Jewish Refugees in Global Transit: Spaces – Temporalities – Interactions

Dec 09, 2020 - Dec 10, 2020

Virtual Workshop | Conveners: Simone Lässig (GHI Washington) and Swen Steinberg (GHI Pacofoc Regional Office / Queen’s University)

Since 2015, one research focus of the German Historical Institute (GHI) Washington DC has been the history of flight and forced migration. In this context, the institute jointly organized two conferences on Jewish refugees in global transit between the 1930s and 1960s with external partners: one in 2018 in Kolkata, India, and another in 2019 at its Pacific Regional Office in Berkeley. The 2020 workshop “Jewish Refugees in Global Transit: Spaces – Temporalities – Interactions” builds on this international exchange and seeks to reach a new level of scholarly reflection. Our aim is to move beyond the presentation of new case studies that broadened our understanding of Jewish transit and emigration after 1933. This time we want to reconsider these cases in a more general, conceptual, and theoretically informed way, in the hope that this will facilitate connecting this topic to other innovative fields of historical research like refugee history, imperial history, or postcolonial history, just to name a few.

Against this background the workshop will focus on the spatial and temporal dimensions of the global transit of Jews. We will reconsider concrete spaces of transit – such as camps, visa offices, and trains or ships – as well as the temporalities of transit, especially the undetermined length of the phase between flight and arrival. For Jews who fled to countries of the Global South, in particular, the transit phase often extended far beyond the caesura of 1945, which is why we place a geographical focus, above all, on emigration and transit countries of this category. So far, scholarship on Jewish emigration from Nazi Europe has paid attention to them only in special studies but not in a systematic way. 

In favoring a more systematic approach, we by no means intend to neglect Jewish agency. On the contrary, we understand Jewish refugees as actors who engaged in all phases of their transit with the surroundings they faced during their flight, and who developed relationships that in many cases influenced the trajectory of their lives. These relationships include interactions with other refugees as well as with people they encountered in widely varying colonial and postcolonial constellations, but also internal interactions that might have challenged refugees, e.g., between the sexes and generations.

Conference Website


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

8 AM PST / 11 AM EST / 17 MEZ / 18 IST

9 AM PST / 12 PM EST / 18 MEZ / 19 IST
Breakout rooms

10 AM PST / 1 PM EST / 19 MEZ / 20 IST
Break: Get up & Stretch

10:15 AM PST / 1:15 PM EST / 19:15 MEZ / 20:15 IST
Reports from Breakout Rooms & Discussion

11 AM PST / 2 PM EST / 20 MEZ / 21 IST
End of Day 1

Thursday, December 10, 2020

8 AM PST / 11 AM EST / 17 MEZ / 18 IST
Discussion: Results from Day 1

8:30 AM PST / 11:30 AM EST / 17:30 MEZ / 18:30 IST
Breakout Rooms

9:30 AM PST / 12:30 PM EST / 18:30 MEZ / 19:30 IST
Break: Get up & Stretch

9:45 AM PST / 12:45 PM EST / 18:45 MEZ / 19:45 IST

10:45 AM PST / 1:45 PM EST / 19:45 MEZ / 20:45 IST
Next Steps

11 AM PST / 2 PM EST / 20 MEZ / 21 IST
End of Day 2