FAMILY AFFAIRS: Writing Personal Histories

Our new "Family Affairs" series explores researching and writing about Jewish experience from a distinctively personal perspective in discussions with leading scholars of modern Jewish history and the Holocaust.

Daniel Mendelsohn a scholar of the classics will discuss the experience of writing his critically acclaimed book, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, published in English in 2006, a memoir in which he uncovered the fate of his family members in a Galician town (today in Western Ukraine), offering a compelling new perspective on Holocaust remembrance. Omer Bartov has shifted from the study of the German perpetrators to the study of memory and loss in eastern Galicia in his 2007 book Erased, a turn which culminated in his award winning book Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018), which explores the impact of the Holocaust in one community closely linked with his family history, exploring the perspectives of all groups involved. Atina Grossmann's research trajectory has taken her from the study of German Jews to the experience of Jewish refugees, following the path of her family's plight during World War II, through her co-edited volume Shelter from the Holocaust: Rethinking Jewish Survival in the Soviet Union (2017), to her current project, which follows her German Jewish refugee parents on their journey from Europe to the Middle East and Asia, exploring sites of refuge during World War II. She will reflect on her book in progress, Trauma, Privilege, and Adventure in Transit: Jewish Refugees in Iran and India. All three authors will delve into questions about the pull of family history in the context of the Holocaust, the challenge of shifting geographic boundaries, the limits of microhistorical studies and how personal journeys into one's past can inform and enliven historical writing.

Also Available in the Archive