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< All Fellows and Scholars

Dr. Atina Grossmann

Dr. Atina Grossmann
2011-2012 Diane and Howard Wohl Fellow

"Transnational Jewish Refugee Stories: Soviet Central Asia, Iran, and India as Sites of Relief and Refuge for European Jews during World War II"

Professional Background

Dr. Atina Grossmann is Professor of History and a member of the Faculty Senate at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (USA). She received a PhD in history from Rutgers University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in history from City College of New York, CUNY. During her Diane and Howard Wohl Fellowship, she conducted research for her project “Transnational Jewish Refugee Stories: Soviet Central Asia, Iran, and India as Sites of Relief and Refuge for European Jews during World War II.”

Dr. Grossmann is author of Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany 1945–1949 (2007), which won the George L. Mosse Prize in 2007 from the American Historical Association for the best book in European intellectual and cultural history and was one of five HSKult ListServ Best Books of the Year in 2008. The manuscript for the book won the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History from the Wiener Library in London in 2006.

She is also author of Reforming Sex: The German Movement For Birth Control and Abortion Reform 1920–1950 (1995) and co-author of After the Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe with Rita Chin, Heide Fehrenbach, and Geoff Eley (2009). She co-edited Crimes of War: Guilt and Denial in the Twentieth Century with Omer Bartov and Mary Nolan (2002), as well as When Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany with Renate Bridenthal and Marion Kaplan (1984).

She is the author of numerous articles and has presented at several academic conferences in the United States and abroad. She has received many grants and fellowships, including a German Marshall Fund Research Fellowship and a Senior Visiting Fellowship at the Remarque Institute at New York University. Actively involved in institutional service at Cooper Union, she is Co-chair of the Curriculum Committee of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, among other roles. Recently she completed a three-year term as Academic Director of the Leo Baeck Summer University in Jewish Studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She has language skills in German and French and in the reading of Yiddish in its transliterated form.

Fellowship Research

During her tenure at the Center, Dr. Grossmann researched the Jewish “Asiatic” experience and the relief agencies working out of Iran and India. She explored the ways in which the Soviet refugee experience was and was not remembered in the immediate postwar period and in later memory culture. Her research examined the role of relief agencies, especially American Jewish aid organizations such as the JOINT Distribution Committee, in trying to support and keep alive Jews in Central Asia. Her research also included an investigation into refugees and relief operations in Iran and in India.

Dr. Grossman’s goal is to write an unconventional “hybrid” history which combines family history and the use of an extensive personal archive of letters and photographs with an academic study, relying primarily on archival, oral history, photographic, and memoir sources. She hopes to illuminate how this “Asiatic” experience shaped Jewish understandings of wartime persecution and extermination as well as definitions of “survivors” in both the immediate postwar context of displacement and up to the present highly politicized globalization of Holocaust memory. To complete this long-term project, she is drawing on the Museum’s International Tracing Service records, JOINT Distribution Committee files, and files from collections related to the Teheran children and the Bombay Jewish Relief Association and to refugees in the Soviet Union, Iran, and India. She is also using materials collected by her family which have not been previously catalogued.

Dr. Grossman was in residence at the Mandel Center from January 1 to June 30, 2012.