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< All Fellows and Scholars

Dr. Diane Afoumado

Dr. Diane Afoumado
2002-2003 Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Fellowship

"The Saint Louis Odyssey through the Eyes of Captain Schroeder"

Professional Background

Dr. Diane Afoumado received a Ph.D. and an M.A. in contemporary history from the University of Paris X, Nanterre. During her fellowship at the Museum, she was a Historian at the Center of Jewish Documentation, Paris, France. For her Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Fellowship, Dr. Afoumado conducted research for her project “The St. Louis Odyssey through the Eyes of Captain Schroeder.”

Dr. Afoumado is the author of numerous articles such as “Le Congrès Juif Mondial face à l’antisémitisme nazi” [The World Jewish Congress Faced with Nazi Antisemitism] in Revue d’Histoire de la Shoah. Le Monde Juif (No. 179, September-December 2003); “Le Consistoire et les Juifs immigrés en France pendant les annés trente [The Consistory and the Jewish Immigrants in France during the 1930s] in Revue d’Histoire de la Shoah. Le Monde Juif (No. 172, May-August, 2001); and “Les ‘vaiseaux-fantomes’ à l veille de la Seconde Guerre mondiale [The “Ghost Vessels” on the Eve of WWII] in Revue des etudes juives (July-December, 1999). She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Paris X, Nanterre where she specialized in French Jewry and is a former Historian at the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation Resulting from Antisemitic Legislation in Force during the Occupation. Dr. Afoumado has collaborated on several research projects including one with renowned historian Serge Klarsfeld on the French internment camps.

Fellowship Research

While in residence at the Museum, Dr. Afoumado researched the experience of Jews on the St. Louis as they attempted to make their way to Cuba and then the United States through the eyes of the ship’s empathetic captain Gustav Schroeder. She studied Captain Schroeder’s diary, a copy of which Dr. Afoumado acquired from a surviving St. Louis passenger after a tireless search, in which he meticulously recorded both the factual accounts of daily life on the ship as well as the ship’s general atmosphere. Dr. Afoumado examined the account along with newspaper coverage in order to transcend the common perception that the journey of the St. Louis was an exclusive German-Cuban-American affair. She researched the St. Louis’s passage as an international event, delineating the roles that other nations played in sealing the fate of the ship’s nine hundred hopeful Jewish passengers. Dr. Afoumado’s fellowship project was an extension of a chapter of her Ph.D. dissertation (“Conscience, Attitudes and Behavior of the Jews in France Between 1936 and 1944”). She made extensive use of the Library’s collection of survivor’s testimonies and other archival documents as well as photographs and film footage.

Dr. Afoumado was in residence at the Mandel Center from June 1 to August 29, 2003.