Academic Year 2012-2013
Marion Kaplan is the Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History at NYU. She is a three time National Jewish Book Award winner for The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family and Identity in Imperial Germany (1991), Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (1998), and Gender and Jewish History (with Deborah Dash Moore, 2011) as well as a finalist for Dominican Haven: The Jewish Refugee Settlement in Sosua (2008). She teaches European Jewish history, Jewish women’s history, and German-Jewish history. See: http://hebrewjudaic.as.nyu.edu/object/marion.kaplan
The Refugee Crisis of World War II and Lisbon,
the Port of Last Resort
This project will look at Jewish refugees in Portugal during World War II and ask why and how that country offered temporary shelter to Jews during one of the worst refugee crises of the 20th century. I will examine a triangle of actors: the Jewish refugees themselves; the Portuguese national and local governments, civil servants, and citizens; and Jewish and transnational philanthropies.
Using diplomatic, political, and legal history, the history of daily life, Gender Studies and Refugee Studies, I will analyze the conditions, individuals, and laws that allowed Portugal to open (and sometimes close) its doors to tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing war-torn Europe and Nazi persecution. I will ask how refugees coped practically once there. The refugees’ sojourn in Lisbon also captures a poignant psychological moment noted in Refugee Studies. Before arriving there, many thought they might return “home” after the war, particularly those who had left Germany and Austria before the November Pogrom. However, as they waited for visas and ships, read newspapers, and exchanged information, they often shifted from the notion of temporary refuge to permanent emigration. I will use memoirs to capture this emotional transformation.