About In Global Transit

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 has 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 the GHI Pacific Regional Office in Berkeley. In 2020, the online workshop “Jewish Refugees in Global Transit: Spaces – Temporalities – Interactions” inspired a more general, conceptual, and theoretically informed exchange about “transit.” The participants discussed its analytical potential and connections to other innovative fields of historical research like refugee history, imperial history, and postcolonial history.

The fourth event in the series – the online workshop “Archives of Global Transit: Reconsidering Jewish Refugees from Nazi Europe” in October 2021 – builds on the previous meetings and advances our discussion with a focus on methodological questions and the sources available to approach transit and in-betweenness: does a candlestick or a photograph, perhaps a passenger list or a language, promise new insights into our understanding of Jewish refugees in global transit? What sources can help us analyze the perspectives, experiences, and emotions of those who have been in transit? How do we study and write the material history of transit? How is transit visually represented, staged, and narrated in photographs, images, and films? And how do we as researchers cope with the often multilingual written sources produced in transit settings? To what extent can approaches from postcolonial studies, global history, everyday history, or other fields, such as “othering” or “intersectionality,” generate new perspectives on our sources?

Centering on the empirical dimension of transit in history, the workshop will launch a conversation on the advantages and challenges presented by different types of historical sources and archives relevant to the study of Jewish refugees in global transit. It aims at creating a bridge between theoretical-conceptual reflections and concrete research practices.

2021 Schedule

Join workshop via Zoom

Monday, October 25, 2021


8 – 9 a.m. (Pacific Coast)
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. (East Coast)
16 – 17 h (UK)
17 – 18 h (Europe – MESZ)
18 – 19 h (Israel)

Introductions & Icebreaker

breakout Rooms

9 – 10:30 a.m. (Pacific Coast)
12 – 1:30 p.m. (East Coast)
17 – 18:30 h (UK)
18 – 19:30 h (Europe – MESZ)
19 – 20:30 h (Israel)


10:40 – 11 a.m. (Pacific Coast)
1:40 – 2 p.m. (East Coast)
18:40 – 19 h (UK)
19:40 – 20 h (Europe – MESZ)
20:40 – 21 h (Israel)

Breakout Rooms Reports

Tuesday, October 26, 2021


8 – 8:15 a.m. (Pacific Coast)
11 a.m. – 11:15 p.m. (East Coast)
16 – 16:15 h (UK)
17 – 17:15 h (Europe – MESZ)
18 – 18:15 h (Israel)

Morning Check-in

breakout Rooms

8:15 – 9:45 a.m. (Pacific Coast)
11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. (East Coast)
16:15 – 17:45 h (UK)
17:15 – 18:45 h (Europe – MESZ)
18:15 – 19:45 h (Israel)


10 – 11 a.m. (Pacific Coast)
1 – 2 p.m. (East Coast)
18 – 19 h (UK)
19 – 20 h (Europe – MESZ)
20 – 21 h (Israel)

Breakout Rooms Reports

2021 Organizers

Anna-Carolin Augustin joined the German Historical Institute as a research fellow in April 2019. Her main fields of interest are modern German-Jewish History and Culture with emphasis on Women’s and Gender History as well as Jewish Material Culture. From 2011-2014, she was a fellow at the Walther Rathenau Graduiertenkolleg at the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European Jewish Studies (MMZ). She received her PhD in modern history from the Universität Potsdam in 2016. At the same time, she completed a two-year academic apprenticeship (“Wissenschaftliches Volontariat”) at the Jewish Museum Berlin and worked on several exhibitions. Since 2017 she has devoted herself to provenance research in the field of Judaica. Her first monograph, Berliner Kunstmatronage. Sammlerinnen und Förderinnen bildender Kunst um 1900 was published in 2018. In her current research project, she examines the entangled object biographies and migration paths of Jewish ceremonial objects (Judaica) as well as their changing attributions of meaning and functions after 1945 in a transnational, cultural-historical study.

Carolin Liebisch-Gümüş is a research rellow in global and transregional history at the German Historical Institute Washington. In her current project “History in Limbo,” she explores airport transit zones as historical sites. She is preparing a comparative study on the role of air routes and airports in refugee history and asylum policies. Before joining the GHI, she worked as a lecturer in modern history at the University of Kiel and gained her PhD from Heidelberg University in 2018. As part of her PhD project on Turkish nation-building and the League of Nations during the 1920s and 1930s, she dealt with the history of forced migration in Anatolia. She is the author of “Embedded Turkification. Nation Building and Violence within the Framework of the League of Nations,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 52, no. 2 (2020).

Simone Lässig is director of the German Historical Institute Washington DC and Professor of Modern History at Braunschweig University (on leave). She has been a visiting professor at St Antony’s College, Oxford (2009/10), and awarded a Remarque Fellowship at New York University (2021). After winning the 1996 Horst Spring Prize for the best book in Saxon history, she wrote a study on the embourgeoisement of German Jewry, which was awarded the 2004 German Historical Association’s biennial prize for best Habilitation in history. Her main fields of research are modern Jewish history, the history of knowledge, digital history, and biography as a historical genre. She is working on two research projects: a study of a transnational German-Jewish family from the early nineteenth century to the present, and a study on religion as an agent of change, entitled “Coping with Disruptive Change: Jews, Middle Class Culture, and Social Transformation in Germany, 1800-1860.

Swen Steinberg  is a historian, lecturer in the Migration & Diaspora Studies program at Carleton University in Ottawa and the Department of History at Queen’s University in Kingston (both Ontario). As postdoctoral researcher, Swen is affiliated with the German Historical Institute in Washington/DC and its Pacific Regional Office at UC Berkeley and he also serves as a Research Ambassador of the German Academic Exchange Service. His most recent interests are the intersection of migration and knowledge, refugees from Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe, and especially unaccompanied minors. He is the editor of the Blog “Migrant Knowledge” and organizer of the Migrant Knowledge Network (migrantknowledge.org) and member of the German Studies Collaboratory (GermanStudiesCollaboratory.org).  

2021 Participants

Eliyana R. Adler is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the Pennsylvania State University and teaches and studies East European Jewish history. Her most recent book, Survival on the Margins: Polish Jewish Refugees in the Wartime Soviet Union (Harvard UP) came out in 2020. She is also the author of In Her Hands: The Education of Jewish Girls in Tsarist Russia (Wayne State UP, 2011) and the co-editor of Jewish and Romani Families in the Holocaust and its Aftermath (Rutgers UP, 2020); Reconstructing the Old Country: American Jewry in the Post-Holocaust Decades (WSUP, 2017); Polin 30: Jewish Education in Eastern Europe (2018) and Jewish Literature and History: An Interdisciplinary Conversation (UP of Maryland, 2008). She has published articles in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Yad Vashem Studies, East European Jewish Affairs, Polin, and other journals. Dr. Adler’s current work focuses on East European memorial books.

Ofer Ashkenazi is an associate professor of history and the director of the Koebner-Minerva Center for Germany History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of the monographs Anti-Heimat Cinema: The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape (2020); Weimar Film and Modern Jewish Identity (2012); and A Walk into the Night: Reason and Subjectivity in Weimar Film (2010). He published articles on a variety of topics in German and German-Jewish history, including on the interwar German peace movement, German-Jewish émigrés in Palestine, and the discussion of Heimat and otherness in contemporary German culture. His current research project considers Jewish photography under Nazism.

Leora Auslander is Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor of Western Civilization and Professor of European Social History at the University of Chicago, where she was the founding director of the Center for Gender Studies and is a member of the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies as well as the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.  She has held visiting positions and residential fellowship in Jewish Studies, European History, and Gender Studies in the United States, France and Germany. Her books include:   Objects of War: The Material Culture of Conflict and Displacement (2018) (co-edited with Tara Zahra); Cultural Revolutions: Everyday Life and Politics in Britain, North America, and France (2008); and, Taste and Power:  Furnishing Modern France (1996).  She is currently finishing work on a book, Diasporic Homes: Jewish Parisians and Berliners, 1870-2000.  Two concurrent projects are: Race and Racism in the Twentieth Century Atlantic World (with Tom Holt) and. Commemorating Death, Obscuring Life? The Conundrums of Memorialization.

Tobias Brinkmann is the Malvin and Lea Bank Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Penn State University, University Park, PA, and the director of the Jewish Studies program. He is currently working on a study about Jewish migration from Eastern Europe between 1860 and 1950. His publications include Sundays at Sinai: A Jewish Congregation in Chicago (2012), which was selected as a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award 2013; and Migration Transnationalität: Perspektiven deutsch-jüdischer Geschichte (2012). He edited Points of Passage: Jewish Transmigrants from Eastern Europe in Scandinavia, Germany, and Britain 1880-1914 (2013). Brinkmann received his MA from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1992, and his PhD from Technical University Berlin in 2000.

Kimberly Cheng is a doctoral candidate in the joint PhD program in Hebrew and Judaic studies/history at New York University. Her research examines Central European Jewish refugee life in Shanghai during World War II, with a focus on Sino-Jewish encounters in daily life. Previously, Ms. Cheng has served as the 2020 Sosland Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, as the 2018-2019 Breslauer, Rutman, and Anderson Research Fellow at the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, and as a member of the 2018-2019 Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme as supported by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. She holds a M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania and an A.B. from Cornell University in History and Jewish Studies.

Kierra Crago-Schneider focuses on the relationships formed between Holocaust survivors living in Jews-only Displaced Persons’ centers in Germany, American occupiers, international aid workers, and Germans from 1945-1957. Her research and writing examine the conditions, interactions, and continued antisemitism faced by Jewish survivors in the wake of their liberation. Her publications include, “Years of Survival: JDC in Post-War Germany, 1945-1957,” co-authored with Avinoam Patt, in, The Joint Distribution Committee: 100 Years of Jewish History, edited by Atina Grossmann, Linda Levi, Maud Mandel, and Avinoam Patt, Wayne State University Press, 2019, “A Community of Will: The Resettlement of the Orthodox from Föhrenwald,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 32, no 1 (Spring 2018), Jewish “Shtetls” in Postwar Germany: An Analysis of Interactions Among Jewish Displaced Persons, Germans, and Americans Between 1945 and 1957 in Bavaria, Proquest, June 2013, and “Antisemitism or Competing Interests? An Examination of German and American Perceptions of Jewish Displaced Persons Active on the Black Market in Munich’s Möhlstraße,”Spring 2010, Yad Vashem Studies, v1, 38 pages (167-194)

Natalie Eppelsheimer is Associate Professor of German and Chair of the Department of German at Middlebury College, Vermont. Her research and teaching focus on Holocaust Studies, Exile and Migration Studies, German Colonialism and its Legacies, Anti-Racist Pedagogy, and Methodologies of Teaching German Language, Literature and Culture. Recent publications on her work on exile experiences include Roads Less Traveled: German Jewish Exile Experiences in Kenya 1933-1947 (Oxford: Lang, 2019) and “Exil in Kenia. Eine archivarische Spurensuche” in Exilforschung – Ein internationales Jahrbuch, Vol. 37 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019). Her article „Some had a farm in Africa – Holocaust refugees as settler-colonists in Kenya” is forthcoming in Lessons and Legacies. She has also published on a variety of other topics, including intercultural learning, ecocriticism, and sustainability.

Atina Grossmann is a professor of history at the Cooper Union in New York City. Relevant publications include her monographs Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied GermanyWege in der Fremde: Deutsch-jüdische Begegnungsgeschichte zwischen New York, Berlin, und Teheran (2012); and the co-edited volumes, Shelter from the Holocaust: Rethinking Jewish Survival in the Soviet Union (with M. Edele and S. Fitzpatrick, 2017), The JDC at 100: A Century of Humanitarianism (with A. Patt, L. Levi, and M. Mandel, 2019), and Our Courage/Unser Mut: Jews in Europe after 1945 (with K. Bohus, 2020). She has held fellowships from the Davis Center at Princeton University, the Mandel Center of USHMM, the American Academy in Berlin, the German Marshall Fund, ACLS, and NEH, as well as guest professorships at the University of Jena, Humboldt University Berlin, and the University of Haifa.

Rebekka Grossmann is a postdoctoral fellow at the Jacob Robinson Center for the History of Individual and Collective Rights at the Hebrew University. Her research focusses on the intersections of Jewish politics, migratory mobility and global visual culture. Before joining the Jacob Robinson Center she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History at the Hebrew University and the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has also been supported by the George L. Mosse Program in History, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the Hebrew University and the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme. Aspects of her research have been published for example in Jewish Social Studies, the Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook and Israel Studies.

Sara Halpern is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at St. Olaf College. She received her PhD in Modern European and Jewish History from the Ohio State University in 2020 after defending her dissertation, “Saving the Unwanted: The International Response to Shanghai’s Jewish Refugees, 1943-1949.” Her research appeared in American Jewish History. Dr. Halpern will be among scholars an edited volume (by Kevin Ostoyich and Yun Xia with Palgrave Macmillan) which will showcase latest scholarship on Shanghai’s Jewish refugees.  Dr. Halpern received many fellowships and grants with Stiftung des Deutschen Volks/Leo Baeck Programme; the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Association for Jewish Studies among them.

Pragya Kaul is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the department of history and Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She is currently also a Leo Baeck International Fellow for 2020-2021. Her dissertation project, titled “Refugees in Empire: Jewish Refugees in British India,” focuses on Holocaust refugees’ experiences in the British Raj as a way to think about refugees in relation to imperial processes and structures rather than to the nation-state. She has presented her work at the German Studies Association, Lessons and Legacies, and the German Historical Institute Washington.

Kevin Ostoyich is professor of history at Valparaiso University, where he served as the chair of the history department from 2015 to 2019, was bestowed the Teaching Excellence Award in 2017-18, and is presently the recipient of the Dixon W. and Herta E. Benz Fund for Faculty Support. He currently is Distinguished Professor for Shanghai University and a senior fellow at the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington.  Earlier this year he served as a visiting fellow at Center for Advanced Studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He is a board member of the Sino-Judaic Institute, an inaugural member of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum International Advisory Board, a board member of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and a non-resident fellow of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies of Johns Hopkins University. He has published on German migration, German-American history, historical pedagogy, the Holocaust, and the Shanghai Jews.

Thomas Pegelow Kaplan is the Leon Levine Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies as well as a professor of history at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He is also a fellow at the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University of Berlin. Prior to coming to ASU, Pegelow Kaplan taught at Grinnell College, Davidson College and De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. Pegelow Kaplan’s research focuses on histories of violence, language, and culture of Nazi Germany and the 1960s global youth revolts. Pegelow Kaplan is the author of The Language of Nazi Genocide: Linguistic Violence and the Struggle of Germans of Jewish Ancestry (2011) and Taking the Transnational Turn: The German Jewish Press and Journalism Beyond Borders, 1933-1943 [in Hebrew] (forthcoming with Yad Vashem Publications). He has also co-edited Beyond ‘Ordinary Men’: Christopher R. Browning and Holocaust Historiography (2019; with Juergen Matthaeus) and Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust (2020; with Wolf Gruner).

Sarah Phillips Casteel is Professor of English at Carleton University, where she is cross-appointed to the Institute of African Studies and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture. Her most recent books are Calypso Jews: Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imagination (2016), which won a Canadian Jewish literary award, and the co-edited volume Caribbean-Jewish Crossings: Literary History and Creative Practice (2019). She has taught at the Universities of Mainz and Vienna and has been a visiting fellow at the Zentrum Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 2021, she held the Potsdam Postcolonial Chair in Global Modernities. Her current book project is Making History Visible: Black Victims of Nazi Persecution in Literature and Art. She is also co-editing a special issue of Patterns of Prejudice on Holocaust refugees and the colonial world.

Joachim Schlör is professor for modern Jewish/non-Jewish relations and a member of the Parkes Institute at the University of Southampton. He received his PhD from Tübingen University in 1990 and his habilitation from Potsdam University in 2003. His research interests include the cultural history and the ethnography of migration and mobility, of urban life, and the reflection of history in the individual experience. Many of his publications are based on personal documents (letters, diaries, photo albums) of German Jews who emigrated to Palestine or to the United Kingdom after 1933. In 2020, he published the English translation of his book on Baroness Julia Neuberger’s mother, Liesel Rosenthal, who came to Britain in 1937: Escaping Nazi Germany. One woman’s emigration from Heilbronn to England. He is the editor of the journal Jewish Culture and History and (with Johanna Rolshoven) co-editor of the online journal Mobile Culture Studies.

Jana Schmidt holds an MA in English and a PhD in Comparative Literature. She has been a postdoctoral fellow and visiting professor at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard and is currently a visiting fellow at the German Historical Institute Washington. Her work focuses on transatlantic encounters, theories of relation and its aesthetic representation, and the politics of literature. During the pandemic year, she edited a special issue of the Hannah Arendt Center Journal on the confluence of C.L.R. James and Arendt. Her project at the GHI seeks to retrace the engagement of German-Jewish exiles with Black life and politics in the United States from the 1940s to Black Power. 

Björn Siegel studied Jewish history and Culture at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich and Tel Aviv University. His PhD thesis “Austrian Jewry between East and West – The Viennese Jewish Alliance, 1873–1938” was published in 2010. He works at the Institute for the History of the German Jews (Hamburg) and writes a biography on CIP’s rabbi Fritz Pinkuss. Latest publication: “‚We Were Refugees and Carried a Special Burden‘: Emotions, Brazilian Politics and the German Jewish Émigré Circle in São Paulo, 1933–1957,“ European Judaism 54:1 (2021), S. 27–44 and „Noch ist unsere Hoffnung nicht dahin!“ Fritz Pinkuss’s View on Germans, Jews and the Universal Value of the German-Jewish Past,“ in: The Future of the German-Jewish Past: Memory and the Question of Antisemitism, hrsg. v. Gideon Reuveni und Diana Franklin (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2020), S. 97–108.

Francesco Spagnolo is a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music, and digital media. At the University of California, Berkeley, he is the curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and an associate adjunct professor in the department of music. As a scholar, his research interests center on the intersections of music and synagogue life, particularly among Italian Jews, an arena in which Ashkenazi and Sephardic liturgical and popular musical traditions have historically come together in unique ways.