“Surveying Mass Murder: GIs and the Production of Sociological Knowledge about the Nazi Concentration Camps”
Dr. Andreas Kranebitter holds master’ degrees in political science and sociology and a PhD in sociology from the University of Vienna (Austria). He currently serves as the acting head of the Archive for the History of Sociology in Austria at the University of Graz. Dr. Kranebitter worked at the Mauthausen Memorial from 2005 to 2020, where he conceptualized a long-range overall publication and research strategy and edited the Memorial’s publication series, yearbooks, and journals.
Dr. Kranebitter has authored and edited several academic publications, including “Zahlen als Zeugen. Soziologische Analysen zur Häftlingsgesellschaft des KZ Mauthausen” (2015) and “Die Soziologie und der Nationalsozialismus in Österreich” (2019, with Christoph Reinprecht). He has received several awards throughout his career, including a uni:doc fellowship at the University of Vienna (2014–2017) and the Young Scholar Prize from the Research Committee History of Sociology of the International Sociological Association (2016).
Dr. Kranebitter was awarded a 2019-2020 William J. Lowenberg Memorial Fellowship on America, the Holocaust, and the Jews to conduct research for his project, “Surveying Mass Murder: GIs and the Production of Sociological Knowledge about the Nazi Concentration Camps.” Dr. Kranebitter focuses on the production of sociological knowledge of Nazi concentration camps immediately upon their liberation. To ensure military victory against Nazi Germany, the U.S. Army relied on social research methods in order to interrogate German prisoners of war, producing knowledge used to inform psychological warfare and propaganda. Different teams analyzed reams of official National Socialist documents and compiled leaflets and radio programs, with interrogation “interviews” being their core task. When these teams eventually arrived at the newly liberated concentration camps in April 1945, they were entrusted with the task of leading the investigations of the camps.
By drawing on the papers of those “sykewarriors” donated to the Museum during the last 20 years, Dr. Kranebitter seeks to explore early research on concentration camps from the points of view of both sociology and the field of “KZ-Forschung.” His research asks the questions: How did GIs, especially intelligence officers, write and talk about concentration camps, both in private and in public? Are there source-related differences to be stated, e.g. between private and “official” reports? To which sociological or everyday theories did they refer with regard to social life in extreme situations, terror, and survival? What methods did they use to gather information, especially when talking with camp survivors but possibly also with perpetrators and bystanders? How did they refer to the published and unpublished accounts of concentration camp survivors?