Lauren Fedewa is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. Lauren’s research interests include the Holocaust, Genocide, modern Jewish history, and European history. She is currently working on her dissertation tentatively titled “‘Always One Step Away from Death, and Always Afraid’: Jewish Women who ‘Passed’ as Polish-Christian Forced Laborers in Germany” under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Doris Bergen.
In the dissertation, Lauren examines Jewish women who had false papers and attempted to pass as Polish-Christian forced laborers in Germany during the Holocaust. In particular, her research focuses on the ways in which the experience of Jewish women hiding “above the surface,” Polish-Christian forced laborers, and German employers, workers, and officials intersected in Germany. This work challenges the tendency to treat Polish, German, and Jewish histories of the Holocaust and war as separate from one another by constructing an integrated history around the phenomenon of passing. It will illuminate the experience and implications of passing to the study of the Holocaust, foregrounding passing as not only an individual act but a performance involving actors and audience. The three central themes of study in the dissertation—which are inextricably interwoven—are identity (concealment, assumption, and convergence), acts of “rescue” and “hiding”, and social dynamics between Jews and non-Jews in Germany. This dissertation will contribute to at least three important strands in Holocaust Studies: efforts to connect Jewish, Polish, and German histories of the Holocaust; efforts to bring gender from the margins to the mainstream of analysis; and efforts to rethink categories of “rescue” and “hiding.”
Lauren earned a B.A. in History and Germanic Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2015 and an M.A. in History from the University of Vermont in 2018. Her master’s thesis, written under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Jonathan Huener and other professors affiliated with the Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont, is titled “Between Extermination and Child-Rearing: The Foreign Child-Care Facilities of Volkswagen and Velpke.” Lauren obtained a U.S. Fulbright Student Research Grant in September 2018 and spent ten months collaborating with professors and students at the Historisches Seminar at the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany. She has also been the recipient of other fellowships and awards, including the HEFNU Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization (2022), the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Summer Graduate Research Assistantship (2017), the Connaught International Scholarship for Doctoral Students at the University of Toronto (2019-2024), and the Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellowship (2017). As a research contractor for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Mandel Center, Lauren has researched and written encyclopedia entries on sites of persecution for infants born to Polish and Soviet forced laborers in Germany, which will be published in Volume IV of the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945 (forthcoming).