"The Inmate Society of Theresienstadt: A Laboratory of the Middle Class? Social History of the Theresienstadt Transit Ghetto"
Anna Hájková is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Toronto. She received her M.A. in modern history, sociology and Great Britain studies from the Humboldt University in Berlin. For her Ben and Zelda Cohen Fellowship, Ms. Hájková conducted research for her project, “The Inmate Society of Theresienstadt: A Laboratory of the Middle Class? Social History of the Theresienstadt Transit Ghetto.”
Ms. Hájková is the author of a number of articles, including “Die fabelhaften Jungs aus Theresienstadt: Junge tschechische Männer als dominante soziale Elite im Theresienstädter Ghetto” [The Fabulous Boys of Theresienstadt: Young Czech Men as a Dominant Social Elite in the Theresienstadt Ghetto] in Im Ghetto (Beiträge zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus, 25) (2009), “Strukturen weiblichen Verhaltens in Theresienstadt” [The Structures of Women’s Behavior in Theresienstadt] in Genozid und Geschlecht: Jüdische Frauen im nationalsozialistischen Lagersystem (2005), and “Die Juden aus den Niederlanden in Theresienstadt” [Jews from the Netherlands in Theresienstadt] in Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente (2002). In addition, between 2006 and 2009 she was a co-editor of the Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente [Theresienstadt Studies and Documents] yearbook. Ms. Hájková is the recipient of a variety of awards, including the Vanier SSHRC Scholarship, University of Toronto Connaught Scholarship, and a stipend of the Hamburg Foundation for Support of Science and Culture. A native speaker of Czech, she is also fluent in English, German and Dutch, and has language skills in Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Danish.
During her tenure at the Center, Ms. Hájková researched the intricate everyday life in Theresienstadt – a transit ghetto where heterogeneous groups of Czech, German, Austrian and Dutch Jews created an enforced temporary society; the inner rules of this society stand in the focus of her research. She considered the pre-war backgrounds of the inmates and the extreme circumstances of the ghetto, and suggested that while the prisoners mostly belonged to similar Central and Western European middle classes, the distinctions in their cultural background produced differences rather than a sense of common Jewishness. She focused her research on the prisoners’ communication, stratification and understanding of each other. In addition to the digitized records of the International Tracing Service, Ms. Hájková utilized the Museum’s oral history and survivor testimony collections, as well as the Jiří Lauscher, Moritz Henschel and Leonard Prager collections to complete her research.
Ms. Hájková was in residence at the Mandel Center from September 1 to December 30, 2010.