, studies on memory, identity and apology, as well as forced labour research and migration studies. She is PI of the ERC Advanced Grant “Global Displacement and Resettlement in Europe and Asia after 1945” (GLORE).

Jenny Watson: Articulating Atrocity. Metaphors of Rural Life in Accounts of Mass Shooting

Building on existing works on agricultural metaphors in the context of mass killing, the project expands the focus by including historical sources. It analyses first-hand accounts of mass shootings to explore the ways in which perpetrators, survivors and witnesses used language from everyday life to articulate the atrocities they had committed, experienced or witnessed. The hypothesis – developed from work with literary texts and inspired by Alon Confinos' work on "unconscious narrative enactment" – is that individuals view the motives and processes of mass murder through the lens of the norms of communal processes such as hunting, harvesting and slaughter.

Jenny Watson, VWI Research Fellow, Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, where she teaches in the German programme of the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Her postdoctoral project, “Restless Earth: Extra-Concentrationary Violence since 1945”, focused on the representation of the so-called "Holocaust by Bullets" in post-war German-language literature.

Commented by Zuzanna Dziuban

Zuzanna Dziuban holds a PhD in cultural studies. She is a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences within the ERC project “Globalized Memorial Museums”. Her research focuses on the material, affective and political afterlives of the Holocaust and other instances of political violence, and the politics of dead bodies.

Winson Chu: The Lodz Ghetto and the Kriminalpolizei. Jews, Neighbors and Perpetrators in the Holocaust

This project examines how local members of the criminal police in Nazi-occupied Poland participated in the Holocaust while promoting their “German-ness”. Using their knowledge, the policemen in the city of Lodz arrested and tortured their former neighbours, including those among the 200,000 Jews in the Lodz ghetto. An examination of official German documents as well as Jewish testimonies in Polish and Yiddish makes it possible to write the history of the ghetto from below and to understand how individual Jewish victims responded to their persecution. This approach views the history of the ghetto as a story of continuities, both spatially and chronologically, and offers a comprehensive account of German-Polish-Jewish interaction during the Holocaust as well as in twentieth-century Poland.

Winson Chu, Associate Professor for Modern Central European History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and author of The German Minority in Interwar Poland. Currently he is a Senior Fellow at the VWI. He was a member of the board of the Polish Studies Association; the Academic Council of the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University; and the Board of the Central European History Society.

Commented by Michaela Raggam-Blesch

Michaela Raggam-Blesch is currently a guest professor at the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna. She works on a habilitation project on “mixed families” during the Nazi period in Vienna. Raggam-Blesch is recipient of several international fellowships and curator of exhibitions on the Holocaust. From 1999 to 2003 she worked at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.

15:00–15:30 Coffee break

Daan de Leeuw: The Geography of Slave Labour. Dutch Jews and the Third Reich, 1942–1945

This project looks at the movement of Jewish forced labourers through the concentration camp system. The Germans moved the prisoners to wherever the war industry needed them. This kind of forced relocation was ubiquitous, yet it has received little attention from scholars. This interdisciplinary project investigates how Dutch-Jewish forced labourers experienced these frequent relocations. It uses spatial and social history methods and is based on survivors' testimonies and administrative documents. By using geographical information systems and manual cartography to visualise the routes through the camp system, the project opens up a new perspective on both the plight of Dutch Jewish forced labourers and the social dynamics between concentration camp inmates.

Daan de Leeuw, PhD candidate at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University. Yad Vashem Summer Research Fellow, Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund Grant recipient, Fellow at the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Leibniz Institute of Contemporary History, EHRI Conny Kristel Fellow, Ben and Zelda Cohen Fellow at the USHMM, and VWI Junior Fellow.

Commented by Konstantin Schischka

Konstantin Schischka, PhD candidate and collaborator in the ERC project GLORE, studied History, Geography and Contemporary History and Media at the University of Vienna. Since 2020, he has been working as a researcher at various research institutions on different historical projects, with a strong methodological focus on approaches from the digital humanities such as GIS and Network Analysis.

Vlasta Kordová: Bandenbekämpfung. The Nazi Persecution of Objective Enemies in the Reflection of the “Heydrichiada” and the Slovak National Uprising

The project examines the methods of fighting partisans used by the German occupiers and their connection to the Holocaust. It conceptualises the term Bandenbekämpfung ("fighting gangs") used by the Nazis and shows how it became ideologically charged (followed by the concept of "war of extermination"). The theoretical part of the research focuses on the earlier development as well as the goals of Nazi "security policy" and its main instrument – the police. The empirical part then applies the results of the theoretical analysis to two examples where the National Socialist security forces had to react to an immediate "threat": the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in May 1942 and the operation against the Slovak National Uprising in autumn 1944.

Vlasta Kordová, graduate of the Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Education at Charles University in Prague, currently a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Jan Evangelista Purkynê University in Ústí nad Labem and a VWI Junior Fellow. During her doctoral studies numerous scholarships in Germany and Austria. Author of several articles and two monographs.

Commented by Niklas Perzi

Niklas Perzi is a historian with a focus on the history of the Bohemian Lands in the twentieth century. He is a research associate at the Center for Historical Migration Research (zhmf) at the Institute for Rural History (IGLR) in St. Pölten. From 2016 to 2019, he was the co-coordinator and co-editor of the bi-national book Neighbors. A Joint Austrian-Czech History Book [Nachbarn. Ein österreichisch-tschechisches Geschichtsbuch]. He is currently working on a history of the police in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

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