Cohort VII – Academic year 2014-2015

Aliza Luft, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Aliza Luft’s research focuses on the decision-making processes underlying individuals’ behaviors in high-risk contexts, particularly in genocides as they decide whether to support or resist violent state regimes. Luft’s dissertation, Defecting from the Episcopate, examines the process by which French bishops during the Holocaust in France deviated from their support for the Vichy to help save Jews, despite the high personal and institutional costs associated with defection. Ms. Luft’s dissertation draws on 12 months of original data collection in 8 diocesan archives throughout France, as well as theoretical insights gleaned from her previous research in Rwanda and on the Armenian genocide.

Aliza Luft has received funding and support from the Chateaubriand Fellowship, the Social Science History Association, and the Wisconsin Center for Jewish Studies, among others. She has also spoken at a variety of conferences and been invited to give guest lectures at various universities, including, most recently, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School in honor of Yom HaShoah. The first chapter of her dissertation, which explains why French bishops originally elected to support the Vichy’s anti-Semitic policies, was awarded “Best Graduate Paper” in April 2014 from the Association for the Study of Nationalities. From 2013-2014, Luft was a Visiting Research Scholar at CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Luft will use the Kagan Fellowship to complete her dissertation. You can learn more about her work here.  

Sari Siegel

Sari Siegel, PhD Candidate, History, University of Southern California, USA, SUMMER FELLOW

Ms. Siegel’s dissertation, entitled “Between Coercion and Resistance: Jewish Prisoner-Physicians in Nazi Camps, 1938-1945,” focuses on an important yet widely overlooked group in Holocaust history—Jewish inmates who utilized their medical knowledge in Nazi camps. To gain perspective on individual and general factors that influenced the prisoner-physicians’ conduct, she examines the evolution of their behavioral patterns between 1938 and 1945 in the labor, concentration, and extermination camp systems of the Greater German Reich. She draws particular attention to the dynamic natures of camp conditions and the prisoner-physicians’ strategies to save their own lives while attempting to uphold their Hippocratic promise to “do no harm.” Utilizing her skills in French, German, and Yiddish, she 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 memoirist Primo Levi’s “gray zone,” analysis of their behavioral shifts allows Ms. Siegel to illuminate a new aspect of this morally ambiguous realm. She is working under the supervision of Prof. Wolf Gruner.

Ms. Siegel’s article “Treating Dr. Maximilian Samuel: A Case Study of an Auschwitz Prisoner-
Physician” will soon appear in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She is the American recipient of the 2014 Institut für Zeitgeschichte-USHMM Exchange of Scholars Award, and she will spend six months in Vienna as a Junior Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Rowe McCulloch

Maris Rowe-McCulloch, PhD Candidate,  History & Jewish Studies, University of Toronto, Canada, SUMMER FELLOW

Her dissertation examines the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, focusing on the experiences of the city’s Jewish community prior to and throughout the Holocaust. In August 1942, the city was home to the largest massacre of Jews on Russian soil during the Holocaust. Her research examines the effects of repeated wartime German occupations, as the city was captured and lost twice by the invading German army between 1941 and 1943. Ms. Rowe-McCulloch investigates the role of the military—responsible for administering the region during both occupations—in local anti-Jewish violence, as well as the participation of local Soviet citizens, particularly Don Cossack collaborators who joined special brigades within the German army.

Ms. Rowe-McCulloch’s research also explores the expansion and development of Rostov-on-Don’s Jewish community prior to its destruction during the first two decades of the Soviet Union. Focusing in particular on the interwar relationship between Jews and their Cossack neighbors—a group responsible for initiating pogroms during the First World War and the Russian Civil War—she hopes to better understand indigenous Russian anti-Semitism and the effect of Communist policies on Rostov’s Jewish residents. Her supervisor is Dr. Lynne Viola.


Amit Varshizky, Ph.D. Candidate, History, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Amit completed his B.A. in Communications at the Academic College of Emek Izrael and his M.A. (cum laude) at the Department of History at Tel Aviv University. His Master’s thesis examined the philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, the chief ideologue of the National-Socialist movement. An article on the subject was published in the Journal of Politics, Religion and Ideology, entitled “Alfred Rosenberg: the Nazi Weltanschauung as Modern Gnosis.”

Mr. Varshizky’s research project, entitled “Mind and Soul in the National Socialist Weltanschauung,” deals with the National Socialist approach to the concept of “racial-soul” (Rassenseele), as reflected in the writings of ideologues, anthropologists and theologians in the Third Reich. Thus, it seeks to map the various philosophical and scientific strategies that were used by the Nazis to objectify the concept of Rassenseele as an ontological and metaphysical subject and endeavors to outline its ideological and normative applications within the Third Reich. On a deeper level, it seeks to explore the religious and redemptive qualities underlying National Socialist Racism and anti-Semitism and to reveal the ideological mechanisms that enabled the apotheosis of Race and Volk and the sacralisation of politics in the Third Reich.

Given the increasing influence of Foucault’s bio-politics on current historical discourse and the efflorescence of research dealing with body technology, body imagery and representation in the Third Reich, Mr. Varshizky’s seeks to investigate the National Socialist perception of “soul”. To date, only a few studies have dealt with this topic, and of these, most were devoted mainly to the historiography of psychology in the Third Reich and touched only indirectly, if at all, on questions of faith and metaphysics and the ideological implications thereof. Indeed, at present no comprehensive study of the National Socialist perception of “soul” has been written from the perspective of intellectual history. Mr. Varshizky’s study seeks to redress this imbalance.

Mr. Varshizky intends to spend the next year in Germany and to continue his research in the German archives that house the main pool of documents associated with his research subject. He has English, German and Hebrew language skills. His supervisors are Professor Shulamit Volkov and Professor Shalom Ratzabi.

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Dallas Michelbacher, Ph.D. Candidate, History, Central Michigan University, USA

Dallas received his B.A. in History from Auburn University in 2011. His dissertation is titled “Jewish Forced Labor in Romania under the Antonescu Regime, 1940-1944.” His research focuses on the use of Jewish forced laborers in private enterprises and government offices, labor camps, and labor detachments during the Holocaust in Romania. In his dissertation, he analyzes the ideological background and legal basis for forced labor in Romania, the organization of forced laborers into camps, the eventual re-organization of forced laborers into mobile labor detachments, the dissolution of the forced labor detachments at the end of the war, and the results of forced labor, as well as the experiences of survivors. Dallas will examine questions regarding the balance between economic rationality and racial ideology in the use of forced labor in Romania, the influence of parallel forced labor systems in other countries on the Romanian system, the efficiency of forced labor in Romania, the culture of corruption that permeated the forced labor system, and various forms of Jewish resistance to forced labor. His research has been supported by two Title VIII Language Study Fellowships. In addition to English, Dallas speaks Romanian and German, and he has spent time studying in both Romania, at Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, and Germany, at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Dallas has also written a book chapter on the nationalization of Jewish property in Sarajevo under the Ustasha regime, which he contributed to a forthcoming edited volume on the fascist regime in Croatia. His dissertation advisor is Dr. Eric A. Johnson.

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Luca Fenoglio, PhD Candidate, History, University of Edinburgh, UK

Mr. Fenoglio’s doctoral dissertation is provisionally entitled “Resisting the ‘Final Solution?’ Fascist Italy’s Policy Towards the Jews in South Eastern France, November 1942 – September 1943.” Central to his study is the understanding of the reasons for Fascist Italy’s changing responses to the German requests for collaboration in the ‘final solution’ before September 8, 1943 and for the alleged protection of foreign Jewish refugees by the Italian Army.Drawing on a vast range of primary sources, Mr. Fenoglio’s research attempts to move beyond the mono-causal explanations currently prevailing in the scholarship on the topic, to try outlining Fascist Italy’s goals as to the ‘Jewish problem’ in southern France. In so doing, he aims to bridge the rich historiographical debate on the origins of the Holocaust and the motivations of its perpetrators on the one hand and the ongoing reassessment of the Fascist dictatorship on the other.In October 2013, Mr. Fenoglio published the first results of his research in a monograph entitled “Angelo Donati e la «questione ebraica» nella Francia occupata dall’esercito italiano.” (Turin: Zamorani) Mr. Fenoglio received funding from the University of Edinburgh, the EHRI and the Holocaust Educational Foundation. His dissertation is supervised by Prof. Donald Bloxham and Dr. Pertti Ahonen.

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Kimberly Allar, PhD Candidate, Holocaust Studies, Clark University, USA

Kimberly Allar’s dissertation examines the recruitment and training of concentration camp guards in Nazi Germany by analyzing three groups of trainees who differed along gender and ethnic lines: the Totenkopfverbände of Dachau, the Aufseherinnen of Ravensbrück, and the Wachmannschaften of Trawniki. “Training Nazi Camp Guards,” outlines the evolution of the training programs by considering the Nazi expectations and methods for molding guards and by recovering the actual experiences of individuals participating in the program. This study elucidates not only how regimes were able to procure and prime the human resources to carry out genocide, but also how various groups responded and participated in the violence and crimes of the camp. Ms. Allar’s study incorporates both contemporary and post-war documents, ranging from official SS records to private correspondence to Allied and German investigations, found in multiple archives throughout Germany, Israel, and the United States. Ms. Allar was a fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and has held research fellowships from the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst. Her dissertation committee includes Dr. Thomas Kühne, Dr. Wendy Lower, and Dr. Peter Black.

 Andrew Kornbluth, PhD Candidate, History, University of California, USA

Andrew Kornbluth is currently completing a dissertation entitled “Poland on Trial: Postwar Courts, Collaboration, and the Holocaust, 1944-1956.”

Making use of unpublished memoirs, interviews, ministerial archives, and hundreds of individual trial records, his dissertation examines how the Polish judicial system dealt with citizens accused of collaboration in a country which was otherwise famous for being the only state in occupied Europe “without a Quisling.”  In particular, he focuses on how the combination of a weak Soviet-backed government, a conservative and sometimes nationalistic judiciary bent on preserving its independence, vague laws, and a reluctant society impeded the search for justice on behalf of Jews who had been murdered or exploited by their gentile neighbors during the war.  Ultimately, the Polish example reveals striking parallels with other processes of abortive postwar justice on either side of the Iron Curtain, suggesting the extent to which ethnic cleansing and its judicial aftermath were part of a pan-European experience, and raising questions about our modern-day infatuation with international and transitional justice as an alternative to failures of the political and social order.

In addition to his doctoral studies, Mr. Kornbluth has also conducted archival research in Serbia on the topic of collaboration and national identity in that country during the Second World War.  He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Foreign Language and Area Studies program, the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research and Exchanges Board, as well as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  His doctoral advisers are Profs. John Connelly, Yuri Slezkine, and Jason Wittenberg.

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Dr. Jan Láníček, PhD, Post-doc Candidate, History, University of  New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Jan Láníček was born in Ostrava, the Czech Republic. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southampton in Britain (supervised by Professor Tony Kushner) and, in 2011-2012, heldaPrins Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Center for Jewish History in New York.  Dr. Láníček currently lives in Sydney and works as a post-doctoral fellow in Jewish history at the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales. He also serves as Vice-President (for New South Wales) of the Australian Association for Jewish Studies. He recently published a monograph entitled Czechs, Slovaks and the Jews, 1938-1948: Beyond Idealisation and Condemnation (Palgrave, 2013), and also co-edited a volume on Governments-in-Exile and the Jews during the Second World War (Vallentine Mitchell, 2013). Láníček’s post-doctoral project analyzes Jewish/non-Jewish relations in East-Central Europe from 1933 to 1939 through the prism of the international construction of the ‘Jewish minority question’. The project will add new dimensions of understanding to the topic by addressing the ways in which the international community treated the Jewish question in the framework of the Minorities Treaties signed in 1919. The project offers four perspectives on the main research question: a) the way in which East-Central European countries (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania) in the 1930s attempted to transform their domestic Jewish question into an international issue; b) the perception of the Jewish minority in the countries in comparison with other ethnic minorities; c) the treatment of the Jewish minority question in the region by international actors; d) perspectives offered by various western Jewish activists. The lenses provide comprehensive insights into Jewish life in East-Central Europe in the 1930s shortly before the Holocaust.

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Dr. Yaron Pasher, PhD, Post-doc Candidate, History, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Dr. Yaron Pasher wrote his PhD at Tel Aviv University under co-supervision from Prof. Gerhard L. Weinberg (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and Prof Dina Porat (Chief Historian of Yad Vashem, Tel Aviv University). Yaron is a Postdoctoral  Research Fellow at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem working on the topic titled: ” Albert Ganzenmüller:  The “Steam” Behind the German War Machine and the “Final Solution”. His upcoming book to published in early fall 2014  by ” University Press of Kansas ” – ( Modern War Studies)  is  titled: “HOLOCAUST VERSUS WEHRMACHT : How Hitler’s “Final Solution” undermined the German War Effort”.  It deals with logistics and strategy of the German army between 1941-1944 in relation to the “Final Solution”.

Cohort VI – Academic year 2013-2014

Cohort VI is our first cohort with both Ph.D. and Postdoctoral candidates.

Istvan Pal Adam, Ph.D. candidate in History, University of Bristol, UK

Istvan P. AdamA native Hungarian, Mr. Adam’s research incorporates files of a post-war denazifying process, testimonies, autobiographical sources and contemporary journals to show how an otherwise insignificant group of ordinary Hungarians became intermediaries between the Nazi authorities and the Jewish citizens. The building managers, who held the lowest position in the Budapest apartment buildings’ pre-war social stratification, suddenly, as a side effect of the severe anti-Jewish legislation, were handed an unprecedented power at the moment of ghettoization. That its members were not at all prepared for this kind of control over people, especially not over the members of the higher middle classes, makes this group even more interesting. Mr. Adam argues that there was a growing tension between the building managers’ sudden rise in social importance and their poor income, and it was precisely this tension that made the members of this group support such radical social movements as the Arrow Cross movement. Mr. Adam has language skills in Hungarian, English and Polish, and is now planning to study German. His dissertation is being supervised by Dr. Josie McLellan and Dr. Tim Cole.

Jennifer Craig-Norton, Ph.D. candidate in History, University of Southampton, UK

Jennifer Craig-NortonMs. Craig-Norton’s research examines the British child refugee program known as the Kindertransport by synthesizing previously undiscovered archival sources with memory studies to both challenge and enlarge the existing historiographical narrative. Entitled “Contesting Memory: New Perspectives on the Kindertransport,” Ms. Craig-Norton’s dissertation utilizes documentation dealing with German-born children of Polish heritage whose families were expelled from Germany in the ‘Polenaktion’ of October 1938. A little known Anglo-Jewish relief organization, The Polish Jewish Refugee Fund, organized the transfer of 154 of these children from Poland to Great Britain in 1939. Their case files provide fresh perspectives on the refugee organizations, everyday caretakers, children and parents involved in the Kindertransport. After uncovering these files, Ms. Craig-Norton located over two dozen of these Kinder and their families and has incorporated their testimonies into her research, interrogating and reconciling post-memory with contemporary archival documentation. Ms. Craig-Norton is working under Professor Tony Kushner, the director of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton. She has written articles for two recent Kindertransport themed publications and was a Fulbright scholar in Gdansk, Poland, where she acquired a basic knowledge of Polish. She also studied Italian and is currently studying German.

Hamutal Jackobson-Girshengorn, Ph.D. candidate in History, University of Virginia, USA

Hamutal Jacobson-GirshengornA native Israeli, Ms. Jackobson-Girshengorn is currently preparing a dissertation entitled, “Not Drawn to Scale: Maps and the Holocaust, 1939 to the Present.” In this current project, she explores cartographic practices and visual representations of the Holocaust during and after World War II. Moving both chronologically and thematically, the project examines the meanings and functions of maps in the persecution and extermination of the Jews in historical, memorial, judicial, literary and scholarly contexts. Reading maps as spatial interpretations of genocide, she analyzes a broad range of sources and asks how maps form and reflect policies of genocide, including what one can learn from maps about the motivations of perpetrators and collaborators and the experiences of victims and survivors; how the Holocaust has been represented in maps; and how maps were employed in post-war Holocaust research and commemoration. In posing and answering these questions, Ms. Jackobson-Girshengorn aims to deepen our emerging understanding of the still untapped visual and spatial dimensions of the Holocaust. Ms. Jackobson-Girshengorn has English, German and Hebrew language skills. Her dissertation advisor is Professor Alon Confino.

Natalya Lazar, Ph.D. Candidate in Holocaust Studies, Clark University, USA

Natalya LazarNatalya Lazar’s dissertation, entitled “Czernowitz Jews and the Holocaust,” explores Jewish life and the changing dynamics of interethnic and neighborly relations in the contested borderland city, placing the Holocaust in the larger frame of mass violence during World War II. Ms. Lazar’s research has taken her to archives in Ukraine, Romania, Israel and the United States. While Ms. Lazar is a native Ukrainian speaker, she also applies language skills in Romanian, German, Russian and English, and she plans to study Yiddish. She was a Black Sea Link Fellow at the New Europe College in Bucharest in 2012. Ms. Lazar’s dissertation advisor is Dr. Debórah Dwork, Rose Professor of Holocaust History. Her dissertation committee members are Dr. Wendy Lower (Claremont McKenna College) and Dr. Karel Berkhoff (NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam).  Her dissertation advisor is Deborah Dwork (Clark Institute).

Linda Margittai, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Szeged, Hungary

Linda MargittaiMs. Margittai’s dissertation analyzes the factors which determined the local “Jewish policy” of the Hungarian authorities in the so-called Southern Province region (Délvidék, Voivodina) re-annexed to Hungary in 1941, with special regard to the interrelations between the “Jewish question” and ethnic issues. She primarily focuses on the implementation of the Hungarian anti-Semitic laws introduced before the German occupation of Hungary in the spring of 1944, examining how this process became peculiar in the Southern Province compared to the “mother country,” as well as to the previously reattached territories. She aims to point out the contradictions in this policy. The region’s special situation allowed for atrocities that did not take place in the “mother country.” At the same time, the aspiration to consolidate and integrate the region set in motion the “legal” settlement of the “Jewish question.” This process primarily aimed to restore the region’s Hungarian character and was primarily anti-Serb. The attempt at “Aryanization” took place simultaneously and was often subordinated to “nationalization.” The necessity to preserve social and economic stability occasionally made it inevitable to involve the Jews of Hungarian identity in the “re-Magyarization” process. Apart from her native Hungarian, Ms. Margittai speaks English and Italian and has a working knowledge of German, Dutch and French. Her dissertation advisor is Dr. Judit Molnár.

Jared McBride, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of California, USA

Jared McBrideJared McBride’s dissertation, “A Sea of Blood and Tears: Ethnicity, Identity and Survival in Nazi Occupied Volhynia, Ukraine 1941-1944,” examines the Nazi occupation of the western Ukrainian region of Volhynia. This project is a social history that examines the contentious themes of local collaboration (both military and administrative), the Ukrainian nationalist uprising, the Soviet partisan movement and ethnic violence from a micro-historical angle. The project also investigates how the Holocaust unfolded in the region and pays special attention to the fate of the Volhynian Jewish population which was virtually wiped out during the war. Mr. McBride utilizes materials from fourteen archives in France, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia and the United States, which are in five foreign languages: Russian, Ukrainian, German, Polish and Czech. Nazi administrative documents, letters and diaries of Volhynian citizens and newly declassified war crimes trials from Ukrainian KGB archives are among the sources used to provide an intimate picture of the occupation. Video testimony sources from the Shoah Archive (USC) and the Yahad-In Unum Archive (France) are also integrated. McBride conducted numerous interviews in twenty different villages in the Volhynia region. He received grants from the Mellon Foundation for pre-dissertation research on the Holocaust and a Fulbright-Hays grant for dissertation research. He has been published in Ab Imperio.  Mr. McBride is a visiting assistant professor in the History Department at Columbia University.

Adam Sacks, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Brown University, USA

Adam J. SacksAdam J. Sacks holds a Master of Arts from Brown University, a Master of Science (High Honors) from the City College of the City University of New York, and a Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University. In 2011-2012, he was the Cahnmann Foundation Fellow at the Center for Jewish History in New York and was awarded the Dissertation Grant of the Central European History Society. In 2012-2013, he served as a Leo Baeck Programme Fellow of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes and as a guest researcher at the new Research Center for Exile Culture at the Universitaet der Kuenste in Berlin. He has an essay forthcoming in the Association for Judaic Studies Review this spring, entitled “Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann Controversy as Destabilizing Transatlantic Text.” By focusing on the exemplary cultural leadership of Dr. Kurt Singer, the dissertation project of Mr. Sacks investigates cultural activism as an engagement with the social and psychological duress of Nazi persecution. As the initiator and director of the Kulturbund Deutscher Juden (Cultural Bund of the German Jews) in 1933, then active in Amsterdam (1938-1943) and finally Theresienstadt (1943-1944), Singer’s trajectory during the Shoah sheds new light on these distinct areas of Jewish cultural expression amidst the Shoah. Crucial to understanding Singer’s leadership choices during the Shoah were his commitments and training prior to 1933, notably the Social Democratic movement and his devotion to thinking music medically through the Doctors Chorus, which he also created and led from 1913 until 1938. This dissertation argues that the cultural leadership of Kurt Singer went beyond the immediate needs of emergency self-help, and rather developed into a new cultural movement that would rethink the form, content and purpose of Jewish involvement in European culture.

Pim Griffioen, Postdoctoral Candidate, University of Konstanz, Netherlands

Pim GriffioenDr. Pim Griffioen’s postdoctoral research project is devoted to Jewish coping strategies, as well as hiding and escape opportunities in the Netherlands from 1940–1945, in a Western European context. How were Jewish behavior and reactions – diverse as they were – shaped by the conditions and possibilities in the context of the occupation, persecution, local society and the background of the Jewish population in the Netherlands? How was Jewish hiding organized and financed in the Netherlands in its various stages, as compared with Belgium and France? Whereas there are several scholarly books and numerous articles on Jewish responses in the latter two countries, a monograph on the various Jewish coping strategies and hiding patterns in the Netherlands is still lacking. Sources include Jewish testimonies, letters, diaries and recollections with regard to attitudes and responses to the persecution in the Netherlands, as well as unpublished archival material and short biographies of non-Jewish rescuers. Dr. Griffioen studied at Vrije Universiteit (VU University) in Amsterdam and received his Masters in History in 1993, after which he worked at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Archives and Study Center in Israel. Since 1997, he has worked as a contract researcher for the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the University of Konstanz. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Amsterdam in 2008. His thesis, carried out jointly with Ron Zeller, was entitled, “Comparing the Persecution of the Jews in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, 1940–1945: Similarities, Differences, and Causes.” A slightly adapted and updated version was published by Boom Publishers in Amsterdam in September 2011 and was a finalist of the 2012 Yad Vashem Book Prize for Scholarly Studies published in 2011. Dr. Griffioen was a postdoctoral research fellow at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem in 2010-2011, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study of the University of Konstanz in 2012.

Daniel Reiser, Postdoctoral Candidate, Yad Vashem, Israel

Daniel ReiserDr. Daniel Reiser specializes in Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism and Hasidic philosophy. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Jewish Mysticism from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2012 and currently teaches Hasidic philosophy there. Dr. Reiser uses the methods of philology and paleography in his research dealing with Hasidic manuscripts, and he has published several articles concerning the role of Yiddish in the study of Hasidic sermons. Together with Ithiel Be’eri, he translated Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book, Kotsk: In Gerangl far Emesdikayt (Maggid Books, Jerusalem, forthcoming in 2014), from Yiddish to Hebrew. Dr. Reiser’s book, To Fly Like Angels: Imagery Techniques in Hasidic Mysticism in the First Half of the Twentieth Century, is forthcoming in Cherub Press: Sources and Studies in the Literature of Jewish Mysticism, Los Angeles. Currently, Dr. Reiser is working on publishing a critical and annotated edition of Rabbi Klonimus Kalmish Shapira’s sermons during the Holocaust, known as the Esh Kodesh. A philological examination of the original handwritten manuscripts shows that the printed version has been extensively edited. A paleographical examination of these manuscripts has yielded many important insights for the study of Hasidic Holocaust theology.


Kim Wünschmann Ph.D.

Kim Wünschmann Ph.D.
Kim Wünschmann Ph.D.

“Jewish history, the Shoah and Germany’s Nazi past are fields of interest that have accompanied me for most of my conscious life. Already as a young teenager, I read the diary of Anne Frank, Imre Kertesz’ Fateless, Primo Levi’s works, Art Spiegelman’s Maus comic and other important works of Shoah literature which have profoundly influenced me. After my high school graduation, I decided to go to Israel. My gap year in the Holy Land has proved to be an enriching and important experience. I worked as a volunteer in Kibbutz Netzer Sereni, founded by Buchenwald survivors, some of them still alive when I was there. To work and live with them, to be able to talk with them about their experiences, how they came to terms with the past and built new lives was awe-inspiring. It made me see the history I read about through the eyes of the survivors and it taught me a great respect for them,” wrote Dr. Wünschmann.

Dr. Wünschmann’s research interests center on German and German-Jewish history in modern times, with a focus on the Weimar Republic and National Socialism. She investigates the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion changing German society in the Nazi era and the establishment and reinforcement of antisemitic stereotypes by means of terror and extreme violence.

Dr. Wünschmann received her Ph.D. from the University of London, Birkbeck College in 2012 with a study on Jewish prisoners in the pre-war Nazi concentration camps. She analyzed the function of camp imprisonment for the development of the regime’s anti-Semitic policies and the camps’ crucial role as instruments of terror and exclusion in the making of the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft. She is now preparing the publication of her Ph.D thesis. First results of her study have been published in the article Cementing the Enemy Category: Arrest and Imprisonment of German Jews in Nazi Concentration Camps, 1933-1938/9 that has been published in the Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 45 No. 3 (July 2010), 576-600.

Dr. Wünschmann is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She works on a critical evaluation of early ‘theories of terror’ advanced in the 1940s by émigré social scientists who survived the Nazi concentration camps. Focusing on the critical reception of these ‘scientifications’ of personal experiences of violence by the academic establishment, her project analyzes these sources within the context of Wissenschaftsmigration.

In addition to her research, Dr. Wünschmann teaches courses on Holocaust History as well as on Jewish History and Culture at the Hebrew University’s Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry. In the past, she has also worked extensively in exhibition making, contributing, for example, to the realization of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. In addition to her native German, she has mastery of English and Hebrew, practical knowledge of French and Italian and – with the help of her Fellowship – she has now started to study Russian.

Dr. Wünschmann may be contacted via e-mail at

The Claims Conference

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. (Claims Conference), an international non-profit organization headquartered in New York, was established in 1951 to negotiate a program of indemnification for material damages to Jewish individuals and to the Jewish people caused by Germany through the Holocaust. This respected organization administers several major programs for the benefit of Holocaust survivors worldwide and actively negotiates with the German government.

For more information:
Twitter: @ClaimsCon

Academic/ Admissions Committee

Kagan Fellowship Advisory Committee Members:

Steven T. Katz, Chairman
Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies
Professor of Religion
Alvin J. and Shirley Slater Chair in Jewish and Holocaust Studies
Boston University

Karel Berkhoff
Senior Researcher at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Lecturer in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam

Joanna Beata Michlic
Lecturer in Contemporary History, University of Bristol
Founder and Director of the HBI  Project on Jewish Families, Children, and the Holocaust, (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute), Brandeis University

Dalia Ofer
Max and Rita Haber Professor of Holocaust and Contemporary Jewry, Emeritus
Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Antony Polonsky
Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University
Chief Historian of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw
Co-Founder and Vice President of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies

David Silberklang
Senior Historian, International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem
Editor, Yad Vashem Studies
Adjunct Professor, Haifa University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Meet the Fellows

To help ensure that serious study and research of the Holocaust continues even after survivors are gone, the Claims Conference Saul Kagan Fellowships program has provided academic fellowships to Ph.D. students since 2008. Each academic year, seven new fellowships are granted and these newly admitted students comprise a Cohort. In 2013, the program expanded to include funding for Post-doctoral candidates as well. Both Ph.D. and Post-doc Kagan Fellows may apply for a renewal of funding, but only for a second consecutive year. Kagan Fellows come from, and are studying in, numerous countries, and utilize archives around the world.

Current Fellows

  • Noah Benninga

    Noah Benninga Noah Benninga, Ph.D. Noah Benninga received his Ph.D. from Hebrew University for his 2016 dissertation, the “Material Culture of Prisoners in Auschwitz” (advisor: Moshe Zimmermann). Adapting the theoretical work of Joel Fineman (“The Anecdote” and “New Historicism”) to witness narratives ... Read more
  • Alina Bothe

    Alina BotheAlina Bothe, Ph.D. Alina Bothe received her M.A. in History, Political Sciences and East and Southeast European History from Freie Universität Berlin, where she also received her Ph.D. in History. She was a Research Fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies ... Read more
  • Robin Buller

    Robin BullerRobin Buller, Ph.D. Candidate Robin Buller’s dissertation examines the history of Sephardi Jewish immigrants in Paris during the interwar period and the Holocaust. Hailing from the recently dismantled Ottoman Empire, this population numbered upwards of twenty-thousand individuals at the outbreak of the ... Read more
  • Alicja Jarkowska-Natkaniec

    Alicja Jarkowska-NatkaniecAlicja Jarkowska-Natkaniec, Ph.D. Alicja Jarkowska-Natkaniec, Ph.D., graduated from the Jagiellonian University with a degree in Jewish Studies. She has participated in several scientific grants in Poland concerning the field of Jewish Studies and Holocaust Studies. She has also taken part in a ... Read more
  • Anne-Christin Klotz

    Anne-Christin Klotz Anne-Christin Klotz, Ph.D. Candidate Anne’s dissertation examines individual and collective reactions of Polish-Jewish journalists who wrote for the Yiddish daily press in Warsaw about the events in Nazi Germany from the moment of Hitler’s rise to power in January 1933 up to ... Read more
  • Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych

    Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych, Ph.D. Student Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych received her first M.A. in Cultural Studies, her second M.A. in Hebrew Studies (both within the College of Inter-Faculty Studies in Humanities, University of Warsaw) and the third M.A. in Sociology (Collegium Civitas). Agnieszka is ... Read more