2006–07 Barbara and Richard Rosenberg Fellow Dr. Esther Gitman
Dr. Esther Gitman earned a Ph.D. in Jewish history from City University of New York, an M.P.S. in criminal justice from Long Island University, and a B.A. in history and sociology from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. For her Barbara and Richard Rosenberg Fellowship, Dr. Gitman researched “Rescue of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia, 1941-1945.”
Dr. Gitman’s publications include “A Question of Judgement: Dr. Alojzije Stepinac and the Jews” in Review of Croatian History (February 2006) and “In the Footsteps of Jews who Escaped Genocide in the Independent State of Croatia During World War II” which the Jewish Community in Zagreb published in 2003. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Zagreb, Croatia, where she researched original documents and conducted interviews with rescuers and Holocaust survivors. Dr. Gitman’s research revealed the significant impact that the social and political environment had on the conditions of rescue. This research provided the foundation for her dissertation, which is one of the first major studies in English about the rescue and survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).
While in residence at the Center, Dr. Gitman expanded her dissertation for publication. She studied the rescue of over 9,500 Jews in Croatia during the war by the NDH officials, clergy and nuns, humanitarian organizations, Italian 2nd Army, Croatian Partisans and local population. With her unique language skills in Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, Italian, and Ladino, as well as her in-depth understanding of the region, Dr. Gitman identified common patterns of rescue. She utilized the Museum’s recently acquired and understudied archival collections from Croatia. Her findings will help shed new light on the rescue issues and the fate of Croatian Jewry.